M4 Active Travel

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At a glance

This mode specific guidance outlines the methodology for undertaking an economic appraisal of an active travel initiative.

Active travel can embrace any mode of travel that relies on human powered mobility but these ATAP Guidelines address the main active travel modes of walking and cycling.

The first three sections of this Part of the Guidelines provide background describing active travel including its relative importance and trip characteristics, and its implications for health and safety outcomes.

Section 4 provides a broad overview of modelling and demand forecasting as they apply to active travel.

The principal focus of these Guidelines is on the benefits of active travel, which are described in section 5. The most important of these benefits are:

  • Improved health outcomes: The physical activity generated by active travel reduces the risk of premature illness and death and also reduces the related health costs.
  • Reduced congestion: Active travel can reduce road congestion, resulting in lower costs to remaining road users.
  • Changes in safety risk: Active travellers may encounter higher crash risk in switching from motorised modes to active travel.
  • Changes in travel time: Whether active travellers save time will be a function of trip distance, departure time and route in the base and project cases. In some circumstances at the trip distances that are popular for active travellers, they may sometimes achieve a time saving in switching to active travel.
  • Changes in public transport fares and private vehicle parking and operating costs.

The Guidelines cover the derivation of these benefits and contain suggested parameter values. Appropriate application of the rule of the half, which is particularly relevant to health benefits, is also addressed.

Other relevant benefit categories that have more general application - including private vehicle operating costs, public transport costs, parking and environmental costs - are addressed briefly, but the main coverage of these benefits is contained in other parts of the Guidelines.

In the relevant places, this mode specific guidance refers readers to other relevant parts of the ATAP Guidelines. Issues that are common to transport appraisal generally, such as treatment of capital and operating costs, discount rates and initiative life, are also addressed in detail elsewhere in the Guidelines.