Economic, health and environmental benefits of active travel

This section builds upon the review of best practice in active travel interventions by exploring the evidence on the economic, health and environmental impact of active travel. It focuses on evidence of outcomes of active travel itself rather than research attributing benefits to urban design and active travel infrastructure (such as pedestrianised spaces or bicycle lanes). While the search was conducted for all active travel modes, there is clear focus in the literature on cycling over walking, the exception being health-related studies which tended to cover both.

On an individual level, it is clear that active travel can result in substantial benefits, primarily related to improved health and wellbeing. On a societal level however, there is a consensus that unless a modal shift to active travel can be achieved, the benefits to society are not as consequential as those to the individual. Finally, despite the clear benefits of active travel, “the literature is less forth-coming about the ways in which these may be realistically captured [as] the nuanced impacts […] are difficult to harness into substantiated and replicable metrics” (Rajé & Saffrey, 2015, p. 5).