Backgrounder: The Economic Impacts of Active Transportation

On Oct 2, 2012 Toronto City Council cast its final vote to remove the Jarvis bike lane. This confirmed the initial vote taken on the issue in 2011, but was a last-ditch effort to save the popular lanes. In 2011, two bike lanes were removed in Scarborough (on Birchmount and Pharmacy) resulting in a net loss of bicycle lanes for 2011 and 2012.

One of the critical arguments that proponents of removing bike lanes use is that they are believed to increase congestion. However, since the bike lanes on Jarvis drivers are provided four lanes available for their exclusive use. Without the bike lanes, cyclists and drivers will need to share the curb lanes, reducing auto-only lanes to three.

In order to provide better information about the costs and benefits of cycling and walking especially in relation to other forms of transportation, TCAT volunteer Kemal Kapetanovic prepared the attached backgrounder titled The Economic Impacts of Active Transportation. The goal is to provide a short, easy-to-read reference document that summarizes and references a wide cross-section of research on the subject.

This backgrounder discusses some of the economic impacts related to walking and cycling within an urban environment, in terms of impacts on businesses and real estate, personal and public finances, and indirect impacts such as health and productivity. The backgrounder includes figures from recent surveys and studies to introduce the wide array of economic benefits that investments in walking and cycling can return to governments, business owners, and individuals.

This backgrounder is the third in TCAT’s periodic backgrounder series, the first focused on Bikeway Options currently under consideration in Toronto and the second on Designing Off-Road Paths for Pedestrians and Cyclists.

Posted On: October 11, 2012