Referencing the cross-cutting benefits of cycling can be a useful strategy when building support for increased funding or for a contentious project. They can also help identify the strategic goals of a comprehensive cycling plan. Some benefits can be easily quantified through existing data sets or data gathering tools. In these cases, it may just be a matter of breaking down silos and collaborating with another municipal department. Other benefits are more difficult to calculate, and if undertaking the necessary research is not feasible, an estimate can be used instead, based on research done in similar jurisdictions.
Below are a number of crosscutting benefits, for which local data may be available, such as the census (commute mode share) or regional travel surveys (such as the Transportation Tomorrow Survey in southern Ontario). These benefits have all been demonstrated through multiple research studies with rigorous methodologies and consistent results.
Cross-cutting benefits of cycling
|In Montreal, sales data between 1996 and 2012, indicate that having a Bixi bike-sharing station within 800m increases a home’s value by $709.
|Track sales data over a number of years to evaluate the impact of new cycling infrastructure on property values.
|Cyclists spend more at restaurants, bars, and convenience stores. Overall, they spend less per trip but make more trips.
In Toronto, customer counts, as reported by merchants, increased after pilot bike lanes were installed along a commercial main street. Point-of sale data for debit and credit card transactions obtained from Moneris indicated a 4.45% growth in sales in the pilot area, which was higher than two nearby control sites, but slightly lower than the city overall.
|Demonstrate this finding in your own context using a street intercept survey along a local main street, perhaps one where cycling infrastructure is planned.
Evaluate the economic impact of installing bike lanes along a commercial main street by tracking before and after customer counts, vacancy rates, point-of-sale data or tax data if available. Compare with a similar control site where bike lanes were not installed.
|In 2015, Vélo Québec reported that cycling tourism spending was $700 million per year, including 1.6 million overnight stays. These visitors spend $242 per family per day, 6% more than the average traveller.
|Add a question about cycling to an existing tourism survey and compare the length of stay and spending characteristics of visitors who cycled with those who did not.
|Data on cycling and driving trips and cycling infrastructure expansion in Montreal, from 1998 to 2008, indicate that increasing the length of the cycling network by 7% results in a 2% reduction in GHG emissions.
|Use a standard GHG emissions factor (for example, in the average car 1 km of driving creates 0.25 kg of CO2 emissions), and calculate the emissions savings of converting a percentage of short trips in your community from driving to cycling.
|Increased cycling safety leads to greater participation by those who are less likely to cycle (e.g. children, older adults, women).
|Count the number of children, older adults
and women using a particular route before
and after safe cycling infrastructure is installed.
|Replacing a car trip with a bike trip is estimated to save a traveller $2.73 per mile.
|Use this finding to help people calculate the cost savings of a shift in mode choice for a specific trip (e.g. their commute to work).
|Each kilometre driven by car incurs a cost to society of 16 cents, while one kilometre of cycling creates 28 cents of benefits.
|Calculate the social benefits that current rates of cycling are bringing to your community.
|In Toronto, 2006 levels of walking and cycling were estimated to prevent 120 deaths per year, translating into savings of $130 to $478 million. A further benefit of $110 to $160 million is estimated from reduced medical costs.
In Portland, it is estimated that by 2040, investments of $138 to $605 million in cycling infrastructure will result in health care cost savings of $388 to $594 million.
|Use a health economic assessment tool to estimate the value of reduced mortality resulting from current rates of cycling in your municipality or from future, aspirational goals for cycling rates.
|Regular cycle commuters have one day less sickness absence per year than people commuting by other modes.
|Calculate the number of sick days your municipality saves, based on the number of people who report commuting to work by bike.