Beyond the traffic jam – the benefits of investing in biking


There is no doubt that growing cities need solutions to accomodating growth without getting stuck in traffic.  But our cities face a different kind of growth problem.  The growing problems of health, social equity, and loneliness.  Is it over reaching to suggest that growing transport biking could help with these problems as well as with traffic? Here are some examples that show the far reaching benefits of investing in cycling.

Mangare’s Te Ara Mua (Future Streets) are an inspirational example of a place-making project designed to improve health and community well-being. When dialysis centres are your most used community assets it is a sign that something needs to change. The Te Ara Mua project sought to make it easy for people to move around their neighbourhood on foot and by bike by connecting up existing pathways, calming traffic and understanding where people are coming from and heading to. It used this understanding to design the infrastructure to match behaviour, such as siting a crossing where people prefer to cross the road! There is so much to be learned from this project and I hope to see local governments queuing up to implement these learnings locally.

Check out more from the Future Streets presentation at the Asia Pacific Cycle Congress


This is the second in a series of three blog posts where I will explore the key recurring themes from Asia Pacific Cycle Congress 2017.

In the first post – why grow biking part 1 – I looked at the basic economics behind why major cities are choosing biking as a way to solve their traffic woes when faced with population growth.


Adding up the benefits

Accross the ditch in Queensland they’ve done their own work on quantifying the benefits of investing in cycling.  Queensland’s Cost benefit analysis is a tool used to demonstrate the economic justifications for investing in biking. Lessons from Sydney showed the health costs and benefits stack up significantly, even taking into account ‘exposure risk’. But they found that health and community benefits alone don’t win people over to support biking projects.  People who don’t bike want to know how this will benefit them, so making the case for ‘less traffic’ is critical to winning public support.

New Zealand have done their sums too and identified their return on Investment:  Auckland research shows for every $1 spent on cycle improvements, more than $20 is saved due to fewer road traffic injuries, reduced emissions, the health benefits of increased exercise, and savings on fuel.

There is  a lot to gain

Consider the impact of reducing the societal costs of physical inactivity, injury, and pollution.  Source: Cost of Physical Inactivity Report (NZ)

  • Physical inactivity was estimated to cost $1.3 billion in 2010.
  • The total social cost of motor vehicle injury crashes in 2014 was estimated at approximately $3.47 billion.
  • Air pollution from motor vehicles contributes to the premature death of 500 people per year and another 809 are suffering serious illness.

Make the most of the move to Bike Friendly Cities:


The benefits of investing in cycling – source NZTA.

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