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  • Writer's pictureNicolas

What is the impact of cycling on society?🚴‍♀️ 🚴 🚴🏾‍♂️ 🚲

Recently both Vias institute and Transport & Mobility Leuven published a report on that topic; One at a Belgian level (Vias) and the other at a BeNeLux and North Rhine-Westphalia level (TML).

Some key outcomes:

1️⃣ At the health level, cycling prevents 1294 premature deaths per year. This corresponds to 1472 saved thanks to a positive impact on health - 80 due to road accidents - 99 due to atmospheric pollution.

Effect on health of bicycle use in Belgium from Vias Institue
source: Vias Institute

This converted to euros, making a saving of about 8.42 Billion euros

Costs of bicycle use in Belgium from Vias Institute
source: Vias Institute

2️⃣ At the environmental level, the current cycle usage saves 137 717 CO2tons, the emission equivalent of 19 048 Belgians.

This converted to euros, making a saving of about 8.24 Million euros

3️⃣ Regarding jobs, there are no recent figures as the scope is quite large. According to Cycling Industries Europe it was around 5175 jobs in 2014

4️⃣ TML compared the net benefits of bikes compared with other transport means. A push bike has a net benefit of 0.98€/km, an e-bike of 0.22 €/km, and a car costs 1.02€/km to society.

Net benefits  in € per km per transport mode (TMLeuven)
source: TMLeuven

Many elements have been taken into account in this computation: private costs, congestion, health, emissions, accidents, noise, occupation of public space, and infrastructure.

"Differently put, if 100 000 people commute to work by push bike over a 5-km one-way distance, they generate a total benefit of 196 million euros per year. If they commute by car, they create a cost of 203 million euros per year. Of this total cost, 89 million euros is carried by the car user, but 114 million euros is for the rest of society to bear." according to TML's report.

5️⃣ They quantify also the benefits of the modal shift to bike (see chart below) and even to speed pedelec which is always positive.

"Because 44% of all passenger car trips have a shorter distance than 5 km and 79% of all car trips are shorter than 20 km, the potential social benefits of a modal shift to cycling are enormous. 5 If 1% of all passenger kilometers by car in the Beneluw-NRW are replaced by bicycle kilometers (40% push bikes, 40% e-bikes, 20% speed pedelecs), a net social gain of € 13.6 billion can be realized" according to TML's report.

Again this has to be considered in the mobility system as a whole. This illustrates why, when possible, the bicycle has to be seriously considered keeping in mind the "Avoid Shift Improve" approach.

The ASI approach illustrated
source: Solcat partnership


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