Cycling Demonstration Towns ? an Economic Evaluation

Cycling Demonstration Towns ? an Economic Evaluation


A Cope, A Kennedy, Sustrans, UK; M Ledbury, R Cambery, Department for Transport, UK; J Parkin, University of Bolton, UK; N Cavill, Cavill Associates, UK


This paper describes an economic evaluation of the first phase of the English Cycling Demonstration Town investment programme (£18 million). The economic evaluation uses monitoring data and uses WHO?s HEAT for cycling tool and the Webtag framework.


This paper describes a retrospective economic evaluation of the first phase of the Cycling England / Department for Transport Cycling Demonstration Town investment programme in England between October 2005 and March 2009. The towns involved in the first phase of the Cycling Demonstration Towns programme were Aylesbury, Brighton & Hove, Darlington, Derby, Exeter and Lancaster with Morecambe. All of the towns implemented a wide ranging programme of initiatives with the potential to increase cycling levels. In each case the programme of interventions incorporated numerous examples from across the spectrum of ?harder? (infrastructural) and ?softer? (e.g. media work, training) measures.

In total, £18 million was invested in the Cycling Demonstration Towns over the course of the programme. The towns? investment in cycling was at least £10 per head per year, representing a substantially higher level of investment than the UK average, which is typically £1 per head per year. The investment hypothesis was that investment levels more closely aligned with investment levels of European cities with higher levels of cycling would lead to increases in levels of cycling activity.

A major part of the activity in the towns was a monitoring and evaluation programme. This exercise was an innovative collaboration between Sustrans (voluntary sector specialists in sustainable transportation), academic and consultant partners, the project funders, and the towns themselves. The monitoring project included a number of different types of tailored data collection, including automated and manual cycle counts, counts of parked bicycles, school and workplace travel surveys, and other surveys. In addition, other local data sources were used for the purposes of evaluation.

The data show an average uplift of 27% in cycling across the six towns.

Secondary phases of the evaluation process include a partial economic evaluation focusing only on the monetised public health benefits of physical activity associated with the Cycling Demonstration Towns programme, using the World Health Organisation?s Health Economic Appraisal Tool for cycling, and latterly a full economic evaluation using the Webtag economic appraisal framework. This exercise involved the close collaboration of the partners in the monitoring and evaluation project with the Department for Transport.

The economic evaluation generates a headline benefit:cost ratio in the ?high value for money? category. The value of benefits linked to increased levels of physical activity is demonstrably the largest part of the full benefit value.

This paper outlines the monitoring methodology and results, and describes the economic evaluation exercises. The paper details the application of established evaluation tools in this novel context, and explores the challenges associated with this exercise (including data compatibility issues, evolving techniques, refinement of tools) and the outputs of the exercise).

Notable features of the paper include:
? The question of data manipulation to meet the needs of the economic evaluation tools (the monitoring data from the CDTs was not collected with the purpose of estimating impacts in economic terms), and the implications for design of monitoring and evaluation exercises
? Implications of assumptions concerning the extent to which such a programme of interventions ?locks-in? changes in travel behaviour, with regard to the duration of the appraisal period used for the economic evaluation exercise (particularly with respect to the fact of continuity of investment under the current Cycling City and Towns programme)
? The implications of the varied nature of the interventions that are part of the programme (including the treatment of revenue and capital costs), and the simultaneous delivery of other transport (and other) programmes in some of the towns
? The absence of appropriate tools to inform the appraisal exercise, for example, the treatment of under-16 year olds in the appraisal process (neither HEAT or Webtag allows for distinction to be made for age groups where degrees of benefit may differ); the lack of a suitable means of estimating morbidity benefits (HEAT deals only with mortality); the relative lack of any values that can be assigned to reflect the benefits of the full range of provision through programmes of interventions to promote cycling
? There are a number of major considerations with reference to policy implications in terms of the linkage between transport provision and public health (with specific reference to active travel), the generation and interpretation of evaluation material (particularly economic evaluation), and monitoring and evaluation for the purposes of determining future investment priorities, and informing the development of policy on cycling and local transport


Association for European Transport