Active Transport: Developing economic assessments for cycling and walking infrastructure in South Australia
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The Active Transport health lens was a collaborative project between the Health in All Policies Unit, SA Health, and the Cycling and Walking Section (C&WS) in the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI)*.
The aim of the project was to strengthen economic arguments for investment in cycling and walking infrastructure.
The Cycling and Walking Section recognised that while cycling and walking have both transport and health benefits, and were recognised and promoted by the South Australian Government, often bids for funding for cycling and walking infrastructure did not successfully compete with other transport projects.
It was identified that there was a need for a recognised methodology to quantify the economic benefits of cycling and walking to make a strong case to win funding for such projects. Previously, projects had been argued for on their strong strategic fit rather than their economic merit. The HiAP Unit and C&WS agreed to conduct a project on developing an economic assessment for cycling and walking infrastructure projects in South Australia.
It was noted that a focus on the economic benefits of cycling and walking was not well developed at a national and international level and hence there was no easy adaptable methodology to apply to the South Australian context.
In summary, it was recognised that there were benefits from transport, health and environmental perspectives, including reduced congestion, reduced air and noise pollution, increased physical activity, savings in vehicle operating costs, savings in costs associated with parking, savings in infrastructure cost, reduced mortality and absenteeism savings.
This project followed a targeted policy review, which involved a more focussed process than a full Health Lens Analysis (HLA). It used the first two stages in the HLA process: engagement and gather evidence. In particular, the project engaged with key government personnel and drew on evidence based research as a means of shaping the state and national agendas.
Increasing active transport would support a number of State Strategic Plan Targets, including**:
The literature review and discussions between DPTI and HiAP have influenced and informed the national agenda. Infrastructure Australia has called for a nationally accepted methodology for evaluating the economic benefits of cycling and walking. The work will also be beneficial for South Australia in bidding for Infrastructure Australia’s funding and in making strong economic cases for cycling and walking project submissions to SA’s Treasury.
C&WS expressed a desire to continue working collaboratively with the HiAP Unit on future projects. A second Active Transport project is currently being undertaken to support the development of South Australia’s Cycling Strategy.
*Formerly the Department of Transport, Energy and Infrastructure (DTEI).
**South Australia’s Strategic Plan was updated in 2011. In this update, a number of existing targets underwent change and new targets were included. The targets outlined above relate to the 2007 version of the Plan.