The DfT has published new guidance which includes a method to estimate the health benefits of walking and cycling interventions.
The proposed changes for the DfT’s Transport Appraisal Guidance (TAG) for active travel are based on research carried out by the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) which brings together the latest understanding of the various benefits of cycling and walking.
The new guidance specifies the appraisal process for projects that support walking and cycling in England.
The previous guidance, introduced in 2014, was based on the former World Health Organization (WHO) Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) methods and only looked at the health benefits for the working age population.
To update the calculations and achieve more accurate estimates, the public health modelling team at CEDAR and the MRC Epidemiology Unit at Cambridge University, together with a team of national and international experts, used the most recent statistical relationships between health benefits and walking and cycling.
The project team also updated other parts of the calculation to take into account age and gender differences in background mortality, distance travelled and speed. This allows users of the guidance to calculate scenarios that, for example, are aimed specifically at older adults.
CEDAR says that when comparing the new method with the old one, the new one predicts slightly higher overall health benefits because it includes the impact on older age groups. When considering working age adults only, the population-wide benefits come out as slightly lower.
The DfT’s proposed new method is accompanied by a report that summarises the current understanding of the health benefits of cycling and walking, and a spreadsheet toolkit which allows users to calculate the health benefits of specific walking and cycling projects.