The Economic Boost of Active Travel


Published: July 21, 2023

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Does your local economy need a boost? Did you know that good investment in active travel can help provide this… not just in your area but in our wider economy? 

We all know that choosing more active forms of transport can be good for us physically and mentally. This is on top of the fantastic benefits it can have on local air quality, reducing congestion and contributing to the lowering of harmful emissions more widely. However, thanks to a report published by Sustrans last year, it seems the benefits of active travel can also be felt in our economy.


Defeating Congestion and Helping the NHS

In reaction to the Government’s Autumn Statement last year, Sustrans reported in its Walking and Cycling Index that in 2021 active travel helped to generate £36.5 million for the UK economy. This benefit included the direct economic benefits of increased walking and cycling (people buying bikes, boots and other items going into the economy), plus the fact that people who walk to the high street spend 40% more than those that drive. The benefits also include the cost savings related to congestion and running a car, plus the fact that people that are more active require less support from NHS services and will take 27% fewer sick days from work.

Car mirror.

A Consideration for Investment

The report is significant in showing the positive impact of measures to reduce car use and increase more active modes of travel, but it is also important for the Government to consider these numbers when deciding how to proceed with future investment in active travel and infrastructure.

Help Local Leaders Understand

On a local level, it is important that people actively take an interest and let their local leaders know that active travel matters to them. A face to face conversation with one or more of your local councillors about what real difference safe active travel facilities would make to your life can help garner their influential support, especially if you have other good case study examples too.  Ensuring they understand the economic benefits is important too as local leaders care about economic well-being.  They may not have made the connection that creating a network of safe, accessible routes for those wanting to travel on foot, by bike or in a wheelchair can bring a boost to the local economy.

Wide shared cycle path next to busy road. Man cycling towards the camera on path. People in background are waiting for a red bus which is approaching them. Large green Kettering route sign near them. Trees and blue sky in background,

Great Data to Support the Economic Case for Active Travel

Find out more about the economic and other benefits of active travel in the Sustrans Walking and Cycling Index, which includes the Walking and Cycling Index Data Tool - great data to support your claims.  And make sure you share the message - active travel is good for the economy!

Brightwayz Sustainable Travel Campaign Resources

  • Here at Brightwayz social enterprise we love to provide information and tips to help you, your colleagues, friends and family travel in safe, active, sustainable ways for everyday journeys.
  • Our unique range of products is here to help support your active travel campaigns and 100% of profits from sales is ploughed back to support the work we do. Take a look at our range here and find something to help you inspire others to travel in good ways.
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