Cycling & walking investment strategy: insights from investment modelling

This paper is a joint summary paper written in 2019 by Transport for Quality of Life and the Department for Transport (DfT) on the results of three active travel investment models (collectively referred to as the CWIS model) to estimate the impact of a range investment scenarios, on national levels of cycling, walking and walking to school.

The technical reports and annexes supporting those models were published in February 2020 and can be found under the Further Reading link.

This joint summary paper was never published by DfT but came into the public domain in May 2024 as a result of a legal challenge against them by Transport Action Network.

The headline cost ranges quoted in the summary paper for each scenario will need to be updated to take account of cost inflation over the last few years, meaning the quantum of investment required is likely to be higher than that originally estimated. This adjustment does not invalidate the need for such investment, nor the evidence underpinning it.

Indeed, despite some temporary impacts of Covid-19, the latest walking and cycling statistics show that levels of cycling and walking to school, still lag far behind the objectives of CWIS1 and CWIS2, with less than two years to go. Levels of cycling and walking to school are effectively little changed from the baseline levels of more than 10 years ago. This suggests that significantly increased efforts will need to be made to reach the 2025 CWIS objectives.

It is worth noting that the typically high value for money of active travel schemes means the benefits, in terms of wider health, social and environmental benefits. will likely outweigh even the increased costs of such schemes. The ‘Social Equity and Health’ and ‘Tackle Child Obesity’ scenarios in particular are likely to have long term benefits for people in more deprived areas which would help contribute to the Government’s Levelling Up agenda.

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