UK Department for Transport updates walking and cycling appraisal guidance based on CEDAR research

The Department for Transport (DFT) has published proposed changes for their Transport Appraisal Guidance (TAG) for active travel based on CEDAR research 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 MRC Epidemiology Unit, together with a national and international team of experts, used the newest available statistical relationships between health benefits and walking & cycling. (These relationships have now also been implemented in the HEAT tool). The CEDAR group also updated other parts of the calculation so that it takes 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.

When comparing the new method with the old one, the new one predicts slightly higher overall health benefits because it includes the larger impact on older age groups. When considering the working age adults only, the population-wide benefits come out as slightly lower.

The proposed method is accompanied by a report that summarises the current understanding of the health benefits of cycling and walking, as well as a spreadsheet toolkit which allows users to calculate the health benefits of specific walking and cycling projects.

Department for Transport resources

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For more information, contact Dr Marko Tainio.