Benefits of walking & cycling

Greater use of walking and cycling can bring a host of benefits to cities:

  • Economic benefits. Well-designed streets help reduce the use of motorised vehicles and the related costs of traffic congestion; increase retail sales and business transactions; raise property values; offer a lower-cost alternative to construction and maintenance road infrastructure; and lower household transport costs.
  • Avoided congestion. Walking and cycling can improve economic performance of cities through reduced congestion. One study estimates residents of Lagos collectively lose 3 billion hours per year to traffic congestion, at the cost of USD 1 billion. In Los Angeles, ranked the eleventh most congested city in the world, traffic congestion cost the city USD 24 billion in 2013. Traffic congestion is estimated to cost developing Asian countries 2-5 per cent of their GDP annually.
  • Enhanced personal security. Well-designed NMT facilities help improve personal security for pedestrians, particularly women. Ample lighting and active building edges with ground-floor activities such as store fronts and restaurants can help improve security for NMT users.
  • Improved public health. Walking and cycling can help address conditions exacerbated by inactivity, including obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Walking just one kilometer per day has been associated with a 4.9 per cent reduction in the likelihood of obesity, and also lowers the risk of heart disease.
  • Reduced emissions. Shifting trips from motorised to NMT modes can reduce tailpipe emissions and local air pollution. Pollution from motorised vehicles contain harmful chemicals including particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and sulphur dioxide that contribute to local air pollution.
A median walkway in Lusaka, Zambia. (Source: ITDP Africa)