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Promoting active travel and public transport has both health and environmental benefits due to increased physical activity, reduced air and noise pollution, and decreased greenhouse gas emissions. Barcelona promoted during the last decade cycling, public transportation, and traffic calming. In this study we i) used the Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) to estimate the health and economic benefits of policies promoting walking and cycling in Barcelona, and ii) assessed trends in road traffic injuries. We conducted a pre-post evaluation study. First, we compared the number of walking and cycling trips in 2009 to those in 2013. As measurable outcomes, we estimated the number of deaths prevented per year due to changes in the amount of walking and cycling, as well as the economic benefit resulting from these prevented deaths. Second, we analysed trends in the number of road traffic injuries from 2009 to 2013 according to transportation mode. The number of walking and cycling trips registered on working days in Barcelona increased by 26.7% and 72.5%, respectively. A total of 86 and 8.5 deaths were prevented per year due to the increase in walking and cycling levels, respectively. This resulted in an average annual economic benefit of €47, 3 m due to walking and of €4, 7 m due to cycling (averaged over 5 years), assuming that future benefits are reduced by 5% per year. While the number of walking and cycling trips in the city increased between 2009 and 2013, pedestrian and cyclist injury rates decreased by 26.7% and 1.4% respectively. In conclusion, changes in transport policies in Barcelona aimed at promoting active transportation created clear health benefits related to physical activity, but increased neither the number of pedestrian nor cyclist traffic injuries. Thus, under the framework of the Health in All Policies, the benefits of active travel support the need for better integration and coordination between transport and health policies.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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