New Ways to Go- Private Investment in Cycling

A systematic process for calculating and comparing gains (benefits) and costs of projects, decisions and policies is the Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA), which is used world-wide and is the official assessment tool for investments financed by EU funds, in order:

  • to determine if it is a sound investment (justification / feasibility);
  • to see how it compares with alternative projects (ranking / priority assignment).


Since there is a long history of evaluation of major transport projects such as motorways and railways, CBA may also be a helpful tool to demonstrate cycling potential. A CBA on cycling should follow the same methodology as regular CBAs. Therefore, here we first give a short introduction on how this method is used for other infrastructure than cycling, such as road infrastructure for cars. The methodology of the CBA for infrastructure has developed more and more towards Social Cost Benefit Analysis, including ‘soft’ factors besides ‘hard’ effects reflected by real behaviour and real economic value.


Social Cost Benefit Analyses (SCBA) are used in many western countries as an evaluation tool for infrastructure projects ex ante (Mouter et al., 2013). Making a SCBA gives insight to policymakers and the public into the costs and benefits of an infrastructure project or several alternatives. Not only are the simple costs of building a road, bridge or rail track included but also the ‘soft costs’ such as damage to nature, pollution and accidents. On the benefit side a SCBA calculates the gains of a certain infrastructure project to society in terms of welfare. These benefits stem from all kind of aspects such as travel time gains, better accessibility, safer traffic environment and agglomeration effects.


In the academic spheres as well as in public policy the Societal Cost Benefit Analysis can count on some critics as well (Beukers et al, 2012). Those critics mainly focus on the problems of quantifying ‘soft’ factors due to an infrastructure project, such as effects on nature. However, translating these soft factors into money makes it possible to involve them into the analysis so that a decision is far better justified.


An important methodological issue when performing a CBA is the type of data in terms of revealed or stated preferences. Revealed Preference (RP) shows the real effect of a certain investment or project on consumer behaviour. It is the preference of people shown by hard data on their actual behaviour. For the many effects we want to include in CBA’s it is not easy (or impossible) to get data on revealed preferences. The value of nature or biodiversity in the case of building a road near a forest for instance, cannot be measured out of real consumer behaviour. In these cases we can ask people how much they think this piece of nature or biodiversity is worth. This is called Stated Preference (SP).


In summary, a CBA attempts to measure the positive or negative consequences of a project, which may include:

  1. Effects on users or participants;
  2. Effects on non-users or non-participants;
  3. Externality effects;
  4. Option value or other social benefits.


From the Dutch experience with cost benefit analysis of cycling investments, we derive that the following roadmap would be best followed when performing such a CBA.


  1. Problem Analysis

Why is investment in cycling necessary? What problem will it solve? It could be that cyclists don’t have a safe place on a certain street and therefore suffer from many accidents. Or because of the absence of cycling infrastructure cycling numbers are low and thereby pollution of other transport modes is higher than desirable.


  1. Formulating alternatives

Probably there are several solutions to think of. To stay with the example of low cycling numbers caused by the absence of cycling infrastructure, we could think of building such infrastructure. But cycling promotion would be an alternative investing less money. A cost benefit analysis provides the tool to compare such alternatives in terms of societal and economical costs and benefits besides the plain costs.


  1. Zero alternative (reference)

Here we define the future situation without the intervention. In the end we compare all alternatives from step 2 with this situation. In this way it is possible to tell the relative costs and benefits compared to the same reference situation.


  1. Naming effects

In the next phase we make a list of effects we expect to happen as a result of the formulated alternatives. To do so, we look at the long list in section 2, where we defined all possible effects of private investment in cycling.


  1. Scope of effects

The quantitative data collected in this report is then used to determine parameters for all affects. For example, we found average numbers for days cycled per year in the HEAT example. Combined with the length of a new designed bike path and expected number of users we can calculate the extra kilometres cycled due to the construction of the path. Many of these parameters may be location specific.


  1. Monetised effects

For all the effects, it is possible to  calculate the effects in euros. With parameters on traffic accidents and the value of preventing a deadly victim of an accident for example, we can calculate the societal benefits of building a safer cycling path which means less victims in traffic accidents.


  1. Making costs and benefits comparable

In order to make alternatives comparable we transfer all costs and benefits to Net Present Values (NPV). An overview of all NPV’s for different alternatives is very useful in the decision making process of weighing different interventions such as constructing a new bike path versus a cycling promotion campaign.


  1. Sensitivity analysis

In the last step we ‘play’ with some parameters to give insight in the effect of specific parts of a measure. You could think of changing the length of bicycle paths to be constructed or the sum of money invested in a promotion campaign.


  1. Use as a basis for decision making

In the end, the results of the CBA are to be used as a basis for decision-making. It is important of course to use the results in the most effective way. In many cases this includes the ‘buying in’ of the decision makers. They must understand the method and analysis and ideally adopt it. In general this means that the decision makers should participate in the analysis, so they really get a good sense of the costs and benefits of the projects.


Please contact the partners below with any queries, especially on scientific projects you would like to execute a Cost Benefit analyses on.


velo           decisio

Address: Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen 201017 RR Amsterdam Valkenburgerstraat 2121011 ND Amsterdam
Phone: +31 6 27055688 +31 20 67 00 562
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Includes great recycling idea – old cigarette machines now dispensing inner tubes!!!!!!

Hackney assess cycle parking demand in the borough

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CycleCities on OPEN DAYS 2014

Brussels, Belgium

100 workshops, 200 regions and cities were present this year at the European Week of Regions and Cities. The events proved this year again very successful and him – our CycleCities animation hero – George – was a part of it.

The “George gets CycleFit” animation was the only video from all INTERREG IVC projects that was selected to be presented in Brussels during the OPEN DAYS 2014 within Cinema programme.

Please visit project website to learn more about George’s story and the INTERREG IVC playlist to see more video of CycleCities and other projects.




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The city no longer exists… long live the city!

AESOP Young Academics

Dear urbanists, urban planners, traffic planners, architects and others,

Our work is done.

Recently Google Maps does not show the same things to everyone. The uncrowned world leader in digital mapping breaks the tradition to display the city on a universal manner. Since everybody is unique, Google now shows your individual city: places, according to Google which are interesting to you.

Perhaps this doesn’t surprise you. Neither does us. Not yet. After all, it’s just on a screen isn’t it? But wait! Within a few years you will wear a Ray Ban designer sunglasses from Google during your holidays. And so will thousands of others.

The city will get fragmented when 4G, wifi, smart gear and augmented reality will coincide with each other. Your city is no longer my city, your city is no longer our city. The city no longer exists… long live the city!

There is a quiet…

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Knowledge Center for Cycling Policy in The Netherlands

What do you think?

A limited number of data on bicycle use in the Netherlands can be found in Cycling in the Netherlands. The data on trends in bicycle use have been analysed regularly.  The latest broad analysis: Monitoring bicycle policies 1996-1999. Before that, the English version of the final report of Masterplan Fiets: The Dutch Bicycle Master Plan. Gradually these analyses have provided increasingly stronger evidence  in favour of the efficacy of bicycle policies (Evidence in favour of efficacy bicycle policies) and Bicycle policies have mainly long-term effects (Fietsbeleid werkt vooral op de lange termijn), particularly thanks to the data that became available as a result of the Fietsbalans benchmarking by Fietsersbond (Good local policies huge incentive for bicycle use). This led to the development of an arithmetic module containing autonomous circumstances in addition to policy measures, which accounts to a large extent for the differences in bicycle use among various cities: Explanatory model for bicycle use. Highly enlightening about the type of bicycle use and bicycle policies in the Netherlands: Learning from the Dutch laboratory.

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Rome was not built in one day; nor shall London’s cycling network

What do you think?

Boris Johnson cycle superhighway plans are cut and delayed. While his allies rally round his flagship project, other elements of the London mayor’s “cycling vision” are being quietly dropped or slowed down With media attention firmly focussed on the 18-mile, east-west “Crossrail for bikes” and concerns that this ambitious scheme is being forced through too fast in order to make Boris Johnson look good before he formally steps down in 2016, two of the mayor’s other planned “cycle superhighways” have been dumped and others have been put back. In a written answer to a question from Green Party London Assembly member Darren Johnson, the mayor has confirmed that plans for a superhighway 6 (CS6) from Penge to the City and a superhighway 12 from East Finchley/Muswell Hill to Angel (CS12) “are now deleted from the programme”. Meanwhile, the latest Transport for London (TfL) operational and financial performance report shows that CS11, CS4 and an extension to theforthcoming CS5 are “scheduled to complete later than originally forecast”. Read on here.

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Bicycle parking at Rotterdam Central Station

What do you think?

It was built in 22 months, the underground bicycle parking facility at Rotterdam’s new Central Railway Station. It was opened in November 2013 and it has parking spaces for 5,190 bicycles. Making it the largest of the country (to date), at just a bit bigger than the runner-up. The majority of the parking spaces can be used completely free of charge. This is one of several very large parking facilities that were opened in recent years at main intercity railway stations in the Netherlands. But even relatively small towns have large facilities. Houten (2011; 3,000 spaces) is a prime example and the “bicycle apple” in Alphen a/d Rijn (2010; 1,000 spaces) also shows that the Dutch arrive by bicycle at their railway stations in very high numbers. On average in the entire country 40% of the train travellers arrive by bicycle so combining modes of travel is very common in the Netherlands. That makes it necessary for the authorities to facilitate parking all those bicycles. All these large facilities popping up around the country is not because there is a race going on to have the best or biggest facility. Read on in Bicycle Dutch.

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