One euro invested in a bike highway provides at least double (in practice even more) return on investment in health benefits. This is the result of a pilot study conducted by researchers at the Belgium Institute for Technological Research (VITO), published in the Journal of Transport and Health.
They investigated the benefits of the investment in two cycling highways between Antwerp-Mechelen and Brussels - Leuven. They have developed a mathematical model considering the cost of infrastructure (between 300,000 and 800,000 euros per kilometer), compared to return on investment in terms of health benefits ( assuming a traffic of 600 to 4,000 cyclists per day on both the routes). Looking at the return on improved health, the cost of diseases related to air pollution and road accidents were considered as well as the positive effects of physical exercise on diseases like cancer, diabetes, etc.). The model provides the possibility to take into account the costs provoked by CO2 emissions, traffic congestion and noise pollution.
The overall conclusion of the application of the model on the two Flemish cycling highways is that the return on investment is 200% on improved health benefits in the worst scenario, even when CO2 emissions, noise and congestion are not included yet. The most positive scenario comes even to a return on investment of 1400% .
According to developers , the model (CWICalc) is more advanced than the model of the World Health Organization. However, it was developed specifically for Flanders, but it is available online.