HEAT – Assessing the Impact of Active Travel on Health, Environment and Economy

Active Travel

Getting to work on foot or bike is a great way to get physical exercise and social connections while reducing congestion, pollution and saving money. In addition to helping us to meet recommended levels of physical activity, walking and cycling can also improve our mental health and boost social wellbeing.

Changing to Active Travel also reduces carbon emissions and helps us achieve net-zero targets. However, the benefits depend on modal shift across journey types and the relative magnitude of reductions in car use for business, shopping and commuting journeys.

Beyond the Car: Rethinking Transportation with Active Travel Solutions

HEAT provides tools to estimate the impact of modal shift on health, environment and economics. The tool calculates the ‘added value’ of achieving an increase in the proportion of trips made by walking or cycling, by using multi-criteria optimisation models. These models take int o account the impacts of both current and future changes in the proportion of trips, with an emphasis on those most likely to be achieved in the near term.

A key strength of the approach is the use of a mixture of methods to collect and analyse data on the actual travel behaviour of individuals, allowing for rich insight into their preferences and perceptions of active travel. The method used to gather these insights is a combination of observation and go-along interviews, enabling the collection of detailed trip data at a small scale. The results of the research are then used to inform the model calculations for all three of the assessments offered by HEAT.