Deputy Director Sustainable Travel and Equalities, Department for Transport
Direct impacts of research on policy making are not always easy to identify, but CEDAR’s work on physical activity – particularly the evidence that David Ogilvie and his team are gathering on the potential of travel to help people be more active – is having a clear impact on DfT’s cycling policy development.
We have long been making the case for investing in cycling and walking, using the WHO Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) to help quantify people living longer (reduced mortality). However, we were not capturing ‘quality life years added’ by living more healthy longer lives – until, that is, CEDAR’s James Woodcock met our Permanent Secretary, Philip Rutnam, and pointed out that monetisation of these benefits had been missed and we were therefore undervaluing walking and cycling investments.
My team and James explored whether they could define a simple-to-use factor to estimate the monetised value of reduced morbidity. The result: the reduced-morbidity benefit of an increase in physical activity equated to about an additional 40% on top of the reduced-mortality benefits.
As we consider the investment for cycling in the future, we will now be able to use this 40% factor to top up health benefits, helping to make the investment case for cycling and walking significantly more attractive. Quite a legacy for a Fellowship!