Handshake: Learning from the European Cycling Capitals

From 2018 to 2022 – slightly longer than planned due to the pandemic, Decisio participated in CIVITAS Handshake. Handshake aimed to improve conditions for cycling as an everyday mode of transport and transition towards a greater quality of life in cities. In this context, Handshake enabled the exchange of knowledge and experience on cycling in cities from three European Cycling Capitals (Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Munich) to ten Future Cycling Capitals (Bordeaux, Bruges, Cadiz, Dublin, Helsinki, Krakow, Manchester, Riga, Rome and Turin).

This process resulted in the take up of cycling solutions by the cities involved, leading to more bicycle trips and greater distances cycled, which in turn yielded significant accessibility and health benefits in nearly all cities: On average 300 percent profits of the investments. This proofs why cycling is an effective solution to many modern (urban) challenges anywhere in Europe. Read more about the Handshake process, methodology and results below:

Knowledge transfer throughout the ex-ante and ex-post Bikenomics evaluations

Decisio mainly helped cities to monitor and evaluate these cycling solutions both ex-ante and ex-post, which provided an understanding of their welfare effects and social impacts in different types of urban domains. The most complex activity during the evaluation process of Handshake was the development of city-specific impact assessment models that would ensure comparability of results. In this context, two main “modules” were built: the demand model and the ‘Bikenomics’ impact model.

Bikenomics: What is it?

The evaluations relied on Bikenomics, the science that studies how investments in cycling influences societal wellbeing. Bikenomics lists and compares all the initial and expected future investment costs for a cycling project against the economic value of its societal impacts. Impacts can be positive or negative. In this way, the Bikenomics assessment helped to establish whether a cycling project (individually and collectively) is good value for money.

Besides monitoring and evaluating, transferring the Bikenomics knowledge to the cities was a goal and innovation in itself as well. On the one hand, knowledge of the theory was conveyed through many presentations and the development of a Bikenomics guide, and on the other hand by giving practical tasks to local key experts and evaluation leaders within cities throughout the evaluation process (data collection, validation and quality checks and creation of credible and unbiased hypotheses).

Cycling works anywhere in Europe: On average 300 percent profits

The ex post social cost benefit analyses found an increase in bicycle trips and average distance travelled in 2021 compared to start of Handshake in 2018. In some cities, the impact has been more pronounced than others: While Cycling Capitals have had limited effect (due to the existing high cycling demand), a greater impact has been felt in some heavily car-oriented Future Cycling Capitals such as Bordeaux and Turin. In general, it was found that ‘little’ cycling solutions such as road redesigns in favor of cyclists in Munich and Bordeaux, bike-to-work campaigns in Krakow and cycling prioritization at intersections in Amsterdam and Dublin can yield vast benefits (compared to the investment and maintenance costs). It must be noted though: The net effect of the cycling solutions implemented was estimated to be a third. Furthermore, there was substantial measurement distortion due to the impact of COVID-19 and different assumptions made by cities.

Disclaimers aside and using the best available information, nearly all evaluated cycling solutions had a positive social impact, which resulted in an overall positive cost-benefit ratio of around 4 in just 30 years time. Every euro invested yields thus 4 euro in socio-economic terms. The greatest benefits related to travel time savings due to better flow and greater accessibility for both cyclist as motorized traffic. And health benefits turned out to be significant: cycling (and walking) is healthier than other modalities! This is beneficial for society due to reduced mortality and direct medical cost savings, for employers because of increased productivity from reduced absenteeism (illness and mortality) and improved labor efficiency and most importantly for the individual because of longer and healthier lives!

You can find the Bikenomics guidance in the following link:

Bikenomics: Making the case for cycling investment in your city

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