7% more cycle path equals 2% less greenhouse gases, calculates study

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A new study exploring the connection between bicycle infrastructure and local emissions has concluded that a 7% increase in cycle path length has equated to a greenhouse gas dip of 2%.

Taking in data from 1998, 2003 and 2008, researchers from the McGill University anaylsed a ten year curve within which Montreal experienced a modal share growth for cycling. Over that ten year period, cycling in the region rose from a 2.8% to 5.3% in urban areas and 1.4% and 3.0% in sub-urban areas.

The paper’s abstract offers: “A statistically significant association is also found between the index of bicycle infrastructure accessibility and bike mode choice – an increase of 10% in the accessibility index results in a 3.7% increase in the ridership. Based on the estimated models and in combination with a GHG inventory at the trip level, the potential impact of planned cycling infrastructure is explored using a basic scenario. A reduction of close to 2% in GHG emissions is observed for an increase of 7% in the length of the bicycle network. Results show the important benefits of bicycle infrastructure to reduce commuting automobile usage and GHG emissions.”

In its analysis, the paper also compares the building of infrastructure for active travel with the conversion of buses and trains to hybrid or electric power. In its findings, it demonstrates that as far as cost to benefit goes, building for cycling is the more beneficial. Indeed, in Montreal’s case, all diesel buses would have to be converted to hybrid and all commuter trains electrified in order to achieve the reductions already delivered by upgrading the cycle network from 375 miles to 402 in length.

You can catch the full study here.

We have now popped this study within our Cycling Advocacy Resource – a library of studies and stats to support your local area’s case for space for cycling.