“TAPAS - Transportation, Air pollution and Physical Activities: How to benefit from active transport?

By Pavlina Dravecka / Updated: 17 Feb 2015

Active transport offers an effective alternative to the harmful health effects of sedentary lifestyles. The benefits of active transport are currently being evaluated by the TAPAS project, a multinational research project running from 2008-2013), coordinated by CREAL (Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology) in Barcelona. Partners from six European cities (Barcelona, Paris, Copenhagen, Basel, Prague and Warsaw) are involved in the project

The project attempts to increase knowledge of active transport from various perspectives (e.g. understanding the determinants of active transport, the health impact of active transport and so on). An increase in this understanding would help decision-makers choose the best tools to support active travel and provide scientific-based reasons why active transport should be supported.

However, evaluation of the costs and benefits of active travel is not a simple task. To help address this issue, the project focuses not only on the positive impacts of active travel, but also on negative impacts of air pollution for cyclists and walkers.

A further project aim is to increase understanding of the effectiveness of various measures to support active travel, as this increased knowledge is vital for decision-makers, especially when funds for sustainable transport are limited.

To help achieve this, the project has attempted to quantify the effects of different measures, including construction and improvement of various kinds of cycling infrastructure (e.g. cycling paths, lanes, cycle parking facilities, bike sharing facilities, pedestrian zones, etc.), traffic calming, and fiscal measures to discourage motor traffic (congestion charging, paid parking zones), using advanced statistical methods.

According to the preliminary results:

(1) The length of cycling infrastructure is significantly and positively related to cycling modal share;

(2) The share of car and walking do not depend on the length of cycling infrastructure, and;

(3) The share of public transport significantly declines with the length of cycling infrastructure.

In other words, the statistical results suggest a rather strong link between cycling infrastructure and cycling shares. Public transport appears to be the mode competing with cycling: it is the most probable mode of transport from which new cyclists and walkers can be recruited. To recruit new cyclists from cars, specific tools must be used.

As the project does not finish until the middle of next year, the project outputs are delivered at different stages. To date, a number of published papers and conference presentations have been produced which document some of the initial project research findings, and additional articles are in progress.

Please visit TAPAS Program for further details and current project downloads.