US study finds physically active cities are more productive

By Lewis Macdonald / Updated: 24 Jun 2015

Research carried out by the University of California has found that investing in cycling, walking, public transport and green spaces has significant economic returns.

Over 500 existing studies in 17 countries were examined to get an overall view of the impact of increased physical activity on cities. The results showed the schemes to encourage walking and cycling had the greatest impact, with one UK study showing that local trade can be boosted by 40 per cent in areas with more pedestrians.

Other aspects of active mobility that increase economic performance are less traffic congestion and reduced air pollution. This reduces delays in deliveries and commuting and also reduces the number of sick days taken by employees.

The study also noted a number of other benefits that more active cities have, including reduced crime, better mental health and wellbeing, and improved performance by students in schools.

The study's authors concluded that the average return on investment for walking and cycling projects is $ 20 ( € 18) for every $ 1.50 (€ 1.34) spent. The report also includes recommendations for policy-makers to achieve active cities.

For more information, visit or download and read the study on

Image copyright: Bike To Work Day 2009 (photo on Flickr) by "Richard Masoner", licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Walking and cycling