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Active transport economic appraisal tool

The Department of Transport and Main Roads has developed an analysis tool for estimating the economic costs and benefits of investment in walking and cycling infrastructure in Queensland, based on the Australian Transport Assessment and Planning Guidelines (M4 Active Travel)

The tool can be used to calculate the costs and benefits of proposed infrastructure or to evaluate recently completed projects, both for stand-alone walking and cycling projects or as part of larger transport projects.

The tool has been applied to approximately 40 projects across Queensland as of June 2019. Most of the economic benefits from walking and cycling projects have been the result of improved health of Queenslanders, reduced congestion and reduced parking and vehicle operating costs.

The benefit cost ratios for selected infrastructure projects are shown below. Further examples of how the tool has been applied is available on the cycling infrastructure projects page.

The benefit/cost ratios for selected walking and cycling infrastructure projects in Queensland.
The benefit/cost ratios for selected walking and cycling infrastructure projects in Queensland
Source: CDM Research. (2016). Measuring the benefits of active travel. Melbourne. Unpublished report prepared for the Department of Transport and Main Roads

Note: Expensive projects that fill important missing links may not always have high benefit/cost ratios.

Peer review

In May 2018, Professor Chris Cherry, visiting fellow at the University of Queensland, reviewed the tool and found it to be among the best applications of its kind in the world.  As this is a rapidly developing area of practice, the review recommended several areas for ongoing improvement, such as continuing to improve the estimates of demand for active transport infrastructure.

How to use the tool

The tool takes about 30 minutes to complete if all the input data is available. It is recommended that only practitioners with economics knowledge and experience use the tool.

To apply the tool to either pre or post project evaluation situations, you will need:

  • the project location, length, and how it connects with other nearby active transport infrastructure
  • the estimated cost and year of delivery
  • current or forecast average daily counts of cyclists and pedestrians.

You can access the tool by emailing the Cycling Program at To track how the tool is being used, you will be asked to provide your contact details and intended use of the tool. You may also be asked to provide a copy of your work for peer review purposes.

Last updated
04 March 2022