IISD-CMI, Walk, Cycle Campaign to remain Healthy

IISD-CMI, Walk, Cycle Campaign to remain Healthy

Walking and Cycling is one of the most sustainable modes of transportation. It has numerous benefits in the form of zero dependence on fossil fuels, zero emissions and pollution, health benefits from increased physical activity, besides being an affordable means of mobility for low-income households. For individuals, especially in rural areas, cycling improves access to jobs, education, and health facilities. Additionally, by addressing low female school enrolment, it has shown immense potential to promote gender empowerment.

However, despite its many benefits, bicycles in India are increasingly being used by only captive users, who do not have access to any other form of mobility. Resultantly, India is witnessing a very slow growth in bicycle ownership and a decline in the use of bicycles as a form of mobility (TERI, 2014). In the period between 2001 and 2011, the share of bicycle-owning households has only increased by 1%. The corresponding share in rural areas has increased by 3.4%, whereas in urban areas it has declined by 4.1%.

Rising income levels, absence of safe cycling infrastructure, and increased affordability of motorized vehicles (especially two-wheelers) are the major factors that have led to a decline in the share of bicycles. Specifically, in cities short-distance trips, which can be undertaken by bicycles, are now being made by cars and two-wheelers instead.

This increasing motorization in urban and rural areas has given rise to many negative externalities, such as dependence on fossil fuels, GHG emissions, congestion, pollution and the associated health impacts. In order to minimize the costs associated with these externalities, the current and future projected travel demand needs to be served by sustainable modes of transportation like walking and cycling, at least for shorter distances.

To promote the widespread use of bicycles, dedicated initiatives such as tax concessions for low-income individuals, construction of adequate and safe cycling infrastructure, and measures to reduce the use of private vehicles such as congestion and parking pricing and awareness campaigns to highlight the benefits of cycling need to be undertaken. These measures should be implemented to retain the existing high share of cyclists and to motivate a shift among those, who currently rely on private motor vehicles, even for short distances.

In order to encourage such measures, the benefits of cycling for the economy, the environment, and society have to be estimated. To this end, the study undertakes a comprehensive review of the internationally accepted methodologies used to quantify the benefits associated with cycling. Further, by employing these methodologies the study quantifies the benefits of cycling in India.

Analysing Work Trips in India

From Census of India, 2011 insights, It is observed that more than 50% of the people in India use non-motorized forms of transport, such as walking and cycling, to travel to work followed by two-wheelers (18%) and buses (16%). In urban and rural India, on-foot trips account for the highest share of work trips with the share being 12% higher in rural areas. In rural areas, for meeting the daily travel requirements, workers are most dependent on cycling after walking. However, in urban areas, after walking workers are most dependent on two-wheelers.

To quantify the benefits associated with large-scale uptake of cycling, find the necessary analysis below:

Estimation of Direct Benefits:

Personal Fuel Savings:
In this study, it is estimated that 50% substitution of short distance work trips undertaken by two-wheelers and cars could result in the total personal fuel expenditure savings of 27 billion rupees.

Health Benefits due to Increased Physical Activity:
Physical inactivity is a major behavioural risk factor responsible for a significant proportion of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which the WHO says are responsible for almost 60% of the deaths in India. The share of cycling and the subsequent health savings can be realized by promoting an active walk and cycling based lifestyle. Based on the census data and forecast, in 2016, more than 20 million people were using private motor vehicles for work trips across three short-distance categories (0-1 km, 2-5 km, and 6-10 km) in urban India. If these people were to switch to cycling, leading to a subsequent substitution of 40 million daily work trips, the tool estimates the total amount of health savings that can be attained by 2025-26 and 2030-31, that is, over a period of 10-15 years. It can be observed that in a moderate scenario with 50% substitution of work trips, 4,756 premature deaths can be avoided. The value of these reduced mortalities amount to INR 1,068 billion and INR 1,435 billion by 2026 and 2031, respectively; which is equivalent to 0.9-1.3% of India's total GDP.

Health Benefits of Reduced Air Pollution:
Ambient Air Pollution (AAP) is one of the major causes of ill health in India - it ranks 5th in the incidence of mortality and 7th in the incidence of disease burden. As per the global disease burden risk assessment, air pollution exposure in 2015 resulted in 1.8 million premature deaths and 49 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs) (Centre for Environmental Health, 2017). In order to estimate the health benefits of reduced air pollution due to increased levels of cycling, TERI's air-quality modelling framework is used. In a moderate scenario with 50% substitution of motorized PKM by cycling, 8,616 premature deaths can be prevented. This will save INR 241 billions.

Economic Value of Travel Time Savings by Poor:
In countries all over the world, it has been observed that the travel patterns of the poor are highly different from those of their high-income counterparts (Lucas, 2016). 'Transport poverty' refers to a condition where those who are economically or socially disadvantaged bear excessive travel-time costs to access job, education, and health opportunities and are forced to travel in unsafe and unhealthy conditions (Titheridge, 2014; Lucas, 2016).

An analysis of the other workers' census data illustrates the dominance of walking as the primary form of mobility in India. The analysis reveals that 32% of the Indian workforce walks to work. In terms of distance categories, 31% of this workforce undertakes an average work trip of 3.5 km, while 26% undertakes an average work trip of 8 km on foot.

This study assumes that the aforementioned work trips are largely undertaken by marginal unskilled workers, namely, the urban and rural poor. In the absence of accessible and affordable transportation, these individuals spend a significant portion of their time commuting to and fro. This study monetizes the benefit to the economy from travel-time savings that can be achieved by providing bicycles to these workers. In order to estimate the value of travel time, it is assumed that all the workers who walk to work for a distance greater than/equal to 3.5 km are unskilled daily-wage labourers, who do not have access to any other means of transport.

It is estimated that providing bicycles to unskilled workers in India can result in an annual travel-time savings worth INR 112 billion. These savings are representative of the additional output that can be produced in the economy as a result of increase in work hours, which amount to 23 million added hours.

Estimation of Indirect Benefits:

Energy Savings and Emission Reduction:
Interlink ages between population increase, economic activity, and growth in transport is well established. Rising per capita incomes, have led to increased use of private motor vehicles, which has resulted in growing reliance on fossil fuels, with a subsequent increase in energy demand and emissions along with externalities of pollution and congestion.

The TERI analysis reveals that by a 50% substitution of short-distance private motorized trips by cycling, India can save more than 0.35 MTOE annually. It can subsequently reduce annual CO2 emissions by 1 million tonnes.

Hence, cycling is one of the most sustainable modes of transport. It has numerous benefits in terms of zero fuel consumption, zero emissions, and health benefits from increased physical activity. Additionally, it is an affordable means of transport for millions of low-income individuals. In order to quantify these benefits, the study estimates that a 50% substitution of motorized trips (cars and two-wheelers) within the distance of 8 km can yield an annual benefit of INR 1.8 trillion. These benefits amount to 1.6% of India's annual GDP for 2015-16.

There is an urgent need for making cycles affordable today and therefore it is recommended that the government should reduce GST on cycles with cost less than INR 5000. The report also recommends that cycles should be brought under the priority-lending guidelines of the RBI. The study also suggests that Government should develop a platform to support cycling industry by promoting development of technology for indigenous production of advanced raw materials. In order to enable development of safe cycling conditions in Indian cities, the report emphasizes the need for cities to invest on cycling infrastructure. The necessary policy instruments need to be created, which can couple mandatory investment on Non Motorised Transport (NMT) infrastructure, whenever cities invest in motorized and public transport infrastructure. The report also suggests the need for city to plan cycle sharing schemes and awareness campaigns to promote cycling in the cities. Cities should at the same time also discourage the use of personal motorized vehicles through restraint measures like congestion and parking pricing, pollution tax etc.

People are walking, at the Morning, in a Delhi DDA Park

A Lady worker is going to work at Delhi

(Photo Courtesy : Reuters)

A Plumber is going for work

(The Photograph is taken at India Gate, New Delhi)

(Photo Courtesy : Reuters)

Benefits Of a Bicycle

(Source for Benefits of Bicycle - Assaad Razzouk - Group CEO at Sindicatum RE )

TDK Taptapani

KIC 2017

TDK-19 Parlkemundi Palace