The cycle traffic planning bureau komobile Gmunden, member of Cycle Competence, was commissioned by the city of Salzburg to conduct an assessment of the potential for an upgrade to the premium cycle route Salzburg-Freilassing. For the first time in Austria, a cost-benefit analysis was applied based on the German standardised evaluation and the Austrian guidelines and regulations for the road sector (RVS) respectively. The result: investments in cycle traffic are highly profitable for the national economy – the benefits are twice as high as the costs.
The almost 7 km long premium cycle connection Salzburg-Freilassing has been upgraded over the last years and is a fast connection into the West of the City and across the state border to Freilassing. It is to be made even more attractive with a new bridge over the Saalach and further investments. The macroeconomic profitability of these investments was proven.
Cycle traffic investments bring twice as much benefit
The specific reason for the study was the question whether the construction of a new bridge over the Saalach is economically justified. For the assessment the potential for shifting car traffic to cycle traffic was established. Then the monetarised economic benefit of the measure was compared to the costs. Aspects like traffic safety, environmental protection, climate protection, health costs, travel time and savings on car infrastructure were taken into consideration.
A cost-benefit ratio of 2.01 was calculated. That means the benefits are 2.01 times higher than the costs. During sensitivity analysis a fluctuation margin of 1.5 to 3.4 was ensured via variations in assumptions and input values. The results and assumptions were discussed and coordinated in a working group with all stakeholders in this cross-border project.
The macroeconomic assessment of investments in cycling infrastructure can facilitate political decisions as benefits are transparently compared to costs. It also allows a comparison between individual projects to assess their macroeconomic efficiency.