Is cycle network expansion cost-effective? A health economic evaluation of cycling in Oslo
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBMC Public Health. 2020, 20, 1869. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-09764-5
Background: Expansion of designated cycling networks increase cycling for transport that, in turn, increase physical activity, contributing to improvement in public health. This paper aims to determine whether cycle-network construction in a large city is cost-effective when compared to the status-quo. We developed a cycle-network investment model (CIM) for Oslo and explored its impact on overall health and wellbeing resulting from the increased physical activity. Methods: First, we applied a regression technique on cycling data from 123 major European cities to model the effect of additional cycle-networks on the share of cyclists. Second, we used a Markov model to capture health benefits from increased cycling for people starting to ride cycle at the age of 30 over the next 25 years. All health gains were measured in quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). Costs were estimated in US dollars. Other data to populate the model were derived from a comprehensive literature search of epidemiological and economic evaluation studies. Uncertainty was assessed using deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses. Results: Our regression analysis reveals that a 100 km new cycle network construction in Oslo city would increase cycling share by 3%. Under the base-case assumptions, where the benefits of the cycle-network investment relating to increased physical activity are sustained over 25 years, the predicted average increases in costs and QALYs per person are USD416 and 0.019, respectively. Thus, the incremental costs are USD22,350 per QALY gained. This is considered highly cost-effective in a Norwegian setting. Conclusions: The results support the use of CIM as part of a public health program to improve physical activity and consequently avert morbidity and mortality. CIM is affordable and has a long-term effect on physical activity that in turn has a positive impact on health improvement.