Health Effects of Non-motorized Traffic Should Be Given Greater Consideration
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Health Effects of Non-motorized Traffic Should Be Given Greater Consideration

Published in:
Economica 01/24 (print), Volume 91, Issue 361, p. 93-122


Healthy Climate, Healthy Bodies: Optimal Fuel Taxation and Physical Activity

Inge van den Bijgaart, David Klenert, Linus Mattauch, Simona Sulikova

Technische Universität Berlin, University of Oxford (UK), Utrecht University (the Netherlands), Joint Research Centre European Commission Sevilla (Spain)


The health benefits of walking and cycling short distances are so great for society that they should also be reflected in the fuel tax. This is the conclusion of an international study published in the Economica journal, co-authored by Professor Dr. Linus Mattauch, researcher at the Climate Change Center Berlin Brandenburg. “We find that accounting for active travel benefits increases the optimal fuel tax by 44% in the USA and 38% in the UK,” summarizes the international research team, which includes scientists from Oxford, Utrecht, and Berlin.


“The significant health benefits of active modes of transport such as walking and cycling suggest that economic transport policy needs to be reassessed,” explains environmental economist Linus Mattauch. “We provide a new argument for weighing up the benefits of car use against its costs to society. Our economic model allows us to quantify fuel prices in particular, but our argument also applies to other elements of sustainable transport, such as urban redesign.” In Germany, around 60% of the population were shown to not get enough exercise. Transport policies should be reconsidered in areas where the health benefits of increased physical activity are particularly high. “When it comes to evaluating transport policy measures in the city, an inner-city toll for motorized vehicles in particular has many economic advantages because it reduces congestion and air pollution in and of itself,” says Mattauch.


The new study shows that a toll would have the added advantage that citizens would get some more exercise, and that this could lead to significant savings in the healthcare system. But the economic value of initiatives that improve conditions for non-motorized transport, from wide cycle lanes and footpaths to neighborhood blocks with traffic-calming measures and urban green belts, also has an additional economic benefit if people move more as a result.

Read the study

Picture: Philipp Arnoldt

Prof. Dr. Linus Mattauch


Prof. Dr. Linus Mattauch
Technische Universität Berlin