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Exploring active transportation investments and associated benefits for municipal budgets: a scoping review

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Municipalities play an important role in the planning and development of communities that support active transportation (AT), which refers to human-powered modes of travel, such as walking and cycling. Municipal-level stakeholders involved in land-use and transportation infrastructure planning consider multiple social, environmental and economic considerations to inform decision-making and investments in AT. Evidence around the fiscal benefits of AT investment for local governments has not been systematically identified. This scoping review sought to explore the existing evidence regarding investments in AT and opportunities for savings on municipal expenditures and revenue generation. In total, 7060 records were located and screened; of which 162 full-text articles were reviewed. Ultimately, 23 articles met our inclusion criteria and were included in this review. The available evidence focuses on potential economic benefits of AT in the areas of tax revenues, property values, consumer spending and employment, all of which are relevant sources of revenue generation in municipal operating budgets. An evidence gap was identified regarding AT infrastructure investments and benefits corresponding to municipal expenditures (e.g. maintenance cost savings). Notably, a large portion of literature was published after 2009, suggesting that municipal-level evidence on the fiscal benefits of AT investments may just be emerging.
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Keywords: Active transportation; benefit; built environment; investment; municipal government

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 2: Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, Barrie, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: July 4, 2017

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