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Transport transitions in Copenhagen: Comparing the cost of cars and bicycles


  • Gössling, Stefan
  • Choi, Andy S.


In many cities of the world, bicycle infrastructure projects are implemented to foster more sustainable transportation systems. However, such projects have often raised questions regarding their public funding, as they entail considerable costs. This paper reviews cost–benefit analysis (CBA) frameworks as these are presently used to assess bicycle infrastructure projects. Specific focus is on the CBA framework developed in Copenhagen, Denmark, a self-declared “city of cyclists”. In this framework, costs and benefits of car and bicycle, the two major urban transport modes, have been assessed and are compared across accidents, climate change, health, and travel time. The analysis reveals that each km travelled by car or bike incurs a cost to society, though the cost of car driving is more than six times higher (Euro 0.50/km) than cycling (Euro 0.08/km). Moreover, while the cost of car driving is likely to increase in the future, the cost of cycling appears to be declining. The paper concludes with a discussion of the applicability of the Copenhagen CBA framework to advance sustainable transport planning and to motivate and justify urban restructuring.

Suggested Citation

  • Gössling, Stefan & Choi, Andy S., 2015. "Transport transitions in Copenhagen: Comparing the cost of cars and bicycles," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 106-113.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:113:y:2015:i:c:p:106-113
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2015.03.006

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    Cited by:

    1. Gössling, Stefan, 2016. "Urban transport justice," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 1-9.
    2. Iwińska, Katarzyna & Blicharska, Malgorzata & Pierotti, Livia & Tainio, Marko & de Nazelle, Audrey, 2018. "Cycling in Warsaw, Poland – Perceived enablers and barriers according to cyclists and non-cyclists," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 291-301.
    3. Kearns, Michelle & Ledsham, Trudy & Savan, Beth & Scott, James, 2019. "Increasing cycling for transportation through mentorship programs," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 34-45.
    4. Aldred, Rachel & Watson, Tom & Lovelace, Robin & Woodcock, James, 2019. "Barriers to investing in cycling: Stakeholder views from England," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 149-159.
    5. Sambracos, Evangelos & Polydoropoulou, Amalia & Maniati, Marina & Ramfou, Irene, 2019. "Decision-making process for evaluating socio-economic impact of green transport policies in insular areas," MPRA Paper 98356, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Zhao, Chunli & Nielsen, Thomas Alexander Sick & Olafsson, Anton Stahl & Carstensen, Trine Agervig & Meng, Xiaoying, 2018. "Urban form, demographic and socio-economic correlates of walking, cycling, and e-biking: Evidence from eight neighborhoods in Beijing," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 102-112.
    7. Zhao, Chunli & Nielsen, Thomas Alexander Sick & Olafsson, Anton Stahl & Carstensen, Trine Agervig & Fertner, Christian, 2018. "Cycling environmental perception in Beijing – A study of residents' attitudes towards future cycling and car purchasing," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 96-106.
    8. Stefan Gössling & Andreas Humpe & Todd Litman & Daniel Metzler, 2019. "Effects of Perceived Traffic Risks, Noise, and Exhaust Smells on Bicyclist Behaviour: An Economic Evaluation," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(2), pages 1-15, January.
    9. AlSabbagh, Maha & Siu, Yim Ling & Guehnemann, Astrid & Barrett, John, 2017. "Integrated approach to the assessment of CO2e-mitigation measures for the road passenger transport sector in Bahrain," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 203-215.
    10. Giménez-Nadal, J. Ignacio & Molina, José Alberto, 2019. "Green commuting and gasoline taxes in the United States," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 324-331.
    11. Suah Kim & Namjo Kim, 2020. "A Social Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Vehicle Restriction Policy for Reducing Overtourism in Udo, Korea," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(2), pages 1-17, January.
    12. Gössling, Stefan & Cohen, Scott Allen & Hares, Andrew, 2016. "Inside the black box: EU policy officers' perspectives on transport and climate change mitigation," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 83-93.
    13. Kamila Turečková & Jan Nevima, 2020. "The Cost Benefit Analysis for the Concept of a Smart City: How to Measure the Efficiency of Smart Solutions?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(7), pages 1-17, March.
    14. Aldred, Rachel, 2016. "Cycling near misses: Their frequency, impact, and prevention," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 69-83.


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