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The unpredicted rise of motorcycles: A cost benefit analysis


  • Kopp, Pierre


This article examines the consequences, for Paris, of the increase in two-wheel motor vehicle (2WMV) traffic (measured in vehicle/km). Our study reveals that, between 2000 and 2007, the subway's (Métro) share in total inner-Paris travel increased by 13.6%, the RER's share by 10.3% and the SNCF's share by 20.5%. These three means of transport account for 58% of daily travel. On the other hand, the bus share has decreased by 16% and that of cars by 23.7%. Private motor vehicles represent 37.3% of total travel. Looking at road traffic, where public transport (buses) and private motor transport compete for the use of limited road space, private motor vehicles account for 91.5% and public transport 8.5% of total travel. The 2WMV share in Paris traffic increased by 36% between 2000 and 2007, with 2WMVs now accounting for a share twice as large as that of buses. A survey has shown that 100 million additional passenger kilometres were made by 2WMV in 2007 compared to 2000. 53% of this increase comes from people shifting to 2WMV from public transport and 26.5% from private cars. The remaining 20% is attributable to the increased use of 2WMVs by those already owning such vehicles in 2000. Is the growth in the share of 2WMV traffic in Paris beneficial to the community? This shift in the means of transport generates time savings of [euro]293 million and increases owners' vehicle usage costs by [euro]49 million. The cost of accidents is increased by [euro]49 million and the negative consequences in terms of pollution are estimated at [euro]22.6 million. The welfare impact of the government revenue change is negative and equal to [euro]4.7 million. In total, the gain for the community is therefore around [euro]168 million. Accident costs are the key issue. The fact that there are on average 21 2WMV fatalities in Paris (average 2006-2007) for a means of transport accounting for 16% of passenger/km made every day in Paris offers a striking contrast to the 6 (average 2006-2007) fatalities concerning cyclists which account for a mere 0.1% of trips. The massive shift to 2WMV has taken place without any public policy support. Public policy could easily further improve the 2WMV cost-benefit balance by taking measures that would decrease the number of accidents.

Suggested Citation

  • Kopp, Pierre, 2011. "The unpredicted rise of motorcycles: A cost benefit analysis," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 613-622, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:trapol:v:18:y:2011:i:4:p:613-622

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    Cited by:

    1. Marquet, Oriol & Miralles-Guasch, Carme, 2016. "City of Motorcycles. On how objective and subjective factors are behind the rise of two-wheeled mobility in Barcelona," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 37-45.
    2. Haywood, Luke & Koning, Martin, 2015. "The distribution of crowding costs in public transport: New evidence from Paris," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 182-201.
    3. Hagen, Jonas Xaver & Pardo, CarlosFelipe & Valente, Johanna Burbano, 2016. "Motivations for motorcycle use for Urban travel in Latin America: A qualitative study," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 93-104.


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