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OBJECTIVE: To review Australian policies on active transport, defined as walking and cycling for utilitarian purposes. To estimate the potential health impact of achieving four active transport policy scenarios. METHODS: A policy review was undertaken, using key words to search government websites. Potential health benefits were quantified using a cohort simulation Markov model to estimate obesity and transport injury-related health effects of an increase in active transport. Health adjusted life years (HALYs) gained and healthcare cost savings from diseases averted were estimated. Budget thresholds to achieve cost-effectiveness were estimated for each scenario. RESULTS: There is broad recognition of the health-related benefits of active transport from all levels of Australian government. Modelling results suggest significant health-related benefits of achieving increased prevalence of active transport. Total HALYs saved assuming a one-year effect ranged from 565 (95%UI 173-985) to 12,105 (95%UI 4,970-19,707), with total healthcare costs averted ranging from $6.6M (95%UI $1.9M-11.3M) to $141.2M (95%UI $53.8M-227.8M). CONCLUSION: Effective interventions that improve rates of active transport may result in substantial healthcare-related cost savings through a decrease in conditions related to obesity. Implications for public health: Significant potential exists for effective and cost-effective interventions that result in more walking and cycling.

Original publication




Journal article


Aust N Z J Public Health

Publication Date





611 - 616


active transport, obesity, policy, Australia, Bicycling, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Health Care Costs, Humans, Markov Chains, Models, Theoretical, Obesity, Public Health, Public Policy, Quality-Adjusted Life Years, Walking