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Applied examples: the WHO HEAT model

Aerial view over colourful buildings of Kiev, Ukraine
© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility

There are a number of approaches to considering the economics of public health interventions through active transport and liveability interventions in the city.

The Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT), as mentioned in step 3.2, was developed by the WHO, and provides an approach to measuring economic costing to the public health benefits obtained from improved walking and cycling. HEAT translates changes in walking and cycling to health and economic outcomes as a result of reduced risk of all-cause mortality.

European examples

The following are examples of economic evaluations of transport infrastructure interventions that include walking or cycling and the impact on health using the HEAT tool:

Living Streets’ Fitter for Walking project

This project worked with deprived communities across five regions of England to improve local environments and promote more walking for short journeys. The project highlighted significant financial savings from decreased mortality as a result of an increased number of people walking.

Pärnu, Estonia

For this intervention, the Pärnu City Government used the HEAT tool to increase its understanding of cycle usage in the town and its impact on health, through estimating the value of:

  • existing rates of cycling
  • measured increase rates in cycling
  • future projected rates of cycling.

A count of cyclists as well as questionnaires were used to estimate the number of people currently cycling, cycling duration and distance cycled. This data was used to estimate the future number of cyclists that would result following infrastructure improvements.

Based on the counts, it was estimated that 230 cyclists per day would use the new bicycle path, and that 50% of these would be new cyclists. This led to the following estimated benefits:

  • a reduction of avoidable deaths of 0.17 per year.
  • this leads to an average annual benefit, averaged across 6 years of €112,000 per year.

There are many more examples across Europe, of applications of the health economic assessment tool (HEAT) for walking and cycling.

Additional resources for using the HEAT model

Health economic assessment tool (HEAT) for walking and for cycling: Methods and user guide on physical activity, air pollution, injuries and carbon impact assessments.

Using the health economic assessment tools (heat) for walking and cycling: lessons learnt.

© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility
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