Integrated impact assessment of active travel: Expanding the scope of the health economic assessment tool (HEAT) for walking and cycling

Thomas Götschi, Sonja Kahlmeier, Alberto Castro, Christian Brand, Nick Cavill, Paul Kelly, Christoph Lieb, David Rojas-Rueda, James Woodcock, Francesca Racioppi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (SciVal)


The World Health Organization’s Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) for walking and cycling is a user-friendly web-based tool to assess the health impacts of active travel. HEAT, developed over 10 years ago, has been used by researchers, planners and policymakers alike in appraisals of walking and cycling policies at both national and more local scales. HEAT has undergone regular upgrades adopting the latest scientific evidence. This article presents the most recent upgrades of the tool. The health impacts of walking and/or cycling in a specified population are quantified in terms of premature deaths avoided (or caused). In addition to the calculation of benefits derived from physical activity, HEAT was recently expanded to include assessments of the burden associated with air pollution exposure and crash risks while walking or cycling. Further, the impacts on carbon emissions from mode shifts to active travel modes can now be assessed. The monetization of impacts using Value of Statistical Life and Social Costs of Carbon now uses country-specific values. As active travel inherently results in often substantial health benefits as well as not always negligible risks, assessments of active travel behavior or policies are incomplete without considering health implications. The recent developments of HEAT make it easier than ever to obtain ballpark estimates of health impacts and carbon emissions related to walking and cycling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7361
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2020


  • Active transportation
  • Air pollution
  • Carbon emissions
  • Health impact assessment
  • Monetization
  • Online tool
  • Physical activity
  • Traffic safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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