Measuring the carbon impact of bicycle policy and infrastructure
Transport is one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in cities, and therefore mitigation actions in urban transport are important. Data from cities in the Netherlands and Denmark, countries that combine a high car ownership with a substantial share of cycling, show that cycling can significantly reduce transport-related greenhouse gas emissions. Although cycling is becoming an integral part of non-motorised transport policies, also in some developing countries, a lot of the potential growth of cycling in urban areas remains untapped.
Projects which promote cycling should be able to access climate finance. Cucling not only reduces emissions, it also changes people’s perception of how to move around in a city, transforms the look-and-feel of its streets and gives the infrastructure back to affordable modes of transport. So far, transport has been largely neglected by the established emission trading mechanisms. For example, while transport is the source of 22% of global emissions, it accounts for only 0.4% of reductions under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The number of CDM projects that specifically target cycling is zero.
Together with Aaron Lee, and Climate Focus, Shifting Paradigms looked into options to quantify the carbon impact of cycling, easing access to climate finance. This initiative by UNDP targeted one of te main challenges for cycling initatives to access climate finance, the difficulty in forecasting and monitoring the impact of transport projects. Our paper concluded that quantifying emission reductions from cycling initiatives is possible. There are a number of suitable tools and approaches available.
The monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV) of emission reductions from cycling projects requires quantifying the number of kilometres cycled and identifying the alternative mode. The alternative mode is the form of transport that would have been used by cyclists had the cycling project not been implemented. Three different approaches to the MRV of cycling can be distinguished:
- forecast of a baseline from historical data,
- use of a transportation mode choice model to determine modal split for both the project scenario and baseline scenario,
- a travel diary survey of bicycle users, gathering trip length information and asking respondents to state the alternative mode that they would have otherwise use.
The forecast and mode choice approaches are appropriate for larger scale policy projects in cities where some transport data is already being collected. The survey of bicycle users approach works well for small specific projects, or where limited transportation data is available.
Partners: (as shareholder of Climate Focus), Aaron Lee
Countries: Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Download the study: mrv_of_cycling