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Walking provides a wide range of direct and indirect benefits, including better health, less pollution, less noise and higher quality of life. While some effects can be relatively easily quantified and assessed within a cost benefit analysis (CBA) framework, others are much more difficult, such as a better quality of life. These benefits also vary based on the local conditions.

The FLOW project identified a broad set of benefits from more walking (and cycling)

Walking also has direct economic gains with effects on commercial activity and shifts in consumer expenditures towards more local businesses. Research has shown that improving conditions for walking and cycling can increase retail sales by 30% (Living Streets, 2018).

Moreover, people who walk to the shops can spend up to 40% more and retail vacancies can be up to 17% lower after improvements to make these areas more walkable (TfL, 2019). And these benefits extend to social equity with the distribution of resources and opportunities, and the degree to which walking helps to increase the mobility of disadvantaged people.

The FLOW project captured these broader benefits into its CBA tool: FLOW Impact Assessment Tool as illustrated below.