Thursday 18 April 2019

Geared up: The Netherlands leads the way with paying people to cycle to workplaces

THE BIG PICTURE

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Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

COMMUTERS in the Netherlands are being paid to cycle to work. For every kilometre cycled employees could earn an extra €0.20, tax free, and paid straight into a person's salary, according to a paper from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

This works in a similar way to someone driving their own car for business purposes and being able to claim back a fixed amount related to the distance travelled.

People living in the Netherlands also benefit from the country being relatively flat, and boasting an expanse of cycle paths that keep bikes separate from other traffic.

But the Netherlands isn't the only country offering financial incentives to get people out of their cars and use pedal power instead of fossil fuel.

In Ireland, an employer can help staff buy a bike and safety equipment worth up to €1,000 under the Government's Cycle To Work scheme.

Under the incentive employers pay for bikes and equipment like helmets.

Workers pay them back through a salary sacrifice arrangement for up to 12 months and are not liable for tax, PRSI or USC on the repayments.

The arrangement means a member of staff can save up to 51pc of the retail price of the bike.

Cycling as a means of getting to work is becoming increasingly popular here.

The number of cyclists in Dublin has more than doubled between 2010 and 2017, increasing from 5,952 to 12,447, according to information from the National Transport Association.

Across Ireland the numbers cycling to work grew to 56,837 in 2016.

Last December the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, said he would be increasing funding for cycling and walking programmes by around 33pc to €48m this year.

The Minster added that cycling would also benefit from additional money being allocated towards the planning and design of the BusConnects programme this year, which will deliver around 200km of mainly segregated cycle lanes and tracks.

In the UK there is a similar incentive to our Cycle To Work scheme, where a lease-to-own model is in operation.

This allows employees get discounted bikes and equipment through their employer.

There is also a mileage allowance made available for British cyclists who use their bikes for business purposes, of around €0.23 per mile, according to the WEF.

Meanwhile in France there is a per-kilometre reimbursement scheme for cyclists that is due to come into effect next year.

This will allow a tax-free payment of roughly €205 per year to public employees, while private businesses will be able to double that amount if they wish.

In Luxembourg employees have the option of a €300 tax rebate for cycling.

And fans of the two-wheel mode of transport in Belgium can benefit from a tax free reimbursement of €0.23 for every kilometre they cycle to and from work.

Irish Independent

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