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Only 2pc of our civil servants go by cycling

JUST 2pc of civil servants have signed up to the Green Party's cycle to work scheme.

The initiative, set up last January, and encourages employers to cover the cost of a bicycle up to 11,000.

Bosses can then claim the cost as a tax-exempt benefit in kind, while workers who buy the bike themselves can also avail of a tax break.

Of the 26,472 workers in 16 Government departments including Environment, Energy and Natural Resources and Transport, 592 have signed-up to the scheme.

Ciaran Cuffe, Green Party transport spokesman, said he was encouraged by the findings, but Fine Gael branded it disappointing.

"A 2pc take up, that's certainly an impressive start," Mr Cuffe said.

"I've been in Copenhagen at the climate change talks and even in a snowy morning the amount of cyclists heading to and from work on their bikes, it was staggering."

But Fine Gael's Transport spokesman Fergus O'Dowd said the uptake was disappointing.

"That seems very low," Mr O'Dowd said. "I would have expected a higher turnout than that ... particularly in view of the Green Party being in Government."

Mr O'Dowd said he was in favour of the scheme but he expected staff to have been more enthusiastic about it.

Under ambitious targets, the Government wants 10pc of all trips taken by bike by 2020.

Although the scheme was introduced last January, the Department of Finance did not issue details to Government staff until May.