…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
The French are trialling a scheme whereby they are paying people to cycle to work (it was reported a couple of weeks ago – www.cyclingweekly.co.uk).
The thing is, I’ve been paying myself to cycle to work for years, except I’m not French.
Here in the UK there are ‘bike to work’ schemes where the cost of a new bike can be subsidised to add as an incentive. As cyclescheme.co.uk explains:
Within the Government’s Green Transport Plan, there’s a tax exemption which allows employers to provide cycles and safety equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit. Technically speaking, employees actually hire the bicycles from you, buying them at the end of the salary sacrifice period for a Fair Market Value payment.
I looked into a scheme when I needed a new bike, but because I’m self-employed I didn’t think the scheme was… umm… geared for such cases. I think the system is set up so that the commutist applies to the scheme through their employer and the employer and the government share the cost. At the end of the day the government has a duty to keep fuel emissions to a minimum – if it fails then it gets fined by the EU, so it might be questionable who benefits most financially.
At the end of the day, someone is paying for your new bike, and if you work then you are likely to be a tax payer, so you’re effectively giving yourself the money for a new bike. Or if your employer is footing the bill (or some of it) then that’s less money they could be putting in your wage packet.
Here’s how my personal scheme works, which is a mixture of the two above I think…
Ok, so I already had a bike, so that was a start I suppose, but anyone can start commuting on a cheap new bike (or even a second-hand one), the distance of one’s commute is probably the first issue – too far when you’re not used to it is one part, too far on a bike that isn’t perfect for you is another, but it’ll only get easier, honest. And really anyone who is working should, I think, be able to afford a cheap bike (cut costs elsewhere if you need to) – once you start saving the money you would have previously spent commuting by car or public transport you’ll be on to a winner. Anyway, I could afford a new bike, so I just had to justify the expense (to myself, the employer), and the justification was this… my old bike lasted me 15 years, if I was to cycle to work most days for the next 15 years, instead of driving, how much money would I (my boss, since I/he pays my travel expenses) save? Significantly more than the cost of a bike. When you realise the cost of commuting by car or public transport, vs the cost of a bike, cycling is a no-brainer.
When I applied my own logic to my own case I couldn’t see the logic in the government or anyone else paying me to cycle to work… that and there would have been forms to fill in, applications to make, red tape to cut through (employers to persuade if they’re not already signed up to the scheme), but who’s going to turn down a hand-out?