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It’s already garnered a reputation as a cycling hotbed, with the number of bikes (23 million) outweighing its inhabitants (17 million), who make a higher proportion of trips by bicycle (25 per cent) than any other nation.
But now, the Netherlands is going one step further to try and encourage more people to join in with one of their biggest crazes.
Leading The Way – The Netherlands
In fact, they’re even paying people to do it. As was announced in late 2018, the Dutch government will spend about €390 million on cycling infrastructure in an attempt to encourage 200,000 more people to cycle to and from work by 2021.
Fifteen routes are set to become ‘cyclist freeways’ to provide better provision for those who want ride their bikes, while 25,000 further parking spaces for bicycles will be made and in excess of 60 storage facilities will be improved.
“Cycling is good for reducing congestion, it’s good for air quality in cities, and it’s good for the health of people themselves,” secretary of state for infrastructure Stientje van Veldhoven, who is behind the project, told HuffPost. “And it can save money — you can save hundreds of euros a year. So there is a big advantage for your wallet.”
Currently, there is indeed great benefits for your income if you’re a cyclist in the Netherlands. Since 2006, some businesses have rewarded bike-riding commuters with tax credits of €0.19 per kilometre, whereby the distance of the cycling route is agree upon by companies and their employees. So, if you cycled 10 kilometres each day for five days a week, you can earn about €450 a year from the scheme.
But whilst, as mentioned already, one-quarter of trips in the Netherlands are made by bike, only 25 per cent of those are commutes, whereas 37 per cent were made for leisure cycling.
According to van Veldhoven, more than half of the people in the Netherlands live less than 15 kilometres from their workplace, and more than half of their car journeys are under 7.5 kilometres long; which “can easily be covered by bike,” she says.
And, of course, getting another 200,000 people cycling in the Netherlands would have far more advantages than just improving the lifestyle and fitness of its residents. A 2010 study by NASA found that cars are the world’s biggest contributor of climate change pollution. With that in mind, the scheme should also do much not only to also ease traffic problems, but to limit pollutant gases emitted from cars, too.
Who Is Following The Dutch’s Lead?
Indeed, while the Netherlands may be spearheading this project, they’re far from alone.
For instance, in January 2019, Bari, Italy announced it would give cyclists €0.21 for every kilometre they cycled to work, though their scheme, as funded by the government, is capped at about €25 a month. They are also offering up to roughly €155 towards buying a new bike or €255 for a new e-bike.
And elsewhere in Italy, in November 2015, the council in the town of Massarosa (just north of Pisa) introduced a pilot scheme paying cyclists €0.25 per kilometre travelled, up to a monthly cap of €50.
Meanwhile, in In France, commuters can claim €0.25 per kilometre, up to a yearly cap of just above the €200 mark. It’s not wholly well-received though, with some questioning whether the end justifies the means with these fairly small rewards; indeed, a six-month trial period in the country, only enjoyed moderate success as best, with the number of regular cyclists only growing from 200 to 419 by the end.
More successful with its own scheme has been Belgium, which boasts the longest-established financial incentive scheme for cyclists, first brought in in 1999. It offers cyclists €0.24 per kilometre and has increased the amount of commuters across the country in recent years. In fact, according to the European Cyclists’ Federation, the number of people cycling to work and receiving their credits soared by 30 per cent between 2011 and 2015.
And in New Zealand, advertising agency Make Collective, based in Christchurch, started offering its employees cycling to and from work $5 a day in early 2018. What’s more, if they kept it up for more than six months, their reward doubled to $10 a day, paid out as a bonus at the end of year.
According to the council, Christchurch has more cyclists than any other city in the country, boasting 13 major routes for cycling through its city centre.
ByCycling – The App Which Rewards Your Cycling
Are you regularly cycling to and form but not based in any of those places? Well, all is not lost; thanks to the ByCycling smart phone app.
ByCycling automatically trackers your cycling day by day on your phone, and encourages you to ditch sitting endlessly in your car in stationary traffic for more active time when commuting.
By riding your bike to work, you can earn extra money or days off as part of your employer’s commuter benefit programme.