A new scheme to boost France's rate of bike commuting is taking the incentives of fresh air, regular exercise and the joys of green living and adding the extra lure of cold, hard cash. The country's transportation ministry announced Monday that employees at a select group of companies and institutions will be offered 25 euro cents for every kilometer they bike to work (in the U.S., that would translate to about 29 cents per mile). Here's more on the scheme from Reuters:
French Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier, noting that commuting using public transport and cars is already subsidized, said that if results of the test are promising, a second experiment on a larger scale will be done.
The ministry hopes that the bike-to-work incentive scheme will boost bike use for commuting by 50 percent from 2.4 percent of all work-home journeys, or about 800 million km, with an average distance of 3.5 km per journey.
In Belgium, where a tax-free bike incentive scheme has been in place for more than five years, about 8 percent of all commutes are on bicycles. In the flat and bicycle-friendly Netherlands, it is about 25 percent, cycling organizations say.
The U.S. is seeing a rapid rise in its own rate of bike commuting, for which the spread of city bike-share programs and improved infrastructure are credited. And while a national pay-per-mile scheme seems unlikely, the 2009 Bicycle Commuter Act allows employers to reimburse employees up to $20 per month, tax free, just as they would for parking or public transportation expenses -- not a bad start.