France experiments with paying people to cycle to work

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PARIS – France has started a six-month experiment paying people to cycle to work, joining other in trying to bicycle use to people’s , air pollution and cut fossil fuel consumption.

Several countries including Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Britain have bike-to-work schemes, different kinds of incentives such as tax breaks, payments per kilometer and financial support for buying bicycles.

In France, some 20 companies and institutions employing a total of 10,000 people have signed to pay staff 25 euro cents (34 U.S. cents) per kilometer biked to work, transport said in a statement on Monday.

French Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier, noting that commuting using public transport and cars is already subsidized, said that if of test are promising, a second experiment on a larger scale will be done.

The hopes that the bike-to-work incentive will bike use for commuting by 50 percent from 2.4 percent of all work-home journeys, or about 800 km, an average distance of 3.5 km per journey.

In Belgium, where a tax-free bike incentive has been in place for more 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 .

The Brussels-based Cyclists’ Federation has Union funding to best practices among various cycling incentive schemes, the group’s Bike2Work project manager Randy Rzewnicki said.

City bike-loan schemes have played a large role in boosting bicycle commuting and cities including Barcelona, London and Stockholm have followed the model of the Velib in Paris. (Reuters