France surrenders to practicality, pays people to bike
Adding to the list of terrible French ideas that includes the fry, the metric system, and, fittingly if arguably, the bicycle, comes an idea to get more people to ride said bikes. It turns out clean air, energy independence, and a healthy body just aren’t enough for most people, so, according to Reuters, France is going to try paying people to ride:
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 Brussels-based European Cyclists’ Federation has European Union funding to study best practices among various cycling incentive schemes, the group’s Bike2Work project manager Randy Rzewnicki said.
France will be joining the growing list of countries with programs to encourage bicycling, but the French plan is novel. The transport ministry has teamed up with institutions and private companies who’ve agreed to pay their employees 25 euro cents a kilometer to bike to work, which, if my math is correct, amounts to roughly $37,000 per hectare. [Ed’s note: Nope, not even close, more like 55 U.S. cents per mile.]
No word yet if Grist is on board, and I work at home anyway, but maybe the eds will give me a nickel every time I ride around the block? Guys? Hello? Guys?
[Ed’s note: None for you, Jim! Also, we flubbed the Euros-per-kilometer to dollars-per-mile conversion. At the current exchange rate, 55 cents per mile is correct. No word yet on how much that is per hectare.]