Published on June 23rd, 2014 | by Important Media Cross-Post


French Workers Paid To Commute By Bike

June 23rd, 2014 by  

By Steve Hanley


In an experiment underway in France, the French government subsidizes employers who pay their workers to commute to and from work on bicycles. The going rate is 1 Euro (ab0ut 34 cents) per kilometer. The program involves 20 employers and about 10,000 workers. If the experiment is a success, France will expand the experiment to more employers and workers later this year. The goal is to get 5% of French workers to commute by bicycle. Currently the average commute in France is 3.5 kilometers and French workers travel over 800 million kilometers getting to and from work every year.

Most European countries offer direct or indirect incentives to bicycle commuters in an effort to improve personal health, cut pollution and reduce the use of fossil fuels. Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Britain all use various incentives such as tax breaks, direct cash payments and grants to help people purchase bicycles. Many cities also use infrastructure upgrades such as tunnels and roadways reserved for bicyclists to promote the use of two wheeled transportation.

For those who don’t own a bicycle, bike sharing programs are in place in many European cities, including Paris, Stockholm, Barcelona and London according to the European Cyclists’ Federation located in Brussels.

For information on bike sharing programs in the United States, including a helpful interactive map, visit the website of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.

Image: Pranav Babu

Source: Gas2. Reproduced with permission.

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  • dango-man

    Seems like a waste of money. The main reason many people don’t travel to work by bike is safety with towns not having cycle lanes that are separated from the road and that are wide enough for multiple bikes to travel on. Also having safe places to lock your bike at your destination.
    It would be better to invest in the infrastructure for bikes which provides a long term solution.

    • Chicken and egg. You don’t invest in infrastructure if nobody uses it. There is a powerful signal in a financial incentive. It’s the psychological effect of being rewarded (not the reward in itself).

      Safety for cyclists and pedestrians is mostly a matter of speed (of the cars). Getting the cyclists off the road on a separate cycle path has the effect of motorists speeding more, unhindered by slower traffic, thus having the opposite effect.

      And when motorists make a turn and cross the cycle path, ooops, they tend to ‘forget’ about the cyclists, and overlook them.

      Both traffic streams have to be aware of each other and you don’t help that by separating them as much as possible.

      The only definitive solution would be totally separate infrastructure, as some of the newer cities in The Netherlands have (Lelystad, Almere, Houten, Zoetermeer are a few examples). But that is not a feasible solution in older cities.

      • dango-man

        It seem I wasn’t clear, I meant cycle path as in a separate cycle lane with a barrier in between them whether it just be the kerb or a metal barrier. The finically incentive is a waste money as the government has a far more effective tool such as laws. A simple local law to bring in would a huge reduction in speed making it more time consuming to travel by car and safer for the local residents. This does increase cycle use as this has happened on many of my local roads.
        You seem to suggesting cyclists affect the cars speed which they don’t. They often speed up around the cyclist which often causes near misses and sometimes hits. Plus pedestrians don’t’ slow traffic as they are separated from them.
        Also users will never be aware of each other fully as there are always idiots which is why we have road accidents and the deaths or injuries that occur because of them.

        • jeffhre

          Some good points. Though arne-nl covered well the dangers at turns of a “cycle path as in a separate cycle lane with a barrier in between them whether it just be the kerb or a metal barrier.”

          And yes, pedestrian and cycle oriented features have been used by traffic planners both in “calming” vehicle traffic and to introduce awareness of the presence of alternative modes of transport.

  • S.Nkm

    I don’t know what “The going rate is 1 Euro (ab0ut 34 cents) per kilometer” is supposed to mean but 1€/km is a pretty substantial income.

    • According to Reuters, the rate is 25 eurocents per km. There is an error in the article.

  • Offgridmanpolktn

    Wonder if there’s any time limitations on this, or if you have to do it every single day of the year to qualify, can you skip the bike on severe rain or snow days and still be paid for the others?
    Even for someone with just the average commute of 3.5 miles that is going to be a yearly payout of 1750$, or at least 1680$ with the more average European 4 week vacation every year.
    Within a year you have earned one of the midrange electric bikes, and after a few you can be springing for one of those super sweet bike/motorcycle hybrids.
    Count me in.

    • Offgridmanpolktn

      Have to correct myself, at a euro /kilometer it is more like 2$ per mile even better, but around ten dollars a day on the average commute and two grand per year. Maybe not something all the office workers will go for but nice for the blue collar middle class.

  • Kyle Field

    I don’t understand the statement in the article about “The going rate is 1 Euro (ab0ut 34 cents) per kilometer”

    1 euro is $1.36USD per km…that works out to ~$2.19/mile (.62km/mi). So a 10 mi round trip commute would net a commuter $21.90…not bad at all. What’s interesting is that in the US, the federal standard for business reimbursement for use of a personal vehicle is $.53/mi…so this is 4x that – quite a nice incentive, in addition to the obvious benefits of not having to pay for gas, a free workout and zero carbon emissions travel 🙂

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