Paying People to Cycle to Work

cycle to work Copenhagen

Cash for cycling? Polluted Milan wants to pay commuters to bike to work

The Guardian, February 27, 2016. Image credit: ImpronteDigitali

But now Italy’s economic powerhouse, Milan, is seeking to bring back the bicicletta by paying people to cycle to work. The move follows the announcement in December of a €35m (£27m) government fund for sustainable mobility solutions, after Milan and other parts of the country were hit by dangerous levels of pollution.

“Reimburse those who go to work by bike; a project similar to the one in France,” Maran said. Under the French system trialled in 2014, employees were paid 25 cents per kilometre they pedalled to work. A pilot on the same principle is currently being rolled out in Massarosa, a small Tuscan town where 50 people are said to be taking part.

With the numbers in Milan likely to be considerably higher, Maran’s office has suggested using an app to keep track of people cycling to work: “The software exists; it’s not 100% flawless but no one’s thinking of giving large sums,” he said.

Milan explores incentives to encourage people to bike to work to reduce air pollution. Click To Tweet

One idea includes a system to monitor a person’s travelling speed, to check whether they are really cycling to work – although Milan’s heavy traffic could make this challenging. “In the city, those who travel by bike are almost faster than cars,” Perotto said. She is supportive of the scheme as a way to promote cycling in Milan, but admits she doesn’t cycle to work herself because of the distance and difficulty of the route.

Her sentiment reflects a key flaw in the proposal to pay people to cycle to work: that money alone is not enough of an incentive. The French scheme had moderate results, with only a few hundred people reportedly signing on out of more than 8,000 eligible, while later this year it will become clear how well Italians in Massarosa take to the idea.

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