Cycling to work AND getting PAID for it!

The recent article, “France experiments with paying people to cycle to work”, describes France’s step towards implementing a plan designed to deliver multiple benefits for the employer, employee and the environment.

According to the article, the French Transport Ministry recently launched a six-month trial that will pay 10,000 people to cycle to work. Approximately 20 companies will participate in the trial project and will offer to recompense their worker’s 0.25 euro cents per kilometer. If the trial is successful, France will look to implement the initiative on a larger scale.

It is anticipated that the incentive scheme will enhance bike use for commuting by 50 percent of the current figure of 2.4 percent (with an average distance of 3.5 km per journey).

As reported in the article, several other countries including the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Britain have already subscribed to bike-to-work schemes by offering various incentives such as tax breaks, payments per kilometer and financial assistance for purchasing bicycles.

Having read this article and noting that many benefits may flow from such a scheme, we can only hope that other countries might also consider implementing this type of scheme.

The advantages of cycling as a form of exercise are nonetheless boldly impressive. Cycling is a low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It builds stamina, improves cardiovascular fitness, improves co-ordination, builds strength and muscle tone, lowers the risk of contracting illnesses and infections, elevates the mood, reduces stress and regulates body weight.

Participants in the trial will not only reap the benefits of performing daily exercise, but also improve their concentration skills and manage stress easier. Arguably, these attributes may improve job productivity, performance and lead to greater work satisfaction.

The above scheme will also provide an affordable means of transportation. Increasing the number of cyclists will also reduce the ugly gnarl of congested road traffic and dealing with overcrowded public transport.

Cycling is a pollution-free mode of transport and is solely fueled by the power of our muscles. Due to urban growth, roads have become busier and air pollution has increased. The above scheme has the added advantage of reducing traffic flow on the roads and therefore producing of air pollution. Any attempt to reduce environmental toxins and at the same time, lessen the amount of traffic on the roads, undoubtedly warrants strong support by society as a whole.

The above scheme may also engender other positive benefits. One such benefit involves creating a positive workplace culture. It would be easy to imagine that by supporting this type of scheme would strengthen relationships between employee-employee and employee-employer.

Group participation is a shared experience. Participation may foster and strengthen work relationships, individual self-confidence and enhance team building. Unquestionably, this scheme may also harmonize and improve workplace culture and that in itself would be a win- win for all involved!

Other ways in which the employer could encourage and support this scheme is by providing “cycling friendly” workplaces such as provision of a secure bike storage area and adequate change/shower facilities. An employer’s participation in the scheme will also demonstrate their willingness to actively support and promote a healthy lifestyle and one who is responsive to the environment.

If this scheme is to be successful, one of the most important ingredients is….SAFETY. Given the unbridled benefits of participating in the scheme, it is crucial that cyclists feel safe when riding to and from work (or for that matter, at any other time). It is therefore essential that the government ensure that adequate infrastructure and local road laws exist to safeguard cyclists from the perils of road transport accidents.

The above scheme is certainly one that should be embraced by many other countries and given the overriding advantages cycling, it is a socially responsible activity of which we should all actively implement in our lives.

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