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France, Italy, Belgium: Which European countries have the best cycle to work schemes?

Many European countries have cycle to work scheme encouraging commuters to switch to bike transport.
Many European countries have cycle to work scheme encouraging commuters to switch to bike transport. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Charlotte Elton
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Cycling helps you to get fit and reduce emissions.

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For many of us, getting to work means mornings trapped behind the wheel in a traffic jam, or jostling for space in a rammed subway carriage.

But across Europe, more and more people are swapping cars and buses for bikes.

Biking is great for your health - and a fantastic alternative to carbon-intensive and gas-guzzling transport.

Another European city has just introduced a cycle to work scheme, so which countries have the best incentives - and which are lagging behind?

Which countries in Europe have the best cycle to work schemes?

Plenty of European countries have cycle to work schemes - but not all are created equal. 

The Netherlands offers a mileage allowance

Dutch people cycle an average of 2.6km per day. If this pattern was replicated worldwide, one study suggests, annual global carbon emissions would drop by 686 million tonnes - more than the UK’s entire carbon footprint.

The government encourages this healthy habit by offering bike commuters a ‘mileage allowance’.

Since 2006, businesses have rewarded bike-riding commuters €0.19 per kilometre, a spend the government allows them to deduct from their tax bill. This mileage allowance was previously only available to drivers who could claim it to cover the cost of fuel. It was expanded to cyclists in 2007 - and since bikes don’t require expensive petrol, cyclists can simply pocket the money.

A commuter cycling 10 kilometres per day five days a week could earn about €450 a year from the scheme.

Belgian cyclists have embraced the scheme

Belgium offers a similar scheme to the Netherlands, with commuters able to claim €0.24 per cycled kilometre. It’s widely adopted - according to the Brussels Times, one in five employees of small and medium-sized Belgian enterprises received a bicycle allowance in the first half of 2022.

France increased its number of active cyclists

French commuters can claim up to €0.25 per kilometre they cycle to work, up to a yearly cap of around €200.

Results from the pilot phase, in which 18 companies were involved, showed a 50 per cent increase in the number of active cyclists.

Italian rules differ between cities

In Italy, access to cycle to work schemes depends on where you live, as incentives vary widely depending on the area or province.

The northern city of Florence has just introduced a scheme starting from 3 June and lasting for a year. 

Those who ditch their car and start biking to work will get €0.20 for every kilometre cycled within the municipality, capped at €30 a month.

Those who already cycle to work will get €0.15 for every kilometre.

Participants must register using the Pin Bike app. The council plans to award €100 bonuses each month to the 200 users who accumulate the most points on the app. This can be through kilometres cycled as well as participation in events and questionnaires.

In Bari - the capital city of Italy’s Puglia region - bike commuters receive €0.21 for every kilometre they cycle to work (up to a cap of €25 a month).

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The Italian government also offers commuters mobility vouchers towards the purchase of a new bike.

Cyclists can avoid getting stuck in lengthy traffic jams.
Cyclists can avoid getting stuck in lengthy traffic jams.Canva

United Kingdom and Luxembourg

Some countries don’t offer per-kilometre credits, but do offer incentives to purchase equipment.

In Luxembourg, people who cycle to work can deduct up to €300 from their personal income tax in order to purchase a new bike.

In the UK, employees of businesses signed up to the official cycle to work scheme can purchase a bike through their employer. They can claim up to 32 per cent of the actual cost of the bike off in tax deductions.

Why is it a good idea to cycle to work?

Across Europe, governments are looking to implement bike schemes.

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In Spain, the government is considering a new ‘En Bici al trabajo’ programme that would pay staff to cycle to work.

There are multiple benefits to hopping on your bike. One study suggests that people who cycle to work have a 45 per cent lower risk of developing cancer, and a 46 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Shunning the car is also a great way to bring down your carbon footprint.

The transport sector accounts for a quarter of global fuel-related greenhouse gas emissions, with half coming from private vehicles, including passenger cars and trucks.

Cars also clog the air with hazardous chemicals and gases.

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