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'Cycle to Work' Scheme Subsidizes Bikes for Brits

Sarah Goodyear reports on how Britain's 'Cycle to Work' scheme has decreased carbon dioxide emissions, and transformed the lives of individuals such as Toby Field.
December 24, 2012, 1pm PST | Erica Gutiérrez
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Britain's Cycle to Work scheme makes it affordable for employees to invest in bicycles and ride to work, saving participants up to 40 percent of a bicycle's initial purchse price. Goodyear writes, “Here’s how it works: an employer fronts the cost of a bike, up to £1,000 (about $1,600), and the employee pays it back over 12 months with pre-tax payroll deductions, with one final payment at the end of the period.” The program has been highly effective since its inception in 1999, providing bikes to over 400,000 individuals. It has also led to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to the output of a city of 60,000 people.

But for Goodyear, what is more impressive is the personal impact the program has had on riders such as Toby Field, a 33-year old who suffered from obesity, and whose father died at the age of 55 from obesity-related health problems. Now, writes Goodyear, “Field has ridden 10,000 miles in two years, two-thirds of those miles on his commute" adding, "[h]e’s lost 119 pounds and he's fitter than he's ever been." Alas, despite the potentially life-changing benefits of programs such as 'Cycle to Work' in England, Goodyear points out that in the U.S, parking continues to receive “the biggest tax incentive." She concludes, “It’s too bad. People like Toby Field could tell you that the benefits of riding to work can be priceless.”

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Published on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 in Atlantic Cities
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