‘Fifty per cent of Australian workers said they would be enticed to ride to work if a financial incentive was available, such as those currently offered in the UK, Europe and North America.’ This is according to the “Financial incentives to ride to work survey 2014″ data released today by the Cycling Promotion Fund and the National Heart Foundation of Australia.
The survey of 2000 Australian workers revealed that we may be on the edge of a cycling revolution, if only there was a little bit of money to push people onto the road, so to speak. While this result is good news for personal health, the environment, and for traffic congestion, the survey did target somewhat low-hanging fruit; 15km is not far to travel by bike for someone aged 25 to 54, which was the demographic for the survey. What about those in the suburban sprawls around major cities? Stephen Hodge, from the Cycling Promotion Fund said that ‘Overseas experience has shown significant uptake when workplace incentives are provided to cycle to work, with half of participants in a UK scheme indicating they would not have ridden without incentives.’
So if it’s only a question of money, who would pay the cost of such a scheme? The National Heart Foundation estimates that ‘inactivity is responsible for 16,000 premature deaths and costs the Australian economy $14 billion every year.’ With numbers like that, some sort of financial incentive from the government, either directly or indirectly via tax deductions, could be on the cards. Couple this with contributions from progressive employers, and we could have a revolution on our hands.
The Australian Cyclists Party also announced their support of a Cycling to Work incentive today with party president, Omar Khalifa, noting ‘Today, less than $5 is spent per annum, per person by government on cycling across Australia. Yet a cyclist would return many times that amount in benefits – perhaps even in just one ride to work.’
My tax agent laughed at me when she was doing my tax return for last year. Apparently travel related expenses only apply to cars, and yet I ride my bike between work campuses and when I’m visiting sites on business. I’m happy to supply my Strava data to the ATO if it means my next upgrade will be subsidised. For the good of the nation, of course.