Cycling moves up a gear to ride high on a wave of popularity
We are rediscovering in great numbers the compelling case – in terms of cost and health benefits – in favour of cycling and now you can better secure your wheels by insuring and registering themNATIONAL BIKE Week started last Saturday.
Once again, Pricewatch thinks it is an event worth celebrating because, although the humble bike may not be particularly glamorous, it is the best way to get from A to B as long as A is not more than 10km from B in which case you might want to get the bus – or, if you must, drive.
Despite all the advantages that the bike has – it costs less, you’ll live longer, it’s faster and less stressful – only two out of every 100 Irish adults cycle every day.
By comparison every second adult in the Netherlands and Belgium can be seen on a bike every day.
Things are changing though and cycling is slowly growing in popularity thanks to a generous bike-to-work tax incentive – a legacy of the Green Party’s less than entirely successful period in government – and an excellent city bike scheme in Dublin which has captured the public imagination in a way that the most optimistic of cyclists found surprising.
Close to 200,000 bikes have now been bought under the bike-to-work scheme since it was launched at the start of 2009 and, if we assume that each of these bikes cost €500, that means there is €100 million worth of new bikes on our roads.
Or at least there would be if so many of them had not been stolen already.
While overall crime rates have fallen in recent years, bike thefts have increased by more than 50 per cent since 2008.
There is very little you can do to protect your bike and no matter how well it is locked, a determined thief can make off with it in a matter of seconds.
The Garda is already overstretched and does not have the resources to go after bike thieves in any significant way.
In 2005 then minister for justice Michael McDowell promised us a stolen-bike unit but the initiative disappeared faster than a unlocked bike on Talbot Street.
So if you do want to cycle but don’t want to gift your purchase to ne’er-do-wells, what can you do? Well, you can secure it or you can insure it.
A little under three years ago Shane Hamm set up CycleSure, a bike insurance and registration scheme.
He had been working in regular insurance and saw a gap in the market which he decided to fill.
“The idea is the same as any insurance product – the many pay for the few. We partnered with a company doing business in the UK and they had 25 years experience so they knew at what level we needed to set the premiums.”
And how much are those premiums? It depends on the bike but, generally speaking, the annual cost of a CycleSure premium is between 8 and 10 per cent of the cost of the bike.
Unlike so many household insurance schemes, the bike is covered wherever it is locked – as long as it is locked with one of a pre-approved list of brands – the quality of the lock required depends on the cost of the bike.
“We can’t actually prove that you were using the lock at the time the bike was stolen but we do need proof that you actually owned the lock,” Hamm says.
“We try and tailor our insurance for different types of cyclists. A person who uses a bike for commuting will typically want cover against theft but a club cyclist may only want cover against damage so we offer them a 20 per cent discount.”
While the Garda cannot be expected to go after the person who stole your bike with the same vigour as they would more serious criminals, they do recover many stolen bikes.
The problem is most will never be reunited with their owners because there is no way to tell who that owner is.