Number of cycling commuters rises dramatically
CYCLING TO work, college or school has risen by 15 per cent nationally since 2006 and – more dramatically – by more than a third in Dublin, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Cork, according to an analysis of last year’s census.
Jimmy Stagg, chairman of the Irish Bicycle Business Association (IBBA), said the figures “show that the Government’s support for cycling as a means of transport is working” and Census 2011 proved that “people will switch to cycling” with the right kind of support.
However, the results are not uniform throughout the State. Although Dublin city recorded an increase of 34 per cent, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown 36 per cent and Cork 33 per cent, the number of people cycling in Limerick fell by 5 per cent and in Waterford by 9 per cent.
The Department of Transport’s 2009 National Transport Policy Framework has an ambitious target to get 10 per cent of all commuters cycling by 2020 – aided by tax incentives under the Cycle to Work Scheme, which IBBA says resulted in the sale of 90,000 bicycles between 2009 and 2011.
Under the scheme, employers can buy a bike up to €1,000 for employees to cycle to work and recover the cost from the employees’ pre-tax salary over the next 12 months.
With no benefit-in-kind taxation, employees can save up to 52 per cent of the cost of the bike.
James Leahy, of Bike to Work Ltd, said the estimated stimulus effect of €139 million in economic activity and jobs benefits of the scheme mean that it was a net revenue generator, outweighing the tax forgone in providing the incentives.
IBBA is a not-for-profit organisation formed in 2011 as the Irish trade body representing cycling retailers and businesses in the State. With more than 40 members, the association represents key stakeholders in the sector, which is now worth more than €100 million per annum.