The folding bike brand Gocycle have announced it will pay its 15 employees 40p per mile for commutes to its Chessington headquarters, saying it cannot wait for Government to act on congestion and pollution. The first UK company to launch such a scheme, it estimates if its 15 staff commuted by ebike three days per week it could cut around 38,000 car miles per year.
While governments in the Netherlands and France offer incentives for cycle commutes to and from work, UK Government tax relief for mileage is limited to car trips within the working day, something Gocycle wants to see change. In the UK the scheme could prove expensive and difficult to implement without Government tax relief, however.
Richard Thorpe, Gocycle designer and founder, said: “Our cities are at breaking point with traffic congestion resulting in pollution levels that are causing health problems and premature death. It is no longer acceptable to do nothing; we all a have a role to play no matter how small.
“We can’t wait for government policy to change, and it’s no good expecting others to act first. So, we’re starting with what we can do now and taking direct action to reward our employees for making the switch to more sustainable and healthy transport.”
Thorpe announced the new scheme at an Ebike Summit in Oxford. Employees who cycle are healthier, and ebikes can be a good way to get into cycling, or commute further without breaking a sweat. Gocycle sees ebikes as a viable replacement for cars.
However, without Government support in the form of tax relief, the scheme could prove costly to implement. The Green Commute Initiative, a Cycle to Work equivalent scheme for ebikes, allows employees to buy ebikes tax free via their employers. GCI’s Rob Howes calculates it would take an employee 9,259 miles to pay off a £2,500 ebike under the Gocycle scheme, without the tax relief offered under a cycle to work-style scheme, and with the additional complications of logging miles.
Howes said: “Green Commute Initiative welcomes anything that gets commuters out of cars and there are many ways to do that. We firmly believe that e-bikes aren’t a replacement for conventional bikes but a replacement for short car trips.”
Perhaps the point of the Gocycle scheme is to highlight the benefits of ebikes for commutes in the UK. Thorpe said: “It just feels like the right and smart thing to do, and I urge the Government to support businesses with tax credits for all cycle miles commuted, or at least allow the mileage allowance to be tax free to the employee.”
“My message to other businesses is simple – join us! There are huge benefits for businesses beyond contributing to reduced pollution levels.”
“Paying people to choose to commute by e-bike over a car is an investment in future cost savings for our communities and good for the planet.”
Future of Mobility Minister Jesse Norman said: “EBikes have the potential to play a huge role in creating cleaner, greener travel and healthy and thriving cities for the 21st century.
“Today’s summit brings together leaders from industry and Government, and will help us understand the opportunities eBikes will create for both businesses and communities across the UK.”