Worthy of a Bike Statue

My Dutch co-author and I biked to his office this morning, with very nice new bikes he owns. I remarked on them, and he said his university gives him the right to buy a bike out of pre-tax income every three years.

Every Dutch employer can offer this triennial subsidy of $750. I thought that was quite interesting, and asked why.

The answer is that earlier the government gave employees a subsidy on commuting costs, but only if they lived at least 10 kilometers from work. He says the government realized that this was unfair to short-distance commuters and, worse still, increased incentives to live far from work and to use gasoline that generated air pollution.

The bicycle subsidy is designed to counter those effects; and it is also consistent with the national image as devoted to bike-riding. (The Netherlands is the only place I have seen a public statue/monument consisting of a 10-meter-tall bicycle!)

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  1. Steve says:

    There’s a bike statue of similar size cunningly hidden in the Parc de la Villette in Paris (http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=48.893258,2.391737&spn=0.000687,0.000884&t=h&z=20),
    though Paris is not at all a bicycle friendly place.

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  2. Helen says:

    That is a nice benefit, and if memory serves, the Netherlands (or at least Amsterdam) accomodates bicycle traffic on roads very nicely.

    I hope some of these ideas can cross the pond and we can begin the process of shifting away from reliance on personal automobiles as our principal mode of transit. It will clearly take more than just a bike subsidy, but every little step can help build more sustainable communities that are healthier and less dependent on carbon-heavy energy.

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  3. Dan Murray says:

    I travel to The Netherlands frequently on business and can say that the Dutch have bicycles fully integrated in their transport system. You can ride on a bicycle path almost everywhere in the country. In towns or between towns. In the older sections of Amsterdam it’s really the best way to get around. I think you can rent a commuter bike for around 15 Euro/day.

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  4. Mike B says:

    The Netherlands is also flat, which makes bicycle riding a joy. Until all he major American cities pack up and move to Kansas cycling in this country will remain hard exercise requiring various levels of de-stinkifacation upon arrival at work.

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  5. sarahmas says:

    @ #1 Steve: I respectfully disagree about Paris being unfriendly to bikers.

    As a grad student who endured 3 train strikes during my 4 months in Paris last fall, I found Velib to be the only consistently reliable means of transportation.

    I agree that you could get run over at any given time, but that is true whether you are on a bike, on foot, on rollerblades (which always astonished me given the preponderance of cobbled streets), or even in another car. What do you expect from a city in which people ride their motorcycles on the sidewalk?!

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  6. Steve says:

    To even suggest such a “gross intervention into the free market” would likely get one denounced as a “Commie” on this side of the pond. Besides, there would be less tax dollars for road construction – an obvious military and anti-terrorist necessity.

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  7. cirby says:

    For any organization situated in an urban area, funding bicycles instead of parking lots could be worthwhile.

    Besides the cost of land (“we can put a new office building there instead, and not have to buy a half-million in flat dirt!”), lot maintenance and parking monitoring are solid money-eaters. A per-year cost of $250 would more than pay for these outlays.

    In many urban areas, $250 would almost pay for one month of parking in a commercial parking garage…

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  8. Michael D says:

    I always enjoy your posts. Always short and to the point. Others should take note!

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