22nd June 2018
Almost a quarter of the Dutch population cycles every day – making the most of the country’s 35,000 km of dedicated cycle infrastructure or the 70 per cent of urban streets traffic calmed and limited to 20mph. However, a growing population and an associated increase in car use has prompted the Dutch Secretary of State for Infrastructure, Stientje Van Veldhoven, to tweak corporate tax law so that companies pay their staff to cycle to work. The proposed rate is the equivalent of 22 pence per mile of cycling to and from work.
The plan aims get additional 200,000 Dutch commuters out of their cars and onto bikes. Alongside the mileage allowance for commuter cyclists, the Dutch government has announced 100 million Euros for new cycling infrastructure.
Speaking about new plans to boost cycling in the Netherlands, Van Veldhoven said:
“It is my ambition to ensure that people can easily go to work, school, family or friends.”
“The bicycle makes an important contribution to accessibility, livability and health. It reduces traffic jams. That’s why I want to stimulate cycling with the goal that there will be 200,000 extra commuters from the car and that we will make 3 billion more bicycle kilometres together.”
In Britain, four million people drive less than four miles to work by car. Under the Dutch scheme a person who swapped their four mile car commute for cycling would be paid a little over £35 per month.
How can the Dutch afford to pay motorists to cycle?
Quite simply, because the overall cost imposed on society by motoring substantially outweighs the revenues obtained from motorists. Conservative estimates place the figure in Britain at over £9bn every single. If you add to that figure the cost of subsidising free off-street parking (major developments have to have a set number of parking places, even if they are likely to be unfilled), the total is far higher. Donald Shoup, Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA, estimates that providing free off-street car parking in America cost $386bn in 2002 alone.
The complaint from motorists that they are excessively taxed is also challenged by a study which found that road traffic collisions, pollution and noise resulting from cars cost every EU citizen more than £600 a year.
The report by the Dresden Technical University in Germany calculated that even when motor insurance contributions to hospital costs were removed, these external factors totalled of £303bn across the 27 EU member states – the equivalent of €750 for every man, woman and child.
This figure does not include costs from congestion, ill health or lack of exercise.