New figures reveal that a record number of people took advantage of the Cycle to Work scheme in 2014. An 11.6 per cent increase in uptake compared to 2013 saw 183,423 people getting tax-free bikes via members of the Cycle to Work Alliance. Even more striking is that 2013 was in itself a record year with a 16.4 per cent increase compared to 2012.
While the Cycle to Work Scheme has been an undoubted success in terms of selling bikes there are those who question what proportion of those sales have resulted in new cycle commuters - citing the scheme's popularity amongst existing cyclists. All that can be said is that both side's arguments rest on partial or anecdotal evidence and that cycle to work schemes have certainly helped fuel the British public's increasing fondness for cycling.
Employees who participate in the Cycle to Work scheme save up to 40 per cent of the total cost of a new through paying for it from their pre-tax income.
The Cycle to Work Alliance – a group of leading providers of the scheme – say that the figures highlight a continuing trend for people to choose to commute by bike.
Steve Edgell, Director of Cycle Solutions and Chair of the Cycle to Work Alliance said:
“It is clear that the cycle to work scheme is a key mechanism for delivering on the Government’s health and sustainable transport objectives, such as those set out in the draft Cycling Delivery Plan. The Alliance is obviously delighted in the part it can play in driving these positive behaviours, with 2014’s figures showing that the scheme is on an upward trajectory and more people than ever across the country taking up cycling.”
Edgell added that while the figures represented excellent news, it was important that the scheme’s ongoing success was ensured through continued governmental commitment to cycling.
“Alongside efforts to improve access to equipment and improve safety, the Alliance believes central and local government must work together to promote the benefits of cycling to local employers and the wider community. That way, we can make sure that as many people as possible are getting on their bikes.”
Research carried out last year by Cyclescheme.co.uk claimed that two million new cycle commuters were set to take to the roads that spring. Reasons cited included the frustrations and unreliability of public transport and congestion on the roads.