Bari is set to become the first major Italian city to introduce a scheme that will pay people to cycle to work, and will also be providing funds to help people buy new or refurbished bikes.
The council that runs the Puglia region's capital, which has a population of 327,000 people and 1.3 million in its wider metropolitan area, will pay up to €25 a month to bike commuters during a four-month trial of the initiative, reports La Repubblica.
The initiative is backed by a grant of €545,000 from Italy’s ministry of the environment and will see cyclists earn 20 cents per kilometre while riding to and from work, and 4 cents per kilometre for other trips within the city limits, or half those amounts for people using e-bikes.
The sums that can potentially be earned are capped at €1 per day, or €100 over the course of the four-month pilot, approved by the city’s council last week.
It will also subsidise brand the purchase of new bikes to the tune of €150, while €250 will be reimbursed to those buying a new e-bike, and €100 for people who buy a reconditioned bicycle.
Funds available under the pilot scheme will be sufficient to help finance the acquisition of 3,000 bicycles, while up to 1,000 cyclists will be able to benefit from the earn-while-you-commute scheme.
Each will be given a GPS unit to track their riding and ensure there is no cheating, and each month the 10 people covering the furthest distance under the scheme will receive an additional bonus of €50.
“The new year opens with a gift to everyone who loves the bicycle,” said Bari’s mayor, Antonio Decaro, who added that the initiative forms part of a plan to double the number of people cycling in the city.
Financial incentives to get people commuting by bike have been introduced in countries such as the Netherlands and France – and while Bari is the first major city in Italy to adopt such a scheme, it is not the first place in the country to do so.
The town of Massarosa in the province of Lucca, Tuscany, introduced a scheme in 2015 offering up to €50 a month for those among its 22,500 citizens who decided to ride to work, financed by fines collected from motorists.
Rather than reducing car use, however, it was found that the scheme saw people who previously commuted by public transport or car-pooling switch to two wheels.
> Italian town pays people to cycle to work
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.