A Green Party initiative to encourage people to cycle to work is proving to be a success, according to city based cycle store Nigel’s cycles.
The scheme launched by the Government enables workers to buy tax free bikes and accessories to a maximum value of €1,000 saving employees up to €400.
Liosban based cycle store Nigels Cycle’s, say they are making some 20 sales each week through the scheme. Shop owner Nigel Forde said: “The take up was slow due to employers and employees not knowing how the scheme worked, but now a lot of corporate bodies, including the city council have signed up for the scheme .”
“The number of people throughout the city that have taken part in the scheme so far is unknown, but there is a huge amount of interest,” according to forrmer Green Cllr Niall Ó Brolcháin.
Bikes must be purchased by an employer, with either the employer bearing the full cost of the bicycle, or by way of a salary sacri?ce agreement. The salary sacrifice will enable an employee to repay the cost of the bike and accessories, minus the tax, to his/her employer over an agreed period of time.
For a top rate tax payer earning, this tax relief essentially means that at the end of the year, tax will only be worked out on their earnings minus the money spent on the bike. If the maximum is spent this will give the worker €1,000 of his/her salary tax free. The Government has agreed to forego this tax, so it will not be paid.
Companies however, are not obliged to take part in the scheme. Mr Forde said: “Some employers have refused to take part in the scheme. Financially, many companies cannot afford to write a cheque for €1,000 right now.”
The Green councillor who is waiting for a chance to get his own tax free bicycle says that the Galway City Council is one of various local employers taking part in the scheme.
“It’s a positive move in the right direction, but there is more to do. At the moment I have motions before city council for better faciities for cyclists to support the scheme,” said Councillor Ó Brolcháin.
One of the aims of the scheme is to encourage health and fitness. According to the Green Party, regular cyclists are as fit as an average person 10 years younger, and will live two years longer than non-cyclists.
The initiative is part of the Green Party’s policy to reduce carbon emissions, with cycling being one of the least polluting ways to travel. They say 2kg of carbon is being saved for every short journey made using a bike instead of a car.
For more information contact Nigel’s Cycles 091 752852, or www.bikescheme.ie