In a move to promote the use of e-bikes, the UK Government have refreshed their Ride to Work scheme to abandon the £1,000 limit on employee-provided bikes and equipment.
First introduced by the government 20 years ago, the Cycle to Work scheme has long been a tax efficient and affordable way for employees to save money on a new bike or accessories via a salary sacrifice scheme – whilst promoting cleaner, healthier journeys to and from work.
However, in reviewing the scheme it was discovered that the previous £1,000 limit meant that many user groups that might desire an e-bike had been priced out.
This left the elderly, people with disabilities or low mobility, lower-earners and those who live further from work or are unable to walk or cycle long distances without assistance less able to utilise the scheme.
In what has been described by some as "a rare bit of functioning government sunshine", Ruth Cadbury, chair of the Cycling All-Party Parliamentary Group stated that "as a cross-party group of parliamentarians, we have been united in our calls for the scheme to be expanded to reflect new innovations in the market, such as the rapid growth in availability and demand for e-bikes. This vital modernisation of the scheme will help to ease the financial barriers and convert more potential cyclists into regular active travel commuters."
Cycling Minister Michael Ellis echoed these sentiments, stating "cycling is a vital and easy way to improve air quality, reduce pollution and create vibrant towns and cities. Making sure that bikes are easily available is crucial to helping more people make the switch to greener modes of transport. Ensuring people of all abilities and fitness levels can cycle together is a key part of this. I want everyone to feel empowered to make cycling a part of their everyday lives, and our refreshed guidance provides many incentives to help people do this."
As well as boosting air quality and reducing emissions, the refreshed guidance is also expected to help commuters save money.
A recent survey of 2,000 commuters estimated that by switching from car, bus, tube or train to e-bikes, commuters could save an average of £7,791 over 5 years.
Pedal assist e-bikes can reach reach speeds of up to 15.5 mph in the UK, and are seen as a game changer for their potential to make it easier for older or less fit people to ride bikes. 70,000 were sold in the UK last year.
This a good example of a government actively working to remove barriers and unlock the benefits of bike riding for all members of the community.