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We need a national bike subsidy scheme

Bicycle Network is calling on the federal government to introduce a national bike subsidy scheme that offers a 30 per cent rebate, capped at $1500, for bikes, e-bikes or cargo bikes purchased for work purposes.

With an election looming, we’re calling on Canberra to show us they’re serious about a sustainable future by incentivizing bike riding, as outlined in our Federal Election 2022 policy submission.

It has been proven time and time again that bikes win elections. The Treasurer of Australia himself said in response to the recent Australian Cycling Economy Report: “These numbers paint a very compelling case for further investment in cycling infrastructure that has a real multiplier effect on the overall economy.”

“Getting on the bike is good news for the economy and it’s certainly good news for peoples health,” said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

While some state governments have announced stamp duty waivers, zero-interest loans and other financial incentives to promote electric vehicle purchases – electric bicycles imported to Australia are still being hit with a 5% tariff.

Let's get serious about sustainable subsidies.

We should be incentivizing the only transport option that simultaneously increases physical and mental wellbeing, reduces carbon emissions and air pollution, decongests roads, improves liveability and reduces the cost of living for Australians, not penalising it.

Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards labelled the focus on electric vehicle roll-out at the recent climate change conference in Glasgow as the path of least resistance. “There’s no arguing that electric vehicles should be part of our climate solution. But why are we settling for better when we should be striving for best?” said Mr Richards.

Switching normal cars for electric cars to meet our emissions goals is ignoring the inconvenient truth that emissions from a bicycle trip are 10 times less than an electric vehicle trip. The bike is the best bet for the transport sector – our second largest and only increasing source of carbon emissions.

“For many Australians the barrier to riding a bike is simply the price. A small spend by the federal government could have an enormous impact,” said Mr Richards.

“A $75 million package with rebates capped at $1500 will provide 50,000 Australians with a bike, and potentially double the number of people riding to work every two years.”

And this isn’t reinventing the wheel. Successful bike incentive models from Sweden, Germany, Austria and the UK have been proven to increase rates of active travel and reduce rates of transport-related emissions.

In the United States, Joe Biden has announced a Build Back Better plan offering a credit of up to 30 percent against the cost of a new electric bike purchase. We’re asking for the same for all bike purchases Down Under.

On top of the 30 per cent rebate, Bicycle Network's proposed bike incentive scheme includes:
  • Instruct the Productivity Commission to conduct an inquiry into social cost benefit analyses and investment risks associated with increased active travel
  • Offer fringe tax benefit exemptions for employers that offer salary sacrifice packages for bikes
  • Remove tariffs on imported e-bikes

You can read more about bike rebate and our other four recommendations in he lead up to the federal election in our Federal Election 2022 Policy Paper.

This is also one of the key asks in Bicycle Network's Federal Pre-Budget Submission 2022/23.

OUR POLICY PAPER

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.