How to Get a Free Bicycle
December 20, 2013 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Two years ago my husband gave me a shiny new bike for Christmas. I’m embarrassed to confess that I have not yet ridden it. He put it under the tree again last year, and if I don’t ride it before in the next few days, I know it will be there again on Christmas morning. So my New Year’s Resolution is to to get back in (or on) the saddle.
Urban cycling is rapidly gaining in popularity, not only because of the health and enviromenental benefits, but also because riding a bike is effcient. I love walking, but on foot I might average about 5-7 mph whereas cyclers generally travel three times faster at about 12-14 mph while expending about the same amount of energy.
Cyclers also save money on fuel and expensive parking which may explain the increase in the number urban commuters who bike to work. Plus, twenty bicycles can be parked in the same space as one car which relieves parking issues not to mention traffic.
The UK is experiencing a sort of “cycle mania” since the country won the gold in the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Tour De France two years in a row. The result: a rising number of UK residents have traded in their four wheels for two.
More than 750,000 British people commute to work by bicycle. Many of these riders take advantage of British government-backed cycle-to-work tax exemption initiatives that offer economic incentives.
Through these cycling initiatives, an employee lays out no money for a bike paid for from pre-tax salary deductions. The employer, who receives a tax-deduction, buys the bikes and safety accessories at full retail price. At the end of the tax season, the employee has the option to buy the bike at fair market value, saving up to 42%.
To date, over 550,000 people have taken advantage of the scheme, which involves over 2,220 bike retailers and 32,000 employers.
The obvious environmental benefits aside, the UK scheme has led to improved employee health and influenced behavior changes in many riders. 40% of those who described themselves as novice cyclists before joining the initiative, now classify themselves as cycling enthusiasts.
As a result of the cycling’s growing popularity, bike sales have surged and bike clubs are sprouting up everywhere. Rural areas as well, such as South Gloucestershire, East Sussex and Central Bedfordshire have all reported an increased interest in cycling.
Building on the last two years of strong interest in cycling, British property developer Kier Homes now sells homes equipped with bikes. Part of Kier’s ‘Go Green’ initiative that encourages homeowners to leave their cars at home and cycle to work, all new homebuyers get free bicycles and helmets.
And to get things rolling, the developer distributes a complimentary cycling guide with safe cycling tips, local bike routes, and suggestions for exploring the local countryside.
I like the idea. In the US, homebuyers at a new urban property development in San Mateo, California are getting PUBLIC C7 bikes, the San Francisco-based bike company’s most popular bike (and incientally, the one I own.)
Time to dust off my wheels.