The infrastructure ministry is launching a major drive to try to get commuters out of their cars and onto bikes to cut both pollution and traffic jams.
Some 200,000 more people should be cycling to work by the end of this cabinet period which will ‘contribute to mobility, livability and health,’ junior minister Steintje van Veldhoven said on Tuesday.
The plan involves encouraging more employers to pay their staff 19 cents a kilometre in travelling expenses if they use their own bike to get to work. The payment is part of the Dutch tax system but few employers use it.
Van Veldhoven now wants to talk to employers to encourage them to make the payments. Someone who cycles some seven kilometres to work every day can benefit by up to €500 a year tax free if employers participate, the Volkskrant calculated.
Half of all car trips in the Netherlands are shorter than 7.5 kilometres which is ‘a fine distance to cycle,’ Van Veldhoven, who cycles to work in The Hague, said in her briefing to MPs. Electric bikes, she said, are suitable for longer distances.
The government has allocated €100m to improve facilities for bike commuters, including more and better cycle lanes and improved bike parks at stations, with most of the money going on bike parks.
Van Veldhoven also wants to stimulate the use of shared bike schemes and to encourage local authorities to give cyclists priority at roundabouts. She also suggests finding out if traffic lights for bikes can be altered so the light stays green for longer in the rain.
The finance ministry said earlier this year that it will reform the current tax rules for company bikes, which are complicated and discouraging to companies and cyclists.