An Italian Town Pays Residents to Bike to Work

The town of Massarosa, Italy has enacted a pilot scheme to encourage bike commuting.

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Massarosa, Italy

Photo from Google Maps

The town of Massarosa, Italy, has recently instituted a pilot scheme to pay residents who bike to work hundreds of Euros per year, according to the BBC. Residents will be paid 25 cents per kilometre traveled, up to a max payout of 50 euros a month, which would enable them to pocket up to 600 euros per year if they biked as much as they could.

The pilot scheme will involve 50 residents – the first 50 to apply – whose distance each day will be tracked on a smartphone app. The council has set aside 30,000 euros for the scheme. It will be funded in part by fines from traffic infractions, which legally have to be reinvested in road safety.

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The Italian Federation Friends of the Bicycle (FIAB) helped develop the scheme with the municipality of Massarosa, with the hopes that it will improve livability on the town’s streets. While the scheme is said to be the first of its kind in Italy, FIAB and the council hope that it will encourage other towns and cities around the country to follow suit.

When a similar scheme was enacted in France in 2014, it did produce an increase in the number of people cycling, but didn’t lead to a significant reduction in cars on the roads. It was found that the majority of people who took part in the program had previously been using public transport or carpooling.

Even if the scheme does only succeed in getting people out of buses and onto bikes, we would still consider that a success. The more people riding bikes around a town, the more cycling begins to seem normal and viable. Residents who aren’t taking part in the scheme may have friends, neighbours, or coworkers who are, and become encouraged to bike to work themselves. And the more people biking on the streets, the safer biking becomes. It’s a virtuous cycle.

It’s exciting to see a municipality taking such direct action to encourage its residents to ride bikes. As cities grapple with increasing congestion and the various ecological, health, and financial costs of our over-reliance on cars, investing in a strong bike culture is an investment in a sustainable future. While building bike infrastructure is a great way to get more people riding, the reality remains that some people simply don’t consider biking a viable transportation option. This incentive scheme, hopefully, will be a gentle nudge in the right direction.

 

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