Cycle to Work

I was struck by the amount of press coverage of the Cycle to Work scheme (C2W). The Irish Bicycle Business Association (IBBA, which seems to have no website) launched a report (which cannot be found online) praising the virtues of C2W.

The report in the Irish Times is brief. 90,000 bikes have been sold since the scheme was introduced. There is no estimate of how many bikes would have been sold without C2W. The IBBA spokesperson claimed that “cycling journeys have increased by more than 50 per cent”, which may or may not be due to C2W, and may not be true as Irish data on travel and transport are sparse. The Dublin Canal Crossing counts (h/t Ossian Smyth) surely do not support a 50% increase.

RTE, BusinessWorld and the Irish Examiner add that 50 new bicycle shops have been established, and 767 new jobs created. They note the increase in the number of bike-based charitable events. And they cite the example of Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, which apparently has kept excellent records of how its employees travel to work.

SiliconRepublic has the most extensive story. It cites a LSE study that shows the commuting by bike improves your health. Such studies are plagued by endogeneity: Are cycling people fit, or do fit people cycle? McNabola et al. (2008) show, for Dublin, that cyclists (who breathe differently) are particularly exposed to PM2.5 and VOC.

The Irish Independent interviewed a bike shop owner. He notes that, since C2W, people buy more expensive bikes and that the success of his business is due to C2W.

C2W is a subsidy on the purchase of a new bicycle. You would indeed expect that people would then buy more and more expensive bikes, which is good for bike shop owners. C2W was one of the first policies introduced by then-Minister Eamon Ryan, who once owned a bike shop (see here).

C2W is unrelated to the use of the bike. Even without the C2W, bicycles beat cars on cost. I find it hard to believe that C2W has induced many to cycle to work instead, but I am aware that there no data to support this.

59 thoughts on “Cycle to Work”

  1. “I find it hard to believe that C2W has induced many to cycle to work instead, but I am aware that there no data to support this.” ?

    In terms of endogeny, surely its not too controversial to suggest that physical activity such as cycling makes most people fitter – I’m sure the Irish team didn’t prepare for the RWC by sitting around speculating as to whether training may improve their performance or if they were in the squad because they are natural athletes.

    That said C2W did sell a lot of expensive imported bikes for basic commuting…

  2. @Darren
    Cycling surely keeps you fit. Does cycling replace other exercise? Are cyclists recruited from those who were already reasonably fit? There is an endogeneity problem if the answer to those questions is partly yes.

    I don’t know the LSE study (as no reference provided) so I don’t know whether they corrected for this.

  3. As a cyclist myself, I always reckon that the health gain in terms of exercise just about offsets the increased risk of an accident plus the increased exposure to pollution.
    And, seeing the day that’s in it, we should also take into account the impact of the exchange of atoms between the cyclist and his/her bike.

  4. @Richard,

    You seem to be constantly surprised that many people do not take the initiative to behave in ways that are in their interests unless the government kicks off some grandiose ‘initiative’ first. This seems to be the common pattern in most developed economies, but, for a variety of historical and cultural reasons, it seems to be more pronounced in Ireland. The role of governments in a number of these areas has been justified by Thaler & Sunstein’s ‘Nudge’ book and the raft of behavioural and psychological economic analysis surrounding it.

    And it is music to the ears of business people. Governments will use their powers to tax to fund subsidies and much of these will flow as supernormal profits to the business people sufficiently resourced, skilled and nimble to capture them. Existing usinesses will expand and new businesses may even be established to farm these subsidies. And this cycling example is but one of many. A detailed analysis would fill many volumes.

    And, yes, there may be progress towards achieving the primary objective of the ‘initiative’, but one has to ask ‘cui bono?’ when it is all added up.

    The principal proximate problem seems to be that all of these ‘initiatives’ are sold as being a ‘good thing’; some indeed may be a ‘very good thing’. And then, almost by definition, it is a ‘good thing’ to use ‘other people’s money’ to finance it.

    However, the real problem is the centralisation and high-level concentration of even the most minor public spending decisions. When there’s one big pot up in Dublin that’s available to allocate gravy to all and sundry most people seem to lose any grasp of the fact that it is their money, collectively, that’s being allocated. The common view is that if they don’t grab their share of it some other, less-deserving chancers will.

    Many people lament the clientelism embedded in the Irish political system, but, viewing one big pot and the centralisation of decisions on its allocation, it is perfectly rational, effective and efficient for voters to elect TDs who will ensure they secure what they believe is their rightful share of this pot – or, in these straitened times, will ensure they defend their share of the pot. And those in government quite like this this big pot and centralised decision-making as this equal power.

    The only solution is effective decentralisation of taxing and spending decisions – not this perverse acentralisation of some government functions practised by previous governments. When taxing and spending decisions are pushed down the system closer to voters the numbers become more maangeable, the connections between what is provided and how much is taxed and spent become clearer and they will have an incentive to pay much more attention. They will see more clearly that it is thier money that is being spent and they will be far more keen to ensure that its is spent sensibly.

    Democracy is a wonderful system. If only it were allowed to work its magic 🙂

  5. I have been cycling to work or College for the best part of twenty years. In two recent workplaces I know nearly all the staff who cycle. Off the top of my head I’d guess that more than half purchased a bike under the C2W scheme – including myself. But we all had bikes beforehand and already cycled to work. I know a few people who did not cyle to work but who bought bikes under the scheme. They either bought off road bikes or in one case, a road bike, but cycled to work a handful of times then stopped. In short, I don’t know a single person who began to cycle to work as a result of the C2W sheme.

  6. Nice reference Peter ;o)
    I try to spend at least 8 hours away from my bicycle every day but weekends are tough going. I am currently 82.5% bicycle.

  7. Perhaps I am thinking too much like an economist, but surely journalists ought to address the first complaint you make, as a matter of course. i.e. “90,000 bikes have been sold since the scheme was introduced. There is no estimate of how many bikes would have been sold without C2W”

    It seems like the responsible lobby is using big numbers, with which people are unfamiliar, to replace analysis.

    My experience is limited to a very small, biased sample. In my office, all of the beneficiaries were keen cyclists.

  8. I bought a bike with the C2W scheme earlier this year as part of a personal effort to get back in shape. It’s worked very well. One nice side-effect of C2W is that bike shops now carry better bikes and have a better variety of gear on offer.

    I know several people at work who have done the same. I’ve also noted a decent increase in the number of cyclists I see on the road.

    I’m amused by the Canal cycle counts. There are several regular routes I cycle – I’d miss every checkpoint on that map for most of the trips I make. Considering where a lot of people live who work at the tech companies in the Grand Canal area, I would say a fair number never cycle past a counter in that study.

  9. Richard

    You seem to have a problem with the B2W scheme without saying exactly what that problem is.

    Do you think its a poor scheme or do you think it is a good, but not great scheme?

    The fact that 50 new bike shops have opened at a time when in general retail businesses are closing creating over 700 hundred jobs is a big success story.
    I would agree that because of the way the scheme operates lots of people are buying much higher spec bikes and lots of accessories they dont need. That is because it is being sold by bike shop owners as ‘only a tenner a week to get a 1000 euro of bike’ Its a very compelling sales pitch.

    You seem to have an ideological problem admitting that government intervention can have a positive effect on peoples lives/health. Are you an invisible hand free market type of economist?

    As for “Cycling surely keeps you fit. Does cycling replace other exercise? Are cyclists recruited from those who were already reasonably fit? There is an endogeneity problem if the answer to those questions is partly yes”
    Lets keep things simple. The important question is; overall is there more exersize being done by people who have taken part in the scheme?
    OK maybe because I cycle to work I skip my gym class but do you honestly think that people are exersizing less overall? Exersize is like suger in the system. The more you get the more you want. Cycling is also an excellent low impact cardio workout. Anecdotally I can tell you that 4 people in my office of 50 took part in the scheme and have ditched our cars for the bike.
    Sometimes when something seems like win win it actually is. This is one of those times.

  10. We had this same topic a few weeks ago. I posted then that, while this Cycle To Work scheme may well have been a factor, another factor was undoubtedly the great improvement in road safety in Dublin, and around the country, that has resulted from the previous government’s massive investment in new roads and motorways. No matter what Cycle To Work scheme is implemented, people will not cycle to work if they think there is a high risk of the return journey being made in a hearse.

    This was confirmed in a report in the Irish Times last week, which highlighted that Dublin now has the safest roads of any EU capital.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2011/0929/breaking41.html

    Pressure needs to be put on the FG/Labour government to give the same priority to building roads that the FF government did. Historically, FG/Labour governments have always done the opposite and, during their last period in office (1994-1997), road deaths in Ireland rose.

  11. @Eamonn Moran

    I believe Richard has several problems with the scheme. They are easy enough to enumerate. I annotate this list with reference to paragraph numbers in Richard’s article.

    First, there is no data about how many people have switched to cycling as a result of the scheme. (2)

    Second, there is weak data about the health benefits of cycling, which is a justification for the scheme, though I myself don’t think it’s an important one. (4)

    Third, there is anecdotal evidence that suggests people use the subsidy to switch from cheap bicycles to expensive bicycles, rather than from no bicycle to cheap bicycles. (5,6)

    Now, to your criticisms.

    “The fact that 50 new bike shops have opened at a time when in general retail businesses are closing creating over 700 hundred jobs is a big success story.” – Incorrect. If the government is paying for this scheme with taxation equivalent to removing 700 jobs from the economy, that is not a success story. In addition, we have no evidence about how many jobs were actually created by the scheme, merely a time series without causation.

    “You seem to have an ideological problem admitting that government intervention can have a positive effect on peoples lives/health.” – This is a poor response to criticism. You do not have evidence to refute the idea that people substitute out other forms of exercise. “The more you get the more you want” is not evidence.

  12. So…. it has forced imports up, a large group of taxpayers are subsidising a small group of people who are probably just taking the opportunity to buy a new bike at a discount and are not really entering into the ‘spirit’ of the scheme (i.e. use it to cycle to work… and even if they are, that would have a negative impact on the revenues for public transport, forcing them to consider cutting more routes), 50 new shops/767 jobs will go under when the subsidy is removed as part of future austerity measures, the money spent on 90,000 bikes could have more usefully been spent paying down personal debt instead, there are 90,000 new accidents out there just waiting to happen and that will bring additional pressure to the HSE, the Dublin Bike scheme revenue is no doubt hit, there is no noticeable drop in the number of cars on the road and the pollution they cause, house prices have not risen as a result of this initiative, it didn’t stop the bailout happening, even a €1,000 bike doesn’t have the same pulling power as a Porsche (even if it is a Porsche bike), ….

    Just joking lads. I don’t want to incur the wrath of you ‘bikers’ out there.

    Did I read correctly somewhere this morning (a story about Germany returning some skulls to Namibia – I think it was Namibia – that were taken away many years ago for ‘analysis’) that there’s a tribe there called the Nama people?

  13. @Eamonn
    I advocate prudent spending of public money. A scheme is not successful just because it has benefits. It has to have net benefits, and that calculation includes the opportunity cost of exchequer funds.

    Cycling does have health benefits and costs, which are very difficult to measure.

  14. In my workplace quite a few people availed of the scheme and changed behaviour as a result. All of these were previous bus users though and the subsidy may have tipped the financial arithmetic in favour of the bike. Car users are notoriously set in their ways. Anecdotally, people often suggest that urban cycling in Dublin is ‘dangerous’. This is a relative judgement and in my experience Dublin is considerably safer to cycle in than most European cities outside Germany and the Netherlands.

    My own observational experience would suggest there are definitely more bicycles on Dublin’s streets than in 2008. Whether this has done anything to improve traffic congestion is moot I would say. Cyclists move at wildly varying speeds and often retard buses’ progress. (I say this as a keen cyclist myself).

    I still do almost all my cycle-related purchases from UK sellers online. They still trump Irish retailers on price and selection.

    PS: I appreciate this is only personal anecdote but this pretty much proves Richard’s point.

  15. @ Edward

    “If the government is paying for this scheme with taxation equivalent to removing 700 jobs from the economy, that is not a success story.”
    Where is the evidence to suggest that the value of the tax break on this scheme would have been used to create 700 jobs in the economy?

    JTO
    You raise a valid point. The increased safety of the roads probably encouraged some people to cycle to work. How much would all the cyclist friendly/safety aspects of the roadworks have cost?

    The bike to work scheme probably encouraged some people to cycle to work. How much would the tax break have cost? A lot less than the cost of the roads.
    But it is the combination of both the better roads and the scheme that has caused the significant increase on those people who are now cycling to work.
    @ Richard
    “Cycling does have health benefits and costs, which are very difficult to measure.”
    What are the health costs of cycling? Do you mean cycling road deaths? They are not difficult to measure. Cant think of other cycling health costs?

  16. Cycling brings positive externalities: noise and air pollution are reduced, congestion is avoided, public health is improved, costly transport infrastructure investment is avoided. It is natural for an Irish policy maker to look at cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam with similar climate to Dublin and wonder why a smaller proportion of Irish people choose to cycle.

    Transport policy documents produced during the previous government defined the goal of increasing the share of journeys by bike:
    Smarter Travel / Sustainable transport future 2009-2020
    Greater Dublin Area Transport Strategy 2011-2030
    National Cycle Policy Framework

    It is certainly worth asking, given the policy objective of persuading more people to cycle, what is the most cost effective mix of actions to reach this goal?

    JtO has pointed out that a primary factor attracting cyclists may be the reducing risk of death or injury. Supporting this idea, the RSA recently claimed that Dublin has the safest roads in Europe.

    Here’s a nice video about cycling in the Netherlands (made by a Dutch cycling consultancy):

    Does this ring true to you, Richard as a Dutchman?

    On the basis that the Dutch mst know a thing or two about bikes, I recently bought a Dutch bike from Greenaer.ie / Bear bicycles.
    http://www.bear-bicycles.com/ I recommend them to anyone reading this for durable practicality and comfort.

    I find it hard to believe that C2W has induced many to cycle to work instead, but I am aware that there no data to support this.

    Is belief without evidence not the same as religious faith? I’m not sure of the value of data-free prejudice to an economics blog. Maybe I misunderstood and you can clarify this statement.

    Next year’s detailed census reports will show whether cycling to work has increased significantly. A survey in 2010 of bike shops found that 43% of bikes sold were under the C2W scheme and that half of these were to public sector employees. The revenue does not record cycle-to-work claims so that bike shop surveys are probably the best source of data.

    Some data about cycling to school is provided by this Irish Sports Council study (only 1% of primary and 3% of secondary school pupils cycle to school). The Green Schools programme which provides education and encouragement to children to walk or cycle to school has been found to significantly reduce the share of car journeys to schools where it has been implemented. This programme was recommended for termination by Colm McCarthy – presumably based on his extensive analysis of the data and not merely based on his beliefs.

    The census also measures cycling to school and work. This year’s census will be geocoded (respondents had to provide the address of work or school) so that should provide the possibility to examine modal split across different journey types and discover what factors make cycling attractive.

    The census data will tell us whether an increase in cycling to work has accompanied the c2w scheme but it won’t tell us if the relationship is causative. To determine the effect of a c2w scheme compared to a do-nothing scenario you’d need to carry out a randomised trial by offering the scheme to a sample and comparing their behaviour against the general population.

  17. Our city streets are less hazardous? Eh! Are we talking about Dublin? You could have fooled me then. I ride a motor bike (gave up the peddler – too frigging dangerous – really!). Many cyclists consider a red traffic signal as some sort of pre-christmas decoration. Nearly skulled one last week. He came thru a red signal, straight into my path (I was on a green, left-hand filter signal). Just kept going! Where are the cops!

    Make the illigitimi have mandatory registration for their machines, and third-party insurance as well.

    Brian Snr.

  18. People who cycle to work in this country are taking their lives into their hands in a way few others in an modern society ever do. Roads and cycle lanes up and down the country are death traps for the misfortunate cyclists on them.

    You will only have to come across one bad driver–once–on a bike to see how things can go wrong. You may not get a second opportunity. Take the bus or walk.

  19. Do the Health Benefits of Cycling Outweigh the Risks?

    Effect on life expectancy of switching to cycle from car commuting:
    Air pollution: lose 21 days
    Accidents: lose 7 days
    Less heart disease: gain 8 months

    conclusion:

    On average, the estimated health benefits of cycling were substantially larger than the risks of cycling relative to car driving. For the society as a whole, this can be even larger because there will be a reduction in air pollution emissions and eventually fewer traffic accidents. Policies stimulating cycling are likely to have net beneficial effects on public health, especially if accompanied by suitable transport planning and safety measures.

  20. It is unlikely that the cost of purchasing a bike seriously discourages people from cycling to work.

    If a survey of people who would like to cycle to work was conducted, I reckon the majority would cite safety concerns/poor quality bike lanes and the lack of shower facilities at work as the main reasons why they don’t cycle to work.

    In my opinion, the money would have been better spent encouraging improvements in the above areas. Moreover, many cyclists who have cycled to work for years are just using the scheme to upgrade their old bike.

  21. JtO
    “Pressure needs to be put on the FG/Labour government to give the same priority to building roads that the FF government did. Historically, FG/Labour governments have always done the opposite and, during their last period in office (1994-1997), road deaths in Ireland rose.”

    Is it possible to make at least a quasi-scientific genuine engagement with an important subject as opposed to ludicrous political rubbish? The 24th Government ran from December 1994 to June 1997. Let’s say the Government gave the thumbs up to a road building project on their first day in office. How long do you think it would take to build that road (and reap the safety benefits)?

    But why worry about analysis – you don’t even get the basic facts right. There was far more spent on roads between 1994 and 1997 than the previous 5 years.

  22. I have always cyled to College and then to work on second hand bikes until recently when my bike was stolen and I used the scheme to purchase a new bike for the first time in 30+ years.
    That said all the schme does is to apply to cycling the same arrangements as are applied to public transport season tickets.

    In terms of getting ‘new’ cyclists on the road i would imagine the dublin bikes scheme has done more.

    This scheme also has the advantage that as cycists use different bikes the molecular transfer effect is dissipated.

    By using Dublin bikes for city trips I am below 80% for the first time in years

  23. @Eamonn Moran

    “Where is the evidence to suggest that the value of the tax break on this scheme would have been used to create 700 jobs in the economy?”

    I don’t have it. And you have no evidence that it would create zero jobs. We also have no evidence that it would create 1,400 jobs. However, the 0 jobs assumption in particular is not credible. The confiscation of money from taxpayers to outfit cyclists with nicer bikes has an impact on the decisions of taxpayers. Specifically, it reduces their disposable income.

    It is not credible that this reduction of disposable income would have no effect on employment. But look beyond the government’s mantra of “jobs” for a moment, and there is certainly a welfare loss from that income to taxpayers. So yes, you do have to defend that welfare loss as the price of premium upgrades for existing cyclists. It does not seem to me like a price worth paying.

  24. @Brian Woods Snr

    Our city streets are less hazardous? Eh! Are we talking about Dublin? You could have fooled me then.

    JTO again:

    Yes we are. I posted these figures on road deaths in Dublin when a similar thread was opened a few weeks ago:

    1997 num death: 84 , pop: 1,072,200 , rate per million pop: 78.343
    1998 num death: 73 , pop: 1,081,400 , rate per million pop: 67.505
    1999 num death: 58 , pop: 1,086,100 , rate per million pop: 53.402
    2000 num death: 69 , pop: 1,097,300 , rate per million pop: 62.882
    2001 num death: 53 , pop: 1,108,200 , rate per million pop: 47.825
    2002 num death: 49 , pop: 1,122,821 , rate per million pop: 43.640
    2003 num death: 37 , pop: 1,133,200 , rate per million pop: 32.651
    2004 num death: 45 , pop: 1,144,800 , rate per million pop: 39.308
    2005 num death: 41 , pop: 1,160,600 , rate per million pop: 35.326
    2006 num death: 34 , pop: 1,187,176 , rate per million pop: 28.639
    2007 num death: 35 , pop: 1,210,300 , rate per million pop: 28.918
    2008 num death: 22 , pop: 1,217,800 , rate per million pop: 18.065
    2009 num death: 31 , pop: 1,211,500 , rate per million pop: 25.588
    2010 num death: 21 , pop: 1,207,300 , rate per million pop: 17.394

    reduction in roads death rate 1997 to 2010: 77.8 per cent

    What the above are known as is ‘statistical’ evidence. The concept is used worldwide to prove/disprove many propositions. It is how we know that Ireland are a better rugby team than Italy. That which you are claiming is what is known as ‘anecdotal’, ie useless, evidence. Try ‘statistical’ evidence sometime.

  25. Working in a large MNC that has been running th B2W scheme for a couple of years, I reckon 300-400 bikes have been purchased via it. Outside there are on a good day 15-20 bikes parked up. Part of this is because the location is not conducive.

    Undoubtedly many people too far from work to cycle (like me) are choosing mountain/off-road bikes. With some creative receipting would also be possible to kit out kids with bikes…

    I went to a bike shop on approved list and was shown “basic entry level” model for approx €450. Add in some gear and you are looking at €550.
    If you want a good bike – this deal is a no-brainer.

  26. vegasmegas

    If a survey of people who would like to cycle to work was conducted, I reckon the majority would cite safety concerns/poor quality bike lanes and the lack of shower facilities at work as the main reasons why they don’t cycle to work.

    A study in the UK measuring effectiveness of the UK cycle-to-work scheme asked employees why they declined to take part in the cycle to work scheme.

    The stated reasons were:
    28% Too far to cycle to work
    18% I already have a bike
    12% There is too much traffic
    9% I need a car for my work
    9% Other
    8% Other tasks before and after work
    6% I prefer to walk
    3% The financial benefits were not sufficient
    2% I don’t like cycling
    2% Window of opportunity was limited
    1% The weather is often too bad to cycle
    1% I would be too embarrassed
    1% There aren’t any showers /changing facilities

    Many of these reasons can be dealt with by changes to planning or taxation or road design.

  27. The problem with the cycle to work scheme is that the benefits of people cycling to work are limited. Clearly there are some health benefits, and each extra cyclist makes the road safer for other cyclists. But there is no particular virtue in cycling to work.

    The reason that people often see cycling as a good thing is that there is a hope that it will take the place of some other modes of transport that have very, very large negative externalties. In particular, commuting by car is polluting, causes congestion for other road users, and makes the roads so dangerous that many others no longer feel free to cycle or to let their kids out on the road.

    The obvious solution is not to subsidise cycling, which has limited positive externalities. The obvious solution is to tax commuting by car, which has large and clear negative externalities.

    Unfortunately, the obvious solution is probably not politically feasible. No politician wants to increase taxes on motorists. But it does explain why schemes like C2W have significant shortcomings. They don’t actually get to the heart of the problem, which is the negative externalities of commuting by car.

  28. @Roger
    Amen to that Roger – and its not just commuting to work either.
    The school runs are still chaotic , back in the eighties we all walked to school.
    All of the extra tax burden should shift to taxing cars – add a extra 1000 euro tax ON ALL CARS ,large and small.

  29. What about the new C2W scheme:

    “Canter to work”, in which the govt gives incentives to Dubliners who wish to exchange their recently purchased, expensive bicycles for CO2-neutral horses.

    Then, of course, there is the ongoing DG2W scheme, or “Don’t Go to Work”, in which the government engages in a decade of bad economic policies which raise unemployment, thereby eliminated the need to commute entirely….

  30. @Ossian

    That last post looked like a Family Fortunes board.

    12% There is too much traffic.
    1% I would be too embarrassed.

    One word. Feeble.

  31. I look forward to Richard’s post on the positive effect of some government funded initiative on the fabric of society. It can not be long.

    Since we have no statistics, other than positive ones, on the effects of an increase in the number of days cycled per person and the Cycle to Work scheme has undoubtedly increased that number it seems churlish to pick on it as an example of excessive government largesse. It is a worthy attempt at social engineering, and as Finland showed on a larger scale health friendly policies can lead to a healthier nation.

  32. Amazing only 1% thought the weather was too bad. They really must have better weather in the UK.

    I bought a bike some years ago. I cycled it for a while and then the wheel went flat. I pump it up but every time I go to use it it’s flat again.
    I tried to find a puncture, but can’t.
    So it has to go to the bike shop, In Kinnegad.
    I never seem to have either the car or the window to bring it there.
    So it’s in the shed, for 2 years, with the bird droppings on it.

    I wonder how many other people don’t use their bike because puncture repair is a lost skill?
    1%?

  33. @Sarah

    Given the opportunity cost of your time, I suspect that simply buying a new tube online is your best option.

    The risk of getting wet when making short bicycle trips on Ireland’s east coast is much over-estimated. I’ll happily take a wetting once a month over an unexplained public transport delay 5 times a month.

  34. What the above are known as is ’statistical’ evidence. The concept is used worldwide to prove/disprove many propositions. It is how we know that Ireland are a better rugby team than Italy. That which you are claiming is what is known as ‘anecdotal’, ie useless, evidence. Try ’statistical’ evidence sometime.

    Oh, Mr. JTO! You do like having us on! You know that Irish road deaths are really measured in the hundreds each year.

    http://www.cso.ie/statistics/principalcausesofdeath.htm

    Some days I don’t know what we’re going to do with you.

  35. Poor reporting of figures doesn’t help. Recently IT reported that car sales are up. They used a year to date comparison. Normally this would be reasonable but not in a year when there is a major change in the tax treatment of the purchases in the middle of the year. Similarly here the top-line number fed to the newspaper has been used without question and all purchases relate to the scheme, not the above average purchases. By the by, I too am a cyclist who upgraded using the scheme.

  36. Any scheme that gets the Obese Fat Irish off their car butts going to work has to be good even if there is a cost to the Exchequer. Personally I prefer walking to work which I do most days………..

  37. @Ossian
    Video rings true. Dutch people cycle everywhere and anywhere. Some my mates even cycled to my wedding (in Kilcash).

    As to “belief”, I used circumstantial evidence, and I clearly indicated my level of confidence.

  38. One as-yet-unmentioned consequence of the bike-purchase scheme is that bicycle thieves got re-incentivized by the growth in the number of expensive machines parked round the city.

  39. @JtO: Thanks for posting the figs. Stats are OK if the persons using them are ditto. I’ll assume they are OK, but mind if I rely on Mark one Eyeball and actual experiences. Might not be good stats, but they are real.

    Brian Snr.

  40. @Peter

    That’s true. The cops issued a special plea to people not to skimp on locks when the buy bikes.
    also, they have loads of recovered bikes but people don’t come to claim them.

  41. The wonderful thing about a thread on bicycles is that everyone gets to hop on their own particular ideological bicycle and pedal merrily away in the direction their biases take them. No-one’s mind is changed. People can just as plausibly argue that existing cyclists were subsidised to no great net benefit just as much as they can argue it’s fixing the critical health and transport problems of the nation. We have no definitive data, and we are likely not to be able to obtain same (future measurements notwithstanding, we won’t be able to make a direct causal link). Because of that lack of causation, we all read into it what we want — it’s win-win for everyone! Hooray!

    A more serious point: should governments ever engage in expenditure, the direct effect of which cannot be measured? I suspect, as a matter of practicality, such expenditure will continue. But there’s a clear difference between this kind of government expenditure, which is — although clearly ideologically motivated by a Green Party minister — not particularly corrupt, perhaps even helpful to those strongly supportive of the private car, and the expenditure of that rather enterprising little scheme run by the Department of the Marine a while ago wherein constituent(s?) benefitted rather directly from retroactive ship insurance coverage.

    There are bigger fish to fry.

  42. @ernie

    the point is to ask if there is evidence to justify giving taxpayers’ money to people to buy fancy bikes who don’t necessarily use them for the intended purpose – abandoning polluting transport for non-polluting transport and if a boom for bicycle shops is worth it.

    you have to ask?

  43. @Niall

    “A more serious point: should governments ever engage in expenditure, the direct effect of which cannot be measured?”

    Yes. Not everything can be measured, even if people do make worthy attempts at it. Sometimes there are value judgments of some sort, which is why we have elected politicians, rather than some sort of CBA machine leading the country. It’s messy this way, but doubtlessly better.

  44. I was thinking about this and I came up with another reason that the C2W scheme costs less than the headline figure. All the extra VAT due to people buying more expensive and larger volumes of bikes.

    Also doesn’t the government regularly give Car owners cash incentives to upgrade their cars for environmental and safety reasons.
    Seems only fair they do the same for cyclists.

    One big hole in the shceme is that it is much more attractive to people who pay tax at the higher rate.
    So people earning less than about 35k only get a 20% discount.

  45. Surely simply by virtue of having a lot more bikes in circulation there will be more cycling done in the country overall?
    It also makes second hand bike prices more affordable for people on low wages as there is bound to be over supply in the second hand market?

  46. CB Report No. 666: Incept Date – 01-04-2050

    The number of bicycles bought in the last financial year is up 300% yoy.

    The number of private motor vehicles bought has declined 100% yoy.

    Total private vehicles registrations have declined by 30% yoy to their lowest level since 1932.

    OK. So who pays the most excise, vat, etc., then? Loss to the exchequer, then? No worries!

    Report in to-days (June 31st) IT*. “Gov to raise taxes on cyclists in next budget. New registration rules for all road-users: mandatory training and tests. Mandatory third-party insuranc, which will include premium payment for VHI Scheme E.”

    You have been warned! x 10 ( 😆 )

    * Error in value of C (speed of light) confirmed. EU added an extra day.

    Brian the Biker!

  47. @ Brian Woods

    If by 2050 I am not getting from a to b by a highly taxed hallow-deck suite aboard the star ship enterprise I am going to be very disappointed.

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