Could an e-bike be the key to an easier commute?

Could an e-bike be the key to an easier commute?

Get on yer bike

This year’s Cycle to Work Day fell on 13 September. It’s an annual initiative, introduced five years ago as part of the Cyclescheme drive to encourage more people to commute to work by bike.

Many of us have become warier of using our bikes on busy roads in rush-hour traffic, especially in city centres. That said, thanks to high-profile road safety campaigns together with the provision of more cycle lanes and better traffic segregation, fatalities and serious injuries have fallen, according to figures from Transport for London. Government statistics also show that the most dangerous form of transport, after motorcycling, isn’t driving or cycling, but walking.

Moreover, a recent Europe-wide study showed that inactivity may be a bigger risk to life and limb than braving the commute, concluding that lack of exercise is approximately twice as likely to result in premature death as obesity. Happily, building exercise into your day will help with both. And, you really are more likely to die crossing the road…

Get moving with Cyclescheme

For those who don’t know about it, Cyclescheme offers employees the opportunity to acquire a tax-free bike on easy terms. Employers simply sign up to the scheme and agree to fund the initial purchase of the bike which is then recovered from an agreed ‘salary sacrifice’.

By ‘hiring’ the bike from their employers rather than buying it outright, employees save a big chunk of money on the purchase price of the bike. The deduction is made from gross, rather than net pay, resulting in income tax and national insurance savings of 32% (42% if you’re a higher-rate tax payer). Employers also benefit from NI savings – and from having a healthier workforce, to boot.

Thousands of business, large and small have already registered with the scheme and it’s an idea that’s really gaining traction.

Power assisted commute

If you have a long-ish commute or who don’t feel you’d be able to manage the daily ride on a standard bike, Cyclescheme also helps to fund e-bikes. Most e-bikes retail above the scheme’s £1,000 upper limit but you can still get a more expensive model by simply paying the retailer the difference between your £1,000 hire allowance and the actual buy price. If you’re a standard tax payer, you can expect to make around a £250 saving on your e-bike.

Attitudes towards e-bikes are shifting, too. Across the EU, 2016 saw a sharp rise in the market for e-bikes, with sales up 22 per cent on the previous year to more than 1.6m. The UK is lagging behind, though. The market may be rising at a similar rate but is starting from a much lower base, which means that e-bikes are more of a rarity on British streets than in continental Europe.

Stand up for cycling

More than 45,000 people took part in Cycle to Work Day in 2016, with this year’s figure expected to be even higher. According to the statistics, last year’s event not only got more people than ever interested in the benefits of cycling, but also saved CO₂ emissions equivalent to 19 return flights from London to Sydney. So, you could not only improve your own health and fitness but help to save the planet, too. Result.

 

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