Congress urged to give incentives to cyclists

Rep. Ronnie Ong of Ang Probinsyano party-list is proposing to Congress to grant incentives to people who use bicycles in their daily commute to their workplace.

Ong said that apart from the provision of protected bicycle lanes for cyclists, the proposed Bicycle Law should also include giving incentives in the form of tax perks, extra pay credits or food vouchers for people who use bicycles in their daily commute to their workplace.

He said by “incentivizing” the use of bicycles, the government may be able to convert people to continue using these nonmotorized vehicles in their daily commute even after the pandemic is over “and life as we know it is back to full normalcy.”

Ong said that creating a cycling culture in the Philippines can provide a long-term solution to the traffic gridlock in Metro Manila and other highly urbanized areas that cost the government an estimated P3.5 billion in economic losses per day.

This would also reduce government expense on health care, repair and maintenance, and pollution control.

“Providing incentives for people who bike-to-work is a small price to pay for [the] immeasurable benefits. This would translate to billions of economic opportunities and billions of savings on capital expenditures. More importantly, we are investing for the future of the next generation and the future of our planet. Maybe the coronavirus was nature’s way of reminding us that we have to protect our environment,” Ong said.

According to Ong, incentivizing people who “bike-to-work” has been in effect in many modern economies especially in Europe and the government could adopt the scheme of The Netherlands that pays their citizens $0.22 (about P11) for every kilometer they cycled, tax free.

In the United Kingdom, employees are given lease-to-own options when buying a bike and a “mileage allowance” is also given to British cyclists who use their bikes for business purposes, of around $0.26 per mile (equivalent to P13).

“Of course these are rich countries so we could instead provide incentives in the form of food vouchers, which can only be used to buy food commodities,” Ong said adding that many countries are now providing incentives for bike-to-work people because they recognize the immense positive effects of cycling on their environment and their economy.

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