Ways of encouraging bicycle use

Bicycle use is widespread in the Netherlands. 27% of all journeys are made by bicycle. And in some cities, this figure is much higher. But we can still do more to encourage people to travel by bicycle. After all, more than half of all trips by car are less than 7.5 kilometres. Most people would find this an acceptable distance to cycle. The popular e-bike also makes cycling longer distances an option.

Cyclists leaving the IJ-ferry at Amsterdam Central Station during rush hour

Cyclists leaving the IJ-ferry at Amsterdam Central Station during rush hour

Cycle superhighways

If more people chose to cycle to and from work, the number of tailbacks during peak hours would be reduced. Options for promoting bicycle use generally focus on distances up to 15 kilometres. Cycle superhighways are an essential part of this, not only within cities but also between them. In recent years, central government has encouraged municipal and provincial authorities to establish good regional cycling routes. Currently, some 25 cycle superhighways are in use or under construction.

Rewarding bicycle use

A number of regions are promoting bicycle use through mobile phone apps. A case in point is the B-Riders project in the province of Brabant. B-Riders are commuters who switch from car to bicycle. Coached by an app, they receive a financial reward for each kilometre cycled during peak hours. Experience has shown that most people continue to cycle even after the reward ceases.

Bicycle facilities and mileage allowance provided by employers

Employers, too, benefit from employees cycling to work. Employees who cycle are in better shape and are less prone to absence through illness. Moreover, companies may be able to save on parking costs when more employees commute to work. For that reason, the government is encouraging employers to provide good facilities for cyclists:

  • A mileage allowance for cyclists: employers may pay cyclists a (tax-free) mileage allowance of up to EUR 0.19 a kilometre, the same rate available to staff who travel to work by car.
  • Simpler tax rules on using a company bicycle for private purposes: As at 1 January 2020 the tax rules for people who use a company bicycle for private purposes will be simplified. Each year, these employees will have to add 7% of the recommended retail price of their bicycle to their taxable income. This applies to bicycles, e-bikes and speed pedelecs paid for by the employer.

Bicycle Counting Week

More information on cyclists' behaviour is essential if we are to provide proper bicycle facilities. That is why National Bicycle Counting Week (website in Dutch only) was set up. During this week, cyclists install and use a special app on their mobile phones which records their speed, the route they take, the time of day that they cycle, and where they encounter delays. This information is highly valuable in identifying problems and locations where bicycle infrastructure needs to be improved.