Monday, March 23, 2015

On Financial Incentives for Cycling and the Psychology of Compliance

This morning I came across a recent Atlantic CityLab article called The Problem With Paying People to Bike to Work. It interested me immediately, as just a few days earlier a friend and I were debating the effectiveness of UK's cycle to work scheme (which offers discounts and tax breaks when buying a bicycle for commuting). The CityLab piece, however, focuses on something a bit more radical: France's pilot program that pays employees to commute to work by bicycle. In case you've never heard of this, it was a 6-months trial in the course of which bicycle commuters were compensated roughly 43 cents per mile when cycling to work. The project received much fanfare at the start, but the results have been less than stellar. The author of the CityLab article critiques the program and offers two explanations for its limited success: the continued availability of cheap and free parking, and the "fixed" nature of commuters' habits. As this latter explanation is based on psychological studies and I happen to be a (former) research psychologist by profession, I offer another perspective for consideration:

For decades research has shown that financial incentives are not as effective as we might think in encouraging people to adopt target behaviours. On the contrary: Overt financial incentive can actually undermine the intended effect, making the very activity it aims to encourage seem less appealing. This phenomenon belongs to an area of study called the psychology of compliance. And rather than bore you with the seminal "wooden pegs" experiment (see: Festinger & Carlsmith, 1954) that spawned this line of research, let me try to illustrate with a real-world example:

Imagine you are in a new restaurant with a friend. The friend orders an unfamiliar-looking dish. On first impression, the dish looks neither good nor bad; you feel more or less neutral toward it. Holding out a spoonful your friend then says: "Here, taste this."

What would be your response?

Now, hold that thought, and imagine that instead your friend says: "Here, taste this. I'll pay you $10."

What would your response be then?

Chances are, that regardless of whether you actually end up eating the food you're offered, the latter scenario is less likely to make you expect it to taste good. If it tasted good, then why would your friend need to coax you with money? What's the catch?

In the best case scenario, if the price is right then offering financial incentive for an activity can result in temporary compliance in a very narrow context (i.e. "sure, for 10 bucks I'll try it"). But when it comes to activities such as transportation cycling - where the goal is to effect (finally, I get to use this word correctly!) long-term change - the technique is ultimately unhelpful, since it will not lead to an internalised preference for the activity.

Coming back to the UK cycle to work scheme, a somewhat related phenomenon is at play. The scheme - offering substantial discounts on the purchase of bicycles - is extremely popular in this corner of Northern Ireland ...which is remarkable, considering how few people actually cycle to work around here. What happens is, bicycle shops (or any big shop selling bicycles, such as Halford's) promote the heck out of the scheme as a means of getting people to buy a new bicycle. And buy a new bicycle they do. After all, who can pass up a 42% off deal? But in my observation, the purchase seldom leads to actually using the bike as intended by the program - that is, to commute to work. At best, the bicycle is used recreationally. But perhaps more commonly, it is used not at all, languishing for a year before it surfaces in the local for-sale ads. Either way, the person who took advantage of the bike to work scheme continues driving to work. So even though this financial incentive "succeeds" in the immediate sense that a new bicycle is purchased, it fails spectacularly in its true purpose: to encouraging two-wheeled commuting.

All of this is not to say that financial incentives cannot ever work. We all constantly make decisions in favour of an activity based on it being more cost-effective. But the key here is, that in order for the financial incentive to be attractive at an intrinsic, commitment-indusing level, we must feel as if we ourselves "discover" it, or at least that we voluntarily arrive at perceiving the choice as more cost-effective or lucrative - rather than being overtly lured with financial incentive by a party with their own agenda. It is an important distinction, and one that ought to be taken into consideration in projects involving financial incentives for cycling.

42 comments:

  1. Very interesting analysis. Thanks for this.
    I wonder what incentives might be most effective in getting people to bike to work. I would suggest protected infrastructure and bike share as two biggies. Protected infrastructure overcomes people's biggest objection to bicycling, while bike share reduces the barrier to trying it out to a minimum.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The best incentive would be in safer streets, a dense network of bike paths, etc. But these would cost more than 42% off on a few bikes.

    On the other hand, paying for biking to work would work best for those who bike to work already. In my case it would add up to $2000/year. I want it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Here's a ~recent post about "incentives" and cycling:

    http://sites.uci.edu/bikeuci/2014/07/21/cycling-advocacy-is-it-possible-to-over-incentivize-and-over-amenitize/

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, I think there are a lot more important factors than the price of a bike that determine if someone cycles to work. As you say, the vast number of people buy bikes using cycle-to-work because it is a bargain. The scheme also influences manufacturers as they spec. the bikes to get under the cycle-to-work limit.

    Putting aside non-financial factors (like being scared of being run over...) cycle-to-work may make a bike cheaper, but cheaper than what? It is certainly cheaper than a car, but many people don't seem to do the calculations of how much it actually costs to run a car. The logic seems to be, I have a car, I need to use it for some trips so I might as well use it for all, and the marginal cost per trip isn't apparent.

    I don't think it is a surprise that when people get rid of their car and sign up to a car club instead, their usage almost always falls dramatically. Yes, there is added inconvenience to book the car, but you know the cost of a trip will be "x", so it is a lot more apparent.

    The same can apply to a bike vs. public transport as the cost of a ticket is apparent so can provide an incentive to cycle instead. For example, in London, 9 months of travel cards for zone 1-2 (central London) costs about the same as the most expensive cycle to work bike, so clearly a bike can provide significant savings.

    ReplyDelete
  5. If someone offered me ten dollars to bike to work each day, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But I also think good infrastructure and safe parking are important as far as incentives go as well.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Whatever. Cycling as a long-term (>5 years) mode of transport exists in such infinitesimal numbers as to render those who do bike-stuff chroniclers.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I suspect that in future a bunch of the bikes bought under this scheme will end up getting used for just the intended purpose, just not by the purchasers.

    It's going to be the kid who get's out of school in a few years and needs some wheels to get to her shift at the bean counting house or the Dude who can't keep his 10 year old Hyundai going and has to get to work at the Git-tar shop somehow. Dad's abandoned commuter is going to look like the least suck method for a bunch of folks.It won't be the people the scheme was aimed at and lot's of the folks who supported it might not like the idea of helping the actual individuals who end up benefiting but it might trickle down and make somebodies life better. It's also going to increase the pool of potential Tall-Bikes by a million percent and THAT is where societies big pay-off will come... It's going to be a beautiful Tall-Bike world in the fullness of time...

    Spindizzy

    ReplyDelete
  8. I agree with bostonbybike - if you want people to ride, you don't need to pay them, you just need to give them a place where they can safely do it! I actually think that with a bit of a shift in mindset this could be accomplished rather easily and cheaply - we simply need to designate a small percentage of our streets for bikes & parking only. The problem isn't where to squeeze the bikes in, it's the idea that every square foot of the city must be accessible by car - at least in my (perhaps not so) humble opinion!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In theory I agree with the idea that "if you build it, they will come," but in this country of ours, it is very difficult to get people to "build it" in the first place. It takes advocacy by the already converted, and in most parts of the country, there isn't much interest in that.
      The idea that "every square foot of the city must be accessible by car" is exactly (and happily) the norm for the overwhelming majority of people in the country, and only for a slightly smaller percentage of people in cities, I would guess.

      Delete
  9. Would making driving prohibitively expensive serve as a better incentive to use a bike, or public transit, than actually offering a reward for using one of those two options?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That actually worked for me, way back in the late 70's. Sold my car and bought my first bike and surprisingly my body remains the same size as a sixty year old as it did at twenty. Something to be said for daily physical activity, even if in small doses. What started as a short term financial incentive ended up bringing long term benefits I had not considered. Which seems a reoccurring theme….I ended somewhere I had not thought of when I started. Bicycles are the bee's knees!

      Delete
    2. One of the factors specific to Northern Ireland is the fact that people have to travel quite a distance to work. For example, a lot of people work in Belfast but live perhaps an hour or more of a drive from the city. Add to this the fact that the public transport system is going to suffer from further cuts, not to mention that Northern Ireland really isn't 'geared up' with a proper cycling infrastructure .... it's no wonder that people have to take their cars to work.

      I'm lucky to be in an altogether different situation .... I work from home 4 days out of 5. I did benefit from the cycle to work scheme, but now I try to go for a cycle in the mornings before work. Sets up me nicely for the day when I make the time for it.

      Delete
  10. When gas prices jumped above $4 a gallon a few years ago, the bike rack at my place of work filled up almost overnight. Bicycles that moldered in dank basements and dusty garages for years suddenly saw the light of day. Local bike shops were overwhelmed by people pleading for help in getting their neglected bikes roadworthy. I tuned out the whines from my car-commuting coworkers, but kept pedaling even when gas tumbled below $2 a gallon earlier this year. (Sorry, folks in Europe. Many Americans feel that $2-a-gallon gas is their God-given right.) Exercise, fresh air and not having to hunt down a parking space are all the incentives I need to commute by bike. The only time I worry about gas prices is when I can't find a place to lock up at work.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I rode my Bike to Work bike to work today. Left my other Bike to Work bike at home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep - I've got two myself but can only ride one at a time. ;)

      Delete
    2. Most cyclists I know how took advantage of a bike to work program and and are active two wheeled commuters, were already cycling to work before the program existed and would be doing so regardless of whether it existed. And while it's certainly nice to reward existing bicycle commuters, I don't think that was the program's main aim!

      Delete
  12. This morning my son went to get a shot of expresso at a local shop. He came back raving about how well they make their coffee and especially their expresso, said I had to give it a try. The was no offer from him to pay for it but that was okay, I had avoided the shop for awhile and on his recommendation I figured today was the day. So, mid morning, in need of a hit, I got on the bike and headed to the new shop. Got there and scratched my head because there was no good or safe place to park my bike. I must have looked kinda odd, walking the bike back and forth and peering around buildings for some sort of thing to lock my bike to, but nothing…..Finally said the hell with this and left.

    No one needs to pay me to ride, it makes me happy. I've also got a bike which fits like a glove and is perfectly suited for daily distances and uses. Finding safe streets and parking remains on the top of my wish list for what can make transportation riding more convenient and inviting for more folks. Until then it's my pleasure and duty to lead by example and keep pedaling everyday, throughout the city, hauling whatever needs hauling, and showing how wonderful and possible it is.

    Oh, I told my son to drop a hint for bike rack out front the next time he goes for an expresso, I think it'd bring in more than just me.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Social norming, following elites, social arms races and being attractive to the gender you're attracted to ---- all these things get people on bicycles better than 43 cents/mile.

    Then, when folks feel better, it becomes a virtuous cycle --- sorry, couldn't resist.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The problem with offering financial incentives to bike to work is that there is already a pretty big financial incentive to do it, especially if it means not owning a car, or a couple or family owning one instead of two. It clearly takes more than the existing incentive for the kind of large scale sea change those incentive programs are aiming for. Various public initiatives try to encourage carpooling (hence the existence of HOV lanes for example) but still, most people commute on the highway alone in their vehicles. Since the current paradigm is for everyone to drive into town in individual private cars, it seems like the most effective thing (but probably politically deadly) is to make the paradigm more expensive or less convenient. So, charge more for parking or remove more on-street parking, implement congestion pricing in busy areas, increase gas taxes or sales taxes on cars, place a time limit on parking spaces in commercial areas, etc.
    If people start to see driving individual cars as frequently impractical, they'll take other options seriously. If the other options are all seen as something people only do because they're desperate or because they are virtuously choosing to do things the hard way, and that anything other than a car is a major sacrifice, of course they'll keep defaulting to cars en masse. In places like Manhattan where large numbers of people get to work without cars, it's because driving there is slow, annoying, inconvenient, expensive, etc, and the alternatives are more practical. In places like Amsterdam where large numbers of people get around by bike, it's because it's easy and convenient.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Emily, I think your comment is spot on. People already ARE responding to incentives... only the incentives that matter to people are not saving a few bucks on the price of a bike or getting paid for mileage, it's ease and convenience.

      Here in Denver the city actually is trying to encourage less driving by removing parking spaces and a few driving lanes - even so there's still a LOOOONG way to go before biking and public transport can come anywhere near the convenience of driving. What we need are real incentives... like infrastructure that puts bikes, peds & public transport first, like secure and convenient bike parking, and buses that ran more than once an hour wouldn't hurt either!

      Delete
    2. In central London, there have been policies to discourage private cars - congestion charging and car parking is scarce and expensive. However there are still lots of buses, vans and heavy goods vehicles, so even with a lot less cars, the streets are still uninviting for cyclists. The public transport system is good, but relatively expensive. For some, cost savings are an incentive to cycle, but for many, the savings still aren't sufficient to overcome the perception of risk.

      So I think that things like car use being difficult are a necessary condition to encourage cycling, but it isn't sufficient as ultimately, people don't want to be squashed by a bus, so cycling infrastructure needs to be there as well.

      Delete
  15. I'm a fan of disincentives.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'd gladly take the money, I'd especially love to be paid to offset the carbon of people who feel guilty about driving but will not bike for a billion reasons. like the idea of tax breaks and the like that would work for people who already commute. Cycling is not subsidized so cyclists pay full price for everything, whereas gas is very subsidized, roads are subsidized etc..
    Even people I know who have invested in tandems, trailer bikes, kids bikes etc to commute as a family rarely do it. It takes commitment, but it's wonderful. To me it's a no brainer, I cannot understand why people(I'm talking healthy able bodied people) are so reluctant to ride. Owning a car is so very expensive, but most people insist on doing it at great financial sacrifice. Vehicles offer the illusion of freedom and the idea that you can travel wherever you want, whenever you want, but the reality is you have to pay for it so are pinned down by work schedules, family schedules etc so you can't just hop in the car for a joy ride anyway.
    Bike to work week schemes are also very silly, it treats it like a challenge, treats are offered, people sign up as teams. Every year I see a bunch of people ride for that bike to work week and then not at all. The weird thing in my community, bike to work week is held at a time of year that ALWAYS is rainy! So that alone discourages people.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I head public health in state government for a southwestern state where we're very seriously considering needs based compensation for cycling to work.

    It doesn't surprise me that paying people to buy a bike doesn't lead to more biking, and paying people small amounts to bike who are already cyclists may not change behavior in any meaningful way.

    But it will be interesting to see if offering a significant financial incentive--say, $500/month--to folks who already are living below the poverty line, and doing this for a significant amount of time would eventually lead to a change in behavior that would not require compensation.

    $500/month may seem extreme, but it is actually quite inexpensive if it leads, say, to a reduction in the incidence of diabetes, which we know is responsive to increased activity and reduced weight--both of which cycling can help effect.

    Public Health in the U.S. is finally moving upstream into preventive health initiatives. I expect that cycling incentives will play a role and will become a great deal more refined re incentivizing behaviors that lead to improvements in population health that are cost effective.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Like some of the posters above, I really think that if the streets were safer or there was more bicycle infrastructure (cycle lanes, etc) more people would bike to work. A really decent campaign to educate car drivers would also help. I live in greater London, and work in central London. I commute half way by bike, half way by train and sometimes the attitude of car drivers really gets me down. Most drivers are fine, but a significant few are really hostile. I got yelled at just a few days ago when I was walking my bike on the pavement by a really busy road at rush hour. I decided to walk my bike at that junction specifically because of the traffic ... Didn't feel safe in the road and didn't want to add to the chaos by trying to cycle with the cars. I was walking my bike. Not riding on the pavement ( sidewalk) and I still got yelled at by three yobs in a car. I have had people pass too close to me when I was cycling on the road, I have been honked at a couple of times ( I nearly fell off the bike once, I was so startled). Drivers need to realise cyclists have an equal right to the road, and they need to come to terms with this. After all, riding on the pavement is illegal so if we are made to feel like we are unwelcome on the road, many people will either give up or not start commuting to work at all. Things are getting so bad that there is a local campaign to ban cyclists from Richmond Park ... Honestly ... Wouldn't it make more sense to restrict cars in a park, rather than bikes? When (if) cycling for transportation becomes seen as legitimate, legal and normal and car drivers develop a ltitle more patience, more people will cycle to work. As someone pointed out, however, it is cheaper to offer discounts on bikes than to change a long- standing mentality!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Being fit and well trained is a status marker among the middle-class today. Having an expensive car used to be a status marker, but I think that it´s declining. Also, expensive bikes have become an object of desire and something to show off. But between home and work the car offers a bubble in which people imagine themselfs free: Shouting rude things to other people, singing loud with old rock songs on the radio or crying over lost love. I´m not sure if this is on or off the topic.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'll leave the discussion about whether or not incentives like this work on a psychological level to others and just share my experiences with how these so-called "incentives" actually play out, in pounds and pence.

    I've purchased three bikes under the Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs' scheme, using the "cyclescheme" network of independent bike shops (as opposed to bike company specific schemes such as Evans and Halfords).

    The first of these was in July 2009, when HMRC's scheme was relatively new. I bought a Brompton M3L. The retail price was £655 and I added on £234.41 worth of "equipment" (a C-Bag, lights, sundries) for a total of £889.41. A voucher for that amount was duly issued under the scheme. I paid that amount off in full via a salary sacrifice scheme with my employer. At the end of 12 months, I owned the bike fair and square.

    In October 2010, I purchased my Surly Cross Check under the scheme: retail price £975 plus £19.99 for "Restrap Pedal Belts" (gosh, remember those?!). I paid the full £994.99 off via my employer over 12 months as before. But then I was told I did NOT own the bike outright. I was presented with two options: (1) pay HMRC the estimated market value of the now-one-year-old bicycle (something in the region of £200, I don't have the paperwork anymore), or (2) take out an "Extended Use Agreement" whereby I had to pay £69.95 for the privilege of "renting" my bicycle for a further 3 years, after which title would be transferred to me. So it took 4 years and approx. £1,065 before I owned this bicycle. At several points, I considered selling this bicycle, but couldn't because I didn't actually own it, which was frustrating.

    Similar story with my 2012 Brompton S1L. Cyclescheme voucher for the full retail price of £865, paid in full over 12 months. To take ownership after that would have cost me another £216.25. Again though I went with the EUA for £60.55 as the HMRC's estimate of what my "bicycle package" would be worth at the end of 4 years. My current situation is that I have a Brompton that was bespoke to begin with and has since been modified extensively - yet still isn't mine.

    Overall, I don't think the scheme is any better than buying a bicycle with a credit card. You will in the end pay more than the retail price from new. In the meantime, your employer owns your bicycle, not you, but you're the one expected to keep it secure, insured and in good repair (though it's unusual for employers to actually check this).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also -- I would have bought a bicycle in July 2009 even without the HMRC scheme. I had finished my research and shopping around and was just about to pay with plastic when I heard that my employer was signing up to Cyclescheme. I thought not paying interest sounded like a good idea, so I waited 2-3 weeks until my employer was officially on board, and did it that way. And that turned out just fine, with no hidden/extra costs.

      But I STILL would have bought a bike even if Cyclescheme didn't exist or if I'd never heard of it. Financial incentives had no impact on the decision to buy, merely on the mechanism chosen to finance it. I was already reached the tipping point and was ready to cycle. If I had still been wavering, I don't think Cyclescheme would have been the factor to make up my mind.

      Delete
    2. I've just been organising getting a cycle scheme voucher but now having second thoughts after reading your about your experience. I can afford to buy my bike without this and if it actually works out more expensive maybe I should do that. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Delete
    3. Posted something this afternoon but it seems to not to have come through. My experience is quite different. I got a £1000 voucher which I topped up with another few hundred to get a Chiltern from Hewitt's. I then payed for the voucher using salary sacrifice from my gross salary over the year. Effectively 42% off. After a further two years I then got a letter saying I could either return the bike to the Cyclescheme company for a fee of £200 or keep it free of charge. I was expecting to have to pay a final payment but didn't have to.

      Delete
  21. Interesting point of view. I see a lot of people try commuting to save a few dollars in the beginning, but after a while they gain more pleasure from both the activity and the incredulity of their coworkers and employers. It reminds me of a cliche' in corporate management; while training new or junior execs we always made a point that people take jobs for money, but work for recognition. Now if the authorities involved developed some positive recognition in their program, their incentives may be more effective.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I bike everywhere but I have a friend who will not bike. She is terrified of traffic and getting hit by a car. She is probably more typical of the urban commuter - not a bike rider under any circumstances. What would it take to get her to change? Infrastructure that is completely separated from automobiles. She will ride on bike paths if she doesn't have to bike over streets to get to them. Until we construct "bicycle highways" she will avoid cycling regardless of any incentive or disincentive.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think the marketers of this program have totally missed the behavioral determinants of their target population. what is the incentive to continue riding their bike to work/transportation? I'm in a couple of programs where we have to register our employer, and then log in when we ride/bus/alt transpo to work.The more times you do this, the more times you're entered into a drawing to win $50 each month. I would ride either way because it's faster and cheaper then driving, but I know for some it can make a difference when weather is not playing nicely.
    Sounds like they've tried to run a social marketing campaign with very poor planning. Doesn't sound like they know their target population, what motivates them, what are their barriers for change, etc. I used to run an HIV prevention program, and with any population group where you want them to adopt a new behavior, you really need to know how they adopt any new behavior now, and why they don't adopt others.
    I also wonder how one's sense of value and use play a role. are the bikes they bought considered "cheap" and not worth really using? If something has little value, it may not be utilized as much as something that someone considers valuable. Using an HIV analogy, in certain parts of the world, free condoms were considered as not being very good and even useless. People thought they were defective since they were being given away = no value. No one was using them. Healthcare workers didn't understand why no one was using them since they were being given away. Then someone figured this out and started charging a smalle price for them, and condom use went up. Same condoms but with a price = value = higher utilization.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Not many people in America ride (though it may feel like a lot do to those of us who live in urban cycling centers and read blogs like this). People who don't ride tend not to care much about (or understand) bike infrastructure. As many have suggested, safe infrastructure may push people to ride, but how do you get them riding in the first place, while we have bad infrastructure? Well, why not trying paying them? Then, maybe that could increase the number of bike advocates? People who say "I would ride regardless" are not the target demographic of such schemes, I would think.

    ReplyDelete
  25. This seems to be a incentive/marketing strategy used in many different arenas. There must be some research on it's success rate. A friend, just today, was talking about a program her university is promoting for more healthy employees….It does not involve bikes, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the French program was research, a pilot trial. Not sure whether they will decide the results make it worth implementing.

      As far as the bike to work programs, I can see how, depending on the agenda on the entity presenting the data, it can be shown as being successful. After all, the program does lead to an increase in bicycle purchases/ persons owning bikes.

      Delete
  26. The most effective use of resources would be to target those on the borderline. Not the ones wedded to their cars and not the ones who would cycle regardless but the ones who 'would like to ride but...' or who tried it once or twice or even try it a few times a year but give up. If I were going to use a tax refund I would do it not on bikes but on bike services and fittings, that way you encourage people to use the bikes they have and reduce pain and discomfort and increase safety. Otherwise I think a roadside assist service (for flats and other mechanicals) and a bike buddy scheme where people who want to ride are paired with a successful rider would be great ways of reducing the obstacles to riding without building massive infrastructure. (we had a 'bike angel' scheme locally but it was aimed at getting women on bikes and I think men could use such a thing.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Can easily agree with much of the above and especially the idea that something given away has little value'. I have a Bike to Work Scheme bike which I do use for commuting , though I cycle commute anyway so regarded the scheme as a lower cost way to get a new bike. For a short period cyle commters at my employers were offered a significant bounty for surrendering a car parking space also. This was several hundred pounds sterling ( an amazing deal) but take up was surprisingly low. You could conclude that a car parking space has very high value and demand for these is in-elastic.
    By inference then, that even money given away in exchange for cycle commuting has little value. One thing though which is very difficult to get more of is Time. A company in Cambridge UK offers time off work in exchange for cycle commuting, understanding that cycling employees, are more productive, take fewer days off sick etc etc. The take up of this has been significant. Understandable then that additional time off to spend with family, loved ones, even to go biking, is perceived as valuable...

    RP.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The idea of exchanging time as an incentive for Cycle Commuting is one of the most powerful ideas yet if you ask me. One of the reasons I'm still in the job I'm at now is the flexibility of the schedule. The pay isn't great and the benefits are all set-up for maximum benefit/minimum cost for the employer but I get to structure my time in ways that are helpful. I know that at some point the flexibility of my current position is going to disappear with the next change in our production plans and then I'll be miserable again. If I could find ways to get some of that flexibility at a company that was more mainstream I'd go and be a good little soldier as long as they'd let me have a life...

      Spindizzy

      Delete
  28. I'd prefer a time based rather than a cash based incentive. I commute by bicycle for the health benefits and for the enjoyment.
    Most of the money saved goes straight back into more bikes and gear. However the real cost for me is lost free time of about an hour a day commuting by bicycle. I would perhaps be more consistent if the incentive was a whole or even a half day paid time off work for every 20 days commuting by bicycle.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Actually, I think it's a great idea to support existing bike commuters, so they can lead by example and prove that it's possible (and easy, and fun!), then encouraging new bike commuters.

    This is how it worked in my office. I started riding a bike for transportation a few years ago. I was the only cyclist besides one ultra sport road cyclist that was on a team. I had friends that got around the city on the bike (look, they can do it... they're not even sweaty!), I read this blog a lot, I saw families having picnics in the park with their cargo bikes. Several things convinced me that it was a good idea for me to try it, but none of it was an incentive program or cycling amenities, it was seeing lots of people who clearly find it easy and enjoyable.

    I started talking about biking at lunch (all the time). My coworker told me that her cousin was selling her city bike and asked if I was interested. I suggested that it would be a great bike for her (my coworker had never considered it!) and soon the office had two transportation cyclists. Eventually, the boss dusted his hybrid off and began to roll into work when the weather was beautiful.

    Anyways, my point is that paying monetary incentives for cycling might end up increasing numbers of new cyclists. (though not in the way intended). Leading by example is always more effective (and I wouldn't mind causing jealousy and lust by riding around on a shiny new transportation bicycle).

    ReplyDelete
  30. The British Cycle To Work scheme is under fire again. It has come to the attention of HMRC that the majority pf uptakers are spending their money on weekend sports equipment instead of commuting machines.
    There are consultations cuurently underway, with the likely result of added clauses, to whit;
    Eligible machines must have a luggage carrier of a stated minimum size, and frame-fitted (not clip-on) mudguards.
    Tyres of minimum width, likely to be 28mm.
    Lighting compliant with current law must be supplied on, or with the bike.
    A higher allowance to be available towards cargobikes.

    ReplyDelete