Jeff Ibbotson, Vice President of Pedal Power ACT (pictured, far right) was present outside Parliament House this week for the handover of a new report showing significant public support for a National Ride to work scheme.
Fifty per cent of Australian workers said they would be enticed to ride to work if a financial incentive was available, such as those currently offered in the UK, Europe and North America.
The data comes from the national survey released today by the Cycling Promotion Fund and the National Heart Foundation of Australia of more than 2,000 workers aged 25 to 54, who do not currently cycle to work, and work within 15 kilometres from home.
The ‘Financial incentives to ride to work survey 2014’ survey showed:
1) Around 1 in 2 respondents, or equivalent of 3.25 million Australian workers, stated that a financial incentive would entice them to start riding to work instead of using other transport
2) 80 per cent of respondents, or 5.5 million Australian workers, support the implementation of a financial incentive, regardless of whether they would ride to work themselves
The financial incentives assessed in the survey included direct subsidy to riders, indirect through their employees and tax deductions through the purchase of bicycles to be used to ride to work.
Cycling Promotion Fund’s spokesperson Stephen Hodge said there are many benefits of ride to work schemes, including reduced congestion and carbon output, productivity increases and improved health, as it is a very cheap strategy to address chronic physical inactivity.
“Overseas experience has shown significant uptake when workplace incentives are provided to cycle to work, with half of participants in a UK scheme indicating they would not have ridden without incentives,” Mr Hodge said. “We already offer many Australians financial incentive programs to drive a car to work and this would extend a similar model to those riding to work,” he said.
The Heart Foundation’s national spokesperson on active living, Associate Professor Trevor Shilton said currently only 1 per cent of people cycle to work, compared to 66 per cent who travel by car, and this survey clearly shows there is an opportunity to get more Australians taking a more active route to work.
“We are seeing a tsunami of health impacts coming our way due to our inactive lifestyles. Currently inactivity is responsible for 16,000 premature deaths and costs the Australian economy $14 billion every year,” Mr Shilton said. “There are no easy answers to reversing the lack of physical activity in all our lives, but with lack of time cited as the biggest barrier, supporting people to get their daily dose of exercise on the way to work would be a big step in the right direction,” he said.