University authorities have moved to implement the government-sponsored ‘Bike to Work’ scheme, following an online staff petition.
Pressure from staff dissenting at an earlier decision not to introduce the scheme culminated in an online petition with over 500 names collected and sent to Dr Hugh Brady’s office last week.
Speaking with The University Observer in the days before the announcement, some prominent academics had criticised the college authorities for failing to implement the scheme.
Professor John McCafferty, Director of the Micheál Ó Cléirigh Institute in UCD’s School of History & Archives, outlined the steps staff had taken in their efforts to have the scheme introduced since it began on January 1st this year.
“Repeated requests to Human Resources first of all evoked no response, but then in March, HR asked a group of people who cycle to come in and talk about whether we would have the bike scheme or not.”
It was expected from this meeting that the scheme would be implemented in UCD, however further communication from the HR department stated that “due to the pressure of other work” they would not be introducing the ‘Bike to Work’ initiative.
Professor Danielle Clarke of the School of English, Drama & Film also commented on the failure of the university to implement the scheme. “It seems to me that the more people who cycle in and out of UCD, the better life will be for everybody. There are multiple advantages: it’s cheap, you’re never late, and it stops you getting fat! […] I just don’t understand why it wasn’t implemented. Given the fact that we are a ‘green’ campus and the issues surrounding parking and traffic management on campus, it just seems illogical not to have implemented it.”
The ‘Bike to Work’ scheme was first introduced by the Green Party in the 2009 budget, and is designed to encourage more people to cycle to work. The scheme offers a tax-free incentive on new bikes and accessories to a maximum of €1,000 per employee over a five year period. The employer pays for the bike, which is then repaid by the employee by salary deductions. The company does not have to notify the government that it is availing of the scheme, nor does it need to fill out any government forms. There are at least five service providers who act as a single point of contact for both employers and employees interested in the incentive.
Bike to Work: The facts
• Although there are no official figures to date, uptake of the scheme seems slow. An industry survey taken last month shows that just one per cent of the workforce has availed of the scheme
• Recent figures released by Dublin City Council reveal the number of cyclists is steadily climbing, with eight per cent more on the road last year compared to 2007, and a total increase of 30 per cent between 2003 and 2008
• Every member of staff can avail of the scheme as long as they are directly employed by the university
• The bicycle must be the primary mode of transport used by the employee for qualifying journeys. This means that all or part (e.g. between home and train station) of a journey between the employee’s or director’s home and normal place of work, or between his or her normal place of work and another place of work, must be made on the bicycle
• Bikes can be bought from anywhere as long as it is paid for by the employer. Only the first €1,000 of the expenditure is exempted from tax