Italy: Town pays people to cycle to work

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

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image captionThe town hall has set aside 30,000 euros (£21,000) for the pilot scheme

An Italian town will pay people hundreds of euros per year if they cycle to work instead of using their cars.

The council in Massarosa, just north of Pisa, says the pilot scheme will see cyclists paid 25 cents per kilometre travelled, up to a monthly cap of 50 euros (£35), the regional Il Tirreno news website reports. That means commuters who switch to two wheels could pocket up to 600 euros (£424) in a year. It's said to be the first such scheme in Italy.

Fifty workers will be included in the 12-month pilot, which will use a smartphone app to record the distance travelled each day. The scheme is being funded from fines collected from traffic tickets in the town, which by law has to be reinvested in road safety, the site points out.

"The Bike to Work scheme will offer incentives to citizens to ensure the area becomes more liveable," says local councillor Stefano Natali, adding that it will naturally mean less traffic on the streets, and will have health benefits. The Italian Federation Friends of the Bicycle (FIAB), which helped to develop the idea, says it hopes that other towns will now follow Massarosa's lead.

A similar scheme was introduced in France in 2014, with mixed results. While a six-month trial found that paying people to cycle to work did increase the numbers doing so, the majority had been using public transport, rather than private vehicles. Of those making the move from cars to bicycles, most had already been carpooling.

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