Let’s make cycling work

Cycling to work: some do it every day, others need an extra push. As an employer, you can influence the cycling behavior of employees in various ways. How? We discussed this during the first online inspiration session about bicycle-friendly employment conditions.

Let’s Make Cycling Work is one of the four themes of the Green Deal Bicycle. This ambitious program stimulates bicycle use in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area and is an initiative of the Amsterdam Economic Board in collaboration with MRA Bureau, Vervoerregio and BYCS. Other themes include bundling cycling knowledge, getting more young people on their bikes and more bicycle service points in the region.

The inspiration session will be attended by HR managers, sustainable mobility policy advisors and employment conditions from companies, municipalities, network organizations and knowledge institutions. About half have already started working on a bicycle plan and a quarter are considering it.

Free bike plan advice

What is needed to offer a bicycle scheme to employees? Rein Aarts, director of Breikers, tells us about this. His network and advisory organization helps employers in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area free of charge with their transition to smart & sustainable mobility. Breikers is paid for this from the ‘Samen bouwen aan bereikbaarheid’ (in Dutch) programme. “Many new homes are being built in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, but there is not really room for more infrastructure. So we have to look for smart solutions and we help with that,” explains Aarts.

Breikers first analyzes the way in which employees travel and examines what opportunities there are. “For example, we can show what it yields, but also costs if everyone who comes within 15 kilometers of work comes by bike. It provides more vitality, but you also need more parking facilities, for example.”

Breikers has already supported more than 300 organizations in the metropolitan region, including with a campaign to get people to cycle. What parties usually find most difficult is setting up a good bicycle scheme, says Aarts. “Properly administering the addition for a lease bicycle can be complicated. And parties sometimes forget that you also have to arrange things outside the employment conditions. Sometimes it helps to be creative. At one point, one of the companies we worked for simply made ten electric bicycles available to employees. Those bikes were gone in no time.”

Download Breikers’ white paper Volop fiscale mogelijkheden voor fietsstimulering – Plenty of tax options for bicycle incentives (in Dutch).

The bicycle administration

Mark Danhof, manager at Lease a Bike, has a lot of experience with the administrative and employment conditions side. “The bicycle is hot, especially now that we have also had the lease bicycle for two years now,” says Danhof. “Employees who opt for this often do so so that they do not have to make a large expense all at once or because of the tax advantage. Seven out of ten employees with a lease bicycle now say that they cycle to work more often and a large proportion also cycle more for private purposes.”

Employees who lease bicycles give their employer an average of 8.6 for the bicycle plan. But there is more, says Danhof. “Offering a lease bike is of course interesting from a sustainability point of view, but also because you get fitter and more loyal employees in return. You also save on parking and petrol costs.”

Employers have been allowed to offer a lease bicycle since 2020. They can also pay for the bicycle themselves, make it a shared investment or simply facilitate the lease bicycle. In the latter case, it costs the employer nothing and the employee pays the lease costs and the addition of 7 percent himself. That employee will then have a tax advantage.

The lease bicycle is in any case interesting for people who now have a lease car, who now travel with public transport and for people who do not receive a kilometer allowance. When someone now receives a mileage allowance, it depends on the commuting distance, the price of the bicycle and the number of days that the employee cycles. For the days that that person comes by bicycle, he receives a gross and no net compensation.

There is also a question about this from the participants. “You can make a fixed agreement with employees about how often they cycle, but you have to check that from the tax authorities. How do you do that?”

That depends on the inspector, says Danhof. “We have now helped about 5,000 companies with this. Our experience is that most tax inspectors deal with this in a pragmatic way. It is therefore especially important that you make clear agreements about this with your employees.” Richard Hoving, from the Board lead of the Green Deal Bicycle, knows that this gap in the regulations is now also being discussed in political The Hague.

Josine Brandt, HR manager at Van Tilburg-Bastianen, a family business in Brabant, importer of Pon brands and supplier of lease bicycles, explains how introducing a new bicycle plan works out in practice. Of the 600 employees, 85 are already using the lease bicycle plan, she says. “We first investigated cycling behavior and made a business case and then we got started fairly quickly. For us, cycling for commuting was not the only goal, we just wanted people to cycle more, so also privately. Some people have purchased a road bike or mountain bike for recreational use. We notice that it is alive: there is word of mouth and there are already groups of men who go cycling together.”

According to Brandt, making the business case and getting people excited was the easy part of the process. “Processing all the administration was more difficult: how do we safeguard what we offer, without giving away things that we are not allowed to give away?” The company has an agreement with employees about how many days a week they come by bicycle on average, on the basis of which the tax is processed.

Tools and tenders

In the chat someone asks for tools that can support this. Aarts van Breikers mentions a number of apps that can register travel behaviour: ToogethrFynch, Shuttel and Reisbalans. You can usually also link this to the payroll administration, although you do have to take the GDPR into account. Another question from the public is about the procurement rules. Danhof knows that normal tendering standards apply to a lease bicycle plan. “If you’re talking about e-bikes, it becomes a tender for 70 to 80 bicycles.”

The presentation of the session can be found here (in Dutch).

Want to join the cycling movement?

Would you like to know more about the Green Deal Bicycle initiative? Then click here. Or contact Richard Hoving, Lead Mobility.

5 April 2022

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