The scheme, run on similar lines to the one in the UK, is intended to combat gridlock in cities and towns throughout the Republic.
With existing levels of cycling peaking at a lowly 2 percent the Irish government hopes to attain a target of 10 percent by 2020 and the offer of a cycle to work scheme is one of several measures intended to achieve this goal. Recent studies have shown that a modal shift of transport is already taking place with a 17 per cent increase in cycling trips made into the city.
The Irish cycle to work scheme, like the one in the UK, is based on employee salary reductions. However, unlike the UK scheme, only one application for the scheme is allowed every five years. The scheme is not described as a hire process, as in the UK, but may represent a tax-exempt benefit-in-kind awarded to the employee by the employer who reduces the participating employee’s salary accordingly.
Paul Maher, who runs Centro the importers for Trek, Dawes and other leading brands, said: "I am very excited about the 2009 Bike to Work Scheme being introduced in Ireland. I have seen what a success it has been in the UK over the past few years.
Getting more people on their bikes will help reduce road traffic pollution and promote green business activities as well as improving overall health and fitness. Everyone wins."
Kieron McQuaid, owner of Veloworld, the importer of Giant, said he’ll be working with Cyclescheme: "I am looking forward to the Republic’s cycle to work scheme. The UK has seen some phenomenal sales due to their robust work and our scheme will benefit from their experience"
Employees are limited to a bike package of €1000 to include safety equipment like helmet, reflective clothing, lights and a lock. David Mahan, of Dublin Cycle Campaign, said: "We need to tip the balance for people who are considering taking their bikes to work, to give them that little bit of encouragement to leave their cars at home."