A Labour senator in Ireland has called for the minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to consider introducing a scheme to provide tax-free kids bikes to boost school cycling levels.
Senator Ivana Bacik yesterday said: “The introduction of a scheme that would encourage higher levels of cycling among schoolchildren would be very welcome. It would be a really good initiative. I will be writing to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to suggest that he take up this initiative, but I ask that the Leader also support it and that we might have a debate in September on how to improve children’s health and how to improve health in the population generally through greater promotion of cycling.
“We have seen great things like the (expanding) Dublinbikes scheme working to improve levels of cycling, but a bike to school scheme would also be a great idea. It is always hard for schoolchildren to see back-to-school things at this stage of the summer, when September seems so far off, but “bike to school” would be a good play on the words “back to school” and would be a very welcome initiative for children and parents alike.”
“As a proposal for Budget 2016, I am calling for an extension of the very successful Cycle to Work Scheme, to be called the 'Bike to School' scheme, to enable employers to provide employees with tax-exempt bicycle/safety equipment for their school-age children. If that Revenue mechanism is not considered appropriate, then a different means of providing tax exemptions could be used, where the bicycles/equipment are purchased for children through schools.
“The health benefits of such a scheme are obvious. At a time when there is increasing concern about levels of childhood obesity in Ireland, the introduction of a positive measure like this, aimed at increasing the numbers of children cycling to school, could do a great deal to improve children's health generally. I am contacting the Ministers for Finance, Public Expenditure, Education and Transport today to ask that they would consider introducing such a scheme for Budget 2016.”
Sustrans this week suggested that school cycling levels in London had doubled in recent times as a direct result of training in schools.