The number of people buying bikes through the Cycle to Work scheme has surged massively in recent months.
In June this year the total number of bikes sold through the salary sacrifice system has more than doubled compared to 2019, prompting calls for it to now be extended to self-employed workers.
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According to the Cycling to Work Alliance, there was a 120 per cent increase in the number of people joining the scheme, as 37,745 employees picked up a new machine in June, compared to 17,000 in June last year.
Chair of the Cycle to Work Alliance, Adrian Warren, said: “UK workers are ready to embrace cycling like never before. As lockdown measures ease, we want the scheme to support as many people as possible to return to work safely. Already we have seen that the scheme is the natural option for employees wanting to get to work safely.
“We should be doing all we can to encourage the significant shift towards cycling that’s taking place across the country and widening the scheme to include self-employed workers is such a simple, easy solution.”
The Cycle to Work scheme was introduced in 1999 – the aim being to encourage people to make healthier and more environmentally friendly lifestyle choices.
Employees can spend on bikes and equipment, tax-free, making a claimed saving of up to 42 per cent on the overall value, paying it off over the next year in monthly instalments.
Cycling has been thrust to the forefront as a government priority due to the coronavirus lockdown, as authorities are trying to get more people on bikes to prevent congestion on the roads.
With workers urged to avoid public transport for their commutes, there are concerns more people will be jumping in there cars which could cause gridlock in cities and towns.
The government is trying to get more people cycling by offering incentives like the bicycle repair vouchers and making the roads safer with pop-up cycle lanes.
Calls to make Cycle to Work available to self-employed workers have been backed by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed.
Director of policy at the association, Andy Chamberlain, said: “Extending the Cycle to Work scheme to the self-employed would be a timely change. Many self- employed people are currently considering the return to work after lockdown but remain concerned about the health risks of using public transport to get there. The cycle to work scheme will be just the solution many are looking for to help them get back to business. It will not only benefit them, but the economy and the environment too.”