Reward us to ride to work

Kent Acott

Tens of thousands of West Australians would cycle to work if they were financially rewarded to do so.

A national survey has found overwhelming support for introducing schemes that would provide financial incentives for cycling commuters.

The support was especially strong in WA, with 84 per cent of respondents saying it would be a good idea.

Fifty per cent, the equivalent of 360,000 West Australians, said they would start riding to work if there were financial incentives.

The incentives could be a direct payment based on the number of kilometres ridden to work or tax deductions for bicycles used to ride to work. They are popular in parts of Europe and North America.

Some Perth councils offer similar schemes for employees.

The survey, commissioned by the Heart Foundation of Australia and the Cycling Promotion Fund, involved more than 2000 workers who did not ride to work but lived within 15km of their place of employment.

Fund spokesman Stephen Hodge said ride-to-work schemes had many benefits, including reduced traffic congestion and carbon output, productivity increases and improved health.

"Overseas experience has shown significant uptake when workplace incentives are provided to cycle to work, with half of participants in a UK scheme indicating they would not have ridden without incentives," Mr Hodge said.

The foundation's WA cardiovascular health director and national active living spokesman Trevor Shilton said only one per cent of Australian employees rode to work, compared with 66 per cent who drove their car.

"We are seeing a tsunami of health impacts coming our way due to our inactive lifestyles," Professor Shilton said.

"Currently, inactivity is responsible for 16,000 premature deaths and costs the Australian economy $14 billion every year."