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Around the globe governments approach traffic congestion in very different ways.  Singapore, for instance, limits the number of driver licenses it grants and makes the cost of vehicle ownership prohibitive. France announced last week a six-month trial to pay people to ride their bike to work.

The French Transport Ministry expects 10,000 people across 20 companies and institutions to participate in the experimental subsidy, which will give commuters 25 euro cents per kilometer, according to a report by Reuters. 

French Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier said the government already subsidizes both driving and public transport and this new effort will help determine if such a tool can encourage more bike commuting.  Do you think we might see similar efforts in the U.S.?

“The ministry hopes that the bike-to-work incentive scheme will boost bike use for commuting by 50 percent from 2.4 percent of all work-home journeys, or about 800 million km, with an average distance of 3.5 km per journey,” Reuters reports.

The French government will survey both participating employees and employers to measure what is effective or ineffective, what modes of transport were swapped in favor of biking, among other factors to help create a framework for possibly expanding the subsidy. 

The government will make results public at the end of the year and will consider running a second, larger test if the first test is successful.

The commuting incentive is part of a plan for France to increase active modes of transit like walking and biking in 2014. Among the stated goals are educating about the benefits of walking and biking and exploring the link between economics and cycling.

France is not alone; its European Union counterparts also look to biking as an alternative form of transport that is healthier for both people and the environment. Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, among others, offer bike commuting incentives ranging from tax breaks to payments per kilometer, Reuters reports.

The European Union is funding a study by the European Cyclists’ Federation of the best practices among the various cycling incentives, according to Reuters. The federation’s Bike2Work program will target at least 295 companies across several EU member states to introduce programs to employers that will help them change the commuting behavior of employees. France is a participating partner in the study.

What do you think? Could such an incentive work for you or is your employment simply too far from home to consider it?