A bicycle discount project by the city of Antwerp has convinced 1,702 employees to buy a bicycle and to get to work by bike, according to local media.
This is slightly more than the intended 1,500, so the city council is extending the project until 2022. The majority of the participants (56%) live outside the city, showing that the bike is a viable alternative to the car, even for a slightly longer commute. Antwerp has 247,000 employees, of whom 55% live at a distance of 15 kilometres from the city centre.
Antwerp started with a bicycle discount for employees in 2017, when the city wanted to encourage commuters who had to travel by car past the many roadworks to take the bike instead. The promotion, with the slogan ‘Smart to Antwerp’, includes a discount of up to 250 euros for the purchase or maintenance of an (electric) bicycle.
The 1,702 employees who took up the offer had to cycle to work two days a week, for at least a year, which could be checked via the Ring-Ring app. From 2017 until now, more than 480,788 commuting trips have been registered, accounting for 4,1 million kilometres cycled.
When asked about their motives, 85% said they switched to cycling to avoid traffic jams and have more certainty about their travel time. 75% cited health as an important argument, and just over half said it was good for the environment.
Due to its success, the project is now being extended for another two years. “We noticed that 92% of the participants have continued to cycle regularly,” says Koen Kennis (N-VA), responsible for Mobility in Antwerp to NewMobility. “This is the best proof that tempting people to use the bicycle more often works. We are now going to expand the area for companies where employees can take advantage of this bicycle discount.”
The ‘area of discomfort’ where major road works are planed under the Oosterweel connection will be added to the project, as will the northern part of the port on the right bank of the river Scheldt, the left bank, Berendrecht-Zandvliet-Lillo and Zwijndrecht.