French Cyclists Celebrate

Get paid to commute

That scenic ride along the Seine? You could get paid for it if you're French and it's part of your work commute. (Pranav Babu Photography/Flickr)
Photo: Pranav Babu Photography/Flickr

It's a good day to be French: The country has officially launched a six-month experiment in paying people who bike to work. Twenty companies and institutions have signed on to pay their staff the equivalent of about 34 cents per kilometer biked to work.

A few other countries have beat France to the cyclist-friendly punch, namely the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, and Britain. Some schemes involve tax breaks, while others assist with buying bicycles. The United States has yet to shell out to bike commuters, but at least in Los Angeles another commuting innovation is chugging away: the bike train. That's a group of cyclists who ride to work in groups of about five to 10, complete with a "conductor" who meets each biker at their door and makes sure they get to work safely.

The French experiment aims more for an environmental and fitness impact, hoping to get cars off the street and boost people's health—after all, only about 2.4 percent of the workforce currently gets to their job on bike. If officials see results, France is likely to expand the scheme.

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