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Many paths lead to the bicycle

07/03/2017
Company-vehicle privilege for bicycles becoming more and more popular - Initiatives to promote cargo bikes

Friedrichshafen - Dreams of better biking are easily sparked when you tour Eurobike, the world’s leading trade fair for the bicycle industry, or when you visit a well-stocked bicycle shop, because the range of bicycle models has never been as diverse and exciting as it is today. The good news for bike fans: the government is supporting the path to your desired bicycle with a wide variety of measures.

Whether e-mountain bikes for an electrified adventure in the Alps, new gravel bikes for fast-paced racing bike tours even on unpaved paths, or stylish cargo bikes, which are becoming the modern replacement for the second car in more and more families: These and numerous other product trends make purchasing a bicycle more exciting than ever before, especially since somewhat more expensive bicycles are now entering the realm of what is financially feasible for more and more people thanks to government measures. Federal, state, and municipal authorities in Germany want to promote bicycle transportation and are providing a variety of funding programs to do so.

For example, the company-vehicle privilege, which was expanded by lawmakers in 2012 to also include bikes. That means that as with private use of a company vehicle, there are tax benefits also for bicycles provided by the employer. It sounds complicated, but thanks to specialized leasing service providers such as JobRad or mein-dienstrad.de, it is very easy in practice. For example, more than 3500 employers work with JobRad alone, which enables access to company bicycles to about 1 million people. "JobRad has grown up,” says Uli Prediger, Managing Director of the JobRad provider LeaseRad. "For many companies it is already a matter of course, and many more are planning to participate. For our partners in the retail trade, the cooperation with JobRad ideally complements their product and service range.”

The first point of contact for the company bike is typically bicycle retailers, which act as partners of the various leasing providers. There the customer selects his desired bicycle in the normal fashion, with the difference that the invoice first goes to the leasing provider, which in turn sends the bill for the leasing installments to the respective employer. "Bicycle leasing is a good thing,” reports bicycle dealer Joachim Schwarz (Fahr Rad! Schwarz, Neulussheim). "The process is very easy for me as a dealer. Settlement is quick and unbureaucratic.”

The employee pays for the bike with deferred compensation on his payroll statement. In this way a 2000-euro bike costs under 40 euros per month with JobRad. By offering a company bike, employers in turn create incentives that can contribute to attracting and retaining employees, and bicycle dealers can get new customers as well as provide service for the company bikes. The fact that more commuters are switching to bicycles also benefits the environment and health of the employees. Not least for this reason, JobRad has just been honored with a climate protection award.

Several important players in the bike industry have now discovered the topic of leasing for themselves. The bicycle provider represented throughout Germany Hartje recently launched a collaboration with service provider Baron Mobility Services (mein-leasingrad.de) to also offer the bikes of its brands for lease.

Initiatives for boosting sales of cargo bikes
The company-vehicle privilege is not the only way that public authorities are assisting bicycle purchasers financially: In some municipalities, including Munich and Vienna, buying a cargo bike is substantially supported directly from city coffers. Commercial entities in the Bavarian capital that expand their company fleet to include a pedelec receive a purchasing bonus of up to 500 euros from the city program for e-mobility, and those that purchase an e-cargo bike receive up to 1000 euros. Incidentally, it doesn’t matter whether the bicycle is purchased or leased, and starting this year the grant for e-cargo bikes is also available to private individuals.

Those who only occasionally need a cargo bike and therefore are not planning to purchase one can already find appropriate bike-sharing opportunities in many cities. A nationwide showcase project was introduced in parallel in summer 2016 in Constance and Norderstedt under the name TINK. The two cities are model municipalities for setting up public transport bicycle rental systems. Two- and three-wheeled bicycles with maximum payloads of 80 and 100 kg are available to choose from in both cities at various rental points. Currently the data needed for rental is transmitted by SMS text messages; a separate app will soon be added. In Norderstedt the bicycle rental specialist Nextbike is in charge of implementing TINK, while in Constance the retailer Fahrradspezialiteten is responsible for providing and servicing the bikes.

That means that many paths lead to the bicycle. For that matter, many paths also lead to Friedrichshafen and Eurobike from August 30 to September 2, 2017, where not only the bike industry will be showing their new models for 2018 but also numerous companies providing services relating to the topic of bike purchasing and leasing will be represented. As part of an exhibition focus, for the first time many of the most important players of Eurobike 2017 will be presenting themselves centrally in the Foyer West of the fairgrounds.

With 1350 exhibitors, Eurobike is the leading trade fair of the international bicycle industry. While the first three days are reserved for the trade, the fair is open to the bike-interested public on Saturday, September 2. For more information, visit: www.eurobike-show.com / www.facebook.com/EUROBIKE.tradeshow.

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