German city offers cash for bike trade-ins

£45 available in cycle version of scrappage scheme

The German city of Mannheim is offering cash handouts to cyclists who trade in their old bikes for new ones.

Advertisement

Citizens can get a 50 euro rebate (£45/US$68) when they buy a new bike, with half of the cash coming from the city council and the rest from a major retailer.

The idea is to provide an incentive for people to use bikes rather than cars – half of all motor vehicle trips in the city are shorter than three miles.

Unlike Britain’s similar new ‘scrappage’ scheme for cars – where motorists can get £2,000 off a new car by handing in a vehicle more than 10 years old – the bikes traded in will not, where practical, be scrapped but will go to government workshops for the long-term unemployed where bike mechanics are trained.

The Mannheim scheme, which began at the start of the month, has already become a victim of its own success. Twice as many people have registered for it as there are funds. The city council is pushing for additional funding to keep the scheme going.

A government spokesman in Berlin said the success of the Mannheim scheme was being “closely monitored” with a view to extending it nationwide.

Mannheim is not the only city offering incentives in a bid to get people back onto bikes. In Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, if you scrap a pre-1995 car you can get a year’s worth of free transit passes plus up to CAN$1,200 (£680/US$1,030) towards a new bike or $1,300 (£740/US$1,120) towards an electric bike.

Advertisement

Most generous, however, is an Italian government scheme that gives a third off the purchase of a bike, electric bike or certain classes of scooter, without having to trade anything in. It will be available for the whole of 2009 and has a budget cap of 8.75 million euros (£7.87m/US$11.92m).