Bike-to-work scheme extended to cargo bikes
Last week, we had the very welcome news that the bike-to-work scheme is to be extended to €3,000 to enable people to purchase cargo bikes. There is empirical evidence that cargo bikes give at least some families the option to get rid of their car or second car.
Many short trips that would be taken by car can and will be taken by bike or cargo bike with this measure, as well as others the Government has introduced. It is worth noting that nearly 40% of our transport emissions are caused by cars travelling short journeys. These are journeys in both urban and rural areas. These journeys, which are currently made by private car, are within the range of bike, electric bike and cargo bike.
With respect to cargo bikes, the opportunity is not just for families. There is enormous potential for last-mile delivery. Cargo bikes come into their own in this area because they are energy efficient, they are light and nimble and they can avoid congestion. There are negligible fuel costs. They do not require tax or insurance and they give business owners faced with a driver shortage an opportunity to move their goods cheaply and efficiently around urban areas. Additionally, they are a very good thing from the State's point of view because they do not cause costly wear and tear damage to road surfaces. They improve public health and reduce congestion. Whether it is cargo bikes, electric bikes or traditional pushbikes, and whether we are thinking of people living in Ballinamore or Ballybunion, measures to get people onto bikes, e-bikes and cargo bikes effectively reduce emissions. I repeat what I said earlier. Nearly 40% of all transport-related greenhouse gas emissions are caused by cars taking short journeys. For climate reasons alone, and irrespective of the evidence that it is good for our economy, for public health, for creating better, more attractive and safer urban and rural environments, and for reducing the cost to the State in multiple ways, we should be doing everything we can to get people onto these modes of transport.
The positive measures in this Bill should be just the beginning. We have to curb drastically the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles on our roads. Every new fossil fuel vehicle sold makes it harder for our State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I do not believe we went far enough in the budget. Electric vehicles cannot be the primary solution to the challenge we face. The OECD report released just two weeks ago stated that with regard to our transport emissions policy, we are off track and we are not doing enough to bring about system change. Only system change can deliver the reductions in emissions that we have set ourselves as a target. System change sounds idealistic and unattainable but as somebody who is passionate about transport planning and urbanism, I strongly believe it is very doable and not at all as difficult as many people in this House believe. I encourage the Minister, in all his future endeavours, to embrace system change for the benefit of our communities, our economy, our country and our environment.