The Government has recently increased the mileage allowance for civil service for driving a car from 20 cent to 51.82 cent per km, but the bicycle rate is fixed at 8 cent per km for well over a decade.
The civil service rates are a benchmark used by the private sector and Revenue.
The increase was outlined in Circular 16-2022 Motor Travel Rates published in July 2022. The bicycle rate is understood to have been set around 2007, while the motoring rate also increased back in 2017 and will only be reviewed sometimes in the first quarter of 2023.
The Department of Transport provided a quote from Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, who said that he “will continue to push for as many incentives for existing and potential cyclists across all Government Departments”.
When IrishCycle.com put questions on the issue to the Department of Transport, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, it was outlined that a general review will be undertaken next year and this will include looking at the rate for the bicycle allowance.
The original response was provided by a spokesperson for the Department of Transport, in August, who said: “Please also note that the bicycle allowance was established to compensate officers for using their private bicycles for official purposes. Under the Civil Service travel and subsistence guidelines, all official travel should be undertaken using the most cost effective, practicable means of transport. It should not be considered a source of emolument or profit.”
The spokesperson added: “Consideration of the distance involved should also be given to ensure that the use of a bicycle on official travel would not result in a loss of time, be impractical, and not be cost effective on a value for money basis.”
Last month, the website outlined that cycling was noted as being the most cost-effective, and often most practicable means of transport in urban areas. And, given such, asked why is cycling not incentivised.
This is when the Department of Transport provided a quote from Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan.
Minister Ryan said: “The Department of Transport is continuously exploring ways to encourage the uptake of cycling as a mode of transport. While my Department supports a range of measures including, but not limited to, the construction of infrastructure, behavioural change programmes in schools and workplaces, cycle training and a bike upcycling programme, to the tune of around €289 million in 2022, decisions relating to tax-related measures and other proposed financial incentives fall to the Departments of Finance and the Office of Revenue Commissioners.”
The Minister added: “I was pleased to see the thresholds for the Cycle to Work scheme expanded by the Minister for Finance recently to encourage the purchase of cargo bikes, building on previous increases to cover the higher costs of e-bikes. Discussions relating to other proposed measures took place within the budgetary process and these discussions will continue. I will also continue to push for as many incentives for existing and potential cyclists across all Government Departments while continuing my own Department’s work in this important area.”
Also last month, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said: “Mileage rates in the Civil Service are used to reimburse officers who use their own vehicles while traveling for work. These rates are not to be considered a source of emolument. The cycle to work scheme is available to all Public Servants and employees of Private Companies, which incentivises the purchase of bicycles without any taxes taken by the State.”
The Department added: “The mileage rates for bicycles is part of a more general allowances review which we hope will conclude before the end of the first quarter of next year.”