Sweet Deal for New Wheels
German City Offers Scrapping Bonus for Bicycles
Germany's scrapping bonus for old cars has proved so popular that the city of Mannheim is offering it for old bicycles. Campaigners hope the move will encourage people to ditch their cars and hop on bikes to help save the environment.
Inspired by the controversial
"scrapping bonus" for old cars that the German government launched in January, up to 200 Mannheim residents can collect a bounty on their old bikes starting May 2.
The program is a joint initiative between the city government and nonprofit organization Biotopia, which offers job training for the unemployed and for disadvantaged youth.
The old bikes, which have to be in more or less rideable condition, will be collected at Biotopia's workshop at the Mannheim main train station and refurbished. The money for the premium comes out of the Mannheim municipal budget.
The offer was initially capped at 100 bikes, but Biotopia's Carolin Gauer said they've expanded the program to accommodate increased demand. The scheme has been highlighted in regional and national newspapers.
The bonus' proponents hope it will make the city more bike-friendly. "We would like more Mannheim residents to think about using their bikes instead of their cars for short trips," Gauer told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
The bonus is only available to adult city residents with proof of ID. Those hoping to cash in must also bring the receipt from a new bike purchased in May from a Mannheim-based bike shop. Racing bikes, children's bikes and mountain bikes are ineligible.
Mannheim is the first, and according to Gauer, only - city to offer such a bonus so far. But many others have expressed praise for the idea, said Gauer.
The Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD), or Association for Sustainable Mobility, is opposed to the car scrapping bonus, which offers €2,500 to those who replace a car at least nine years old with a new or slightly used vehicle.
The bonus is intended to support the German auto industry which has suffered a slump in global sales, and it is working, with manufacturers of small vehicles reporting sharp increases in domestic demand.
Environmental campaigners, however, argue that the bonus is doing little for the environment. The bonus also applies to gas-guzzlers. The VCD says the program is a waste of money and is asking people to make symbolic applications for bonuses for replacing an old car with a new bike or with public transport passes.