But they are also paying to build better yet more bike infrastructure.
Getting people out of cars and on to bikes is hard in North America where the bike infrastructure is so terrible. As David Hembrow notes in a terrific article on how to promoting cycling, it's simple: just learn from the Dutch.
Forty years ago, city scale experiments were performed in Dutch cities to find out what was required to create a genuine and long lasting increase in attractiveness of cycling and therefore a genuine and long lasting increase in cycling. The result was really not surprising - the successful experiment consisted of building a comprehensive grid of infrastructure which connected every home to every destination in the city. This enabled everyone to cycle and resulted in an increase in cycling across all demographics.
But even in the Netherlands, where a quarter of the country bikes regularly, the government wants to get more people out of cars and on to bikes to reduce congestion. Carlton Ried of BikeBiz writes that the Dutch Secretary of State for Infrastructure, Stientje Van Veldhoven, wants companies to pay employees 19 cents (US 22 cents) per kilometre for riding to work. She is quoted:
The bicycle makes an important contribution to accessibility, livability and health. It reduces traffic jams. That's why I want to stimulate cycling with the goal that there will be 200,000 extra commuters from the car and that we will make 3 billion more bicycle kilometres together.
The Independent describes a bike promotion scheme in the province of Brabant called B-Riders, which demonstrated that the incentive worked, and that once people get on bikes, they tend to stay on them.
B-Riders are commuters who switch from car to bicycle. They are coached by an app, and receive a financial reward for each kilometre cycled during peak hours. Experience has shown that most people continue to cycle even after the reward ceases.
Ms. Van Veldhoven notes that “employees who cycle are in better shape and are less prone to absence through illness. In addition, bicycle use often enables companies to save on parking costs.” Consequently the government is investing 100 million euros in more dedicated bike lanes and bicycle parking spaces."
That last sentence is perhaps the most important one. Without good infrastructure, without a safe place to ride and a place to park, paying people to ride isn't going to make a lot of difference. But in the Netherlands, it is different, and the Secretary for Infrastructure can say, "Let's get out of the car and jump on the bike."