Getting a handle on the cycling boom…Top tips on how to swap four wheels for two – Ireland

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Cycling has become a victim of its own success. The immense popularity of free bike schemes, new greenways and even getting a tax break to move from four wheels to two has resulted in more bicycles being stolen than ever before.

According to the Garda ‘Lock it or Lose it’ campaign, 14,000 bikes have gone Awol since 2016. That’s €2m worth of machines, with 83pc of the thefts in four cities: Dublin, Galway, Cork and Limerick.

This week I’m looking at ways to get started on cycling, and how to stay safe.

Security

The best way to ensure your bike isn’t nicked is to use two locks, says An Garda Síochána: “Place them on two sections of the bike and attach to an immovable object.” Take photos of your bike and record the serial number (it’s underneath the frame). Then, register it at bikeregister.ie, and if it is recovered, it will feature on the Garda Flickr page – thousands are auctioned off, or destroyed because they can’t be matched to owners.

Cycle To Work Scheme

Employer-sponsored tax-back relief is available to full- and part-time where their firm purchases a bike/accessories and claims the cost back through your salary over 12 months.

The maximum spend for tax-relief purposes is €1,000 for the bike and accessories. The taxpayer saves on Income tax, USC and PRSI. This means it favours higher-rate taxpayers far more than standard rate ones, with an effective saving of 29pc or 49pc of the cost (see panel). You can only use it once every five years, even if your bike is stolen, but you’d be mad not to do it if it’s on offer.

Read more: From tough tyres to sinking bikes…Bleeperbikes step it up a gear after challenging Dublin city launch

City Bikes

The Dublin Bike scheme, sponsored by Just Eat, has an impressive set of numbers to stand over since its 2009 launch.

More than 22 million journeys, a current long-term subscriber list of 67,890, 96pc of all journeys are completely free (average journey time is 14 minutes) and the scheme has extended to Cork, Limerick and Galway with sponsor Coca-Cola. Stations are open from 5.00am to 0.30am. An annual pass costs €20 but the costs per trip are free, or very low thereafter. There are 116 stations and you can find the map on dublinbikes.ie.

Bleeper

The new disrupter aims to corner the part of the market Dublin Bikes does not. It’s not limited to fixed bike ‘stations’, but works by locating the nearest bike to you via its app.

It could be parked anywhere, including unofficial racks, but the system offers points to users for monitoring the service. At €4 for five rides it’s not cheap but there are discounts given towards ‘good’ behaviour like parking properly, clocking up free rides. bleeperbike.com

Greenways

Enjoying the leisure of cycling, not just commuting, is the reason most people get started. The Greenway cycle path will ultimately run for 280km from Dublin’s Royal Canal to Galway, but there are great cycle lanes already along portions of it. irishgreenways.com

Insurance

There are very few dedicated bike insurers left so most people insure on their household policy. This is fine, but do bear in mind that many policies have a ‘per item’ limit which can be as low as €1,000. If your bike is valued at more, you’ll need to list it on All Risks, carrying an extra premium. However, a claim may affect your renewal premium.

An alternative is a specialist policy – bicycleinsurance.ie is one of the few players left in the market, offering premiums of around €84.26 a year for a new bike valued at €1,000.

A €2,000 bike will cost €180.23, while one worth €500 will carry a premium of €43.30. There is an excess of €25 or 5pc of insured value whichever is the higher amount.

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