THE Department of Finance has received only one query regarding its cycle-to-work scheme announced in the Budget last year.
The bike scheme, which was heralded as an important green initiative in the emergency October budget, encourages employers to cover the cost of a bicycle up to €1,000. Employers can then claim the cost as a tax-exempt benefit-in-kind, while employees who buy the bike themselves can save tax, PRSI and levies.
With the Department of Finance still finalising the scheme, only one query from a company has been received, and that was from a bicycle supplier.
However, the Green Party's Ciaran Cuffe insisted that there was "huge interest" in the scheme and that hundreds of enquiries had been submitted via the Green Party's 'Bike Scheme' website.
"I think it shows that government and the Department of Finance, in particular, need to be more proactive in promoting this scheme. Maybe, we're dragging interested parties to our own website," he said.
A spokesman for the Department of Finance also stressed that the Government Supplies Agency is currently drafting a tender document with the intention of setting up a countrywide framework of suppliers of bicycles and safety equipment to service this scheme.
When this framework is in place they will then issue a circular setting out how the framework is to be operated. It is envisaged that this framework should be in place before the end of April.
The Labour Party's Joanna Tuffy labelled the scheme as "tokenistic" and a "cosmetic exercise" by the Greens.
"Really, where the Greens should have put their foot down was over Dublin Bus if they're determined to get people out of their cars and onto public transport. Things like the bike scheme are tokenistic and the fact that there's only been one query shows there's no race to it," she said.
"If the Greens were to concentrate on anywhere, it should be the buses ... they really should have put their foot down on the proposals to cut down on buses. That bike grant is cosmetic in itself. The more you can do to encourage people to cycle, the better, but you really have to put in place other conditions to get more cars off the road first and put people in buses."
More bicycles are stolen in a month than will be provided for in an entire year under the bicycle scheme, said Labour.