Finnish Transport Minister wants a public subsidy for electric bikes but not for ordinary bikes…

In winter, Finland is covered in snow and ice for 3 to 6 months depending on location and weather conditions. Dark days are guaranteed for about six months of the year. But in spite of these difficult conditions bike lanes are kept open in most places allowing a few adults and many children the opportunity to move between home, office and school and get some exercise at the same time.

The relative number of adult bikers is small, even in summer, because public transport is excellent and cars fill the roads. It takes a lot of extra effort and time to dress warmly for a bike ride on a cold dark morning/evening and adults need to shower after their adult exertions before enjoying the first cup of coffee at the office.

Now we are hearing that the Transport Minister, a Tesla fan, continues to surprise even her mates here in the government with the proposal to give a generous handout of taxpayers’ money to every buyer of an electric bike. This of course is part of her dream of everything electric and digital, although it is rather hard to understand why any government will want to subsidise a really expensive bike over a cheaper ordinary bike!

The argument in favour of such a proposal is weak because it discriminates against ordinary bike owners, and focuses only on a small group of people who can already afford to buy expensive electric bikes. The proposal will hardly wean people off their cars and will certainly not take people out of public transport!

But this minister has already earned a reputation for poorly planned proposals, few of which have been finally implemented. This electric bike thing is just one more proposal which should end up in the rubbish bin.

Your correspondent has just spent one month on the Chinese island of Hainan. The regional government ordered all fossil motor bikes off the roads, and these have been replaced with electric scooters and bikes. The cost of the cheapest new bikes in Hainan is 2000 yuan or €250 and mid-priced ones cost €350. Who needs a government subsidy if these can be made and sold at such a low cost? This looks like a gift fro  the minister to expensive electric bike makers and their salesmen.

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