Since Monday we have something called a Verschrottungsprämie (scraping bonus) for bicycles in Vienna. If one gives away his/her old bicycle and buys a new one (at least worth 140 €) 70 € are refunded. So far the campaign is limited to 500 bikes and only available for persons registered in Vienna. More information at the Standard and the ARBÖ. Altogether that costs 35.000 €. Already after one day people had to be put on the waiting list, but the campaign might be extended.
The term scraping, however, is misleading as the bikes are not actually thrown away but repaired and given away for free to poor people, or sold again. The bonus is a late response to the scraping bonus for cars at the beginning of this year. Back then 30.000 car owners in Austria got 1.500 € refunded for scraping their old car if they bought new ones. That cost 45 Mio €. Maff complained about it earlier in January.
What do you think about it? Would you give away your old bike for 70 € (= 100 $)?
I certainly wouldn't. Maybe my bike isn't worth much more, but although I'll buy a new bike soon I wouldn't get such a cheap but good secondary bike. And after so many years (14, to be precise) I'm also physically and mentally bound to my mountain bike :-).
Still, I can see that this campaign can be a great chance for some people that left their bikes abandoned in the cellar for a couple of years and now want to restart cycling. I think it's a good motivation for them and a good signal to everybody in this city that cyclists are appreciated and welcome. I hope of course that the campaign will be extended, 500 new bikes just can't do the trick.
I wonder what the attraction is of this offer. The old bike must be roadworthy, so have decent brakes and lighting, and probably not be too rusty. If it's an old wreck, you have to make it usable first, and 70 euro is quickly spent. Now if I had an old bike that was perfectly rideable, I would keep it for those occasions where a "good" bike would be in too much danger of being stolen. And speaking of stolen bikes, this action opens a legal path to get rid of a stolen bike, too. I can't imagine that you will be expected to show the original bill of sale!
Like you said, I can see this being beneficial for people who have old, low-end bikes in usable condition, which they otherwise simply do not ride and which are taking up space in their basement. I would not mind getting rid of my old mountain bike form the 1990s, which I rode when I was in school. I have no use for it, not even as a beater-bike. But none of my other bicycles I could ever part with.
I only read the comments in the Standard afterwards but found that a lot of them were from old cynics like me apparently:
"jetzt weiß ich wo ich mein altes, halb-kaputtes fahrrad finde, das mir mitte juli gestohlen wurde...
wenn der osten neue Fahrräder bekommen soll, dann halt gleich direkt.
ein altes fahrrad ist in wien der einzige diebstahlschutz. die neuen räder sind in einem jahr "abgewandert".
Stimmt absolut, habe mir in den letzten vier Jahren jeweils im Frühjahr ein Neues gekauft - länger als drei Wochen hatte ich es nie - seitdem habe ich resigniert und fahre nur mehr mit meiner alten Puch-Kraxn - die brauche ich nicht mal abzusperren ...
Jetzt sollen wir Steuerzahler schon dafür aufkommen, dass sich jemand ein neues Rad kauft. Ich hoff noch immer dass heute der 1. April ist und ich aufwache und draufkomme, ich hab alles nur geträumt."
Don't forget, we are talking about tax money here that might be better spent elsewhere. And 70 Euro or 100 dollars really is peanuts for people ready to buy a new bike anyway.
@ Frits B: Yeah, you're right. That was also one of my first thoughts. I hope that one has to prove that he/she actually is the owner of the bike. They would be very stupid if they accepted bikes that are reported stolen. If somebody didn't report that to the police, well then it's their own fault. So after some thought I don't think that this is a way to get rid of stolen bikes (why would a chief want a new bike anyhow?).
Well, bikes can get stolen of course, but one can buy a good lock to prevent that. I never had a problem with my (formerly not so cheap) mountain bike as I had a good Abus U-lock. One can be unlucky of course, but most people just don't bother and buy a cheap lock. There was also an article about that: Zwei Drittel aller Fahrräder unzureichend geschützt.
That's a much better idea than what's going on in the US - "Cash for Clunkers." Give up your old and inefficient car, buy a brand new car, get $4,500 of taxpayers' money. Not only does it promote more conspicuous consumption and encourage people to buy cars they may not be able to afford in this economy, but the environmental benefits are suspect - building and shipping new cars takes a tremendous amount of resources and energy. I was not offered any money for giving up a car completely for a bike. Also, I want my freakin' tax money back so I can give it to schools and people without health care. I would also like my tax money back for the war in Iraq.
Oops, end rant. Sorry about that :)
@Dottie: I think you might have misunderstood Anna here (but if not,it's my turn to apologize and blush). Austria had the same insane idea of Cash for Clunkers; 1500 EUR for giving up your old car and buying a new one, not even to support the national car industry but ostensibly to clean the air - which has never been cleaner since the onset of the Industrial Revolution 150 years ago. As Anna writes, 30,000 car owners took the government up on this offer so 45 millions of EUR of taxpayers' money were blown. Now they repeat this program for bikes: 70 EUR for an old bike if you buy a new one. The old bikes will not be scrapped but are refurbished and either given away or sold, in both cases defeating the purpose of supporting local industry; cyclists don't contribute much to air pollution anyway. Again, tax money is spent which could have been put to better use. But as many readers of the Standard wrote, there are elections coming up.
Austria should do as the Dutch: thousands of bikes are abandoned each year, either stolen and left by the thieves after a short ride, or just "forgotten" by the owners. Many of these are in a bad condition, but many are quite usable. Every now and then these abandoned bikes are collected, obvious rustbuckets are scrapped right away, and what is still fit for use is sold by the police in auctions. Beats buying a bike from a drug addict ...
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