The Life-Sized City Blog: Italian Government Subsidizes Bicycles

Press Release - 1 May 2009Italian Government Ministry for the Environment Announces Incentives for Purchase of Bicycle, e-Bike and Scooters For the first time in Europe a government started handing out direct incentives for the purchase of a bicycle or e-Bike. The Italian government, through the Ministry for the Environment, started an incentive scheme which contributes to a maximum of 30% of the retail price of a bicycle or e-Bike. The maximum amount is €700 which is for a bike that retails for € 2,330. This is on average the retail price of a high-end electric bicycle. According to the Minister for the Environment the incentives are not only for the purchase of bicycles but are also intended for small scooters and for electric Powered Two-Wheelers. They are valid for the whole of 2009. The incentives are based on a governmental budget of €8.75 million to be given to users who purchase a new bicycle or power assisted bicycle, without the need of writing off another vehicle. The incentives are also given to purchasers of scooters either with an EURO-2 engine or electric powered. In these latter cases the writing-off of a scooter EURO-Zero or EURO-1 is mandatory. The maximum incentives for the purchase of big electric motorcycles is set at €1300 and for an electric scooter €850. For EURO-3 hybrid motorcycles the maximum amount is €950 while for hybrid scooters it reaches €600. For EURO-2 four-strokes and two-strokes the incentives are only €350 and €180 respectively. In order to obtain the incentive for the purchase of these vehicles it is needed to write-off a non-ecological PTW.

Piero Nigrelli, responsible for bicycles at ANCMA (the Italian National Association for the Bicycle and Motorcycle Industry) stated: “The decision of the Italian government to support cycling with incentives is something really new in Europe. Not only is this fantastic but more important is the fact that the incentives have been given based on the fact that the government wants to give a real push for the improvement of the air quality in particular in large urban areas.”

According to Nigrelli a rather large number of people took the opportunity to buy bicycles or e-Bikes with the incentives just after the start of the scheme. At the first day 11 applications came in of which 10 for bicycles and 1 for a Powered Two-Wheeler. He said: “Luckily we were able to simplify the paper work for the scheme by the dealers. And even some consumers called us to express their gratitude.”

Browsing through the government documents in which the incentive scheme is described it is stunning to read: “Bicycles, power assisted bicycles and similar vehicles are real options to promote a sustainable mobility as an alternative to motor vehicles...”

---Not bad. Not bad at all. Many Italian cities are already at high bike usage rates. Ferrara and Parma, for example are at about 30%. Let's hope this signals change.


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