PG is wrong on so many levels about the gravy train

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One recent letter writer suggested that council officers spend hours cycling around and claiming generous expenses for it. Like the joke about multi-storey car parks, I’m sorry to say he is wrong on so many levels.

Speaking as an individual who happens to be a council employee (and not in any way representing Sheffield Council) I would like to respond to his claims because I am struggling to understand how this supposed “gravy train” works.

Why assume that cycling is slower than other ways of travelling? Especially for shorter trips, or for multi-point journeys, a bike is likely to be quicker and for site visits get you to the exact location you need to be.

Why does PG imagine that cycling is free? Having just spent £109 on new components for my bike I can assure him that it is not. The 20p-a-mile figure he quotes represents the cost of cycling per mile, worked out by people who know how much it costs, per mile, to cycle. If PG wants to supply evidence showing it costs less, then let’s see it.

In terms of cost to the taxpayer, 20p per mile is cheaper than car (45p-per-mile allowance which, again, represents the cost to the individual motorist) or public transport. And, as PG says, cyclists will be getting fit while they’re doing it , costing the NHS less.

Finally, he suggests a Freedom of Information request to find out how much this cycling “gravy train” costs – a request which he is legally entitled to make, although at a cost to taxpayers. However, I suspect that the amount will be, for him, disappointingly small. I say this because, having asked cycling colleagues, I can’t find anybody who claims the 20p a mile allowance.

So, rather than riding a gravy train, council officers are often themselves bearing the cost of cycling for work purposes. I’m not suggesting that makes us especially virtuous but I mention it merely to head off charges of hypocrisy if this figure is disclosed.

Transport Planner