Putting the spoke in car sales

While the U.S. dithers about launching a scrapping bonus to boost new-car sales, Germany is taking the idea a step further by starting scrappage schemes for bicycles.

In the city of Mannheim, cyclists are being offered 50 euros ($68) to swap an old bike for a new one. Half a dozen other cities are considering similar programs, according to the May bulletin from the European Federation for Transport and Environment lobby group.

Germany is among a dozen or so European countries that offer scrappage bonuses to buyers who scrap old car for newer models. It is also the country where sales have grown fastest as consumers rush into car showrooms to claim their 2,500 euro bonus. April sales were up 19.4 percent to nearly 380,000.

Despite the scheme's success, an idea from the German Traffic Club (VCD) seems to be a non starter. The club, which campaigns for safe and ecologically compatible mobility solutions, says Germany's car scrappage scheme should be changed to allow people to trade in an old car for a bicycle or public transport season ticket.

"The government has still not addressed our demand despite 10,300 people signing our online petition," says the VCD's Michael Müller-Görnert.

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