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Plan Bike - Ed's journal
Plan Bike
So, Plan Bike pushes onwards steadily. I've signed up to 'Cycle To Work', and thought I'd summarize how it works, because it took a bit of digging on my part.
For starters, there's about 4 different cycle schemes out there, that work subtley differently. The basic aim is getting more people to commute by bike.

The one I'm using, is based on cycle scheme - http://www.cyclescheme.co.uk.

And basically, you sign up for a voucher, and pay for the voucher via salary sacrifice. Which means it comes out of your base base, before tax and NI.
However, it's not you buying it - it's your employer, and you're effectively leasing it.

After paying your fee for lease, then you typically have the option of extending the lease for an additional 3 years, at no charge.
After which, you may request to purchase the bike, for either a market valuation, or an acceptable disposal value, as outlined by HMRC.


You can exclude VAT from the valuation, provided you 'pay' it on the final sum (so for the purposes of this table, at 20% VAT, anything up to £600 it's 4 year acceptable disposal value is 3%.

You can't be guaranteed to take ownership, because then it's a hire purchase, but it's common practice to allow transfer after the term.

There's a variety of bike shops that participate in the scheme, and it's simply a case of going to one, and spending your voucher.
The hard part is in figuring out the appropriate sum - the voucher is acceptable to use on bike and safety equipment for said bike.
The DoT 'safety equipment' list (but note, best check, as HMRC may not agree!)
You can buy any bike and cycle safety equipment.

Safety equipment is not defined in legislation but the Department of Transport have indicted that it can include the following:
Cycle helmets
Bells and bulb horns
Lights including dynamo packs
Mirrors and mudguards
Cycle clips and dress guards
Panniers, luggage carriers and straps to allow luggage to be safely carried
Locks and chains to secure the bike
Pumps, puncture repair kits, cycle tools and tyre sealant to allow for minor repairs
Reflective clothing
White front reflectors and spoke reflectors

Which I'm sure you'll find can make up quite a substantial extra value on a bike.

I'm toying with questions like 'are disc brakes worth it' and 'how many lumens is 'enough' on a bike light'.
I've popped into a couple of bike shops to ask how much a 'sensible commuting bike' is actually 'worth'. The answer has been 'somewhere between £350-£500' for a hybrid bike. And probably as much as I feel like spending on the 'safety accessories'. Bike lights come in a wide range - you can get some very impressive ones :).

(Well, by my standards, which when I was last riding much was incandescent bulb which ate it's way through D-Cells at quite a rate.
Now you can get 1200 lumen dazzleboxes with a sensible burn time, and rechargeable batteries.)

Anyway, net result is that you 'save' somewhere between 'some' and 'lots' - NI and Tax are probably about a 3rd of the average person's salary, and dropping the price of a bike off the top, saves about that much. (Or higher, if you're straying into higher rate taxes).

The 'cost justification' clocks in at 'cost of fuel' and 'cost of gym membership'. Although the tradeoff is a 25 mile a day round trip, which will probably really hurt the first few weeks :).
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