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Broken bike scheme to overcome online traffic

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The Transport Ministry will not park its newly launched incentive scheme to get people cycling by handing out cash rebates, following the collapse of the online platform to process applications.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, a Transport Ministry official confirmed the scheme would be relaunched once the platform is fixed in the coming days.

It had collapsed under high demand, as the ministry said that more than 30,000 individual users tried to log onto the platform at once to submit their applications.

“The platform was assigned to a private company that had handled similar projects for the government.

“However, neither did we or the technicians designing the platform anticipate such a mass response to the scheme.

“The company handling the platform has now resolved all issues, and the scheme will soon be back online,” said the official.

The company had handled online government platforms in the past, such as applications for grants for the home installation of photovoltaic systems.

But demand for the bike scheme was higher as it cast a wider net of potential beneficiaries.

Following the platform’s collapse, the scheme’s future was in doubt, as the cost of resigning the platform may have been prohibitive.

Spending more would render the scheme financially unviable, as the 2021 budget for bike incentives is only €100,000, sufficing for 500 bikes.

The scheme was launched on 1 November but went offline just minutes after it went live as the portal crashed under demand.

People interested in buying a bicycle with the government’s support can apply online through the www.podilato.gov.cy platform when it’s up again.

Applicants must submit evidence of their purchase, including a legal receipt and a photo of the bike, to be entitled to the €200 refund.

The scheme has a budget of €570,000 and will run between 2021 and 2023, enabling 2,850 discounted bicycle sales.

Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos, presenting the scheme earlier last month, said it is part of Cyprus’ bid to reduce CO2 emissions.

“This effort is part of the transport ministry’s strategy to increase multi-mobility traffic and use sustainable means of transport, including cycling and walking.

“The promotion of cycling as a means of transportation aims to alleviate traffic congestion by providing other options for commuting within the city and introduce cycling in the daily lives of citizens as a safe and reliable means of transport.”

The bicycle incentive scheme is part of the ministry’s €4 mln sustainable mobility initiative, funded by the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Fund (RRF).

It covers all types of bicycles, city, road, mountain bikes, and people with disabilities.

The subsidy is a flat rate of €200 for bicycles of up to €1,000, including VAT.

If the bike is worth less than €200, then the ministry will cover the cost.

Bicycles for people with disabilities will be subsidised up to €800 or the purchase price, whichever is lower.