Belgium extends commuter benefits to all electric bicycles

A cyclist steers his bicycle on a beach facing the North Sea near the village of De Haan, Belgium January 23, 2016. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium on Thursday extended commuter tax benefits for cyclists traveling to work on any electric bicycles.

Employers in Belgium can currently reward staff if they come to work on a bicycle, paying them for every kilometer they cycle, in an effort to promote environmentalism and a healthier lifestyle.

Commuters can get 23 cents ($0.26) per km cycled between their home and their place of work.

The new law covers electric bicycles that can reach up to 45 km per hour (28 mph). Those limited to 25 kmh were previously covered.

“We want to encourage cycling for commutes for obvious reasons, notwithstanding the type of bicycle used,” Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt said in a statement.

Belgium paid out some 93 million euros in 2015 for more than 400,000 users of the scheme which has almost doubled since 2009.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop/Jeremy Gaunt