Incentivizing cycling

Behavioral Insights Germany and Saudi Arabia

Cycling does not only improve your health but is also the most eco-friendly mode of urban transport. For these reasons, many countries have introduced financial incentives to encourage commuters to get on their bikes. But how effective are they in boosting cycling?

To answer this question, Ciccone, Fyhri, and Sundfør (2022) conducted a field experiment in Norway and tested three different incentive schemes. The first scheme offered cyclers a small flat rate per km. The second was a lottery where only one winner gets a high reward. The last was a conditional lottery designed to leverage our tendency to avert regret: only one winner is chosen for a high reward, but only if they have cycled on a randomly picked day.

Overall, financial incentives significantly increased cycling activities: on average, people in the three incentivized groups cycled 36% more km/day than people in a non-incentivized control group. The most effective treatment was the flat rate, increasing cycled kilometers by 9% to 18% compared to the other two treatments. However, once the incentives were removed, the conditional lottery was the only treatment that had an effect the week after the experiment.

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