Finance Minister Brian Lenihan will this week seek 'expressions of interest' from shops wishing to supply push bikes to civil servants under environment minister John Gormley's 'cycle-to-work' initiative.

Under the scheme, the civil servant can pick out a bicycle worth up to €1,000 including accessories and the department will foot the bill.

The department will then deduct the cost of the bike from the civil servant's pre-tax pay over 12 months which means it will be supplied tax- free or at a discount of about 50%.

Originally, the department was prepared to allow the civil servant choose the bike from any shop.

But it was argued by some officials that such a move would contravene tender laws which require that all businesses be allowed to compete equally for government business.

The officials believed that some bicycle shops could sue if they were snubbed by civil servants in favour of a rival bicycle shop.

Accordingly, Lenihan will publish a tender notice next week inviting expressions of interest from bicycle shops who wish to become part of the scheme.

The department will then compile a list of government- approved bicycle shops from where the civil servants can purchase the bike without fear of contravening the tender law.

In answer to a question in the Dáil last week as to whether the employer providing the bicycle under the scheme would have a duty of care toward the employee when cycling to and from work, Lenihan said that was a matter for agreement between the employee and the employer.

Rules in the civil service scheme set out the responsibilities of the employee "in relation to the proper use and maintenance of the bicycle", said Lenihan.