The UK has undergone something of a cycling revolution in recent years. The London Olympics and the continued global success of the likes of Laura Kenny, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas has encouraged more and more of us to get on two wheels. This trend is likely to increase as more cities introduce Clean Air Zones.
Naturally, this has led to an upturn in the amount of people who cycle to and from work. Something that has a multitude of benefits, not just for the cyclist but also for the employer. The most obvious one being that staff are fitter, happier and more productive. This equals more profits, less absence and better staff retention.
There’s also the increasingly important issue of advertising your green credentials. Being an organisation with a reduced carbon footprint and an active interest in the environment is great for attracting both clients and employees. Plus of course, it is beneficial to the planet!
So, as an employer or a fleet manager, what can you do to encourage your staff to leave the car at home and cycle into work every morning? Broadly speaking there are three areas that you can address:
As an employer you don’t have responsibility for the road infrastructure, but if any cyclists spot hazards on their journey to work such as potholes or obscured signs or junction due to tree growth encourage them to report this to your local highways; most have an online reporting procedure. Equally you can’t control the weather or the traffic volumes, but you can improve the conditions they face at the end of their journey. For a start, somewhere to park bikes is essential. So make sure there’s a designated, secure area of your car park (if you’ve got one) and a bike rack which is undercover and well lit.
There’s also the issue of the cyclists feeling uncomfortable after their journey. Nobody likes sitting at their desk feeling sweaty, so having showers and space to change is strongly recommended. This means there also needs to be suitable storage space for bags and cycle wear.
A cycle to work scheme is a tax exemption initiative introduce by the government in 1999. Its aim was to encourage healthier journeys to work and to reduce environmental pollution. It allows employers to loan cycles and cyclists’ safety equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit.
Aside from the aforementioned health benefits, it is also a great cost saving option for employers. On average, firms save 13.8% of the total value of salary sacrifice because of reductions in the amount of National Insurance Contributions due.
As with improving your facilities, joining a cycle to work scheme is a great way of demonstrating your commitment to cycling to work and the environment. Remember that increase in productivity and staff retention!
There’s no point having a cycle to work scheme and fantastic facilities if you’re not going to shout about it. But it doesn’t stop there. There are plenty of other ways your internal comms people can encourage staff to cycle to work. Affiliate yourselves with a local cycle club, promote a bike share scheme, negotiate a discount with a local cycling shop, or just provide advice on equipment and safety (Talking of which, HERE’s some handy advice courtesy of RoSPA!).
You can also encourage cyclists to set up a bike group as having a ‘champion’ who others can go to informally is a great way to motivate new cyclists. The group could organise events such as ‘a Dr Bike’ or ‘a buddy ride’ to coincide with National Bike to Work day on May 17th.
Finally, there’s no substitute for role modelling. So, if they don’t already, getting a senior manager or director to cycle to work can do wonders for promoting it.
RoSPA have a wealth of tips and advice for cyclists, covering everything from helmets to cleats. You can access the information HERE