Cycling is one of the best forms of exercise, and it will increase your chances of a long and healthy life. Regular cyclists enjoy a fitness level equivalent to being 10 years younger.
Making it safer and more pleasant to cycle
How easy is it for cyclists to get to and around your site? Is it clean? Is it well lit? Are there cycle lanes or traffic free routes which serve your site? Is it convenient? You may need to think about making some improvements to your site:
- Providing lighting
- Installing an entrance for cyclists (this could be the same entrance that pedestrians use), with key or code activated barriers if this would enhance security issues
- Creating cyclist short cuts and traffic free routes
Providing better facilities for cyclists
Think about how cyclists may feel when they arrive at work. What would they need in order to settle into their working day and feel comfortable? You may like to think about providing any of the following:
- Shower facilities
- Changing facilities
- A drying area for clothes
- A storage area for work clothes and shoes
- A hot drinks machine
Many of the above will also be useful for pedestrians.
Storage for bikes
A good quality, safe and secure storage facility will be needed in order to make cyclists feel confident about bringing their bikes. Ideally, your storage should be:
- Covered, so that bikes do not get wet
- Secure, with places to lock bikes, preferably served by CCTV, and perhaps in a compound which requires a key or code which only cyclists have access to
- Well maintained. Reward your cyclists with clean, modern cycle storage areas
- In a prominent place. Install your cycle storage close to the entrance, not tucked away at the back of the car park. This will have two benefits – cyclists will not be put off having to walk all the way around the building, and the bikes will be safer, being in the view of the building and having staff pass by them on their route in and out
Creating a better perception of cycling
Many people may be put off from cycling to walk, because they think it is too far or it will be too much effort. Generally, people tend to overestimate the time it will take to cycle somewhere, and underestimate the time they will need to drive somewhere. You can help to alleviate this problem by:
- Marketing cycling as a positive experience
- Organising lunchtime rides or fundraising events
Giving more information
Very often, people will simply not know what their options are. They may not know the safest cycling routes into your site. Quick wins to solve this problem include:
- Providing maps showing walking and cycling routes into your site. This can be displayed on your website, on staff notice boards, in the canteen, and disseminated via email and staff bulletins, or put into employees’ pay packets
- Designate one or two members of staff to be “cycling buddies”, who are willing to give information to staff who would like to find out more information and the best routes for cycling
- Highlight the benefits of cycling. Let people know how many calories they could be burning by producing ‘calorie maps’. Let them know how far the average person can cycle in a given amount of time
Providing incentives for cycling
People who cycle are often more productive in work time than people who drive. Could you reward them for this? Could cyclists be given 10 minutes extra lunchtime or breaks, or leave 10 minutes early? Could you give them cash back? Many businesses enter staff who travel sustainably into a prize draw, or offer cyclists’ breakfast events.
Team Green Britain Bike Week
Team Green Britain Bike Week is the UK’s biggest mass participation cycling event – in 2010 almost half a million people participated at events across the country. The aim is to get more people cycling, more often. The event offers something for everyone, from families, schools and companies, to seasoned cyclists and those who have never cycled before.
Visit the the Bike Week website to find details of Bike Week events near you, as well as hints and tips ranging from training to take part in an event, to advice for on the road.
For many adults, the last time they used a bike may have been a good few years ago, and they may not have the confidence to get back on. You might like to offer cycle training, branded as “cycle skills” or “cycle confidence” sessions (to get away from the school pupil image of “cycle training”) a couple of times a year.
To find out more about cycle training for adults in Cheshire East, visit the Department for Transport website .
Cycle maintenance sessions
Just as most staff would be unable to conduct an MOT on their car, most people do not have the knowledge, skills or confidence to ensure that their bikes are in a roadworthy condition, and so may be put off using their bike. Consider bringing someone from a local bike shop to check employees’ bikes for free, or offer simple cycle maintenance lessons throughout the year.
Cycle to work scheme
A cycle to work scheme allows employees to purchase a bike tax-free, through salary sacrifice. Within the Government’s Green Transport Plan, there is a tax exemption which allows employers to provide bikes and safety equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit. Employees are, in effect, hiring the bikes from their employer, then buying them at the end of the salary sacrifice period for a Fair Market Value payment. The employer buys the bikes and safety equipment at full retail price, including VAT which is reclaimed in the normal way, if applicable. The balance is recovered from a reduction in the employee’s gross salary, and employees also benefit from National Insurance contribution savings.
A workplace bike pool provides bikes, which are well maintained and safe to ride, and safety equipment for employees to use. Pool bikes can be offered to employees for any kind of journey, but are typically used for work related trips, such as local meetings, travel between sites and visiting clients.
Generally, pool bikes are kept in a central location and can be booked out by any staff member who is competent to cycle safely on public roads.
Bicycle User Group (BUG)
A Bicycle User Group (BUG) is a group of staff who cycle, or who would like to. The group works to improve conditions for cyclists and encourage more people to have a go at cycling. A BUG is a way of focussing cyclists’ views and coming up with a coherent plan, which can then be passed for agreement to members of senior management.
BUGs can be quite formal and hold regular meetings with an agenda, a chair and a minute taker, or they can be very informal and just get together occasionally when there is something particularly important to discuss. Meetings can be in person, or members can correspond via email or through an internet forum.
BUGs may undertake the following:
- Carry out a cycle specific travel survey and site audit
- Promote national initiatives in the organisation, such as Bike Week
- Produce a regular newsletter
- Set up a BUG website or intranet site
- Organise a Doctor Bike event
- Arrange regular lunchtime talks or presentations about cycling
- Run a cyclists’ information service supplying free maps, leaflets and other advice
- Operate a ‘bike buddy’ scheme. Novice cyclists are paired with a more experienced rider who will cycle to work with them
- Produce a site map showing the location if cycle parking stands, showers etc
- Organise regular cyclists’ breakfasts
- Provide volunteers who will help mend punctures and carry out emergency repairs for fellow members of staff
- Conduct a quarterly ‘cycle census’ to count the number of bikes on-site and record any changes and progress
- Get a local bike shop to set up a display of commuter bikes and equipment in the staff restaurant or a similar prominent place
- Organise leisure rides after work, sponsored rides, and other cycle themed activities and events.