Cycling to Work
As train fares and fuel prices continue to rise, we are all feeling the pinch when it comes to paying to get to work. It’s encouraging, therefore, that more and more workers are turning to alternative ways to commute, with cycling becoming increasingly popular. In fact, the Government’s Cycle to Work Scheme (CWS) has experienced unprecedented growth in uptake as individuals opt to make the most of the opportunity of cycling to work. Cycling is not only cheaper than driving or taking the train, but it is also a much healthier way to commute, not to mention there are some financial incentives that make it more affordable.
The number of organisations that offer a CWS is growing. The Department for Transport regularly surveys the range of ways in which people travel to their workplace. The 2011 census indicated that about 559,000 people in the UK aged 16+ cycled to full-time employment, and by 2014/15 this had increased by 1.5 per cent, to approximately 567,000 dedicated cyclists.
In 2014, a record number of 183,423 employees participated in the CWS. Employers can buy and hire out bikes as well as safety equipment and protective clothing to their staff in return for a regular payment. At the end of the loan period employees can, if they wish, purchase the bicycles at market value. In 2014, the CWS experienced an impressive 11.6 per cent increase in take-up compared to 2013.
If you want to become a cycle friendly employer, you’ll find there are several motivating factors:
- Encouraging cycling helps tackle congestion
- It reduces an organisation’s impact on the local environment
- It improves the wider environment
- The CWS additionally attracts several tax incentives
- Levels of workplace absenteeism are likely to drop.
During travel-to-work times, many towns and cities in the UK have major traffic problems. With too many cars on our roads, the air quality deteriorates, streets become congested and coveted car parking spaces quickly disappear.
As a cycle friendly employer, you can now rent bikes and safety equipment to members of staff and provide some cycling training to help ensure your employees cycle responsibly. The facilities you need to install on-site are relatively modest but will require some investment. They include cycle shelters, especially if you have a large number of pool bikes. These should be secure and as close to the entrance of your workplace as possible and visible from the windows, so that a potential thief will be spotted. There are plenty of different styles of bike racks and shelters available, so whether you are a large employer with a fleet of bicycles on site or a small or middle scale enterprise, there is bound to be something suitable for your business premises. You can even mount bike racks securely on a convenient wall.
You may also want to make sure showers and drying facilities are available for employees. Lockers are useful so that your staff can store changes of clothes, etc. Do make sure that you use appropriate signage to indicate any areas of your external premises where it may be unsafe to cycle, for example where forklift trucks or other machines may be operating.