Making your business cycle-friendly
While cycling levels in London have more than doubled since 2000, levels across the UK have remained fairly static. It is estimated that the NHS alone could save £319 million if cycling rates in other UK cities were on a par with the capital, says the sustainable transport charity, Sustrans.
But according to the Department for Transport’s 2017 statistics, cycling in England still only accounts for 2% of all trips and 1% of all distance travelled. And of those journeys, only 37% are for commuting or business.
A study by the British Medical Journal in 2017 reported that employees who commuted to work by bike had a 41% lower risk of dying from all causes than people who drove or took public transport. They also had a 46% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 52% lower risk of dying from it, and a 45% lower risk of developing cancer.
It’s not all about long-term physical health. A comparison of employees who cycle to work with inactive employees found that those who did not cycle lost, on average, six additional days per year of productive working time due to ill-health related absence and presenteeism. Additionally, those that cycle cut the likelihood of being in the obese weight range by half.
The same research found that levels of depression among cyclists are approximately 25% lower than the inactive group, with 20% of cyclists have a high life satisfaction score, compared with 15% of others.
Supporting cycling and rewarding sustainability can help you boost your CSR too: cut congestion, improve your local environment and enhance your corporate social responsibility by reducing your carbon footprint.
So how can employers make it easier to commute by bike?
Offering cycle training from your workplace either during or around work hours is a brilliant way of overcoming one of the key barriers to cycling – confidence. Free cycle checks are another low-cost, easy to implement offering. Most local councils will be happy to help.
Provide top-notch facilities
Facilities such as convenient and secure bike storage, showers and lockers so cyclists can change before starting work – even perhaps somewhere wet clothes can be hung to dry – are a great help to current and potential cyclists and consume less space than parking spaces. Keeping spare bits of handy kit such as locks, emergency lights and puncture repair kits to loan out when needed is also a good way to support cyclists and inspire confidence.
Incentivise and reward sustainability and active travel
If you offer free or cheap parking for car drivers, look at how cyclists can be similarly rewarded – discounts in the work canteen, assurance of a taxi home in an emergency and discounted bikes through the Cycle to Work scheme are just a few ideas. A BetterPoints employee incentive programme of green sustainability rewards is another.
Make cycling part of your culture
Many businesses offer bike as well as car mileage for staff travelling to meetings and appointments – the lower rate means it costs the business less in expenses whilst benefiting the employee. Bike pools too can help make cycling a more viable option for staff who live too far away to travel to work or meetings by bicycle.
Make it fun!
Cycling is a great way to socialise. Organising a weekly lunchtime or post-work leisure ride can help foster a sense of community and encourage more employees to give cycling a go.