The cycle to work scheme is a great way to get a new bike, but what else needs to be in place so that people will actually ride their bikes to work?
I got my first road bike via the cycle to work scheme in 2011, and I try to cycle the 38 mile round trip at least once a week, but quite often manage two days of petrol saving, fat burning smugness.
The strange part is that I seem to be the only one. Lots of people get new bikes on the scheme, and I hear positive stories about their weekend activities with the kids and partners, but nobody else actually uses their “cycle to work” bikes to cycle to work.
Why don’t people actually cycle to work?
This might be down to people’s roles of course. If you’re having to make various site visits through the day, a car may be essential. Fair enough, and you can still argue that the employer benefits from a healthier, fitter workforce because it will mean reduced sickness absence and so on.
But at some point there’s a link between what else needs to be in place, in terms of facilities, and whether or not people decide to actually make the effort.
- Somewhere secure to store your bike. Remember, for the term of the cycle to work scheme, you’re merely leasing the bike from your employer, so it should be in their interest to provide secure storage.
- Somewhere to get cleaned up, preferably have a shower. Because you don’t want to be stinking the office out. No, you don’t.
- Somewhere to store your kit, and dry it if necessary. Because it’s horrible climbing back into cold, squelchy bib tights.
- An appropriate mileage rate, because bikes suffer wear and tear too. Where I work, we get 20p per mile, and a journey of up to 20 miles round trip is deemed acceptable. I think that’s pretty good.
The Cycle to Work tax efficient scheme should be seen as part of a series of measures to promote healthier journeys to work and to reduce environmental pollution by making cycling more attractive.
However, there still may be a number of barriers for employees who would like to cycle to work. It might be the need for suitable parking facilities or somewhere to shower and change; it might be a lack of confidence on the road or knowing the most appropriate routes – some employees may not have been on a bike since their school days.
The Department for Transport has subsequently launched the Cycle to Work Guarantee to encourage more employers to overcome these barriers by signing them up to:
· Secure, safe, and accessible bike parking facilities for all staff who want them
· Good quality changing and locker facilities for all staff who want them
· Offset the cost of cycling equipment and save on the tax through the ‘Cycle to Work scheme’
· Bike repair for cyclists on or near site
· Inspiring – training, reward and incentive programmes to achieve targets for more cycling.
Further information is available at:
Wow, it’s all there in black and white.
But how many employers actually meet those guidelines? Not many?
How many are actually signed up to the “Cycle to work guarantee”? Mine isn’t.
There would obviously be costs involved, and over multiple sites, this just won’t be achievable all at once, especially in the “current economic climate” (jeez, i hate that phrase).
That’s completely understandable.
What we need is for this issue to be on the agenda, so that we’re taking steps towards compliance, on the basis of wherever the greatest need is.
All it needs is for people to be talking about it.
Did you get a “cycle to work” bike?
Do you actually use it to cycle to work?
Is your employer signed up to the guarantee?
Please share your stories in the comments, it would be really interesting to hear different perspectives.
Update: read my article about how cycling to work means fewer days off sick.