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How to encourage commuter cycling in your workplace

Despite the benefits of active travel, a whopping 68% of people commute to work by car. With a view to reducing the carbon footprint of office working, and improving employee wellbeing at the same time, bicycle retailer Paul’s Cycles shares advice on how to encourage your employees to cycle to work.

Despite the benefits of active travel, a whopping 68% of people commute to work by car, and less than 5% of Britons commute by bike, according to data from the Department for Transport. Besides its environmental benefits, cycling has been proven to improve mental and physical wellbeing as well as increase focus creativity.

With environmental initiatives still at the front of many business leaders’ minds, and many seeking new and improved ways to benefit employee wellbeing, retailer Paul’s Cycles shares advice on a long-standing option that is now often overlooked: encouraging your employees to cycle to work.

According to CycleScheme, common barriers to commuter cycling include lack of bike storage, not being able to access showers at work, and lacking proper gear, among other things.

Addressing physical barriers to cycling commuting

A common issue that Paul’s Cycles hears from customers who are trying to get into cycling commuting is the lack of bike storage at their workplace. If your staff have to request special permission to store their bike, they will be much less likely to cycle every day. Make sure there is sufficient cycling parking available, preferably in a secure area where staff also have access to lockers to store their cycling gear.

Another common barrier to cycling commuting is that physical activity like cycling can be hard work, and many feel self-conscious about looking sweaty when getting to work. Providing staff access to a shower will ease this anxiety, ensuring they can start their workday feeling fresh.

Harry Mach, Carbon Reduction Projects Manager at the Broads Authority says: “A lot of our staff cycle to work because we prioritise cycling accommodation over carbon-heavy alternatives like driving. Besides offering the Cycle to Work scheme to employees, we have proper Sheffield Stands in a covered area, so employees and visitors can store their bikes safely. We also have showers on-site for staff to use when they get to the office.”

“As we look after a beautiful national park which is home to a quarter of the UK’s rarest species, active travel is the natural choice for many of our employees, so all we need to do is make that as easy for them as possible.”

Research shows that safety is a decisive factor affecting cycling rates. It is therefore vital to provide employees with up-to-date information on how to stay safe while riding a bike. Consider featuring information from local cycling incentives in your staff newsletters, or sharing tips on the best cycle routes to your workplace.

Helping employees access the right gear

Offering financial incentives or implementing a salary sacrifice scheme to help employees access the right cycling gear can significantly enhance the likelihood of them choosing to bike to work. Safe and appropriate gear, such as helmets, lights, reflective clothing, and reliable bikes, is crucial for ensuring the safety of cyclists on their commute. 

By reducing the financial burden on employees, companies can encourage a culture of cycling, demonstrating their commitment to employee well-being and environmental sustainability. 

Jack Newstead, who works as Chef De Partie at Norwich City Football Club says: “Working as a chef means an early start, which can make cycling to work challenging, particularly in the dark winter months. That’s why I was grateful that I was able to buy safety gear and proper weather-proof clothes through a salary sacrifice scheme. When I bike to work, I start my day with more energy and focus, and it just puts me in a better mood!”

Perception and Culture

Surveys indicate that 27% of respondents believe cycling is not for “people like me,” suggesting that stereotypes may be a deterrent. To combat the stereotype and promote cycling inclusivity within the workplace, highlighting and celebrating the diversity of employees who already cycle to work can be a powerful strategy. By featuring cyclists in your company’s communications—such as in social media posts, newsletters, or during work events—you can help dismantle the ‘Middle Aged Men in Lycra’ (MAMILs) stereotype.

Showcasing real stories and experiences, including the variety of reasons people choose to cycle (be it for health, environmental concerns, or simply enjoyment), emphasises that cycling is accessible and appealing to everyone. This approach not only celebrates the existing cycling community within your workplace but also encourages others who might have felt excluded or hesitant due to stereotypes to reconsider cycling as a practical and enjoyable commuting option.

Embracing the shift towards commuter cycling can begin with small, manageable steps. By initiating pilot programs or awareness campaigns, organisations can gradually cultivate a culture that champions cycling, yielding vast benefits for both employee well-being and environmental sustainability. Businesses should take these initial strides, fostering a healthier, more inclusive, and eco-friendly workplace.

*Advice from Pauls Cycles

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