Cultivating an ethos of cycling to work is increasingly a priority for many companies.
“Cycling is good for the environment, it’s cheaper for companies to provide bicycle storage facilities and, ultimately, it’s good for your employees’ health.”
When looking to increase cycling numbers, you should look at the following key areas:
The cost of a good bike can be quite prohibitive for a lot of staff members. A good, durable bike will often cost in excess of €500. However, many countries such as Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Italy offer tax incentives to allow employees to buy bicycles at reduced costs. For example, the Belgian Cycling Reimbursement Scheme has over 400,000 participants, this total comprises a massive 9% of the countries workforce.
“Regardless of whether you operate in a country with or without governmental incentives, there is nothing to stop companies from introducing their own internal schemes, subsidising the cost of bicycle purchase its employees.”
Internal schemes can empower staff to buy heavily discounted bicycles or even free bicycles. The collective buying power of your staff enables you to negotiate a really good deal with a local bicycle supplier, allowing your staff large savings without your company swallowing the full brunt of the cost.
Benefits don’t need to just stop at bicycles. Many companies also support their staff to obtain lights, helmets, bicycle locks and all the other necessary equipment to ensure safe and secure cycling.
Staff often quote two big barriers when it comes to cycling to work.
- They don’t want to be in work feeling sweaty after their cycling commute.
- They are worried their bicycle will be stolen due to inadequate facilities.
Shower Facilities: Ensuring shower facilities for staff can be a challenge particularly for smaller businesses or businesses who are operating out of older buildings.
The first port of call should be to look at the possibility of installing new shower facilities which staff can avail of. If this is not practical, there are other options. Increasingly, companies are looking to partner with local businesses to gain access to their shower facilities.
Potential examples could include:
- A neighbourhood office block with shower facilities
- A local gym or leisure centre.
Often, when approached potential partners can be initially reluctant. But, if the financials make sense, you will surely find someone who will be happy to let your staff use their facilities. Especially, if the number of people isn’t going to be massive.
Storage Facilities: Many cities have a bike theft problem. Places like London and New York are renowned for stolen bikes. It often doesn’t seem to matter how strong your lock is, bike thieves have an answer for almost everything.
The key to bike safety is to ensure that all bicycles are stored in a secure space, preferably gated and underground with no external access except for bike users.
Countless businesses think that a high wall in a gated courtyard is a sufficient deterrent, but this is often not the case.
An increasingly popular solution is bicycle storage lockers. Storage lockers are quite compact and can be easily placed in the corner of a car park. They are much more secure than traditional bicycle rack and railings.
If you want cycling to be a sustainable option for your employees, bicycle theft must be avoided. Otherwise, people will get nervous and just leave the bike at home.
Another big worry for staff is safety. With buses, taxis and cars flying around, people can get a bit nervous about cycling to work, particularly in the city centre. Often times, these nerves are based on previous negative incidents or a lack of cycling experience.
“A great way to overcome these safety concerns and increase the level of comfort around city centre cycling is to do team building exercises e.g. Bring the team on a city cycling tour.”
Help your staff realise that cycling around your city is quite safe when cycling responsibly.
So you’ve done all the above, but haven’t seen any great change in your staff’s commuter patterns? What else can you do? Well, the good news is that there are all sorts of innovations which you can look to replicate, bring your company past the tipping point.
Bike-Sharing: Bike-sharing is big business for many local governments. Shared bike schemes have become increasingly popular and visible across the world. However, for many staff members, they aren’t perceived to be dependable. You can’t always guarantee a bike will be there when you need it. Additionally, finding somewhere to park the bike can sometimes be a challenge.
To overcome these challenges, many companies around the world are introducing their own bike sharing schemes.
“This can be as simple as having a couple of spare bikes at the office for communal usage, or even having a full fleet of bicycles which are available for staff to use whenever they need.”
Some companies are going even one step further and are using their internal bicycle schemes as branding opportunities by adoring their brand logos and messaging on the side of the bikes. This increases brand visibility and reinforces the companies commitment to sustainability among the wider community.
Park & Bike: Multimodal transport is something of a buzzword in recent years when it comes to employee mobility. Multimodal transport occurs when your staff uses more than one medium of transport to get to work. This could be as simple as walking to the bus stop, getting the bus and then walking from the bus stop to the office. Another example could include driving to the train station, getting the train and grabbing a shared bike at the train station.
Multimodal transport is becoming an increasingly popular style of transportation for people to get to and from work, opening up possibilities for employee mobility.
“Park & Bike facilities are a real option for companies who don’t have sufficient parking facilities on-site and aren’t effectively serviced by public transport.”
Companies work in conjunction with car park owners in their vicinity to locate parking facilities within a 4-kilometre radius of the office. Shared bicycle facilities are then installed in the parking facilities and staff members are offered heavily discounted or fully subsidised parking by the company on site.
Fitness Challenges: With obesity being an issue which affects 30% of the global population, fitness is a major worry for a lot of staff. The prospect of cycling even a small distance can be very daunting.
“A great way to overcome this is to run “Couch to 20K Cycling” challenges for local charities.”
You can further this initiative by running training groups during lunchtime. In the end, the challenge will help your staff have fun while improving their general health. This, in turn, has the added benefit of creating a habit of cycling in the process.
Maintenance Workshop: Nothing is worse than coming out of the office after a long, hard day only to realise you have a puncture in your tyre and no way of fixing it.
“In continental Europe, some employers with 1000s of staff members cycling to their office every day have their own on-site bicycle maintenance workshop.”
Workshops can be self-serving with all the equipment needed to repair a bicycle. Staff can then be provided regular workshops on how to ensure their bicycle is roadworthy at all times. Other companies go a step further, employing a full-time bicycle mechanic who regularly services and repairs staff bicycles free of charge.