How to encourage employees to cycle to work
The benefits to businesses whose staff cycle to work are well established. A fit and healthy workforce is less likely to miss days off sick; employees who cycle tend to arrive at work alert and energised; and cyclists don’t get caught up in traffic congestion, so they are more likely to arrive on time. In addition, cutting the need for car parking spaces can free up valuable real estate for corporate expansion.
Moreover, investing in workplace cycling infrastructure is inexpensive, especially compared to the cost of building and maintaining parking bays. Grants and subsidies are available in many towns and cities to help companies with the cost of installing cycle-friendly facilities for their staff.
But which facilities are really necessary to convert employees from their cars to bikes?
Bike racks should be positioned close to the front door of an office... but ideally secure more than just the front wheel of a bike.
1. Bike sheds
Cycle parking should be easy to find and easy to access, says Transport for London (TfL). It suggests that bike sheds should be within 30m of a workplace’s front door, well lit, covered to keep bikes dry, and if necessary watched by CCTV.
Bike2Work, which has 12 partners across Europe campaigning for cycle commuting, says the ideal bike parking space measures 2m x 80cm in: “covered facilities with racks that are shaped so that front wheel and bicycle frame can be locked to the rack. Racks that only hold the front wheel should be avoided.”
In terms of calculating numbers, Scottish Cycling recommends cycle parking for everyone who currently cycles to work, plus another 50 percent. It adds that: “Typically having more racks available is encouraging to employees who would consider cycling.”
Staff who cycle to work will want somewhere to store their cycle helmet, jacket and bike lights. Individual, personalised lockers work better than ‘hot desk’ style lockers accessible to all, says TfL, although businesses will need a key management system.
3. Changing rooms and showers
Some staff will be reluctant to start the working day hot and sweaty from a bike ride. A changing room and showers can overcome this problem, and will be useful facilities for other staff who go for a run at lunchtime. Some large employers even provide free clean towels for staff who ride to work.
4. Create a workshop
There’s no need for a resident mechanic, but keeping a bike pump, inner tubes, puncture repair equipment, basic tools and chain oil available for cycle commuters will help to keep more staff in the saddle.
5. Set up a Bike User Group
A user group of cycling commuters can share quiet and traffic free routes to work, act as ‘bike buddies’ to novice riders, and help with maintenance and repairs, says Cycling UK.
6. Offer incentives
Vouchers for free coffee, or a free ‘biker breakfast’ once per month are well received by cycle commuters, says Bike2Work. It also calls for a continuous flow of information in support of cycling to all employees, with the aim of inspiring more members of staff to switch from four wheels to two.
7. Relax your dress code
Research among 15,000 cycle commuters by British Cycling found that many appreciated a flexible dress code at work, so that they could wear comfortable cycling clothes in the office.
8. Guarantee a ride home
Potential cyclists, especially parents, may be deterred from cycling to work due to fears that during the day they may be called away on an emergency. Guaranteeing a bus, train or taxi ride home in the event of a crisis removes this anxiety.