We’re celebrating National Bike Week 2018, 9th to 17th June, this week. I know it’s technically slightly longer than a week, but hey, if it gets more people out on their bikes then that’s fine with me. And part of this is getting more people choosing to cycle to work instead of driving or using public transport.
I started cycling to work for two main reasons – to save money and increase my fitness whilst maximising my time.
These can be two large barriers to people making positive changes to their physical wellbeing and, thankfully, commuting to work by bike leaps over both of them. I save the money I would have spent on getting to the office and can use the time I would have been sitting on the tube to ride my bike.
There is the initial cost of getting a bike if you don’t already have one and with the cost of commuting, it’s only a matter of time until you start making that money back. I used my full £1,000 allowance to save £320 on the total cost of my bike and was paying back roughly £56 a month. Compare that to the £150 monthly cost of riding the tube and it’s easy to see where the savings can be made – £94-a-month saved to be precise until I’d paid for my bike and was saving the full £150!
I can honestly say that cycling to the office, even through the streets of London, is much more preferable than getting on the heat of the tube and having to rub up against someone's armpit.
Plus, there’s a real sense of satisfaction as you whizz by on your bike past those stuck in traffic. Fitness-wise, biking to work also clears your head for the day because you’ve exerted a physical effort and released the feel-good endorphins associated with exercise. Compare that to the stress of getting out of bed as late as possible, cramming in a shower, and trying racing to work through the throngs of rush hour commuters – and cycling wins hands down. It’s also great for blowing away any remnants from work drinks the night before, but let's keep that between me and you.
But of course, I'm not the only who uses Cycle to Work. We've heard some great stories from our clients' own employees on how a great Cycle to Work scheme has been, dare I say it, life-changing? Let's hear one story...
Here’s how employees are using Cycle to Work
The beauty of a Cycle to Work scheme is that you’ll also save up to 42% on the cost of a new bike up to the value of £1,000 while spreading the cost over 12 months. This was big draw for a Leakage Delivery Team Manager at our client Scottish Water, who used Cycle to Work to get a Boardman mountain bike.
Before getting his brand new bike, a few factors had put him off. Recently turning 60-years-old and hearing stories of marathon rides made cycling seem out of reach, plus he wrongly believed it to be a hobby for young people. However, wanting to see more and more of the country and envious of listening to other cyclists at work recount their weekend journeys, he applied for the Cycle to Work scheme.
He was honest with me that the first few weeks cycling to work was tough and admitted to not realising how unfit he actually was. Thankfully, with encouragement from his colleagues, he stuck with it and now cycles 10 miles most nights and even longer on the weekends. And in his own words:
Although it might be a bit much to claim it as a life changer, getting a bike through Cycle to Work has certainly enhanced my quality of life exponentially and, as I intend to retire shortly, it will give me a focus that some retirees sometimes lack.
How Cycle to Work can help improve employee wellbeing goals
It's a no-brainer that exercise has tremendous health benefits, and cycling to work is no exception. Public Health England’s guidance on exercise suggests that we should be doing a minimum of 150 minutes of at least moderate exercise every week. So if you’re doing a 10 mile round-trip commute, you could happily hit the minimum recommendations by just cycling to work three days per week. Anything else you do on top of this is a bonus! (May I suggest these easy ways to get moving at work for starters?)
There are multiple ways companies can encourage their employees to commute to work, whether or not a Cycle to Work scheme is a reality. Here’s a few:
Offer a wellbeing allowance which gives each and every employee an annual sum to spend on wellbeing activities, even outside of cycling.
Save employees the hassle of carrying everything in their bag to work every day by offering a designated space to keep clothes or equipment.
Reduce employees’ hesitation to cycle to work by installing showers in your workplace or offering subsidised memberships to nearby gyms to shower.
Create specific and secure parking areas for bikes so employees feel confident bringing their bikes to work and theft isn’t an issue.
Choosing to cycle to work was an easy decision for me to make, especially with the help of these benefits.