Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Census shows more can be done to encourage commuting by bike

Results from the census about how employees get to work have revealed that in 2011, 741,000 working residents aged 16 to 74 cycled to work in England and Wales. This is an increase of 90,000 from 2001 to 2011.

There were some big increases in cities, more than doubling in London and increasing significantly in Brighton (up 109%), Bristol (up 94%), Manchester (up 83%), Newcastle (up 81%) and Sheffield (up 80%).

However, in other areas the increase was either small or there was actually a fall in the number of commuters who cycled. Most local authorities in England and Wales saw a fall in the number of employees getting to work by bike.

Travelling to work on two wheels brings benefits for all. Employees are fitter and can build exercise into their daily routine without spending a lot of money. It also means little or no travel cost compared to travelling by car or public transport. From the employer’s point of view, research has shown that cycling to work reduced sickness absence, saving companies money in lost productivity. Encouraging staff to cycle also demonstrates that a company takes its corporate social responsibility seriously.

Despite the 90,000 rise in people cycling to work, due to population growth the share actually remained similar from 2001 to 2011, at 2.8%. The census also showed that men were more than twice as likely to cycle to work compared to women.

More can be done by employers to encourage employees to get on their bikes. Whilst employees who could cycle give many reasons for not doing so – perceived risk on the roads, lack of shower facilities at the workplace, or simply a lack of inclination - affording a bike shouldn’t be one of them.

To help employees buy their first bike or buy a better one if they are already commuting on two wheels, the Cycle to Work scheme is a great way for businesses to support their employees. The Busy Bees Benefits Cycle to Work scheme provides savings on the purchase of new bicycles and equipment, which can be chosen from over 140 brands. Employees can make savings of up to 48% on the retail cost of their chosen bicycle and equipment.

Bicycles are paid for over a 12 or 18-month period, with deductions from wages each month.

As the scheme attracts tax and National Insurance savings for employees, the organisation will also save on their Employers National Insurance contributions - up to £138 per person using the scheme.

To find out more, click here.