What Should I Know?
Evidence from around the world has shown that people who are active in their daily lives are more productive employees and have better attendance records. So employers may find that it is in their interest to help more staff become more active, more often.
Unfortunately, today’s modern lifestyle encourages low activity levels, with work and leisure becoming more sedentary. In the UK, 25 million people travel to work every day and most – around 71% - choose to do so by car. Nowadays people spend 8% less time walking and cycling than they did even a decade ago.
Whilst all staff could potentially benefit from workplace keep fit programmes or subsidised gym membership, take up can be low and these options may appeal to employees who are already reasonably fit and healthy. Another approach is to provide facilities and incentives for staff, particularly those who are least active, to build healthy physical activity into their daily lives, by ‘active commuting’ - ie. simply walking or cycling to work.
What should I do?
Provide information on the how to be more physically active and the benefits of doing so. Promote walking and cycling routes and encourage staff to monitor and set goals to the distance they walk and cycle.
Organise a healthy breakfast to reward cyclists during National Bike Week or enter a workplace team in mass participation events such as Walk to Work Week or Pedal for Scotland. Or why not organise a weekly lunchtime walking group?
Develop a travel plan - a package of measures and policies to encourage staff to travel to work using sustainable modes of transport ie. walking, cycling, public transport or car sharing. As well as improving health, a travel plan can help to reduce an organisation’s carbon footprint and result in financial savings for both the organisation and the employee.
Cycle training is available to workplaces from a number of sources (see section below for contacts). This is aimed at those who want to gain the skills and confidence to take to the roads. Maps, information and advice will also be provided.
Paths for All have developed a one day "Walk at Work”course which sets out the key steps to a successful workplace walking programme. There is also a half day "Workplace Walkleader” course.
Loans and discounts.
Offer incentives such as interest-free bicycle loans, discounts for bicycle purchase and preferential cycle insurance rates.
Introduce a salary sacrifice scheme for bicycle purchases.
Cycle to Work schemes
To promote healthier journeys to work and to reduce environmental pollution, the 1999 Finance Act introduced an annual tax exemption, which allows employers to loan cycles and cyclists' safety equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit.
Employees using such schemes can expect up to a 50% discount on bikes and cycling equipment while employers running them are eligible for tax exemptions.
Cycle mileage allowances
Provide a cycle mileage allowance to enable financial reimbursement for staff cycling on company business. Introducing a cycling mileage allowance also has the benefit of reinforcing the position of cycling as a recognised alternative to car use. Currently, the Inland Revenue allows tax deductions at a rate of 20p per mile for business journeys undertaken by bike.
Cycle Friendly Employer Workplace Grants
Cyclingscotland is offering organisations working towards a ‘Cycle Friendly Employer Award’ the chance to apply for up to £2,000 to help promote and encourage staff to cycle. Grants can be used to provide pool bikes, commuter cycle training, and training & information resource kits.
Dr Bike Plus
Glasgow Bike Station offers bicycle servicing and cycle training free to workplaces until 31st March 2012. Their team of experienced and qualified mechanics are available to come to your workplace and give your bike a free check and basic service. Cycle training is also offered under the scheme which is funded by a Climate Change Fund grant.
A Better Way to Work
A Better Way to Work is a new Climate Challenge Fund project that aims to help citizens find more efficient ways of commuting and travelling for business - helping to reduce costs and encourage a healthier, happier, more productive city.
Services include: Dr Bike sessions, cycle training, journey planning, loan bikes, incentives to try public transport, advice on car sharing, eco driving advice, cycle sampling days. - www.thebikestation.org.uk/bw-glasgow/
Where can I get help?
Paths for All – for advice and support on encouraging workplace walking including training courses, grants, resources, etc. – www.pathsforall.org.uk
Cyclingscotland – working to establish cycling as an acceptable, attractive and practical lifestyle option. Information is available on their Cycle Friendly Employer Scheme & Grants, Commuter Training courses and Pedal for Scotland event – www.cyclingscotland.org
SPT – for advice and support on creating and implementing sustainable travel plans – www.spt.co.uk
Choose Another Way – for guidance on promoting more sustainable transport methods - www.chooseanotherway.com
Department for Transport – for info on tax breaks available for purchasing bicycles and cycle equipment – www.dft.gov.uk/publications/cycle-to-work-scheme-guidance/
Sustrans - working with communities, local authorities and many other organisations, to create change by putting people at the heart of activities, enabling many more people to travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment – www.sustrans.org.uk
Cycle Maps Directory – a UK directory of official council cycle maps on the web – www.cyclemaps.org.uk
GlasgowBike Station – to access the Dr Bike Plus bicycle servicing and cycle training service – www.thebikestation.org.uk/glasgow
Living Streets – for information on Walk to Work Week – www.livingstreets.org.uk
National Bike Week – www.bikeweek.org.uk
Pedal for Scotland – www.pedalforscotland.org
Walkit.com - http://walkit.com/cities/glasgow/ – for mapped walking routes as well as lots of useful information on the benefits of walking to work, etc.