Why it’s Common Sense for Employers to #ChooseCycling

The #ChooseCycling campaign was launched last week with an open letter from some of the UK’s leading businesses – including Sky, The AA, Santander, Orange, National Grid and GlaxoSmithKline – to all party leaders calling for cycling to be made an integral part of transport planning for business. This post outlines some of the reasons why it’s in the interests of businesses and organisations to encourage their employees to cycle to work.

Why is it good for your employees to cycle to work?

Cycling is proven to have a positive effect on emotional health, helping commuters to feel more energetic and less stressed. Cycling is also a great form of exercise because it burns calories and builds muscle without putting too much strain on joints. Riding to work can also help commuters to save substantially when compared to the cost of traveling by car or public transport. In short, riding to work will make your staff happier, healthier and wealthier.

What’s in it for employers?

The benefits of a two-wheeled workforce are significant. Here are a few of them:

  • Cycling cuts sick leave. The average worker takes 4.5 sick days each year whereas people who cycle take just 2.4 days. Last year Health-HeartSustrans found that 68% of cyclists surveyed on the National Cycle Network hadn’t had a single day off in the last year. Using Department for Transport figures, they estimate that the average sick day costs employers almost £260: in a large organisation, two fewer sick days per cycling staff member represents a substantial saving. Nationally, more cycle commuters could save British business £13.7 billion a year.

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  • People who ride to work are more productive. As well as being ill less often, cyclists are more switched on and motivated. Riding into work is energising and the regular exercise of commuting by bike reduces stress levels and improves mental health. Riding to work makes employees sharper, brighter and more dynamic and energetic in the workplace, so more bicycle commuters will make your organisation more productive.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility. Encouraging your staff to ride will significantly reduce your organisation’s carbon footprint and contribute to a greener and more sustainable future. People who commute by bike take a more active interest in their local surroundings so two-wheeled staff will also help to embed your organisation in its locality and connect with the local community. Plus you won’t have to pay for parking.
  • Save National Insurance Contributions. Under the Government’s Green Transport Plan, bicycles and safety equipment can be provided to employees as tax-free benefits. Cyclescheme provide everything employers need to offer their employees Buy-a-Bikebikes and safety gear at dramatically reduced rates; because organisations recover the cost through reductions in employees’ gross wages, both parties save on NICs. If 20 people in a large firm buy a bike through the scheme, the firm would save over £1,900 in NICs and offset over 200kg of CO2 each week. So encouraging your staff to ride to work will make everyone better off.

 

What can you do to encourage staff to cycle?

First and foremost, you can sign up to the National Cycle Challenge. It’s a fun, free competition between workplaces to see who can get the most people to try riding a bike. It runs from 8-28 June and your staff will be eligible for individual and team prizes. Find out more here.

There are also a number of easy and low-cost steps you can take to proactively encourage cycling in your organisation:

  • Sign up to Cyclescheme
  • Make sure you have good, secure, covered bike parking
  • Install cycle showers
  • Talk to your employees about travel planning; make sure they are fully aware of the benefits of cycling to work (this post might help) and find out what would help them to make the switch to commuting by bike
  • Reward people who ride to work
  • Arrange Bikeability training for your staff
  • Hire a mechanic to offer free services

So if you want the best for your staff and you want the best out of them, #ChooseCycling!

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Tools of Change Webinar

We were recently awarded a ‘Landmark Designation’ by Tools of Change as a best practice behaviour change programme (see our post about it here).  As part of the award we are giving an hour long webinar on how Love to Ride changes behaviour, so if there’s anyone in your neck of the woods who would like to learn more about how Love to Ride gets more people riding, then you can send them here to enrol: http://webinars.cullbridge.com/enrol/index.php?id=110

The webinar is from 5-6pm GMT (12-1pm EST) on Wednesday 28 January. There are a limited number of free registrations so hurry to avoid disappointment!

Cycling Heavyweights Team Up To Help UK Love to Ride

We’ve teamed up with CTC and Cyclescheme to invite 20,000 businesses to take part in the first National Workplace Cycle Challenge. The Love to Ride Challenge is a competition between organisations across the UK to see who can get the most staff to try riding a bike.

In 2015, the Challenge will run from 8-28 June and will be a major annual event in the cycling calendar. The aim is to get as many people as possible to ride a bike and log their trip during the Challenge period. Organisations will compete on local and national league tables to see who can get the highest proportion of their staff to ride for ten minutes; they will be able to compete between offices in different locations around the UK and against similarly sized companies.

It’s free for organisations and individuals to take part and there are six size categories for companies and a range of individual and team prizes to be won. Local Authorities can sign up to support and boost participation in their area, whatever budget they have to promote cycling.

We want every LA to be able to join in, so we’ve drawn up a range of options from fully bespoke programmes supported with local Challenge Managers, to a Freemium package with no frills.

Love to Ride, CTC and Cyclescheme together have 157 years’ experience of promoting cycling. CTC, the national cycling charity, has 67,000 members and was formed in 1878 when cycling was emerging as a mass mode of transport and leisure pursuit. We’ve run Workplace Cycle Challenges on three continents and engaged 110,000 people.

Over the last 12 years we have developed a unique behaviour change model and accompanying website and mobile app. Cyclescheme started 9 years ago and has provided over 450,000 bicycles to commuters through a tax-free benefit scheme. We recruit ‘Challenge Champions’ – regular cyclists who encourage their colleagues to try riding – to promote our Challenges in businesses and organisations.

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John Cooper, Sony Mobile’s Champion for the London Cycle Challenge 2014, said, ‘It was fantastic to find a competition which wasn’t about riding marathon distances, but about participation and team effort’.

Phillip Darnton, Chair of the Cycle Rail Working Group, had this to say about the Love to Ride Challenge: ‘Cycling to work or to and from the station is quick, convenient, reliable, cheap, healthy, and helps with congestion and pollution. The hard part is getting started, which is why the National Cycle Challenge is such a great idea: it’s a fantastic way to get people on bikes with their friends and colleagues’.

From our partners

Laurence Boon, Marketing Manager for Cyclescheme: ‘We are very excited to be supporting Love to Ride. Their focus on behaviour change and encouraging a modal shift in commuting habits is very closely aligned to what we are trying to achieve here at Cyclescheme’.

CTC’s Marketing Director, Matt Mallinder: ‘We’re delighted to be joining Love to Ride and Cyclescheme in this initiative. We call on all of the UK to take to their bikes in 2015. Through this partnership and the Love to Ride Challenge, we hope to inspire and support thousands to realise the health, economic and wellbeing benefits of cycling’.

Love to Ride Wins International Landmark Case Study Accreditation

toc_landmarkWe’re thrilled to announce that Love to Ride has received a prestigious award from the Canadian organisation Tools of Change. Our unique behaviour change programme has been designated a Landmark Case Study in recognition of our success in getting more people cycling more often.

Landmark Case Study status is conferred by Tools of Change’s peer selection process and the panel – made up of academics and professionals from North America’s sustainability sector – were very impressed with Love to Ride’s website and our bespoke behaviour change programmes.

Over the last eight years we’ve been refining and developing our model and mastering the art (and science!) of getting more people riding bikes. Our sophisticated web platform and scalable Workplace Cycle Challenges have engaged over 113,000 people on three continents and we’ve used our wealth of experience to create the most effective behaviour change model on two wheels.

Our recently revamped, fun and user friendly website identifies the barriers and benefits individuals perceive to riding more often. We use this information to target our communications to suit individual members’ needs and map out the behaviour change journey that will help them to overcome their barriers and enjoy the benefits of riding a bike. The panel noted this in the citation, commending the sophistication of our online social marketing techniques and our ‘good use of electronic media to reach many people in a tailored way’.

Smarty Pants

The Landmark award also recognised our passion, commitment and expertise, praising Love to Ride for being ‘pragmatic, focused, innovative and creative’. These are the qualities that have pedal-powered our recent rebranding and helped us to master our craft over the last few years.

We’ve nailed it, now we’re going to scale it…

Building on these foundations, we’re geared up for 2015 to be our most exciting year yet. We’re launching the first Love to Ride Challenge, the UK’s National Cycle Challenge. Organisations are invited to compete against each other locally and nationally in a fun, free competition to see who can get the highest proportion of their staff riding bikes. As one of the Tools of Change peer selection panel remarked ‘Replicability and adaptability are sky high!’

The Landmark award recognises programmes and approaches considered to be among the most successful, innovative, replicable and adaptable in the world for fostering healthier and more sustainable choices and behaviours. We’re proud of our new status and would like to say thanks to Tools of Change for recognising the results of our hard work.

The sky high potential of our model and awards like this are why Love to Ride will roll on into 2015 looking to make it our best and most successful year yet. We’re launching the Love to Ride Challenge in the UK and seeking to run Workplace Cycle Challenges in ten US cities, as well as running major projects in Australia and New Zealand. We know that what we do works, wherever in the world we do it, and we can’t wait to adapt the Love to Ride model to spread the love as far and wide as possible!

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*Tools of Change was launched in January 2000 as a collaborative effort between partners as diverse as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Health Canada, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Environment Canada, and Canada’s National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

Tools of Change recognises, rewards and encourages methods for the promotion of health, safety and environmental citizenship and is founded on the principles of community-based social marketing. See the full citation here.

Las Vegas – a city for cycling?

Las_Vegas_Strip_panorama

Casinos, big hotels, wild nights out and hangovers are typically what comes to mind when you think of Las Vegas. When I told some friends I was going to a meeting in Las Vegas about cycling, they actually laughed. “People don’t ride bikes in Las Vegas!”

I wasn’t sure what to expect myself, but after meeting Ron Floth, from RTC, and getting shown around Downtown Las Vegas, I was pleasantly surprised.

Las Vegas x2

Firstly, it’s important to understand that there are two main parts to Las Vegas. There’s the original Las Vegas – ‘Downtown’, and then the much newer area – ‘The Strip’. The Strip is where all the big new hotels and casinos are and where most people stay and visit these days.

Downtown is a much more normal city. Compared to The Strip, Downtown is more chilled out, has about 10x more bike lanes and about 100x fewer drunk people walking around at 7am.

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‘The Strip’ – gambling, tourists, hotels, cars

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Downtown Las Vegas – 5 miles north of The Strip

Bikes on busses

Bike racks on busses!

Almost all the busses in Las Vegas have bike racks on the front. About 50,000 bikes are taken on busses each month – pretty impressive.

Like most American cities, urban sprawl is a problem. There are some good and fairly frequent bus routes in and around Las Vegas. With a spread out city, the distances to walk to a frequent bus route are quite far, however, if people travel by bike to a bus stop this increases the number of people who can quickly and easily access a bus route.

 

Bike Lanes 

The Las Vegas valley has more than 400 miles of bike lanes and 180 miles of bike paths.

Bike lanes on both sides of the street.  Many North American cities have streets wide enough for bike lanes, unlike many older European towns and cities which can have narrow streets.

Bike lanes on both sides of the street. Many North American cities have streets wide enough for bike lanes, unlike many older European towns and cities which can have narrow streets. While fully separated lanes can be the gold standard for 8 to 80 cities, painted lanes can be a relatively inexpensive measure on the path to becoming a more cycle friendly city and increasing ridership.

Here is a bike map of Downtown Las Vegas:

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Bike Centre

At the transit centre in Downtown Las Vegas there is a bike centre. People can get their bike repaired, buy a bike, store their bike and take a shower. Having the bike centre so close to public transit has a number of natural advantages.

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Positioned next to the main bus station in Downtown is the Bike Centre.

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You can store you bike safely, rent or buy a bike there.

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Tools and a pump are available right outside the bike centre.

Nearby cities

Henderson is a 25 minute drive from Downtown Las Vegas and has 175 miles of bike lanes and 7.5 miles of bike routes.

A bike map of Henderson

A bike map of Henderson – look at all those off road bike/walk trails!

Recreational Riding

The majority of the riding that is currently done in Las Vegas is recreational riding. When we are discussing how we can get more people riding for transport trips, one thing that we need to consider is the behavior change journey.

For most new riders, going from not cycling at all to riding to work is a mountain to high. Thus starting off riding recreationally can be a key strategy to encouraging cycling for transportation in the long term. Once people are confident and capable riders, they can then consider riding for transportation as a real option for them.

That’s why with our Workplace Bike Challenge program, we get people to take up riding one step at a time.

Cool Bike Parking

Some cool bike parking in Downtown Las Vegas...

Some cool bike parking in Downtown Las Vegas…

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In Summary

The Las Vegas case study demonstrates that cities with hot summer climates and urban sprawl can still do quite a lot to encourage riding.  With so many lanes, paths, racks on busses, the challenge now is to get more and more people to start riding in Las Vegas which will further increase demand for more infrastructure and facilities for people who ride bikes.