The cycle v car argument is a no-brainer. As the playwright Alan Bennett says about cycle commuting: “You always know when you’re going to arrive. If you go by car, you don’t. Apart from anything else, I prefer cycling. It puts you in a good mood.”
Good moods are good for business. According to the Department of Transport, stress related illness costs businesses 14 million working days a year. Compared to people who don’t bike to work, cyclists take around 15% less sick absences a year.
A Cycle to Work scheme run by the government in tandem (sorry) with employers has attracted hundreds of organisations since it launched last year. Any size employer from any sector can participate. On top of the health benefits there are financial perks. Workers get a tax-free bike and pay it back out of their salary. Bike payments are taken out of their gross salary, so they pay less in income tax and NHS contributions. Employers can reclaim VAT on the bike, and typically save about 14% of workers’ bike payments due to reductions in National Insurance Contributions.
To take part employers make 5 “guarantees” to staff: provide a safe and secure place for workers to store bikes, supply quality changing rooms and locker facilities, offset the cost of buying a bike, ensure bike repair facilities on or near the workplace, and organise reward programmes to encourage workers to cycle more.
You can sign up at www.cycletoworkguarantee.org.uk.