Joanna Flint, from Green Commute Initiative, illustrates how introducing a cycle to work scheme will help your organisation’s efforts to improve its employee commutes sustainability
Last month, the Transport Committee issued a report which showed that increasing levels of walking and cycling will cut traffic congestion, air pollution and improve health.
However, the report criticised the Government’s current Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy as “not ambitious enough” and called for a strategy to enable people to get out of their cars and walk or cycle for short journeys, or part of a longer journey. Government investment in active travel at just 1.5% is tiny when compared with spending in other areas of transport.
Road transport is the single biggest contributor to poor air quality and is responsible for 80% of roadside nitrogen dioxide concentration. Poor air quality is a killer, causing diseases such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory infections. The UK has one of the worst asthma death rates in Europe and there were a record number of deaths from the condition in 2017.
Children are particularly vulnerable from air pollution with dirty air stunting their lung development and leading to poor health later in life. A new study by King’s College London will monitor air quality exposure of 250 children on their way to school. The study will use backpacks which will measure particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide levels. The study aims to achieve better understanding of which pollutants are the most harmful and where they are coming from, helping to support effective improvements in public health.
Under plans to cut congestion and reduce pollution, a Workplace Parking Levy is being considered by at least 10 councils and is already in effect in Nottingham city centre. The charges affect businesses with more than 10 parking spaces. Since 2012, Nottingham City Council has raised £53.7 million from the levy which has been used to improve Nottingham’s tram network.
Nationally, over 30% of all emissions comes from transport; it needs to be just 12% by 2030. However, the number of vehicles on the road increases every year. Surprisingly, a large percentage of short car journeys are less than two miles. Two miles is approximately a 40-minute walk and considerably less on a bicycle. On an E-bike, it’s even less at under 10 minutes. It’s time to ditch the car and switch to sustainable alternatives, such as E-bikes.
It’s become clear that cycling has an important role to play in the health of the nation and your organisation can encourage its employees to use active travel for their commute to work.
Cycle to work will make a difference
The Government introduced the Cycle to Work Scheme in 1999 with the aim to get more people cycling to work. Scheme objectives include cheaper travel, better health, increased productivity, lower congestion and better air quality.
Green Commute Initiative (GCI) is a pioneer in the cycle to work industry and was the first to offer a scheme with no limits plus no exit fees. Whereas traditional schemes were limited to £1,000, GCI developed an FCA & HMRC compliant model without a spending cap.
No limit means every type of bicycle is available; traditional pedal, electric bike, cargo bike and specialist cycles and trikes for those with mobility issues. Employees can make savings of up to 47% with employers saving 13.8% on reduced NICs.
GCI has a Framework agreement in place which has been used by other public sector organisations. Current clients include councils, NHS trusts, universities and police forces.
GCI also has a very important safeguard which other providers don’t offer. With the GCI model, the C2W provider owns the bikes from the outset. In the event of the provider failing financially, a liquidator could recover the bikes for the benefit of creditors.
However, as a not-for-profit social enterprise whose constitution prevents it from taking on debt, GCI will never have any creditors or become insolvent. So unlike other C2W providers, the bikes supplied will always end up with the employee. GCI is the only cycle-to-work provider to offer this vital and important safeguard.
Originally, GCI was set-up to enable more people to get expensive electric bikes (E-bikes) on the Government’s Cycle to Work scheme. GCI is passionate about E-bikes, seeing them as the future of commuter travel.
E-bikes – enabling active travel
E-bikes are perfect for people new or returning to cycling and for those who want to have a quicker and easier commute to work. The bikes bypass many commuter issues whilst helping to improve individual health and fitness, as well as the quality of air that surrounds us all.
The battery assistance kicks in when required which means hills and distances are no longer sweat-inducing obstacles. Employees arrive at work on time, feeling happier and healthier. They can wear their business attire without the need to shower. They’ll probably become more effective in their workplace. In short, everyone wins with an E-bike.
Contrary to popular belief, E-biking is not cheating. Recent research has shown that even on E-bikes, physical exertion is needed 95% of the time. The study recorded oxygen consumption and revealed that E-bike use placed users at 8.5 times more active over resting, while pedal power alone registered at 10.9 times more active, a closer margin than previously assumed. It was also found that pedal cycle users utilised 58% of lung capacity, with 51% for e-assistance.
NICE guidelines for workplaces
In addition to the Transport Committee’s call for action, NICE recently released guidelines on encouraging activity in the general population. The guidelines were issued following multiple studies which have shown that obesity and some chronic conditions can be managed by increasing levels of physical activity.
One specific area targeted by the draft guidelines is the recommendation that employers should have physical activity programmes in place to encourage employees to move more when travelling to/from work. Increasing physical activity levels should lead to a reduction in the prevalence of some illnesses and medical conditions, as well as improving staff morale.
One easy step that employers can take to meet these new requirements is to encourage employees to actively travel to/from the workplace, which includes using a cycle-to-work scheme.
*Please note: This is a commercial profile
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