The UK's biggest cycle commuting event is back on Wednesday 15 August. Here's why and how to get involved - and why your employer should too.
Whether you’ve never ridden to work before or do so every week, Cycle to Work Day is the ideal opportunity to celebrate everyday cycling. Thousands will saddle up to show – or find out! – what a fantastic transport solution cycling is. Essentially, you pledge to ride to work that day, using the Cycle to Work Day website to indicate how many miles you’ll be riding, and your employer provides incentives to encourage you and your colleagues to take part.
What’s in it for you
As regular cycle commuters know, riding a bike is good for you. It’s aerobic exercise that helps you maintain a healthy weight, and unlike going to gym it fits seamlessly into your daily routine. Ride Monday to Friday and you’ll meet the NHS guidelines for 150 minutes of exercise a week with an easy 15-minute each way commute.
Cycling doesn’t just keep your weight in check. A study by the British Medical Journal indicated that cycle commuting reduced the incidence of heart disease by 46% and cancer by 45%! Like other forms of exercise, cycling is good for your mental health too. It helps you burn off stress and, according to the NHS, ‘reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.’
Cycling for transport saves you money. It saves you time, since you don’t get caught in traffic jams or held up by delayed trains. It’s good for the planet; bikes are the ultimate zero-emission vehicles.
Taking part in Cycle to Word Day spotlights the fact that cycling is a practical option. On top of that, there are prizes to be won! Everyone who pledges to ride will be entered into a draw to win one of two Specialized Sirrus Elite hybrids worth £900 each, a Cannondale Trail 3 mountain bike worth £999.99, and other cycling goodies from Rapha, See.Sense, Wahoo, and more.
How to take part
It’s dead easy. Visit cycletoworkday.org to pledge how many miles you’ll ride on 15 August, then get on your bike. If you commute by bike already, it’s as simple as that.
If you’re new to this, you’ll need that old bike at the back of the garage. Chances are it just needs its tyres pumping up and its chain oiling. But check it over or ask your local shop to do it for you if you’re not confident; it shouldn’t cost much.
If you don’t have a bike, Cycle to Work Day is the perfect excuse to buy one. If you get a bike through Cyclescheme, you save 25-39% on the price and you pay in instalments. What’s more, if you do this in July or August, you’ll get a free £30 prepaid card to use at your local bike shop, to spend on whatever you want.
Don’t worry about not having all the gear. You don’t need it for a trip of a handful of miles. Just wear shoes that provide a good grip on the pedals and avoid trousers with thick seams that could dig in. You’ll need a small backpack or shoulder bag for essentials, unless your bike has a basket or a rack that you can strap a bag onto. Take a small bottle of water, a lock, spare underwear in case you get sweaty, and a phone with a few taxi numbers in it for the unlikely event that you break down.
Benefits for employers
It’s worth pushing Cycle to Work Day because anything you can do to encourage more staff to cycle to work is good for business.
Cycle commuters arrive at work energised and ready to go: 67% of employees report being more productive after cycling to work. They’re more likely to get to work on time too, as cyclists are the most punctual commuters. And research by Sustrans showed that cycle commuters take half as many sick days as sedentary staff.
Cycle commuting employees save you money directly as well. You won’t need as many car parking spaces for one thing. If you offer Cyclescheme to your staff, you’ll save on employer’s National Insurance Contrbutions.
Don’t overlook the environmental and social benefits of cycling. More cyclists means less congestion, less air pollution, and less noise pollution. That’s a worthy goal in itself, and it’s good PR for the company.
How employers can take part
Go the Cycle to Work Day website and click the ‘take part’ button. Cyclescheme will email you everything you need to get involved, The image below shows you a few examples of the goodies you can expect.
There are three key things you can do to maximise the number of staff participating in Cycle to Work Day. Promote it thoroughly, so that all employees know about Cycle to Work Day and the reasons why it’s worth them getting on their bikes. Offer a free ‘bike breakfast’ at work to everyone who arrives by bike. Make it an event by inviting a local bike shop to come along to display bikes and accessories, and to dispense advice to would-be purchasers.
Other ideas you could incorporate include: a cycle-to-work photo competition on the company Facebook page; arranging ‘bike buddies’ from among existing cycle commuters to shepherd new cyclists; rewards for cycling, such as paying bike commuters a mileage rate; running a blog or contacting local newspapers so that Cycle to Work Day puts your company in the public eye. There are more suggestions in the email that Cyclescheme will send you.