It’s easy to get caught out occasionally without bike lights. Here’s what you can do to help your cycling staff get home safely when it’s dark.
While every cycle commuter knows that they need lights after dark, many will find themselves without working lights at least once, especially now as the nights draw in.
Few bikes in the UK have built-in dynamo lighting; the vast majority need clip-on battery lights adding. Anything that goes on and off a bike can be forgotten, batteries go flat, and any light, even dynamo ones, can break.
Employees are more likely to notice a lack of operational lights when they’re at work, just before they set off home, because journeys in will typically be made after dawn. A lightless cyclist may end up creeping home by bike anyway, hoping not to come across the police en route. While this isn’t an employer’s responsibility per se, a cycle-friendly employer can help prevent this. Here are some ways how.
Good quality cycle parking that’s sheltered from the elements, well lit, and situated near to the company entrance is a worthwhile amenity in itself. There is a side benefit in terms of cycle lighting. If the cycle parking is accessed via a locked gate or door, to which only (certain) staff have access, accessories such as lights don’t have to be removed to prevent theft.
As the lights can stay on the bike, they’re much less likely to be forgotten. They can’t be dropped or damaged when fitting because they’ve stayed on the bike. Similarly, they can’t switch themselves on in the bottom of a bag and run themselves flat. In short, secure parking provides every cycle commuter with the advantage dynamo users enjoy: lights that are always on the bike.
Secure cycle parking also enables employees to travel home via alternative transport, safe in the knowledge that their bike will still be there the next day when they come back with their lights.
Recharging the batteries
While some high-powered lights meant for nighttime mountain biking require bulky chargers that plug into a three-pin wall socket, most lights for commuting can be recharged via USB. So they can be plugged into a desktop computer. Few employers would object to this, but expressly giving staff permission serves as a handy reminder for cyclists to top up their lights.
If your employees don’t have access to their own computer, how about investing in some USB wall plugs so they can use those? Choose ones with at least two ports per plug.
Lend out lights and reflectives
Invest a small collection of front and rear lights that employees can borrow. You shouldn’t need many because they’re just for emergencies. To prevent these lights ‘wandering off’, give them to the office manager or other suitable staff member and require borrowers to sign for lights when taking them and bringing them back.
Choose lights that will fit any bike and go on and off easily without tools, such as those that attach via stretchy silicone straps. The front light needs to be powerful enough to see by; 300 lumens or more, as a rule of thumb. Lezyne’s Micro Drive 600 XL/Strip Drive Set ticks all these boxes.
Note that lending cycle safety equipment doesn’t count as an expense or benefit, so is exempt from tax on employment income. The page ‘Expenses and benefits: bikes for employees’ on the gov.uk website has more information.
Reflective equipment follows the same rules, so you could have a ‘lending library’ for some reflective items too. Avoid jackets; they’re size specific. Sam Browne belts or reflective ankle bands are a better bet. You could even give away reflective ankle bands as an incentive to every employee who takes part in Cycle to Work Day.
Like lending lights and reflective gear, but taken to the next level. You buy a small pool of bikes for employees to use. It’s worth the investment because cycle travel is so cost effective and time efficient: the savings you’ll make over other forms of transport will soon add up. Transport for London has some good advice on pool bikes for business.
The primary use of pool bikes is for staff to use while at work – for travel between sites, attending business meetings, and so on. But you can also allow them to be booked out by staff wanting to cycle home but unable to do so due to a lack of lights or a mechanical problem.
Compact folding bikes are an excellent choice for pool bikes because they will fit riders of very different heights. They’re easy to store, don’t usually require locks (because they can be carried inside), and they can easily be taken by train, car, or bus. Pool bikes are much more useful if they have hub dynamo lighting, mudguards, and some luggage carrying capability. How about a few well-equipped Bromptons or Tern Verge S8i bikes?
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