Cyclescheme is the UK's most popular cycle to work benefit, creating more cyclists than any other provider.

The more of your staff who cycle to work, the better – better for you, better for them. Here’s how to get new employees on board.

Having more staff cycling to work is a benefit for any business. Cycling staff are healthier, happier, and more productive, and you’ll pay less money to HMRC for every employee who gets a bike or equipment through Cyclescheme.

Existing cyclists won’t need persuading. They’ll sign up for a Cyclescheme package as quick as a flash. But to really increase uptake you need to focus on two bigger groups: those staff who don’t currently cycle, perhaps because they’ve overlooked the scheme; and new employees who might not even know about it. They need to know not just what Cyclescheme is and what they can get with it but why. Sell the benefits. Address their concerns. Include this information in the induction. Send company-wide reminder emails.

Describe the scheme

Describe what the Cycle to Work scheme is as succinctly as possible. It’s a way for employees to get a bike and cycling equipment tax-free. How? By paying for it in instalments through salary deductions. This saves 25-39% on the retail price. Employees can choose any bike or e-bike and almost any cycling equipment up to a value of either: £1,000, for traditional agreements; or any amount that they can afford under the Freedom to Ride agreement.

Explain the process

Give each employee the Cyclescheme website address and your employer code. Beyond that, don’t get bogged down in detail. An employee signing up to Cyclescheme has essentially three things to do:

  1. Choose a bike and/or equipment.
  2. Use it for cycling to work sometimes.
  3. After 12 months (or a longer period if you offer one), make a choice between: making a final payment then; deferring the final payment, to save money; or returning the bike/equipment.

Everything other than this is handled by Cyclescheme and the payroll department. There’s no interest to pay, unlike a credit card or loan, and no financial juggling to do to make payments because deductions are made before take-home pay.

Address ‘danger’ worries

This is the big one: many ‘could be, would be, should be’ cyclists are put off from riding by busy roads with close-passing cars. Even though cycling is statistically safe, a perception of danger is enough to stop people getting on a bike. While good road positioning improves safety, that’s step two.

Step one is to get someone on a bike in the first place. For that, they need the knowledge to plan a route that avoids busy roads or the skills and confidence to ride on trafficked roads, which cycle training provides. You might host a training session for employees. If that’s not practical, how about providing each employee who signs up to Cyclescheme with a copy of Cyclecraft? You’ll soon recoup the cost in the savings in Employer NICs alone. Failing that, invest in a few ‘library’ copies that employees can borrow and return.

Banish the fitness myth

The other misconception that people have about cycling is that you have to be fit to do it. Cycle sport, yes; cycle transport, no. Don’t reinforce the fitness myth by using sporty people or sports bikes when you refer to the scheme in the induction or in other publicity. Presenting normal looking people in normal clothes makes the point that cycling isn’t hard.

Make sure – especially if you don’t have a £1,000 limit – that staff are aware that they can get an e-bike. An e-bike is a game changer for anyone whose commute is too hilly, too far, or just too hard. Let them know that they could get a folding bike like a Brompton, to combine cycling part way with public transport. And stress the point that they’re not signing up to cycle to work every single day.

Deal with ‘what if’ problems

What if it’s raining? Or it’s dark? Or the bike gets a puncture? Or has to carry luggage? Any of these things could keep a new cyclist off their bike – or stop them getting one.

Firstly, reiterate the point that cycling every day isn’t obligatory; that it’s fine to have days off when the weather’s bad etc. Secondly, spotlight the fact that it’s possible to get equipment with Cyclescheme not just bikes. Mudguards, waterproofs, panniers, and lighting can all be added, making comfortable cycle commuting possible in almost any conditions.

Punctures, meanwhile, can be pretty much eradicated with tougher tyres, which can be included in a Cyclescheme package. Roadside rescue packages are available for those who want more peace of mind.

Provide facilities

The most important facility you can provide for your cycle commuting staff is cycle parking that’s covered, secure, and convenient to use.

Showers, lockers, and other amenities aren’t so critical; millions of Dutch get by without them by cycling in normal clothes at an easy pace. But there’s no doubt that they’ll make cyclists feel welcome and will see regular use by your cycling staff.


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