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Walking and cycling to work - advice for businesses and employees

Walking, running or cycling to work has benefits for both employees and businesses, including health benefits, a reduction in sick days, increased productivity, and cost savings.

Walking and cycling promotions

Walking and cycling events can be quick easy ways to promote alternative travel modes and a great way  to try out something new. Events can be as large or small scale as you like and don't have to cost much in time and money to set up.

Walk/cycle to work week

One of the most effective walking activities is walk to work week, which is held during the third week of May each year. The Living Streets (opens in a new window) website offers free event guides, posters, flyers, template emails and web graphics to help promote this in your workplace. You can also sign up to compete against others and track the distance your team has walked during the week.

Bike Week (opens in a new window) is the UK's biggest mass participation cycling event, and usually takes place in June each year. Bike Week events offer something for everyone; from families, schools and companies, to seasoned cyclists and those who have never cycled before.

Walker's/cyclist's breakfast

A breakfast event is where a free breakfast is provided for staff who walk or cycle to work on a particular day. Alternatively, all staff could be invited and the event used as an opportunity to discuss walking/cycling to work or during leisure time. A breakfast event can be a good way of giving people an incentive to walk or cycle to walk, raise awareness and providing a forum to discuss journey options. These events are low cost and can give a real boost to the promotion of sustainable travel.

Lunchtime walks

Organising lunchtime time walks can be a great way of reducing stress at work, increasing health levels, boosting morale and getting people into the habit of walking.

Walking for health

Walking for Health is an organisation that encourages more people to become physically active in their local communities. They support the largest network of health walk schemes across England, offering regular short walks over easy terrain with trained walk leaders.

Dr Bike Sessions

A Dr Bike event is where a qualified bike mechanic attends your workplace for a day or lunchtime and staff are able to bring their bikes to work and have a maintenance check for free.

Lockers and changing facilities

It's helpful if you can provide staff with an area to get changed and hang up any wet clothes to dry off. Personal lockers are also a good idea so staff can keep a pair of work shoes handy.

Having somewhere safe and secure to store a change of clothes or footwear can mean staff are more willing to walk or cycle.

  • offer separate locker rooms for men and women
  • determine how many. For offices with 50-100 employees, one shower should be sufficient, provided it's in a locked, private room. If you have between 100-250 employees, provide one shower per gender. If you have over 250 employees, offer at least 4 showers, and one or two that are fully accessible
  • provide lockers. Along with showers, consider installing lockers where employees can store work and workout clothes
  • other amenities. Provide an iron and ironing board for those who need to touch up their clothes once they arrive at work
  • permit relaxed dress codes. Cyclists and runners often carry in their clothes for the day, so making it easier for them to work with a few wrinkles or wear less formal attire will encourage them to make the effort

Bike storage

Taking time to choose the type and location of your bike racks will pay off in how popular they are with employees. When considering how many bike parking spaces to provide, you may want to formally or informally poll your staff to get an indication of the number you'll need.

  • security - if cyclists worry about their bikes being stolen, they're less likely to use them to commute. Therefore, making sure bike parking areas are secure is very important. Offer local parking where bikes can be seen by passers-by or through office or retail windows
  • visibility - the site should be highly visible so employees can locate it easily at the end of a long day of work
  • accessibility cyclists are more likely to use bike racks that provide easy access to the building entrance. It's also important to avoid areas that require cyclists to carry their bikes up or down stairs
  • lighting - to enhance security and safety, bike parking areas should be well lit
  • shelter from the elements - protecting equipment and riders from weather is important. This can be done by locating bike parking under an existing overhang or by constructing a new shelter
  • avoiding accidents - locate the parking area away from pedestrian walkways and car parking areas. This limits the possibility of pedestrians injuring themselves, while preventing cars from damaging bikes
  • inside storage - if you're not able to provide adequate bike parking outside, consider allowing employees to store their bikes in their offices or in a designated indoor storage area

Pool Bike scheme

A pool bike is an excellent way of reducing local car journeys. Workplaces provide bikes and safety equipment for employees to use free of charge. This is typically for work related trips, such as travelling to local meetings, between offices or for site visits. Many employers also offer staff the use of the bikes for leisure use, particularly for staff who wish to use the bikes at lunchtimes.

Generally pool bikes are kept in a central location and can be booked out by any staff member who is competent to cycle safely on public roads.

Cycle2work schemes

Cycle schemes enable employees to get a bike tax-free, saving on average about half the cost. The Government's Cycle to Work initiative helps employees make savings of up to 42% on a brand new bike and safety accessories for cycling to work.

Employers of all sizes across the public, private and voluntary sectors can implement a tax exempt loan scheme for their employees. The employees wishing to participate should be paid through the PAYE system. The scheme is not available to the self-employed or employees on the National Minimum Wage.

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