By signing up to the new ‘Cycle to Work Guarantee’, public and private sector employers are committing to provide their staff with safe bike storage, changing facilities and access to the Government’s green-transport, salary sacrifice-scheme tax break scheme - 'Cycle to Work' - for new bikes and cycling equipment.
Most central Government departments have signed up as well as major companies including BSkyB, EON and GSK. Dozens of local authorities and hospitals have also agreed to commit to the Guarantee, which is aimed at large employers. Other large employers will now be invited to follow suit. Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis has today written to businesses in the FTSE 250 and all local authorities to encourage any organisation who have not yet signed up the Guarantee to consider doing so.
The Cycle to Work scheme has been available for 8+ years and, for some British bike shops, it accounts for up to 25 percent of turnover. However, as it loses tax revenue for the Government there have long been fears the scheme would be scrapped. A similar scheme for home computer purchases was scrapped in the March budget of 2006, putting companies which serviced the programme out of business.
Today's announcement is significant because it is cross-departmental and reassures the bike trade that the scheme has a secure future. The Guarantee comes with no cash grants for companies to install cycle friendly infrastructure.
Transport secretary Lord Adonis said:
“If proper facilities were more widely available, I believe far more people would cycle to work. At present only 3 per cent do so. We could double or treble that figure with proper bike storage and changing facilities and safe cycle routes - and that’s my aim.
“For employees, cycling is a great way to save money while getting fit. And for all of us, it will cut rush hour congestion and reduce carbon emissions.
"We've seen that this approach can work. The number of GlaxoSmithKline employees cycling to work has tripled since they introduced the right facilities at their headquarters. I see no reason why the Cycle to Work Guarantee can't spread this success widely."
Employers who sign up to the Guarantee commit to provide the following:
• Secure, safe, and accessible bike parking facilities for all staff who want them
• Good quality changing and locker facilities for all staff who want them
• Offsetting the cost of cycling equipment for staff and saving on tax through the ‘Cycle to Work scheme’
• Bike repair for cyclists on or near site
• Training, reward and incentive programmes to achieve targets for more cycling
Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham said:
“Getting on your bike for the journey to work is a great way to get fit and healthy.
“But we can’t expect people to cycle to work if they can’t have a shower or store their bike safely when they get there - that’s why we need a Cycle to Work Guarantee from employers. Lots of NHS organisations have already signed up and are helping their staff cycle their way to better health. I’m pleased they are leading by example and I hope it will become standard practice across the NHS.
“The Cycle to Work Guarantee supports Bike4Life which is part of our Change4Life campaign to get the nation eating well, moving more and living longer.”
Ben Bradshaw, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said:
“Cycling is booming. We had unprecedented success on the track and the road in Beijing, the numbers taking up cycling as a sport are increasing, and more and more schools are offering it as one of their options for PE.
"Now we hope the Cycle to Work Guarantee – and the support this important initiative is getting from public and private sector employers - will spur on more people to use a bike to get to and from work, with all the benefits that can bring in health, fitness and to the environment.”
Communities Secretary John Denham said:
"Councils, as local leaders, major employers and climate change champions, have a real responsibility to encourage residents and staff to cycle to work.
"Many people want to leave the car in the driveway and pedal in for a healthier, greener commute so it’s important that councils provide facilities and encourage businesses to sign up to this guarantee."
CBI Director General, Richard Lambert, said:
“This is a welcome initiative. An estimated one in two journeys cover less than five miles so there is huge opportunity for increasing cycle use. This initiative shows how a number of small steps by employers can encourage employees to cycle to work.
"By reducing the strain on road networks and car-parking facilities, increased cycling benefits both individuals and the wider economy.
“Cycling also reduces carbon emissions and can be an important part of an employer’s corporate social responsibility objectives.”