For safer cycling campaigners, the Netherlands is the queen bee that sits on its pedestal.
The country is made for cycling and there's actually more bicycles than people. Cities in the UK are increasingly trying to emulate the Dutch cycling system to combat the high accident rates on our roads.
The latest idea to come across the water is 'Dutch roundabouts', where segregated cycle lanes separate cyclists from motorists. In London, where most collisions happen at junctions, this could reduce the huge number of crashes that are all too often fatal.
Transport for London says if a trial of the design is successful, the Dutch design could be rolled out in key locations in London by next year. We are finally moving towards a cycle-friendly capital, but while we know what advantages that brings to the cyclist, how does it benefit the employer?
Save some pennies
The Government's Cycle to Work scheme enables employees to get a bike tax-free via their employer. What it also means is that employers benefit from National Insurance contribution savings. For every employee getting a bike through the scheme, a company saves £3 every year. And, while on the subject of cash, cycling generates nearly £3bn a year for the UK economy. That includes manufacturing, retail and cycle-related employment, but also the money saved from reduced traffic congestion, lower pollution levels and NHS costs.
A healthy (and present) workforce
Cycling is obviously a far healthier way of getting to work than sitting in a car or on public transport and there is heaps of evidence that cyclists are more productive than colleagues who arrive at work by more sedentary means. A report from the LSE showed that regular cyclists take 7.4 sick days per year compared with 8.7 sick days for non-cyclists. In addition to physical health, cycling does great things for emotional health: feelings of wellbeing, self-confidence and coping with stress.
Ticking the CSR box
Achieve your green objectives by limiting the carbon footprint of your employees getting to and from work. For every employee cycling five miles to work and back each day, 45kg of carbon dioxide is saved. Corporate Social Responsibility is integral to the way businesses operate these days. Every company will have objectives relating to individuals, society and the environment. And, with your employees whizzing around town on two wheels to meet clients, it shows that your company prioritises reducing its environmental impact and is concerned for the welfare of its employees, and being seen to be green can't be a bad thing.
Taxi and park no more
Struggling to find low-cost parking for your staff? If you upped the number of people cycling that problem will dissipate. That also means that you are less restricted in choosing a location for your office as you won't be tied down to areas with larger parking zones. Taxi fares for external meetings cost companies huge amounts, but invest in some pool bikes for employees to share and see those bills dropped. Communications company Forster increased its business travel by bike from zero to 10% in less than a year and saw expenses from taxi fares drop by the same amount.
Bringing in a cycle policy won't require huge amounts of organisation nor will it cost huge amounts of money. Given that local authorities have budgets to promote cycling, just show some interest and you'll be guided on your way to becoming cycle-friendly.
For more information, read the TFL guide here.
For more advice on keeping your workspace green, and the kind of office design amendments that the expert team at Area can help with to make cycling to work a viable option for employees, complete the contact form at the top of the page.
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