With environmental initiatives still at the front of many business leaders’ minds, and many seeking new and improved ways to benefit employee wellbeing, retailer Paul’s Cycles shares advice on a long-standing option that is now often overlooked: encouraging your employees to cycle to work.

In Great Britain, data from the Department for Transport reveals that approximately 68% of people commute to work by car, in contrast to less than 5% who use bicycles. This low rate of cycling might seem surprising, especially when considering the potential benefits of cycling for both individuals and the environment. Factors contributing to this disparity, as identified by CycleScheme, include challenges such as a lack of bike storage, limited access to showers at work, and the need for proper gear, among others.

Despite these barriers, cycling is not only environmentally friendly but also offers significant advantages for mental and physical wellbeing. It has been shown to enhance focus and creativity, suggesting that overcoming these obstacles could have widespread positive effects.

Addressing physical barriers to cycling commuting

A common issue that Paul’s Cycles hears from customers who are trying to get into cycling commuting is the lack of bike storage at their workplace. If your staff have to request special permission to store their bike, they will be much less likely to cycle every day. Make sure there is sufficient cycling parking available, preferably in a secure area where staff also have access to lockers to store their cycling gear.

Another common barrier to cycling commuting is that physical activity like cycling can be hard work, and many feel self-conscious about looking sweaty when getting to work. Providing staff access to a shower will ease this anxiety, ensuring they can start their workday feeling fresh.

Research carried out by Paul’s Cycles last year shows that safety is a decisive factor affecting cycling rates. It is therefore vital to provide employees with up-to-date information on how to stay safe while riding a bike. Consider featuring information from local cycling incentives in your staff newsletters, or sharing tips on the best cycle routes to your workplace.

Helping employees access the right gear

Offering financial incentives or implementing a salary sacrifice scheme to help employees access the right cycling gear can significantly enhance the likelihood of them choosing to bike to work. Safe and appropriate gear, such as helmets, lights, reflective clothing, and reliable bikes, is crucial for ensuring the safety of cyclists on their commute.

By reducing the financial burden on employees, companies can encourage a culture of cycling, demonstrating their commitment to employee well-being and environmental sustainability.

Perception and Culture

Surveys indicate that 27% of respondents believe cycling is not for “people like me,” suggesting that stereotypes may be a deterrent. To combat the stereotype and promote cycling inclusivity within the workplace, highlighting and celebrating the diversity of employees who already cycle to work can be a powerful strategy. By featuring cyclists in your company’s communications—such as in social media posts, newsletters, or during work events—you can help dismantle the ‘Middle Aged Men in Lycra’ (MAMILs) stereotype.

Showcasing real stories and experiences, including the variety of reasons people choose to cycle (be it for health, environmental concerns, or simply enjoyment), emphasises that cycling is accessible and appealing to everyone. This approach not only celebrates the existing cycling community within your workplace but also encourages others who might have felt excluded or hesitant due to stereotypes to reconsider cycling as a practical and enjoyable commuting option.

Embracing the shift towards commuter cycling can begin with small, manageable steps. By initiating pilot programs or awareness campaigns, organisations can gradually cultivate a culture that champions cycling, yielding vast benefits for both employee well-being and environmental sustainability. Businesses should take these initial strides, fostering a healthier, more inclusive, and eco-friendly workplace.

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.