cycle to work schemes are a popular employee benefit
Here's how to get your employees started...
The scheme helps your staff to afford a bike for their commute to work for better price than they may be able to find on their own, while allowing them to spread the cost over 12 to 18 months. Plus, both you and your employees will also save money on tax and NI, because the payments made for their bikes are deducted from their salaries before these come off.
As well as helping your employees stay healthy, cycling to work will help reduce your organisation’s carbon footprint too. Although Cycle To Work schemes make getting your staff on their bikes really simple from a practical point of view persuading them to swap the bus or their car for two wheels, and providing facilities to make cycling in practical, will need some more thought – here are the things you’ll need to consider, or help your staff with...
Finding the right bike:
Everyone will have different cycling needs, depending on their experience, ability, body type and where they live – there’s no one-size-fits-all for commuting bikes. And that's not to mention preference or style! Here are just some options available, and who they might be best for:
These have lightweight frames, thin tyres, and limited gears that are built for a speed that can keep up with traffic. They're usually seen as commuter bikes – and for the majority of people living or working in large towns and cities, they’ll be exactly what they need.
If your offices are based somewhere slightly hilly, a road or city bike won't be practical particularly if your employees are cycling from a village to work in an out-of-town estate. Instead, a mountain bike with mudguards, heavier tyres and more gears will be much better.
For those who want to cycle in a city as well as the countryside, they don't have to choose between a mountain bike or a road bike, they can have both! Hybrid bikes are designed for those cycling between urban and rural environments and will easily handle both – but are usually a bit more expensive.
Folding bikes are often popular among commuters – particularly those who can’t replace public transport altogether, but still have a few miles to travel once they’ve got the train from the suburbs to the city centre, for example. Folding bikes are typically more geared towards the city bike style of wheels and gears, but their frames are totally different – and they can take some getting used to.
Do women need specific Bikes?
The short answer is no. The difference between bikes advertised for men and women usually comes down to a smaller frame and a colour change but, depending on their build, most women will be more than comfortable on a non-gendered bike frame.
However, the type of saddle can make a real difference. Cycling Weekly recommends that women riders will generally find a wider saddle with a cut-out section to reduce pressure more comfortable.
Don't forget about safety gear
Cycle-to-work schemes can also pay for cycling safety equipment – and while there’s no specific legislation which says what can and can’t be covered, the HMRC recommends a “common sense” approach, and lists the following as permitted safety gear:
- Cycle helmets
- Bells, bulb horns and lights
- Child safety seats
- Bike reflectors and reflective clothing
Add-ons such as a cycling computer, Sat Nav, Go Pro camera, or custom parts are unlikely to be covered – and neither is any cycle clothing that isn’t reflective.
Finding the right route to work is an important part of getting started with cycling. More experienced cyclists will be happy to just follow the same roads as they would when driving, but others will feel more confident starting out on a quieter route, or on dedicated cycle lanes or paths.
Obviously all of your employees will be taking slightly different routes to work, but you can help by getting in touch with your local council to see if they have any cycling maps or resources available. Also, remind your staff to be wary of light levels and weather – some routes may be safer or more dangerous at night, or in the rain. If you’re in a city with a tram system, warn your staff to be wary of tram tracks.
Bikes are popular targets for theft – they’re worth a lot of money and make for a quick getaway – with 400,000 stolen in the UK each year. Anything specialised, such as a city/mountain bike hybrid, will be particularly attractive.
Your staff will all need locks, and will need to know how to use them properly – this guide from lifehacker is a good starting point on how to make a bike a bit more of a hassle to steal, even with heavy-duty tools.
For staff storing their bikes at home, a securely locking shed or garage are the best bets – or in the house or flat itself if that’s not possible. Leaving bikes in publicly accessible apartment building hallways – even if the building has secure entrances – is just asking for trouble!
At work, provide bike racks that allow people to securely double lock their bikes, with enough space for everyone to safely store their ride. If you have a secure car park where the rack can live, all the better.
It’s also important to encourage staff to insure their bikes – as the terms of the cycle-to-work scheme will mean they will keep having to make repayments even if it’s stolen. And no one wants that.
Facilities at work
Finally, cycling to work is a sweaty business – so make sure your staff have adequate hygiene facilities to make sure it’s pleasant for everyone! Access to a shower is essential, lockers to store a change of dry clothes or hang a suit can also be helpful – and all part of making sure cycling to work is as easy as possible for your employees.
HOW TO GET STARTED:
Cycle To Work schemes are a great way to support your employees wellbeing while saving money – win win! If you’re interested in offering a cycle to work scheme for your employees, get in touch with our experts today. They can help guide you through the process and how it can benefit you and your employers.