Will the cycle to work guarantee help?

The Cycle to Work scheme which has helped many cyclists get serious discounts off their new bikes and accessories is today getting another boost. Companies both public and private are being encouraged to sign up to provide:

  • 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
  • Offset the cost of cycling equipment and save on the 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

In a recent survey here on London Cyclist about the kind of facilities on offer at their offices we found that:

  • 34% of people are provided with shower facilities though 35% of those people thought they were inadequate considering the number of people cycling to work
  • 36% of people have secure bike parking at their offices
  • 20% of people have lockers at their office
  • Just 9% of people said they had none of the above

Considering this is a sample of people who do cycle to work you may conclude that the facilities on offer is a major drive and that is also what Andy Burnham, Secretary of State of Health, says:

“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.”

Whilst recently even visiting the Parliament you would not have anywhere to leave your bike this may be set to change. Many government departments have signed up including the NHS. BSkyB, E.ON and GlaxoSmithKline have also signed up. Hopefully many more will be following their example.

Cycling shops stand to benefit widely from any growth in this scheme as for many it accounts for up to 25% of their trade.

Falling short of expectations

The moves today are part of a larger scheme to get Britain healthy called Change4Life. As part of this £140 million will be spent on cycling in the next 3 years. As Road.cc reports this is enough for about four miles of motorway. In today’s announcement Transport Secretary Lord Adonis hopes that:

“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.”

Even if Lord Adonis’ so called “optimistic” target of 9% of journeys into work were done by bike this would still fall short of other cities. For example in Copenhagen around 40% of journeys are done by bike. However, there the spend per person, per year on cycling is £10 to £20 where as in English local authorities it is around £1. Clearly the major shift in attitudes has a long way to go.

This also fails to address the question of good cycling infrastructure such as dedicated cycle lanes. Recently it was confirmed the cycle superhighways would only be 1.5 metres wide at some points. It seems that the only thing to increase the number of cyclists will be the another tube strike or an increase in tube fare prices.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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