Today is Strava’s ‘Global Bike To Work Day’ – and if it gets a few weekend riders to try out riding to work surely this can only be a good thing, no matter what your feelings are about Strava segments, KOMs and Strava lines. The benefits of cycling to work are manyfold – decreased congestion and air pollution, increased employee fitness (and resulting decreased sickness absences) being perhaps the most obvious.
We’ve just got word that a new cycle to work initiative is being launched soon, which looks to use these benefits to encourage employers to subsidise bikes for their employees. Rather than existing salary sacrifice schemes (which don’t guarantee that the bike is actually used to get to work), this ‘Free2Cycle’ plan uses a mileage pledge, so as you ride, you earn your bike. You say how far you’re going to be riding, Free2Cycle allocates you a bike to match your need (it might even be an e-bike), and your employer pays Free2Cycle around 20p per commuted mile. Free2Cycle claims that this will be a sound investment for employers, who should see reduced rates of absence (and even, it claims, increased productivity).
It’s an interesting approach – it encourages people to actually ride to work, rather than just buying a bike which then only gets used at weekends – and it’s open to anyone regardless of earnings. By relying on a pledge to ride rather than a ‘who can ride furthest’ leaderboard, it also rewards even those who do only a short journey, and those who take the multi-modal approach and ride to the train station. Whether it takes off remains to be seen, but with apps such as Strava providing easy access to ride (and walk) data, surely a solution like this to encourage people out of their cars could become as widespread as the existing salary sacrifice schemes – but perhaps with more impact on traffic volumes?
We’ve been told that a whole range of bikes will be available to suit every commute, surface and ability. Off road, folding, and e-bikes will all be an option, and you can opt to upgrade your ride from the basic recommended bike for your needs. We’re told that ultimately there would be a fee to pay if you continually failed to meet your pledged mileage, but that the company wants to see you succeed and ride, rather than fail and pay.
At this stage, Free2Cycle is seeking registrations of interest from employers, employees, service providers (ie bike shops – because they’ll deliver the bikes to local collection points, which is a potential boost for local bike shops), and suppliers (presumably doing deals with suppliers will lead to supply chain efficiencies that make the business model stack up). If you fit into one of these groups and you’re interested, hop on over to their website for more details or to register for more information.