Cycling To Work
Travelling to work by bicycle allows you to avoid traffic jams and unreliable public transport, improve your fitness and do your bit for the environment.
The most important thing to check before you decide to cycle to work is whether there is anywhere you can securely store your bike during the working day. Some companies provide cycle lockers or secure rooms inside their offices, or there may be a secure cycle facility near the office. You certainly don’t want to leave your bike anywhere that isn’t secure during a long working day.
Business dress is hardly practical for cycling, so coming to work by bike is also so much easier if your company provides somewhere (other than a lavatory cubicle) where you can change at the start and end of the working day. A small number of employers who are especially keen to encourage cycling provide showers that can be used by anyone who comes into work sweaty after their cycle ride.
Before making a journey to work by bike, also check how much of your journey can be made on dedicated cycle paths, or on cycle lanes by the sides of roads. Ask the local council’s transport department if you’re not sure. Sharing roads with rush-hour traffic is obviously not to every cyclist’s liking, but you may be pleasantly surprised to discover how much of your journey can be made on cycle lanes and paths.
Employers in the UK can receive significant savings on their National Insurance bill by signing up to the Government’s Cycle To Work scheme. If your company participates in this initiative, and you’d like to get involved, ask whoever runs the scheme at work to give you an account number. You can use it to choose bikes and/or cycling clothing and equipment from participating retailers. The bike and equipment are then effectively leased to you by your employer, who deducts payments from your gross salary to cover the cost. As these deductions are made using a facility called ‘salary sacrifice’, you save money by paying less tax and national insurance.
Residents of Greater London may like to investigate the Santander Cycle Hire scheme. Colloquially known as ‘Boris Bikes’, after the Mayor who introduced the scheme, it allows you to hire a bike from one of 750 docking stations, and then return it to the same station, or another docking station, later in the day. Annual membership of the scheme costs just £90.