Cycle Challenge: Cycle Friendly Employers’ Club

As reported in the last newsletter, £2 million has been made available by the Department of Transport to fund schemes which “encourage more people to cycle and make cycling easier, safer and more convenient”. What follows is an edited version of the bid developed in partnership by Activity and Health Forum, Cambridge Cycling Campaign, Cambridge and Huntingdon Health Commission, University of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridge City Council.

Introduction

The project will encourage cycling to, from and for work, thereby reducing dependence on cars, helping to reduce pollution and congestion and improving public health. Each employer who joins the Club will be helped to design and implement a company Cycle Plan to achieve a transfer from car to bicycle. The Cycle Plans will be based on measures identified by the company’s employees, such as changing facilities, loan schemes and company cycle availability. Monitoring and publicity are essential aspects of the project, as is the strength and breadth of the alliance of organisations which support it.

The Cycle Friendly Employers Club will demonstrate in an innovative way how cycling can benefit companies, their employees, public health, the transport system, and the city environment. The project will help to reduce local transport problems in the Cambridge area and draw lessons on good practice, which could be disseminated throughout Britain.

The project will cover Cambridge and the surrounding area and will potentially reach large numbers of employees from a range of organisations. A few companies and organisations – from the very large to the very small and in all sectors – have been contacted and their responses have been almost entirely enthusiastic.

The project will be supported for an initial period of 2 years, commencing early in 1996, with a “cycling promoter” appointed for a 2-year fixed term contract. About 40% of costs would be met by Cycle Challenge money (as a result of this bid). The rest of the money will come from other public and private sector sources.

Objectives

  • To transfer 1000 work-related trips each working day from car to bicycle
  • To develop 30 company Cycle Audits and Plans each year
  • To achieve a measurable change of attitudes in favour of cycling
  • To demonstrate positive changes in health and fitness indicators in a small sample of those making the change from car to bike.

Description

The project includes several elements described below.

A full-time cycling promoter will be employed by the project, to be based at the Health Promotion Unit at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge. They will work with companies and their employees in developing Cycle Plans and to publicise the project. Discussions with groups of employees will be an important aspect of this role. At least one co-ordinator within each company will also be identified to help progress the Cycle Plan.

Cycle audits will comprise a “before” and “after” study for each participating g employer, covering travel behaviour, attitudes and existing facilities. Discussions are taking place with the Judge Institute of Management, University of Cambridge, to design and progress the audit. A system will be developed for companies to audit themselves, with guidance from the cycling promoter.

Promotion material is seen as a vital element of the project, for general awareness raising and to help gain the support of individual employees. A mobile exhibition will be prepared, to be displayed at staff canteens, entrance lobbies and in public sites such as libraries.

Health monitoring will be undertaken at Cambridge YMCA through the Activity and Health Forum. Volunteers from participating companies will be selected and “before” and “after” studies of two groups – those who continue to drive (a control group) and those who begin cycling will be undertaken. The monitoring will comprise aerobic fitness, lung function, psychometric and other health indicators.

A choice of safety equipment (reflective jackets, cycle helmets, lights or vouchers towards them) will be offered to employees who transfer from car to bike a t least one day per week. The co-operation of bike shops within the City has been assured.

Cycle training will be offered throughout the project. There are no opportunities in Cambridge for adult cyclists to improve their confidence and defensive s kills at present. The cycling promoter will liaise with the Cycling Campaign to set up a training scheme, possibly in conjunction with Community Education.

The Good Practice Guide will have an important role in encouraging other employer cycling schemes elsewhere, and in continuing the project objectives beyond its lifetime in Cambridge.

Dissemination

Dissemination of the project and its findings will be achieved through: publication of regular newsletters to participating companies; a mobile exhibition; and publication of a good practice guide, “How to set up company cycle plans”, produced at the end of the two year period, and disseminated with the help of the Department of Transport and business organisations.