The number of employees joining the Cycle to Work scheme has more than doubled as commuters make plans for returning to the workplace, amid growing concerns about the safety of using public transport as lockdown eases.

New data from the Cycle to Work Alliance shows that in June there was a more than 120% increase in the number of people joining the scheme compared to the previous year. This built on a 52% increase in scheme participation in May 2020, compared to the previous year.

The surge of employees wanting to access the scheme, which allows commuters to obtain bicycles and cycling equipment tax free through salary sacrifice, shows many people are actively preparing to embrace cycling as more of the UK prepares to come out of lockdown.

This comes following the landmark announcement from the Transport Secretary of a £2bn package to help increase cycling and walking capacity, and calls from the Prime Minister for more workers to take-up cycling and ensure they get to work as safely as possible as lockdown measures are gradually lifted.

The Cycle to Work Alliance, made up of the leading cycling providers, is now calling for the government to support this shift towards cycling and help more people get back to work by extending the scheme to include the self-employed.

To read our full press release, please click here: Surge in Cycle to Work scheme participants shows British are shifting their transport habits

The Cycle to Work Alliance, in collaboration with senior transport, environment and health leaders, has today welcomed the government’s update to the Cycle to Work Scheme guidance.

Not only will the new guidance bring significantly increased health and wellbeing benefits, it will also further reduce the number of cars on the road and improve air quality.

The new guidance makes it easier and simpler for employers to offer the scheme to their employees and, therefore, easier for employees to get on a bike. In fact, the new guidance will enable more people than ever to access the benefits of regularly cycling to work.

As such, the update to the guidance marks a significant step forward in doubling cycling activity by 2025, as committed to by government in its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, and has the full backing of the cycling, health and environment communities.

Whereas the previous guidance contained barriers to maximising take-up of the Scheme, such as a cap on the amount an employee could spend on a bike, the new guidance removes these barriers.

As a result, the new guidance is particularly beneficial to those who need an electric or specially-adapted bike to get to work, including people with disabilities, lower-earners and those who live further from work, unable to walk or cycle long distances without assistance.

Commenting on the new guidance, Chair of the Cycle to Work Alliance, Adrian Warren, said:

“On behalf of the Alliance, we are delighted the new Cycle to Work Scheme guidance has today been published.

Cycling to work has extraordinary benefits for the environment, our health and wellbeing, and employer-employee relations, and today’s publication represents a significant step forward in getting more people physically active as part of the government’s ambitions to double cycling activity by 2025.

The new guidance will also enable more people than ever to participate in cycle to work, including disabled people, people who live further away from work, older workers and those on lower incomes.

We look forward to continuing to work with the government to ensure awareness of the Scheme is maximised to all.”

Ruth Cadbury MP, Chair of the Cycling APPG, said:

“The Cycling APPG wants to see more people cycling more often. This is why we have been a long-standing and vocal supporter of the Cycle to Work Scheme and we’re delighted by the publication of this new guidance.

As a cross-party group of parliamentarians, we have been united in our calls for the scheme to be expanded to reflect new innovations in the market, such as the rapid growth in availability and demand for e-bikes. This vital modernisation of the scheme will help to ease the financial barriers and convert more potential cyclists into regular active travel commuters.

We look forward to working with the government and the cycling community to successfully implement these new guidelines and make cycling more accessible to everyone”.

Stephen Edwards, Director of Policy & Communications at Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking said:

“It’s increasingly important that we commute short journeys in a sustainable way, such as walking and cycling. This improves our health by keeping us active but also helps cut traffic, greenhouse gases and air pollution. We, at Living Streets, offer the cycle to work scheme to our own employees. Our Walking Works scheme also provides help for people throughout the UK to walk all or part of the way to work – complementing the cycle to work scheme.”

Xavier Brice, Chief Executive at Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity said:

“We warmly welcome the new Cycle to Work Scheme guidance which highlights the UK government’s ambition to make cycling an activity for everyone. Removing the cap an employee can spend on a bike will open up cycling to more people, enabling them to purchase specially adapted or electric cycles, which was not previously possible due to their high cost.

Encouraging more people to get on bikes means that more people can enjoy the National Cycle Network. Sustrans is busy making paths on the Network more suitable for everyone by removing 16,000 barriers, as well as increasing the number of people who can actively travel to work with a smile on their face.

There’s no doubt that cycling is good for our health and the environment, which is why we would like all employers and their workforces to take full advantage of the Scheme. In future we would like to see similar schemes on offer for those not in work so that more people can access cycles no matter their age or employment status.”

Notes for editors:

  1. For more information, contact Cameron Wall on 020 7227 1644 or [email protected]
  2. What is the Cycle to Work Alliance? The Cycle to Work Alliance is a coalition of the four largest providers of the Cycle to Work Scheme (Cyclescheme, Cycle Solutions, Evans Cycles and Halfords). Together, it represents around 80 per cent of the market.
  3. What is the cycle to Work Scheme? The Cycle to Work Scheme is a tax-efficient, salary-sacrificed employee benefit, introduced in the 1999 Finance Act, that provides a way of encouraging more adults to take up cycling.
  4. To date, it is estimated the Cycle to Work Scheme has encouraged over 1.6 million commuters to cycle to work, involving over 40,000 employers.
  5. Key stats based on Alliance survey results:
  • The Cycle to Work Scheme is a proven mechanism of incentivising behaviour change, with 67 per cent of users cycling more because of the Scheme.
  • Employees who participate in schemes run by Alliance members can save up to 42 per cent of the total cost of a new bike.
  • 49 per cent of Cycle to Work Scheme users joined the scheme to keep fit, and respondents felt that the scheme helped them be more active.
  • 63.5 per cent of employers felt that the scheme had a positive impact on staff health and 44 per cent said that the scheme helped increase staff engagement.
  • 60 per cent of scheme users join the scheme in order to spread the cost, and 44 per cent are attracted to the scheme because of the savings it offers.
  • On average, scheme users save £776 per year on their commute. Spread across the people who use the scheme, this totals an estimated saving of £388 million for commuters per year.

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