Parity Staff Discuss our Cycle to Work Scheme

Chris' bike hangs in the Parity offices

Chris’ bike hangs in the Parity offices

At Parity we always try our best to practice what we preach. That’s why just under a year ago we launched our own cycle to work scheme.

Unlike the cycle to work schemes provided by some employers as part of the UK Government’s Green Transport Initiative which offer a purchase payment plan for new bikes, our scheme pays employees to cycle to and from work (25p a mile added onto pre-tax income) and covers a full bike service every 6 months to make sure the that bikes our employees are riding are in a safe condition to use. This is partly because we don’t want to be adding to the millions of bikes thrown away each year in the UK, but also because we wanted to come up with a scheme that actively encourages cycling, rather than just helping our employees to buy bikes that might end up sitting in sheds. All we ask of our employees in return for this perk is that they wear appropriate safety gear and obey the highway code, oh, and sometimes answer questions for blogs!

 

Name: Joe B

Job Title: Energy Analyst

Bike: Customised mountain bike

Daily Commute (miles): 3.5

What do you think are the main benefits of cycling to work, both for you personally and in general?

There are so many positives from my point of view. Most of all I enjoy cycling. But beyond that, it’s a fantastic way to get the day started and as I’m not super fit, cycling to work is great for ensuring I get a daily bit of exercise and keeping a basic level of fitness. Sustainability also plays a large role in my life, so the fact I’m not sitting commuting in a way that releases needless emissions is a big plus too, not to mention it’s also quicker, and cheaper than public transport and you get to see so much more of the city.

Would you still cycle to work if Parity’s cycle to work scheme didn’t exist?

The cycle to work scheme was introduced after I’d been cycling in for about 6 months, so I would certainly still cycle to work without it. However, it’s certainly a bonus that is appreciated amongst the employees.

Do you think that this type of scheme is something more companies should offer?

Companies that care about their employees and want to take a progressive stance should certainly consider doing more to encourage cycling amongst their employees. I certainly feel more refreshed by the time I get to work so I think it really improves on productivity.

Cycle to work and £s per mile schemes do help but I think cycling can be encouraged in other ways than purely monetarily. Having appropriate facilities at work premises such as bike sheds and showers can help to facilitate employees to cycle, but also organising bike rides and other events can really inspire enthusiasm. The best organisations are those that encourage a culture of cycling where employees share their stories, knowledge, routes and passion.

In your opinion, what is the one thing that would encourage more people in London to cycle to work?

It’s a shame that there is so much negativity to cyclists. Beyond all the positives, it makes you think twice when you’re worried about your safety or having anger directed in your way. It would be great to have more positivity in the press and dedicated lanes for cyclists (even adhering and policing those the ones that already exist would be nice).

The British weather and perennial drizzle can sometimes make leaving the house a little intimidating, but once you get in a routine and get out there it’s always fine.

Do you think that there any cyclist stereotypes that are true?

There’s no doubt a few idiotic cyclists, but if I have to pigeon hole cyclists I’d say they’re a pretty good bunch. Watching videos caught on Go Pros and such like, it’s amazing how drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and all road users can treat one another, with cyclists often getting the brunt – but then I would say that 😉

Name: Chris N

Job Title: Commercial Director

Bike: Retro single speed

Daily Commute (miles): 6.3

What do you think are the main benefits of cycling to work, both for you personally and in general?

I get to work quicker than if I went by trains.  Linked to this is the reliability of getting back to the school gates on time and not being at the ransom of delays and cancellations.  The other main benefit is that I don’t feel as guilty about having a doughnut if I’m on the bike that day.

Would you still cycle to work if Parity’s cycle to work scheme didn’t exist?

I used to cycle before the scheme but nowhere near as much. The cycle to work scheme together with the savings on not using my Oyster card mean I save nearly £8 each day I cycle.  That’s definitely not to be sniffed at.  The other great benefit is that because I can have my bike serviced on the scheme regularly, it’s more likely to be in a safe condition to ride.

Do you think that this type of scheme is something more companies should offer?

I definitely think they should.  Some may be put off by the fact that employees can only expense cycle miles for client orientated journeys and not commuting.  We’ve got round this by paying amounts due to commuting as a bonus each month so its automatically taxed by PAYE.

In your opinion, what is the one thing that would encourage more people in London to cycle to work?

Firstly, secure storage for bicycles at home and work.  There are some great lock ups in Lambeth. Secondly, the provision of facilities to shower at work and store clothes. Lastly, making cyclists the primary road users and motorised vehicles the secondary.  This is not only through the provision of better cycle lanes etc but also through a culture change in driving. I think things are moving in the right direction in that regard.

Do you think that there any cyclist stereotypes that are true?

Since virtually all cyclists are also drivers, there is no such thing as a bad cyclist, just bad drivers on bikes!

Name: Graham H

Job Title: Energy Analyst

Bike: Own a road bike but currently walking to work each day

Daily Commute (miles): 2.4

What do you think are the main benefits of cycling to work, both for you personally and in general?

I’m not actually using my bike to commute just now however the scheme still pays me to walk to work as this essentially achieves the same thing i.e. no fossil fuels are burned in getting me to the office. I really enjoy the fact that I live close enough to the office to be able to walk in every morning. It’s much less stressful than having to deal with public transport (which takes longer anyway) and I find it’s quite nice to have two 40 minute slots each day when I can catch up on podcasts or audiobooks or even just make phone calls that I haven’t had time for during the working day. In general, I’d say the environmental and health benefits are the big ones.

Would you still cycle to work if Parity’s cycle to work scheme didn’t exist?

Yes since I’d still be saving on travel costs and getting to work the quickest way possible anyway. The cycle to work scheme does help to motivate on those drizzly days though.

Do you think that this type of scheme is something more companies should offer?

I think any forward thinking company with an interest in the wellbeing of its employees should be offering this type of scheme. It doesn’t cost them much to administer and theoretically could even save them some sick pay!

In your opinion, what is the one thing that would encourage more people in London to cycle to work?

Proper cycle lanes. We are far far behind other European capitals in terms of cycle infrastructure. Part of my commute runs along a ‘cycle superhighway’, which sounds great but is essentially a narrow lane along the side of a busy road, usually with cars parked or delivery vans waiting along it.

Do you think that there any cyclist stereotypes that are true?

I generally see equally bad behaviour from cyclists and car drivers  and even pedestrians when I’m out and about. One thing I absolutely believe is true, which I learned whilst doing some motorcycle theory training, is that 99% of road users do not know the most of the highway code (myself included!)