Cycling UK has called on employers to do more to encourage active travel, as the UK begins celebrating Bike Week.
New research carried out by YouGov on behalf of Cycling UK published today, Monday 6th June, shows 43% of young people (18-24-year-olds) are considering changing their method of travel due to expected increases in transport costs.
Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK’s chief executive, said: “People should be considering cycling as a cost-effective way to commute shorter journeys. The upfront investment, even with e-cycles, soon pays for itself when you consider how much you are saving at the petrol pump.
“However, there are still lingering perceived barriers to cycling, and employers can play a key role in making it a realistic and practical option for their staff. It’s a win-win solution; companies can attract the best young talent while enjoying better staff retention and productivity. At the same time, it eases the financial burden on workers, who no longer need to pay to go to the gym yet will feel happier and healthier.”
The findings are published as the reduction in disposable income forces households to tighten budgets and workers are spending a greater proportion of their income to get to work. 81% of respondents across all age groups are expecting their transport costs to increase over the next six months. Of these, 18-24-year-olds are the most likely to be considering alternatives (43%), including active travel.
Fuel price rises are likely to hit young people the hardest as they are entering the workforce, studying or training and are typically on lower incomes. ONS figures for 2021 show 18-21-year-olds in the UK had average (mean) earnings of £12,275 annually, and the 22-29 age group earned an average of £25,997 per annum. This is in contrast with £31,447, the average annual pay for the population as a whole.
According to Cycling UK, the new YouGov figures reflect young people’s concerns but there are measures that employers can take to mitigate the financial stress.
When respondents who said they do not currently cycle to work were asked about specific changes that would encourage them to do so, 37% of young people (18-24) were more likely to do so if their workplace offered improved facilities, such as bike storage and lockers.
Over a third of the same group (36%) also said they’d be more likely to cycle to work if their employer offered financial help to buy a bike, and 29% if their workplace offered a cycle to work scheme.
Robert Dunn, climate scientist at the Met Office, said: “We know that a healthy workforce is more productive, and cycling is a fantastic mode of transport to help reduce your impact on the environment. Being part of the Cycle Friendly Employer accreditation scheme aligns closely to the values of the Met Office, helping our staff to thrive whilst also assisting a lower carbon and lower cost choice of transport.”
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The Intellectual Property Office’s chief executive Tim Moss said: “The benefits of exercise for physical and mental wellbeing are well-documented. We want the IPO to be a brilliant place for our people to work, and being part of the Cycle Friendly Employer scheme helps us support those who wish to travel in an active way.
“Cycling brings a range health and environmental benefits as well as helping reduce travel costs. We are delighted to work with Cycling UK to help encourage our staff to cycle, through our Cycle to Work Scheme and cycle-friendly policies and facilities at the IPO”.
Cycle Friendly Employer accreditation is an internationally recognised benchmark for active travel culture and infrastructure in the workplace. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland it is awarded by Cycling UK. For more information, visit https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-friendly-employer.