Employees would cycle to work more often, if employers offered the right incentives, finds research by Nesta.

Incentivise people to cycle to work, urges UK’s innovation foundation

New research by Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, has found that a third of employees would cycle to work more often if there were extra incentives for them to do so. Yet, currently 49 percent of employees said they usually drive alone, while just 4 percent routinely cycle.

To encourage more work-based cycling schemes, Nesta is running the Workplace Cycling Challenge. The challenge is open to all employers with ten or more employees and encourages them to submit innovative ideas for getting more of their workforce commuting by bike.

Of those employees who already do cycle to work, the top five reasons for doing so were: to keep fit (58%), save money (49%), health benefits (46%), environmental benefits (27%) and to improve mood (22%).

HR decision makers surveyed recognise that more employees cycling to work would benefit their organisation, with almost half (48%) saying that employee cycling would give them healthier employees and lead to fewer sick days, while 49% say it would help towards meeting their environmental targets, including reducing CO2 related emissions.

A third of employees said they would cycle into work if the right incentives were in place. The Nesta survey reveals that there could be some ‘quick wins’ for businesses keen to encourage more employees to cycle.

Among those who do not cycle to work, the top reasons were: distance too far (43%), don’t own a bike (41%), safety concerns (24%) and weather (19%). All of these concerns could potentially be addressed with a bit of creative thinking or practical support, said Nesta. Of those employees who already cycle, the factors most likely to get them cycling more, are: incentives or rewards (48%), safe storage (40%), access to bike maintenance (31%), and shower facilities (29%).

Although incentives and rewards were the most popular with employees who don’t cycle to work, only 13% of HR decision makers surveyed said that this was something they currently offer.

London-based pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline introduced a comprehensive cycling strategy across thebusiness and reduced single car occupancy from 81% to 56% in five years. Their comprehensive strategy includes secure cycle parking, fully equipped shower, changing and drying facilities, and a range of incentives such as ‘bike miles’ which allow employees to collect financial rewards each time they cycle in.

Sue Pictor, Director, Global Real Estate, GSK said: “Cyclists are the backbone of GSK’s travel plan at our head offices in Brentford. Our facilities and incentives have enabled us to encourage more and more employees to cycle in, having a positive impact on the local road infrastructure, the wellbeing of employees and, of course, the environment.”

Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive of Nesta, says: “Through our Workplace Cycling challenge prize we hope to remove some of the barriers to cycling and get more people on their bikes. Our research shows that many people would be keen to give cycling a go if only the right incentives were put in place and this presents organisations with a huge opportunity to reap all the benefits associated with an active, cycling workforce.”

The Workplace Cycling Challenge closes on 12 November 2012. The winner will receive a prize of £25,000.


Evans Cycles has created a bike commuter challenge infographic and Bloomberg business channel has broadcast a commuter race in Beijing, pitching a Porsche against a Tern folding bike. In both cases, it’s not hard to guess which mode of transport is the victor…

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