The Environment Agency becomes a Cycle Friendly Employer
Alexis Massey, Sustainability Manager, Environment Agency said “Cycling provides a wealth of benefits and the Environment Agency encourages active travel into all of our offices and depots. We are in a Climate Emergency and a key part of our Net Zero Ambition is to promote and encourage our staff to not only commute sustainably into work but to also encourage active business travel. It is great to be recognised by Cycling UK for our cycling facilities, it also provides a benchmark for us to further improve our cycling facilities/reward package for staff as well ensuring our offices are accessible and connected to the wider cycling network.”
It's not practical for all staff to cycle to work as some staff have a bit further to commute to work and many use the train, therefore the Environment Agency is trying to encourage a hybrid approach to get to work of part train and part bike.
Daniel Begg, Area Incident Officer at the Environment Agency explains why they chose to be a Cycle Friendly Employer.
What does it mean to your organisation to have achieved Silver Cycle Friendly Award?
We’re thrilled. It means a tremendous amount to us as we feel that the Environment Agency should be spearheading this type of innovative employee engagement.
In fact, we should be the leaders. We are the Environment Agency, we care about the environment, we care about reducing the carbon footprint. As a Silver accredited Cycle Friendly Employer we hope to encourage and inspire other organisations to think more about making their workplace a cycle friendly environment as there are so many benefits.
Have you implemented anything innovative to encourage cycling to work?
Being the Environment Agency we are always looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint. One idea that came to mind, naturally, was to instal a washing line outside the office. It’s a great way to dry staff cycling/walking/running gear without having to use drying machines that use up a lot of energy and in-turn saving on our carbon footprint. It’s a win-win.
Looking to the future, the Environment Agency are seeking to implement a bike repair service – so people will have a tool station to hook their bike onto to make any repairs needed. We are also looking to get trained Bike First Aiders on site. If someone has a problem with the bike, there will be someone within the organisation to help another staff member which we hope will inspire more people to give cycling to work a try.
How do you plan to encourage more of your staff into active travel?
We have been encouraging staff to cycle for a number of years since the Green Transport Initiative group was set up. We started by running local events – inviting local Council/transport groups and local bike shops to speak at our events. Currently, the Environment Agency are trialling electric bikes to encourage those who struggle with long distance travel to work. We have also arranged for the police to tag bikes so they can be easily traced if they are taken.
Another supportive activity we put on for staff is to arrange a Dr bike to come and do a free bike service and bike training on the basic bike repairs to help staff. We have a lot going on to encourage our staff travel sustainably where possible.
Does the Environment Agency plan to get involved in any of the Cycling UK events in the future?
Yes absolutely, these events are really useful for engaging our staff with cycling related activities and challenges. We share all the Cycling UK events in our internal newsletter, the Weekly Buzz. We also highlight any cycling events being organised. We include this in our staff network groups. Giving advice on how to bike safely and how to gain confidence.
How do you plan to communicate across to the other sites the call for more staff to cycle to work?
We have a Green Transport Initiative group which meets regularly for those based in the area but also use a Weekly buzz article to share ideas and events that are being run.
Do you think you will introduce a buddy scheme to encourage staff to get back on their bikes?
I spoke with Ed Pedgrem (business manager – Cycle to work) at Raleigh and they have shared their buddy system that they use. The Environment Agency are looking to promote a similar system within our organisation.
Also, we are currently working with a company called Mobility Ways (a DEFRA led initiative) to look at ways of helping staff understand the benefits and different ways of commuting. This system also helps to plan safe routes and alternative options to commute to work.
Are there any plans to have any Environment Agency cycling events?
Unfortunately we can’t do anything in the current climate but will hope to plan something when restrictions subside.
If you are interested in making a commitment to active travel like Daniel, consider becoming a Cycle Friendly Employer. It will be not only benefit the planet but the health and wellbeing of your staff.