The year in focus for Cycle Friendly Employers

Women cycling in Edinburgh
James Palser, Cycle Friendly Employer project manager shares his insights on 2020 and how workplaces have adapted to the new changes brought about by the pandemic

2020 will certainly be going down in the history books. For many businesses and organisations, it has been a fight for survival or a steep shift in the way they operate, support and care for their staff. Throughout the pandemic, cycling has been a consistent solution, enabling the workforce to commute without transmission of the virus, and has offered a break away from the home office. It has been a useful vehicle for relieving the pressure on both workplaces and individuals. 
Cycling in 2020 has seen one of the most significant increases in usage in decades. Roads were adjusted to allow for protected space, and the Government announced funding to help Britain usher in a ‘Golden Age of Cycling’. While key workers started cycling to work, those on furlough were taking to two wheels in ever greater numbers, increasing new bike sales by over 63% when compared to 2019.  

When we launched Cycle Friendly Employer in 2018, we set ourselves several milestones to reach, and despite all the challenges this year, we have:  

•    Accredited businesses in all four nations of the UK 
•    Helped more businesses achieve accreditation through E-auditing 
•    Reached 100,000 staff at accredited businesses 
Despite reaching the large numbers of staff, it doesn’t mean 100,000 extra people are cycling – although we hope it soon will! It means that 100,000 people work at businesses who are taking cycling seriously, enabling and encouraging their staff to commute by bike and becoming vocal advocates for cycling in cities and towns across the UK. Their motivations might be varied, from environmental reasons, mitigating against reduced trust in public transport or health and wellbeing reasons. However, cycling is a solution they have all reached.  
We have seen this year the incredible work the NHS does and continues to do in the face of this challenge. However, the message during the pandemic of ‘Protect the NHS’, should not just be for 2020. Much of the NHS budget is spent on preventable diseases caused by inactivity and obesity. By enabling staff to park their bikes safely and securely, providing a place to change and freshen up, and having policies and procedures that support cycling, businesses can play a part in protecting the NHS long into the future.  
In 2021, Cycling UK will be working to achieve our next milestones, 100 businesses accredited and 250,000 employees working at accredited companies. We will be continuing to roll out E-audits and releasing an updated self-assessment website. Most of all, we will be working with you to increase the number of your staff who cycle. We will provide training to overcome barriers, deliver national events and tell your stories - you've got some inspirational ones.

Key dates for 2021

Take a look at the what the Cycling Engagement Calendar will look like in 2021.