Good old fashioned cycling is enjoying something of a renaissance at present, with people across the world taking to the pedals in search of cheap, environmentally friendly travel. In the UK, few groups have embraced the revolution as whole heartedly as commuters.
According to figures published by The National Cycling Charity, 741,000 workers aged 16 to 74 rode a bicycle to work in Great Britain in 2011, up from 90,000 10 years before. Today, that figure has grown even further.
Just last year, more than 180,000 people signed up to their companies’ Cycle to Work schemes, making the most of tax-free cycles of all kinds – 11.6 per cent more than in 2013. All in all, that’s a lot of expensive bikes being kept outside of British workplaces.
A Growing Problem
As cycling grows in popularity, so too does cycle theft; one study from specialist insurer E&L found that one bike is stolen every 84 seconds, in fact. What’s more, much of this criminal activity occurs in and around people’s places of work.
So, as an employer, how do you go about helping your staff keep their pedalled possessions safe and secure? And why should you go out of your way to do so?
Pick the Right Bicycle Parking Rack
As a quick Google search will prove, there are various kinds of cycle parking racks on offer, each one with different characteristics and benefits. Price also comes into this; some will be cheaper than others, but not all offer the same level of security.
One of the biggest factors to consider is which part of the bike is attached to the rack itself. It’s fair to say that since the advent of quick-release parts, locking by the wheel has become a lot less effective. Instead, it’s important to pick something that allows the owner to put their chain or D-lock around the frame, and maybe even the wheel as well.
Put It in the Right Place
Choose the best parking fixture on the market, and it’ll still be pretty ineffective if you hide it in a dark corner of the car park where few people actually venture. The more secluded it is, the more time a thief will have to work their magic without being seen.
Instead choose a busy location in view of not only people but surveillance cameras and security staff. These should act as strong deterrents. Visibility is important here too; a brick wall around the lock-up area will only provide cover for anyone thinking of trying their luck. You could even introduce lighting to ensure everything can be seen even after dark.
Beyond security, you should be helping your employees to keep their bikes in tip-top condition. A roof will protect from the rain, for example, but if this isn’t possible, avoid putting the fixtures under any trees. Owners will soon get fed up of clearing leaves and sap from their saddles.
Why Not Help Out?
The security of your employees’ bicycles depends not only on the fixtures you invest in, but also the measures they take themselves. The type of lock they use, for example, can be the difference between a successful and failed theft attempt; it may even prevent the criminal trying in the first place.
Offer advice on the types of locks proven to work best, and encourage staff to invest accordingly. It’s often suggested that thieves going out with the intention to steal a bike will do so equipped with the tools to break one specific type of lock – a chain or a coil, for instance – so it pays to use a mix of two at the same time. Pass on this kind of information to your workforce, as not everyone will know.
You could even go one step further and provide locks for every member of staff who cycles to work regularly. Just be sure to choose something that adheres to security product testing house’s Sold Secure’s trusted “Silver” or “Gold” standards.
What Else Can You Do?
Your contributions shouldn’t stop at security, though; there are plenty of other ways to make the company cycling-friendly. Start by enrolling in the popular Cycle to Work scheme, which helps employees get their hands on quality bikes without having to pay tax.
Then, provide the facilities needed for staff to freshen up when they arrive in the morning. Male and female changing rooms are essential, for example, as are showers and hairdryers. If this isn’t possible, consider relaxing your dress code a little so that riders can still get changed into comfortable clothing before they get to work.
Why It’s Worth the Effort and Investment
So many businesses ignore the needs of their cycling employees, but it really can pay to make the effort. A healthy workforce is often a happy workforce, and thus a productive one. By making it easier for staff to ride into work, you’re helping them to stay fit and save money, while also benefiting the environment.
As for the logistical plus-points, you stand to save space and prevent car park congestion by reducing the number of vehicles parked outside. You may even see a drop in late arrivals, as traffic becomes less of an issue for your employees. Everybody wins!