This week the mayor of London, Boris Johnson announced plans for a £900m Crossrail for bikes in the capital.
The idea is to take the burgeoning number of bike-commuters out of the main traffic flows and put them on dedicated bike-motorways which run east-west and north-south in London.
While we are still way behind countries like the Netherlands and Germany in the way we cater for our cyclists in the UK, the plan marks another important shift towards making UK cities more bike-friendly and helping more people get onto bikes.
This is something that is in the interest of every employer. Our analysis earlier this year for our Employer’s Guide to Cycle-to-Work found that employees who cycle to work take less sick days and are more productive.
The problem is that currently the majority of cyclists and non-cyclists don’t see bike-commuting as a viable way of getting to work.
While some of this is down to practicality – long commuting distances or taking children to work – there is no doubt that scary commuting routes or a lack of cycling infrastructure play a big role in dissuading employees from jumping on a bike.
Initiatives like the so-called Crossrail for Bikes should have a significant impact in persuading more of the 3.5m UK leisure cyclists to join the 750,000 bike commuters we currently have in the country and closing this “bike commuting gap”.
Employers have a role to play too. Our analysis for the report found clear evidence that employers who support bike-commuting by offering a cycle to work scheme registered an immediate uplift in the numbers cycling to work and so benefited from a healthier workforce.
Unlike Boris Johnson’s plans for London, employers who want to support bike-commuting don’t have to find big piles of money to launch a cycle-to-work scheme. It’s a cost neutral benefit which any good cycle-to-work provider will help you plan, manage, launch and communicate.
So don’t let Cycle to Work day roll past again without thinking again about what you could do to support bike-commuting in your organisation.
I am the sales and marketing director at Edenred, a provider of employee benefits. You can follow me on twitter @andy_philpott or look at more of our blogs at www.edenred.co.uk/ehub