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For employers – how to support cycling to your workplace

Radically transforming the way we travel is a huge part of reducing our carbon emissions. As individuals, we can take action in a personal capacity, but it is important that these changes are encouraged and facilitated by employers and in workplaces.

Sheffield Sustainability Network and CycleSheffield collaborated on an amazing event for employers and employees, all about how to support cycling to work. As well as free bike check-ups available all day (which included some basic fixes and a report on anything else that needed doing), there were inspiring speakers talking about supporting cycling from different perspectives. Keep reading to learn more! 

A commuter’s perspective

When looking to make sustainable changes, it can be helpful and inspiring to hear from others who have made similar steps. At the event, Issy Howie spoke about her personal experience of going from being a fair weather cyclist and a “winter cycling wimp” to commuting on her bike to work all year round. Issy said that “cycling makes me happy” and that a mindset shift about the idea of cycling in the winter has helped her, as cycling is a lot less stressful than other methods of transport. Overall, it was a really inspiring talk with some really useful tips.

A top tip that Issy shared was the importance of being visible – having good lights and a high-vis or reflective jacket is crucial for safe cycling. Another really useful tip was not to feel you have to wear expensive gear – wearing work clothes on a gentle ride is fine, especially as the weather in Sheffield is actually predominantly dry. Another tip was to keep an eye on ‘Steel City Skies’ – a great local weather forecast. Good gloves, helmet cover and (occasionally) waterproof trousers is enough kit for a rainy day, but leaving your bike at home if conditions are icy is the best way to be safe in colder temperatures. Lastly, Issy praised the support of the cycling community, such as CycleSheffield, in getting her out on her bike all year round. At Can Do South Yorkshire, we think communities like this are really important!

Top tip for employers: you can support cyclists by having somewhere where kit can be hung up or stored at your workplace. This will make cycling more convenient for your employees. 

A bike mechanic’s perspective

At the event, Tom Mutton from Bike Rehab, in his role as ‘Dr. Bike’, gave a useful whirlwind tour of basic bike maintenance for a weekly check-up. His key tips are: 

  • Clean your bike (the muck corrodes the bike) using gentle water pressure – especially the drive chain. Use chain cleaner to get off the paste of dirt and oil. 
  • Check your chain and regularly check all moving parts. 
  • Lubricating your bike chain is important to keep your bike working efficiently. Make sure you clean and dry the chain before putting on lube. Keep oil (especially aerosol sprays) away from brake parts. Use a stiff brush for the chain and drive parts and a soft brush for the frame. Wet lube holds better in mucky weather but tends to cling and be more mucky, so use dry lube in the summer. You can read more about this here: Six best road bike chain lubes 2021 reviewed – wet vs dry | Cyclist.

Top tip for employers: If you want Dr Bike to come and provide a day of bike checks or some maintenance training at your workplace, get in touch with Tom

Top tip for employers: You could provide a few key tools at work – an allen key set, a basic cleaning set (brushes, cloth, brake cleaner, degreaser, lube) and a track pump. This will ensure employees are equipped with the right tools to face any problems with their bikes.

Sustrans

Sustrans are a charity who work to get more people walking and cycling. They manage the national cycle network so have a lot of partnerships with landowners and local authorities to work together to upkeep and upgrade the network.

Lee Thompson from Sustrans gave an overview of the work that Sustrans are doing. They  are working to realign and reroute where the National Cycle Network currently goes to make it fully accessible, to take it away from busy roads and make it safer for all.

Top tip for employers: The National Cycle Network is a UK-wide network of signed paths and routes for walking, cycling, wheeling and exploring outdoors. On their website, you can find comprehensive maps of UK cycle routes. Why not explore and see what local cycle networks are connected to your workplace, and share these with your employees? Check out the website: The National Cycle Network – Sustrans.org.uk

Sheffield City Council’s plans to support cycling

Paul Sullivan, senior transport planner from Sheffield City Council (SCC), gave updates about what SCC plans for active travel and low traffic neighbourhoods. There are schemes currently either in bid process or underway, funded by money from the government’s active travel fund, in Crookes/Walkley, Nether Edge, Sheaf Valley and Darnall, amongst others. There are also other funding streams such as a sustainable transport settlement for the City Region. SCC are applying for funding for active travel schemes around the Northern General Hospital, Mosborough and Crystal Peaks, into the tram network. Paul also said that there will be a renewal of funding for cargo bikes, pool bikes and other measures to support cycling.

Employers: Keep an eye out for when the new grant schemes go online – you could be eligible for funding to put in showers or changing rooms to support your staff to cycle and/or cargo bikes for business use. 

Employers: Respond to council consultations by commenting on how to make cycling journeys safer and easier.

CycleSheffield: funding available for bike stands

CycleSheffield is a local group campaigning for a Sheffield where everyone has the freedom to get around by bike. Emily Griffiths, a volunteer for the organisation, shared the important information that CycleSheffield has funding available for bike stands on private land.

Top tip for employers: if you want to put a bike stand on your property and need support, then contact CycleSheffield. If you want bike stands on public land contact your ward councillors.

If you would like to learn more about cycling in South Yorkshire, check out our other articles, or check out the work of CycleSheffield and Sheffield Sustainability Network to find out more about cycling and climate action in the workplace.

Cycle Sheffield

Cycle Sheffield campaign for a cycle friendly Sheffield where anyone can choose to make their journey by bike. They want cycling to be inclusive and easy, not limited to the quick and the brave.

Find out more about Cycle Sheffield here!
Sheffield Sustainability Network

How do I respond to the declared climate change emergency?

How can we shift our business practices to be more sustainable, in order to stay competitive?

How can I identify and prioritise sustainable solutions that are relevant and achievable for our charity?

As businesses and non-profits, how can we work together to help support both ourselves in prosperity and each other on a sustainable planet?

These are just some of the questions that Sheffield businesses, organisations, charities and residents face today. We see what is happening around us, but we don’t always know what to do.

Sheffield Sustainability Network was founded by three local business owners who had begun meeting regularly to exchange ideas on more sustainable ways of working. 

Their need for more knowledge and support inspired the creation of SSN, a platform in which local businesses and non-profit organisations can support each other in their goal of becoming more sustainable.

Read more about Sheffield Sustainability Network here.