Last reviewed 12 May 2020
When the Prime Minister addressed the nation on the way out of the current lockdown, he left a lot of detail to be explained later but was clear on one aspect — the use of public transport in the near future must be severely curtailed.
Work from home if you can, Mr Johnson said, but, when you do go to work, wherever possible do so by car or even better by walking or cycling.
Earlier, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had promised to help with this shift away from using buses and trains to get to work by announcing a £2 billion package to put cycling and walking at the heart of the Government’s transport policy.
The first stage, worth £250 million, is a series of swift, emergency interventions to make cycling and walking safer including pop-up bike lanes, wider pavements and more cycle and bus-only streets.
For employees who want to start cycling to their place of work, but who do not yet have a bike, Mr Shapps highlighted the Cycle to Work Scheme which already allows employees to save between 25% and 39% on the cost of a new bike (or the increasingly popular electric bikes).
An employer’s guide to the scheme covering issues such as eligibility and the tax implications can be found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/845725/cycle-to-work-guidance.pdf.
“And for those who may have an old bike in the shed, and want to get it back into a roadworthy condition,” the Transport Secretary continued, “there will be a voucher scheme for bike repairs and maintenance.”
Plans are also being developed to boost bike fixing facilities.
The Government has said that it will fund and work with local authorities across the country to help make it easier for people to use bikes to get to work — including Greater Manchester, which wants to create 150 miles of protected cycle track, and Transport for London (TfL), which plans a “bike Tube” network above Underground lines.
Finally, E-scooter trials will be brought forward from next year to next month and will now be offered to all local areas across the country instead of taking place in only four areas.
Comment by Croner Associate Director Paul Holcroft
Encouraging people to cycle to work is nothing new and, as seen here, is increasingly becoming an option that the Government is keen to promote.
With the coronavirus crisis sticking around for some time, helping staff to cycle to work, while not a legal requirement, could prove to be an efficient option of helping them to reduce public transport usage and therefore potentially lessen their exposure to the virus.
That said, it is simply not possible for everyone to cycle to work and these new provisions to make such an option easier, as outlined here, are not going to be in place for some time.
It is important to remember that cycling is only one option to explore to keep staff safe while commuting; employers will likely need to consider many potential solutions over the coming months.