No, it’s not the ghost of Norman Tebbit exhorting us to get on our bikes to look for work but the latest initiative from the Government to help combat obesity and ill health.
In May of this year Boris Johnsons Government unveiled the document entitled; “Gear Change. A bold vision for cycling and walking”
Boris Johnson explains in the forward to the paper, “The joy of cycling is that doing it doesn’t just benefit you. It doesn’t just make you happier. It doesn’t just make you healthier. It helps millions of others too, whether or not they have any intention of getting on a bike. It means less pollution and less noise for everyone. It means more trade for street-front businesses. It means fewer cars in front of yours at the lights.
All of us, cyclists, and non-cyclists alike, have suddenly found out what it is like to have streets where you can breathe clean air, hear the birds singing at noon, and walk or ride in safety. We have all noticed the new found safety on our roads with fewer cars hurtling down our streets, near our homes and our gardens and our schools.”
Concentrating on four main themes the paper sets out government strategy to usher in a golden age of cycling.
- Better streets for cycling and people.
- Putting cycling and walking at the heart of transport, place-making, and health policy.
- Empowering and encouraging local authorities.
- We will enable people to cycle and protect them when they cycle.
In addition, a new commissioning body and inspectorate, Active Travel England, led by a new national cycling and walking commissioner will also In be established.
The government want, and will fund, cities and towns across the UK to install first hundreds then thousands of miles of main road cycle tracks, a move welcomed by British Cycling Policy Adviser Chris Boardman.
“The package of measures announced shows exactly the level of ambition required to transform the country. Many will focus on the health benefits of more people getting around by bike or on foot, but we know that these are changes which reap dividends in all walks of life. Not least the (improved) quality of the air we breathe, the (reduction of) congestion on our roads and the (increased) economic benefit for shops, cafes and bars.”
One initiative which has been around for several years is the Cycle to work scheme. Bikes and cycling equipment of up to any value, including E-Bikes, can now be covered by the cycle to work scheme.
There are a few different scheme providers out there each with their own variations, but the basic idea is the same.
Cycle to work schemes operate as a ‘salary sacrifice’ employee benefit. This means that you agree to give up part of your salary in exchange for a benefit. (Bike and Accessories). The salary sacrifice is taken from your gross salary, which means that you may pay less Income Tax and National insurance.
In order to participate in the scheme, you need to be working, aged 16 or over and receive your salary through Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and earn more than the National Minimum Wage. Any employer, of any size, across the public, private and voluntary sectors can run a Cycle to Work scheme.
In a nutshell:
- Your workplace registers with a scheme provider
- You choose the bike you want
- Your employer pays for it
- You pay your employer back through monthly instalments taken through payroll.
The starting point for employees is to check with your employer if they are registered with any schemes.
If not, point them in this direction: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cycle-to-work-scheme-implementation-guidance