Employers in Oxford and Edinburgh will be vying with each other to see which ones can get more of their employees to ride a bike for at least ten minutes a day under two new initiatives announced in recent days.
The Edinburgh Cycle Challenge began on Monday and runs through to 30 May, while a similar scheme in Oxford gets under way on 7 June and will continue for three weeks.
Both campaigns are Workplace Cycle Challenges, organised in partnership with cyclists’ organisation CTC by Challenge for Change, which has successfully implemented similar schemes in other cities throughout the UK including Darlington and Swindon and which organisers say have resulted in people cycling to work more regularly, with particular success seen among those who did not previously commute by bike.
The Edinburgh Cycling Challenge is being co-ordinated by bicycle recycling and promotion charity the Bike Station, with participants able to sign up through a dedicated website, and prospective cyclists can even borrow a bicycle to see if cycling is for them.
The website allows people who have signed up to the challenge to log their cycling activity and state why they cycle, and also provides a league table of how various employers are performing, grouped together by size.
The Scottish Government is currently ahead in the 500+ employee category, but one statistic that jumps out is in the 7-19 employees category, which is headed by sustainable energy business Renewable Devices Group, with every single employee participating in the challenge.
Prizes are also on offer – if someone encourages a colleague to ride a bike for ten minutes, both receive free cinema tickets, while daily and weekly prizes are also awarded as well as spot prizes, with one lucky participant set to win a £500 Ridgeback Flight 01 bike during the duration of the challenge. Team prizes will also be awarded at the end of the three weeks.
The Oxford Cycle Challenge also has its own dedicated website, with registration now open, and organisations already signed up include the city’s biggest employer, the University of Oxford, as well as Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire PCT, the charity Oxfam, and local radio station, Jack.fm.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.