Cycle to Work Scheme reports big rise in people signing up in 2012

Increase linked to inspiration of the Tour de France and Olympic Games

by Sarah Barth   January 27, 2013  

Cycle To Work Alliance logo.png

Cycle to Work Scheme providers say they saw a 7.9 per cent increase in the numbers of people using the scheme in 2012 as compared to 2011, as more commuters take to two wheels to beat rising transport costs and get fitter.

According to the Cycle to Work Alliance, a group of the leading providers of the cycle to work scheme, including Cyclescheme, Cycle Solutions, Evans Cycles and Halfords, 2012 saw over 86,000 new cyclists commuting to work by bike. 

Perhaps as a response to the Olympic and Tour de France successes of the summer, the fourth quarter of 2012 saw the largest increase in users – with 30 per cent more individuals signing up to the scheme than in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Steve Edgell, Chair of the Cycle to Work Alliance and Director of Cycle Solutions said: “2012 was one of the most successful years for the cycle to work scheme. With the Olympics boosting the image of cycling, and rising costs deterring people from traditional forms of commuter transport, the scheme has become an increasingly popular and important option. Interestingly these figures suggest that the attractions of the scheme are powerful enough that people are not put off by bad weather. 2012 was one of the wettest year's on record in the UK a factor recently cited by Transport for London as being one possible reason for a decline in cycle commuter traffic on it's network of main road routes.

According to a Behaviour Impact Study carried out by the Alliance in 2011, the financial incentive of the scheme was by far the biggest driver in attracting people to sign up, the vast majority of whom - 70 per cent - classed themselves either as novice or occasional cyclists, with 61 per cent saying they didn't cycle to work before taking part in the scheme. While scheme providers don't claim that all those taking part are instantly turned in to cycle commuters they do point to the figure in their research in which 65 per cent of those buying a bike through the scheme say they have reduced the number of miles they drive per week as a result. 

In a statement announcing it's 2012 performance the  Alliance said it had seen an increasing interest by both employers and employees in the benefit of commuting to work by bike. For employers, promoting cycling to work ensures a healthier and happier workforce - says the Alliance, while employees see the scheme as beneficial to both their health and their finances.

"We expect this success to continue in 2013, as the scheme builds on the legacy left by 2012. We hope cycling, and the scheme, will continue to be promoted by Government as a most valuable form of commuter transport, said Mr Edgell.”

Cycle to Work allows employees to save up to 42 per cent of the cost of a new bike and safety equipment as a tax-exempt benefit for the purpose of cycling to work.

To date according to Cycle to Work Alliance figures over 500,000 people have taken advantage of the scheme, 61 per cent of them being people who had not ridden bikes regularly before.

6 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I spoke to my employer about purchasing a new bike through one of the schemes last year - they told me there was no real point in doing it!
Also, in an office of well over 100 people, there are 6 bike racks.
We've got such a long way to go...

posted by Jones The Steam [19 posts]
27th January 2013 - 14:33

like this
Like (5)

How many of the bikes sit at home unused. The office where I work has operated two schemes, both with modest uptake. Of the bikes purchased through the scheme there's a grand total of zero bikes in the racks of a morning. One of the chaps that cycles regularly used the scheme to get a new road bike and still commutes on his single speed. A number of the others get used at the weekend but have never seen the office.

posted by adscrim [108 posts]
27th January 2013 - 14:56

like this
Like (4)

The company I work for has operated the scheme for about 3 years, I commute daily and have purchased 2 bikes using the scheme, I think 2 or maybe 3 others have out of about 100 people. One guy purchased a bike about 2 years ago and has commuted maybe twice citing the usual excuses, 'bad weather', 'can't get motivated'. On a couple of occasions he has actually driven his bike into work and cycled for a few minutes at lunchtime which I found amusing.

posted by bike_food [93 posts]
27th January 2013 - 15:23

like this
Like (7)

In fairness bike_food, it did rain basically every day in 2012 Rolling Eyes

posted by David French [49 posts]
27th January 2013 - 23:34

like this
Like (7)

As above, lots of bikes bought, not many people commuting.

However, two things. Firstly; whether the bike is being used for commuting or not, it's been bought, supports bike shops, and if it's being used at weekends that's better than nothing. Secondly, at my office they doubled the size of the racks last year and they're still full every day it's not actually raining.

London transport is viciously expensive.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [809 posts]
28th January 2013 - 9:47

like this
Like (3)

I think it must vary considerably from office to office. Our central London one has a bike room downstairs with showers that is always around 80% full (can hold around 35 bikes).

Without these facilities I can't imagine many people cycling in.

posted by mattjwalsh [6 posts]
28th January 2013 - 14:44

like this
Like (3)