The Cycle to Work scheme had a bumper year in 2013, surpassing its 2010 peak with a 16.4 percent increase over 2012 and 164,317 people getting tax-free bikes via members of the Cycle to Work Alliance.
As well as the large overall increase, the fourth quarter of 2013 saw an 11 percent year-on-year increase in scheme participation compared to figures for the final quarter of 2012.
The Cycle To Work Scheme gives a saving of up to 42 percent on the price of a bike by allowing employees to pay for it from their pre-tax income.
The Alliance said: “This growth marks out the past twelve months as the best year for the scheme as employers increasingly recognise the importance of encouraging healthy lifestyle choices among their staff. The unprecedented level of scheme use reflects the high value employers attribute to the scheme in achieving a healthier workforce.”
The organisation believes the increase could be a sign of a long-term boom in cycling, powered by the attention cycling has garnered in recent years from two British Tour de France victories, Team GB’s Olympic cycling medal haul and the imminent return to the UK of the Tour de France Grand Départ.
Steve Edgell, director of Cycle Solutions and chair of the Cycle to Work Alliance said: “The Alliance is, naturally, hugely pleased at the success of the scheme in 2013. Registering our best ever year demonstrates that the scheme remains a proven method of encouraging cycling take-up across the country and remains a critical tool for Government to deliver sustainable transport and public health objectives.
“Of course, no-one should be resting on their laurels. This is merely the start of what we hope will be a longer-term cycling boom. With only 2% of journeys in the UK made by bike, clearly there is scope to encourage more individuals to take up cycling, not least to bring our rates of cycling in line with other European countries. In order to achieve this, Government and the industry will need to work together to increase safety and investment in cycling to make getting on the saddle a simple choice.”
Daniel Gillborn, director of Cyclescheme added: "We are delighted with a record year for the Cycle to Work scheme. With these results, growth is being led by the IBD network which proves that employees favour the personal service, expertise and product choice of local stores that cannot be replicated in large national retailers."
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.