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700 new cycle commuters last year and a focus on buying local wins nuclear plant top employer title

Sellafield Nuclear Plant has become England’s cycling Employer of the Year thanks to proactive work to get workers on bikes while staying safe.

The plant, one of Cumbria’s biggest employers, was declared the winner by Cyclescheme for its massive take up of the Cycle to Work Scheme.

Sellafield has used Cyclescheme since 2009 and in 2014 they helped 700 members of staff to cycle to work, amounting to over 100,000 miles cycled each month.

Viv Winter, a member of Sellafield’s cycling group, told the North West Evening Mail: “We are delighted that our work to promote and support safe cycling has been recognised by Cyclescheme, who have helped us to develop a very successful cycling scheme across our business.

“Sellafield Ltd has a proud history of encouraging our employees to cycle to work and enjoy the many benefits of doing so, whether it be to generally increase exercise, alleviate stress, reduce blood pressure or help with weight loss, as well as avoiding traffic jams, parking issues and helping the environment.

“We pride ourselves on the success of our cycle to work scheme which makes safe cycling easier and much more affordable.

“Our nuclear site sits in a beautiful part of the UK, just miles away from the deepest lake and highest mountain, where the many safe routes and stunning views provide, arguably, one of the most attractive commutes in the country.

The plant also encourages employees to buy their bikes locally, as opposed to many scheme which go through a large retail chain, which the company says boosts small, independent businesses in the area.

Kevin Chapman, from Cyclescheme, said: “We are delighted to name Sellafield as English Employer of The Year in the inaugural Cycle Awards.

“Employers are crucial in enabling and encouraging their staff the opportunity to get involved in cycling to work and they deserve recognition for their cycling advocacy.”

Earlier this year we reported how a record number of people took advantage of the Cycle to Work scheme in 2014.

An 11.6 per cent increase in uptake compared to 2013 saw 183,423 people getting tax-free bikes via members of the Cycle to Work Alliance. Even more striking is that 2013 was in itself a record year with a 16.4 per cent increase compared to 2012.

While the Cycle to Work Scheme has been an undoubted success in terms of selling bikes there are those who question what proportion of those sales have resulted in new cycle commuters - citing the scheme's popularity amongst existing cyclists. All that can be said is that both side's arguments rest on partial or anecdotal evidence and that cycle to work schemes have certainly helped fuel the British public's increasing fondness for cycling. 

Employees who participate in the Cycle to Work scheme save up to 40 per cent of the total cost of a new through paying for it from their pre-tax income.

The Cycle to Work Alliance – a group of leading providers of the scheme – say that the figures highlight a continuing trend for people to choose to commute by bike.

Steve Edgell, Director of Cycle Solutions and Chair of the Cycle to Work Alliance said:

“It is clear that the cycle to work scheme is a key mechanism for delivering on the Government’s health and sustainable transport objectives, such as those set out in the draft Cycling Delivery Plan.

"The Alliance is obviously delighted in the part it can play in driving these positive behaviours, with 2014’s figures showing that the scheme is on an upward trajectory and more people than ever across the country taking up cycling.”

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.