Seventy of Britain's biggest companies have signed up to the government's new Cycle to Work Guarantee, which ensures cycle parking and changing facilities for employees wishing to commute by bike.
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, energy company E.ON, and satellite broadcaster BSkyB are three of the companies who have pledged their support. The new scheme comes in addition to the existing Cycle to Work initiative which gives employers a tax break on cycles and equipment loaned to employees.
Currently, only around three per cent of people cycle to work, despite more than half living within comfortable cycling distance to their employers. The aim is to drastically increase the numbers of those cycling to work to promote the health benefits of regular exercise and environmentally friendly modes of transport.
"If proper facilities were more widely available, I believe far more people would cycle to work," said transport secretary Andrew Adonis. "At present only three per cent do so. We could double or treble that figure with proper bike storage and changing facilities and safe cycle routes - and that's my aim."
"For employees, cycling is a great way to save money while getting fit. And for all of us, it will cut rush hour congestion and reduce carbon emissions.
"We've seen that this approach can work. The number of GlaxoSmithKline employees cycling to work has tripled since they introduced the right facilities at their headquarters. I see no reason why the Cycle to Work Guarantee can't spread this success widely."
Adonis has written to businesses listed in the FTSE250 index and all local authorities throughout the UK inviting them to sign up.
Ian Drake, CEO of British Cycling said of the scheme: "We fully endorse the Cycle to Work Guarantee because it puts the onus on employers to support staff who commute to work by bicycle.
"Britain is already home to the most successful cyclists in the world thanks to the incredible performance of our athletes in the Beijing Olympics and our next challenge is to turn Britain into a true cycling nation."
Employers signing up to the Cycle to Work Guarantee are obliged to provide:
* Secure, safe, and accessible bike parking facilities for all staff who want them
* Good quality changing and locker facilities for all staff who want them
* Offsetting the cost of cycling equipment for staff and saving on tax through the ‘Cycle to Work scheme'
* Bike repair for cyclists on or near site
* Training, reward and incentive programmes to achieve targets for more cycling
More details can be found at the Cycle to Work Guarantee official website.
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