Guest Post: Creating a Cycling Culture in the Workplace

When it comes to inspiring eco-change the group that I hear the most gripes about would have to be work colleagues. And sometimes parents. (Not you mum and dad – you guys are awesome!). Today’s culture is so politically correct that we have to be ‘sensitive’ at all times in the workplace – even if that means turning a blind-eye to laziness, ignorance and narrow-mindedness.

Luckily Olive On Blondes newest contributor has found the magic key of changing behavior in the office – offering an incentive! Meet Alyce Sala Tenna– an environmental scientist who is as zany as she is smart! To learn more about this fuss free lady you can meet her properly here. But for now, here are her thoughts on how you can change a wasteful office culture. 

Why should you implement a cycle scheme in your office?  

Throughout Australia thousands of cyclists enjoy the benefits of riding to work. These pedal pushers reap the positive results of saving money, higher fitness levels whilst also contributing to a sustainable mode of travel. However, there are still many, many more Australians yet to be converted. In 2006, transport consumed 25% of Australia’s total energy requirements!

This is where a cycle to work scheme can be initiated in the workforce to encourage the transition from fossil-fuel traveller to carbohydrate-consumer traveller. A cycle to work scheme does not have to be complicated, nor involve enormous amounts of paper pushing for the good office Samaritan who volunteers to organise and maintain the scheme. Incentive ideas can be as simple as providing workshops for staff about bike maintenance, subsidy assistance, financial bonuses, or, simply providing bicycles to employees for short distance travel. For example, Coles offers a $200 gift card each month to people who ride more than three days per week.

Em's Bike - Penelope Cruise!

How do you go about it?

So how would one embark on the implementation of a cycle friendly work scheme? Like any project, a proposal must be put forward in order to for approval and advance to the next stage. And what looks attractive to senior management in a proposal? Financial savings, of course!

Below are four main financial incentives an employer may find attractive:

  1. Reduced car park overheads and more economic use of land (for example, a cost of a single space in an A-Grade CBD office building ranges from $8, 000 – $10, 000 per annum, whereas 10 bikes can fit into this space)
  2. Reduced car fleet, taxi and petrol card costs
  3. Healthier and happier staff from the outcome of cycling are more productive at work and less likely to take sick days
  4. Increased connectivity in the workplace through strong cycle-friendly culture

Need a template? Step right up…

I created a template document of a cycle to work scheme for my previous employer. Although it never got off the ground before I left to take on my graduate job as a professional greenie, it is a document that I feel could help to make positive changes to both the environment, and an individual’s health. Senior management of corporations must recognise the importance of committing to environmental responsibility if they wish to continue harnessing the surrounding environment’s precious resources to recruit their wealth.

If you want to see an initiative like this in your office (or even your home) but don’t have time to collect the information – then you have come to the right place. If you would like a copy of this well-researched document to give to your manager or present at your next staff meeting then email oliveonblonde@gmail.com and we will get a copy to you within 24hours.

Good luck and happy cycling! 

Want more info?

For further information, ideas and approaches please refer to The Cycle-Friendly Workplace: You Step by Step Guide (2007), a concise and informative report prepared by the Australian Department of Environment and Water Resources and the Australian Department of Health and Ageing.

Beauty and the Bike – Free Outdoor Movie

It has been a hard few financial years and the effects are being felt all around the world which includes the most isolated city of them all, little old Perth. Luckily there are fantastic organisation like Western Earth Carers around who are providing amazing opportunities for free, sustainable fun with a message behind it all as well.

On Wednesday 18th January 2012 there will be a free outdoor screening of the insightful documentary Beauty and the Bike. From 6:30pm you are invited down to the lawn outside the WMRC Offices (to see a map click here) to set up your picnic rug and have some nibbles with family and friends before the movie commences at 7:30pm.

Image from documentary, Beauty and the Bike

The documentary follows two groups of young women for a year – one group from Darlington (England) and another from Bremen (Germany). In Darlington it is extremely rare to see young girls on bikes yet in Bremen it is the primary mode of transport for the local teenagers. Why? Well the two groups decide they are going to find out why. They visit each area to look into the habits and attitudes that lead one group to shun the lifestyle and another to embrace it. I am sure that the conclusions they come to will be poignant and reflect some very common ‘modern’ attitudes towards sustainability and technology (and whether they can go hand in hand).

Government transport policy is clear, coherent and powerful… The bicycle is heading the way of the horse and cart

– John Adams, Emeritus Professor of Geography, 1993

Below is a short from the gorgeous 55 minute documentary;

This documentary is loaded with so many awesome messages, questions and ideas. Not only does it involve teenagers in the debate about alternative sustainable modes of transport but it also encourages everyone to look into their own lives, question how eco-friendly they really are and then look at  what changes they could make to move to greener pastures.

All in all I am really looking forward to this great evening and will make sure to upload some photos of the evening. I might even ride my bike down…

My darling bike (Penelope Cruise)

The Quick Details

When:                    Wednesday 18th January, 2012

6:30pm – 7:30pm; Picnic               7:30pm – 9pm; Screening

Where:                   The lawn outside the WMRC Offices (to see a map click here)

What to bring:   Picnic rug or chair, picnic, friends and family

Cost:                         FREE