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Anna Duggal
Anna Duggal
  • 2 Minute Read
  • 22nd September 2014

Saddle up – it’s World Car Free Day

Today we celebrate ‘World Car Free Day’, just one of many awareness days in the annual calendar which asks us to think about the way in which we live day-by-day, at home and at work. With the subjects of health and climate change becoming more publicised, we are becoming more aware of the dangers and we need to bring them to the front of our minds and look at what we can change in our lives and in our businesses. David Saul, Managing Director at Business Environment, offers us a guest blog today about how you can take this awareness day and makes changes in the workplace.

"The automobile. A technical feat of engineering. One that has changed the world beyond recognition. It would be difficult to imagine modern life without cars. But perhaps that’s exactly what we should be doing.

Today – 22nd September – is World Car Free Day. A day where we’re encouraged to ditch four wheels in favour of a more sustainable way to get to where we’re going. The argument for going car free is compelling. Not only are cars a huge source of pollution and urban congestion, they are also compounding the effects of our ever more sedentary lifestyles.

CSR best practice should extend to the daily commute. As an employer I have responsibility for the health and wellbeing of my staff, and also to the local community. Just think how much pollution would be reduced if staff were to car share, take the bus, the train, walk, cycle or even run to work.

Not only this, there’s huge health and wellbeing benefits to fitting exercise into the daily commute. Research has shown that even short walks every day can reduce the risk of life-threatening conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer that can result from prolonged sitting. There’s also evidence that daily exercise boosts the immune system, reduces stress levels and improves mental health.

I want to ride my bicycle

With Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome’s successes in the Tour de France and team GB’s dominance at the Velodrome, cycling is enjoying a revival among people of all ages.

Cycling however can be perceived as an expensive habit. Although there are long-term savings on petrol, train tickets etc, the upfront cost can make taking the plunge less attractive. In 2009 Business Environment decided to introduce the Cycle to Work Scheme.

Business Environment pays for the bike, plus associated equipment such as clothing, helmets, light, thus removing the initial cost. Employees than pay us back as a salary sacrifice over 12 months meaning they don’t pay tax/NI on the cost – this equates to a saving of 32% for standard tax rate payers. We also offer an alternative through our Pruhealth scheme where workers can save 50% on a new bike from Evans.

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Employees tell us that by cycling in they feel refreshed and ready to go, rather than groggy and in need of a coffee. Our finance manager Liam Mitchell is one of the cycle scheme’s biggest advocates. He cycles in three to four times a week, 12 miles each way. When you think that over a year he’ll be notching up to 2,496 miles on his bike, you really start to realise how significant the health benefits, and emissions savings are.

Of course cycling isn’t for everyone, but even adding a ten minute walk to the station could add years to your and the planet’s life. After all those boots were made for walking…"

We would like to hear from serviced office operators from across the sector to see if more companies are following Business Environment’s lead to be a more sustainable business. What schemes and initiatives are you doing in your business centre to encourage your clients to be more environmentally-minded? We will be following up this article with regular industry-wide updates. Please comment below to let us know!