A Yorkshire IT company has teamed up with a local bike specialist to encourage its staff to ride to work. The company, software designer thecitysecret is offering discounted bicycles and kit to its employees by taking advantage of tax breaks provided by the UK government's recent Green Transport Plan. The scheme enables employers to loan staff tax-free bikes as part of their benefits package. In return, employees make a nominal monthly payment, and at the end of the loan period are given the option to buy the bikes at a discount.
Where thecitysecret differs from other UK employers involved in similar initiatives is that it is working a a small, independent bike retailer - Richmond-based Arthur Caygill Cycles - rather than one of the large national wholesalers.
"With most company schemes, the employee is left to buy 'blind' from a list of bikes on the internet," said Martin Worner, Director of thecitysecret. "By working with a local specialist retailer like Caygill's, we get the professional expertise of cycle enthusiasts who have years of experience both on the road and in the trade."
Pete Scales is one of the first employees to take advantage of the scheme and has recently taken delivery of a brand new mountain bike. "I enjoy keeping fit and manage to go hill walking most weekends but it is difficult to pursue outdoor activities during the week, especially during the winter months. Cycling to work is one way of incorporating exercise into my daily fitness routine and I also arrive in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to start the day."
The cycle loan scheme is one of a series of green practices in place at thecitysecret. Most of the staff have chosen to forgo senior roles as IT specialists in the city and overseas for a greener work ethic. Each year, the company calculates the total amount of carbon used in collective business travel and then offsets this by planting trees in partnership with local landowners. The company buys its electricity from 100 percent renewable resources and has full recycling facilities on its premises, including the composting of kitchen waste.
"We are really keen to promote this cycle to work initiative among staff," said Worner. "The company is deeply committed to practising green business activities and using your bike helps reduce road traffic pollution and congestion, and is emission free. It is also a great way to keep fit and healthy."