Associate feature: Encouraging people to cycle
Green Commute Initiative can make active travel choices easier by getting bikes into the hands of employers, says GCI's head of marketing Joanna Flint
Green Commute Initiative - GCI
Concern for the environment has quite rightly been hitting the news headlines recently. But whilst pollution is damaging the environment and changing our climate, it is also damaging human health. Poor air quality, congested roads and noise pollution all have a negative impact on our minds and bodies.
Nationally, emissions arising from cars, vans, buses, heavy goods vehicles and rail transport account for around 20 per cent of economy-wide emissions and just over 30 per cent of non-traded sector emissions. In response, central government has invested millions of pounds in pollution reduction and climate change projects.
Scotland’s new Transport Bill is also trying to address some of these issues by making the transport network cleaner, smarter and more accessible for all. Transport Scotland is pushing to get more people making active travel choices for short everyday journeys wherever possible, not only for the benefit of the environment but also for our health.
What’s also clear is that an ever-increasing number of the population need to adjust their diets and increase their levels of exercise to reduce their risk of major health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Transport Scotland’s vision is that by 2020, 10 per cent of all everyday journeys will be made by bicycle. Currently, around 34 per cent of all car journeys in Scotland are less than two miles. Two miles is a probably a 40 minute walk for some but considerably less on a bicycle. On an E-bike, it’s even less at under 10 minutes. Cycling is a much-underrated form of exercise and transportation. In fact, cycling has been shown to have a significant impact on health and fitness, as well as helping to reduce congestion, and therefore emissions in towns and cities.
Whilst it’s clear that the Transport Bill will help encourage cycling, to induce long-term positive changes, a permanent shift in behaviour is required. But how do we encourage more people to cycle?
Alongside the measures set out in the Bill, commuters can use Green Commute Initiative (GCI). GCI is a relative newcomer to the cycle-to-work industry but is already changing the way people view cycle-to-work schemes.
It’s offering is unique to the market. There is no £1,000 spending limit and no exit fees which means participants can make real tax-free savings of up to 47 per cent. Employers also save up to 13.8 per cent. The savings enable participants to choose quality E-bikes, conventional pedal, or even cargo bikes, if they prefer. The choice is theirs.
GCI is passionate about E-bikes believing they are the future of commuter travelling. E-bikes bypass many issues such as long journey times, traffic congestion, inconvenient public transport timetables, lack of affordable car parking and high car running costs. At the same time, individual health and fitness is improved as well as the quality of air that surrounds us all. The E-bike battery assistance kicks in when required and it means hills and distances are no longer sweat-inducing obstacles. Employees can arrive at work on time, wearing their business attire without the need to shower. They will also feel healthier, happier and become more effective in their workplace. In short, everyone wins with an E-bike.
As a Social Enterprise, GCI’s vision is to get commuters out of cars and onto any kind of bike, with the dual purpose of improving both the individual’s health and wellbeing, as well as reducing the environmental impact of pollution and congestion from cars. To help achieve this, GCI actively works with Sustrans; a charity which aims to make it easier for people to walk and cycle.
Established in 2016, GCI is also the only cycle-to-work scheme provider to be authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. This is why there is no £1,000 spending cap. In addition, GCI supports independent bike shops with the lowest commission rates in the industry.
The scheme is HMRC compliant and has been reviewed by Ernst & Young to ensure that all the contracts and agreements are clear to all and compliant with the rules. Ernst & Young looked at the current arrangement GCI has with Northumberland Council on which to base its findings. The report states “the scheme arrangements are robust and comply with the relevant legislative exemption in respect of cycles and cyclist’s safety equipment”.
Subsequently, GCI has worked with councils and health trusts and has a framework agreement in place which as been subsequently been used by other public bodies, enabling them to follow best practice and avoid the costly tender process.
GCI also operates the Green Bike Pool which provides a complete turnkey E-bike pool solution. E-bike pools are designed to be used by staff whilst carrying out the duties of their work, such as travelling between different building locations or attending off-site meetings. Organisations can hire as many e-bikes as required and a comprehensive support package is included.
Joanna Flint is head of marketing at GCI
This piece was sponsored by GCI.
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