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Setting up a work bike


A bike can be a great addition to an organisation's vehicle fleet. It can help to reduce transport costs, contribute to staff health and fitness, and improve the environmental sustainability of work travel. You might be an employee wanting to use a bike for work trips or you might have a work bike and want to encourage staff to make more use of it. DPTI has put this site together to provide some tips and resources for getting a work bike up and running, as well as some South Australian case studies of successful work bike fleets.

Making the case: Gaining management support for a work bike

Management support is critical to the success of a work bike. To get your manager’s support for a workplace bike, you may require a business case. The format may vary depending on your organisation, but is likely to include the following questions:

Why start a bike fleet?

The answers to this question will vary for each workplace, but some common benefits include:

Cost savings: Calculate your organisation's expenditure on staff travel and estimate the potential  savings from making a proportion of work travel by bicycle - it may be much cheaper than taxi or fleet car.

Staff health and wellbeing: Bike riding for travel purposes allows staff to be physically active through their day, and therefore healthier, with studies showing that regular bike riders average one less sick day a year than non-bike riders[1]. Bike riding is also an effective method or reducing depression and anxiety, helping to boost work performance[2].

Corporate social responsibility: A workplace bicycle allows an organisation to show its community how it is committed to meeting its environmental and workforce health targets. 

What will a bike or bike fleet cost?

Seek quotes from local bike shops for a bike and equipment (such as a pannier rack and bags or a basket, as well as a lock, pump and helmet). You will also need to allow for minimal ongoing costs for maintenance, such as replacement inner tubes and an annual service. Consider whether there will be any costs involved with strong the bike securely. Contrast these costs with the cost savings and other benefits you anticipate.

What concerns might management have against establishing a bike culture?

It is a good idea to think of potential concerns your manager might have about a workplace bike, and develop responses to these prior to presenting your case. Below are some common concerns that may be raised.

The workplace health and safety risk is too large
Bicycle riding is often perceived to be more risky than it actually is. Australian and international data show that as bike riding rates double, the risk per kilometre in fact falls by 34%[3]. As with staff vehicle use, there are steps a workplace can take to minimise staff risk, such as developing a bike use policy and a process for employees to use the bike - for further information, check out Developing a work bike policy.

Staff will spend more time travelling
This is not necessarily the case. For shorter journeys of around 5km or less, travel time by bike is often quicker than by car[4]. Bikes can usually travel from door to door, with no time wasted searching for a park. Plus, bike lanes and paths can allow riders to avoid traffic jams. You might like to identify a regular work trip that would be suitable for bike riding and present approximate journey times by bike and by car to your manager. The Cycle Instead Journey Planner may be useful for calculating the bike journey time – as well as a safe and suitable route.

Staff will arrive at meetings sweaty/in non-business attire
Bike riding does not have to be any more strenuous than walking. If riding at a leisurely pace, it is possible to ride in business attire quite comfortably without raising a sweat. A bike with a mudguard and chain guard, accessories such as trouser clips and panniers to carry luggage can make it even easier to arrive at your destination looking neat and presentable.

Maintaining the bike will be difficult or time consuming
No more so than a car – less if you consider that you don’t need to refuel it. Depending on use, the bike might need some basic maintenance around once a month: checking the tyre pressure, brakes, chain and lights. You could take the bike to a bike shop for a professional service annually at minimal cost.

How will you do it?

Try to find other keen staff members to help you to get your work bike up and running. This will also help demonstrate the level of support for a workplace bike to your manager. Check out the Getting on the bike: tips for encouraging work bike use information for ideas.

  1. Australian Bicycle Council & Cycling Promotion Fund, 2011 Australian cycling: An economic overview. Cycling Promotion Fund, Melbourne.
  2. Cycling Promotion Fund, 2008 Economic Benefits of Cycling for Australia, Cycling Promotion Fund, Melbourne.
  3. Cycling Promotion Fund, 2008 Economic Benefits of Cycling for Australia  
  4. Austroads, 2010 The Australian National Cycling Strategy 2011-2016, Austroads, Sydney.

Developing a work bike policy

To make it as simple as possible for staff to choose bike riding for work trips, as well as addressing work health and safety (WH&S) requirements, the easiest way is to develop a policy or guideline. This will assist in mitigating risks and make it as easy as possible for staff to ride. The following outlines how to develop a work bike guideline.

The main barriers to getting a work bike or bike fleet up and running in most organisations relate to perceptions of staff safety and concerns about risk and liability. To overcome these barriers, it is useful to engage with the existing WH&S systems within the organisation.  Most workplaces have systems in place to guide work travel, particularly use of work vehicles. It is best not to ‘re-invent the wheel’ but to incorporate bike riding into existing processes or guidelines related to vehicle use to include bike riding. This saves time, reduces duplication, mainstreams the use of bikes for transport and increases the likelihood of senior management support.

DPTI’s approach made use of existing Departmental resources such as its Driving Policy, Vehicle Policy and Risk Assessment Framework, to provide the backbone of the bike use guideline. This ensured bike riding was fully integrated into the organisation’s existing framework of risk assessment and mitigation.

To help organisations develop their own policy, a template  based on the Department’s work bike use guideline is available by contacting DPTI.TravelSmartSA@sa.gov.au.

Getting on the bike: tips for encouraging bike use

So you have a work bike and want people to use it, by making staff aware the bike exists and is available for them to use is critical. Start by making it as easy as possible for staff to use the bike.

Launch the bike or fleet

Having a launch is a great way for staff to find out about the bike fleet. It allows management to get some credit and demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to staff and bike riding. It’s also a great way to provide all the information needed to book and use the bike.

Help staff plan safe bike riding routes

Provide (either on the workplace intranet or common noticeboards) bike route information for regular short work trips, and advise staff on how to plan their own safe routes. The Cycle Instead Journey Planner, which draws on Adelaide’s network of on and off road bike lanes and paths, is a useful tool to plan a way to get to your destination by bike. You could also consider using out cycling and walking maps or produce your own map of the local area with bike paths and lanes marked on it.

Make it visible

Locate the bike somewhere people will see it. If this is difficult, include a sign or banner directing staff to where the bike is located. Integrate the booking process into existing fleet vehicle systems such as Outlook or at reception. Promote the bike with a flier placed adjacent to the vehicle booking site.

Provide bike safety training

Through an accredited service provider, offer to fund bike safety training for staff who want to build on their bike riding skills and confidence.

Provide additional accessories

As a minimum, you will need to provide a helmet, or require staff to bring their own. It’s also important to have panniers or carry racks to allow staff to carry work materials. Other useful accessories include a bike lock, mudguards to protect clothing, spare tubes and pump for punctures on the go and high-visibility vests or jackets.

Celebrate success

Promote the success of the bike fleet in staff newsletters, publications or websites. Provide a case study of a regular work bike user with a picture and description of the trips they make.

Case studies



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