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When someone mentions “company vehicle”, you think of a car, right? Yes, like most people. And what if tomorrow, it was not as obvious?
Good for your health, morale, savings, as well as for the community… For those who have spent a bit of time looking into the issue, the case for having bikes in town no longer needs to be proven.
Cycling to work is on a roll: since 2019, one employee out of five living in a city with over 100,000 inhabitants go to work on their bike.
Post Covid, this number has continued to rise, as the French industry body, Union Sport & Cycle, figures show (in French) : “Following on from an already exceptional 2020, the French cycling market sustained its strong growth in 2021. With the overall market valued at over €3.4 billion, bike sales have experienced growth of +4% in sales volume and +15% in value compared to 2020. In concrete terms, more than 2,789,000 bikes were sold in France in 2021, once again making bikes the French people's preferred means of transport, a long way ahead of other modes of transport.”
And even though most cyclist pedal to work on their personal bike, we encounter more and more people on company bikes on the roads. Just like company cars, they are provided by the employer, sometimes in return for an employees contribution - approximately 15 to 30 Euros a month.
There is nothing new about this idea: n Silicon Valley, company's such as Google, Apple or Facebook (sorry, Meta) have been providing bikes to their employees for years, allowing them to travel around the vast American campuses. Other Californian companies also make available two-wheel contraptions to go off and do your shopping or relieve stress between two meetings on trails close by the office.
Because a bike, as opposed to a car, is not just about travelling from point A to point B.By riding our bike, we maintain our fitness, boost our mental health, do our bit for Mother Nature's benefit, free up space on the roads, discover local shops… Do we have to list the benefits of cycling? Here is one that will do the trick for employers: according to the Alberta Centre for Active Living (University of Alberta, Canada), employees who cycle are 12% more productive. and another one: employers that put in place a sport at work policy have seen their levels of absenteeism drop by 30% to 40%. . Not bad.
Let's allow our imagination to have free rein...
What would the world look like where all company cars are replaced by bikes? For starters, we have to reconsider the idea of eliminating one for the benefit of the other. Quite a lot of people need motor assistance - persons with reduced mobility or those living too far away from city centres for a bike to be a viable option immediately come to mind. This number could, however, decrease thanks to the democratisation of electric bikes, allowing greater distances to be covered (or climbing slightly steeper slopes), even if your legs are not in the best shape.
Another benefit of bikes for employees: with an employer covering up to 70% of the cost of a bike, an employee can choose a slightly more expensive model (such as an electric model), which they will eventually own after a few years - a practice borrowed directly from the car industry.
What do you do with the suit and tie? Do you have to resign yourself to taking part in meetings in Lycra shorts when you switch to cycling? Not at all, if we are to believe the photos posted on Cycle Chic, run by urban designer Mikael Colville-Andersen, better known as the "bike pope". The blog, launched in 2006, aims to remind us that we can be themselves when cycling. "I will gracefully and elegantly cycle with my head held high", we can read in the Cycle Chic's manifestoThe movement has inspired others around the world - we've seen fashion trends in Paris, Amsterdam and even in Montreal, where winter doesn't prevent you from being well dressed.
More and more dignitaries are also adopting this approach. The Dutch royal family is renowned for its love of bikes. Montreal's Lord Mayoress, Valérie Plante, has continued to ride her bike fitted with a milk crate, since she was elected in 2017. A New Zealand women politician was cycling to the maternity ward at the end of 2021 to give birth to her second child.
In actual fact, there is no need for imagination to see what the future of the company bike will look like: just look to Germany, where more than a million employees make the most of services of a handful of growing start-ups, offering a turnkey service, taking care of everything from the bike catalogue, repairs, accessories and offering a broad range of models from foldable bikes to cargo bikes.
The Sustainable Mobility Package was launched in May 2020, encouraging employers to go green through tax breaks - an incentive that will probably be a source of motivation for many. Even without this, pressure is growing from employees: in Brussels, one employee in 3 is ready to swap their company car for a bike. The under 30s are particularly sensitive to these types of benefits. Put simply: while companies are bending over backwards to attract and retain talent, it might be time to switch to two wheels.