Why Promote Active Travel to Work

By Alison Holland

Published: April 5, 2021

The facts about encouraging more active, sustainable modes of travel

Travel and transport is important for our workplaces: staff travel to and from work, we visit clients, receive visitors and also have to manage the safe, efficient movement of goods and waste. We have systems and habits in place which ultimately must be cost-effective and beneficial to our businesses and ideally to our wider communities and the environment too.

As a nation we have become very car dependent for our journeys to and from work. For many, travelling alone by car has become the easiest, or only, option. Transport is the largest and fastest growing source of carbon emissions in the UK. Congestion delays frustrate us on our journeys and air pollution is a massive health threat in our towns and cities.

Back to businesses - we need to be efficient to survive but also need a healthy, motivated workforce to thrive. Fortunately businesses large or small can play their part in easing our car dependency and in doing so can reap their own financial benefits whilst supporting staff wellbeing and environmental aims.

Let’s look at some of the facts. Even if you are already on board with encouraging more active, sustainable modes of travel, you can use these to get your colleagues and decision-makers to support you.

  • Addressing climate targets - transport is biggest source of co2 emissions in the UK. In the UK, air pollution is estimated to cost £40 billion a year and cause 8.3% of all deaths.
  • Reducing demand on car park space - how much is the value of land used for one car park space in your area? Around 10 bicycles can fit in the space taken by an average car. In many cities, more than 50% of the total land is dedicated to cars in the form of roads, streets, and parking spaces.
  • Reduced staff absenteeism - those who cycle regularly have an average of 27% less absenteeism from work. Absenteeism costs businesses around £14 billion annually, and around £622 per employee. Around 1/3 of absenteeism costs are attributable to physical activity
  • Long term health - those who cycle regularly are 46% less likely to get cancer and 45% less likely to get COPD. Physical activity leads to improved immune function.
  • More productivity at work - a noted 72% improvement in time management and workload completed on days when employees exercise.
  • Mental wellbeing - regular active travel helps mental wellbeing and reduces depression and stress (can get stats)
  • Easier recruitment - workplaces which promote alternatives to car access will have a greater scope to attract more staff who are fitter and healthier
  • Cost savings - saving employees money in car parking and car costs, lower healthcare costs for businesses. Bike-related transport weekly expenditure is on average only £1.00 per week - the primary saving is cost of fuel. 1% increase in employees cycling would lead to £32.5m/year savings for employers.
  • Congestion - in 2019 UK drivers lost 115 hours stuck in congestion, which, converted in lost hours at work is equivalent to £6.9 billion (or £894 per person).
  • Reputation - supporting a social enterprise, and being a company staff enjoy working for
  • Satisfaction in commute - travelling "some other way", which would include cycling to work, had higher satisfaction levels and were less anxious than those who travelled in cars.