Bike Friendly Business scheme rolls into new year

Applications open for support to create more cycling-friendly workplaces

11 January 2021

Organisations across West Yorkshire can continue to gain access to direct support and funding to become more bike friendly employers in 2021.

A shift to more active forms of travel has been a key part of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Now funding aimed at boosting opportunities for active travel across the region will continue into the new year through the Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme, aimed at encouraging more people to travel on foot and by bike.

The Combined Authority and partner councils successfully secured £2.5 million from the government’s active travel fund in July 2020 and have been working with businesses and communities to enable more people to cycle and walk, more often.

Through its ‘Bike Friendly Business’ grant programme, CityConnect has supported 23 organisations to boost cycling opportunities for staff, with over £100k awarded in total.

Provision of pool bikes has been a popular option for business, with around 50 bikes funded so far. This includes bikes used by the App-Bike system at Central Square in Leeds, ebikes at a manufacturer in Guiseley and a variety of bikes provided at Shiers Solicitors in Bradford.

Other organisations supported include Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, the Royal Armouries Museum and Open Source Arts in Leeds, which all benefitted from new, high quality, secure bike parking for employees, with around 70 spaces provided in total.

At Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, the improved bike parking facilities and the increased focus on cycling as an active commute option has been particularly well received as a way of helping ease stress and improve employees’ general wellbeing during an especially challenging time in the NHS.

David Moss, Managing Director of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust estates company, AGH Solutions, said:

“We are delighted the Bike Friendly Business scheme was able to support our work to improve bike storage facilities at Airedale Hospital. With the Covid-19 pandemic and the emphasis on health, more staff are biking to work rather than using cars and public transport.

“We have undertaken surveys with our cyclists which show that secure storage is one of the most important elements to enable people to cycle to work. We encourage our people to cycle to the hospital because of the health benefits and to reduce carbon emissions. 

“The support from this scheme has enabled us to install far more facilities than we thought possible with our available budget.”

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said:

“Through our CityConnect programme, we have continued to invest in enabling more people to travel by bike and on foot, which has been crucial in meeting the transport challenge created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the limited capacity on public transport. 

“We also know that a move to active travel can significantly boost people’s health and wellbeing, and we’re particularly proud to have supported Airedale NHS Foundation Trust to provide improved bike parking facilities at the hospital, making cycling a more attractive option for key workers there.

“We’re now pleased to continue offering our Bike Friendly Business scheme into the new year, and we’re looking forward to seeing even more organisations gain access to the targeted advice and funding that can support them in promoting cycling among their employees.”

The Combined Authority will continue to deliver its Bike Friendly Business scheme into 2021, offering free expert advice, tailored support and grants of up to £5k to help West Yorkshire employers support more staff in cycling to work.

More than 300 organisations have already signed up to become places where travelling by bike is the easiest and most convenient option, with 20 organisations awarded the top level ‘Gold’ Bike Friendly Business accreditation.

On average, businesses that sign up to the scheme see a 20% increase in the number of employees travelling to work by bike.

Find out how CityConnect can help your organisation become more cycling friendly and how to apply for a grant, here.

The Combined Authority was successful in bidding for £2.5 million of active travel funding in July 2020. In November 2020, the Combined Authority successfully bid for a further £10.053 million under tranche 2 of the scheme, bringing the total awarded to £12.5 million.

The Bike Friendly Business scheme grant awarded to Airedales NHS Foundation Trust was match funded by Bradford Council.