A lot has been written about the benefits of bicycle commuting that bicycle commuters experience, but did you know there are many benefits for employers as well?
Cycling employees are healthy employees who take less sick days not only due to the health benefits of cycling itself but also from not picking up a cold, flu or virus while sharing public transport with thousands of unwell travellers, particularly in the winter where trains are nothing but mobile disease dispensers. Sick employees can be bad for business not only due to the time they take from work, but also because there is a risk they will pass on a virus to fellow workers and before you know it half the office is off sick. Cycling employees are not only healthy themselves, but promote a healthier workplace resulting in fewer sick days among all employees.
Mentally bicycle commuters are less stressed than their public transport taking and driving co-workers. Personally I find that cycling to and from work gives me a clear buffer between home time and work time whereas when I take public transport I'm on work time from the moment I step out the door. For me the very act of cycling is enjoyable and puts me in a positive frame of mind, and having to concentrate on the cars, cyclist and pedestrians around me gives me less time to stress about what awaits me at work when I arrive or the following day. When taking the train, with little else to occupy my mind, I find myself thinking about work, worrying about deadlines and stressing about meetings, that can't be healthy. For the duration of the commute a cyclists mind freed from the worries of work making them happier, less stressed and ultimately more productive.
Bicycle commuters are more punctual. Bicycle commuters aren't restrained by traffic jams, nor are they affected by train delays meaning they arrive at work on time regardless of the condition of the transport networks their co-workers rely upon. Recently in the aftermath of a typhoon in Tokyo train services were delayed for an entire day. By cycling to work I arrived on time while co-workers were filing in up to 4 or 5 hours late due to transport delays. I arrived with a smile on my face and put in a solid days work (achieving even more without constant interruptions!), while colleagues arrive late, tired and in terrible moods having spent the last 4 hours battling over crowded public transport. What about mechanical delays you may ask? A well maintained bicycle with puncture proof tyres is a lot more reliable than both traffic and weather forecasts!
While we don't want to work ourselves to death there are times we must work late, or irregular hours. In Japan where the train service stops between 12:30am and 5:00am (roughly) allowing employees to cycle to work means we can come to and from work during the hours when public transport is not operating if needed, without the expense of providing a taxi or car.
Finally, the cost of providing parking for employees who drive or shuttle buses for employees who rely upon public transport can be immense. Although bicycle commuters will need facilities of their own the cost is minuscule compared to that of providing adequate parking facilities or shuttle bus services for all employees.
Not all of the benefits of bicycle commuting are easily measured financially, but it should be plainly obvious that happy, healthy, stress free bicycle commuting employees are more productive and will have a positive impact not only on profits, but will also contribute to a healthier and happier workplace.
Of course these benefits do not come to businesses without a price, as bicycle commuters will require, even demand, facilities which we will investigate in the next article on this topic.
April 15, 2014
Employer Benefits of Bicycle Commuting
Father of two, husband of one, lover of family, bicycles and running.
Urban Cycling Consultant, Tokyo By Bike.
Byron Kidd is the founder of the Tokyo By Bike website, writer, experienced urban cyclist, and expert on cycling in the staggering metropolis of Tokyo.
Working with NPO's and cycling activists to improve cycling infrastructure in Japan, Byron also operates internationally via a vast network of renowned urban mobility experts to promote Japanese cycling culture, and demonstrate how everyday cycling can work in megacities around the world. No city is too big for the bicycle.
Day Job, Software Developer.
Writing code and stuff, for games and things.