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Bicycle User Groups (BUGs)

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If you want to encourage more people to commute by cycle to your workplace, or use cycles for business travel, setting up a Bicycle User Group is a step in the right direction. This guide tells you how to go about it, and what the BUG can do once it gets going.

Workplace BUGs support staff who cycle at and/or to and from work. They are usually championed by a keen cyclist plus (ideally) a core of fellow employees. Some BUGs have much in common with local cycle campaign groups and many not only look after the interests of existing cyclists, but work hard to encourage other employees to take up cycling too.

Good BUG ingredients

  • Champion(s) committed to the cause of cycling
  • Clear, realistic objectives
  • Good administration
  • Support from both non-managerial and managerial staff – and ‘top bods’
  • Reliable, accessible sources of information and advice
  • Constructive communications between members and between the BUG and employer
  • Good publicity and promotion
  • Momentum!

How to set up a BUG

  • Share and discuss your ideas with other cyclists at your workplace first. If you don't know who they are, attach leaflets to their bicycles, or put up a poster near any cycle parking - or just send out an email to everyone, if possible.
  • Arrange a meeting for anyone who's interested. Out of courtesy, let your employer know beforehand.
  • At the meeting, take everyone’s contact details. Ask them how involved they want to be and if they have any special skills the BUG could use (design, writing newsletters, diplomacy etc).  Discuss your cycling wish list and work out the priorities.
  • Start with some simple, clear-cut objectives, e.g. 20p mileage rate for employees cycling on business (this is the permitted Inland Revenue rate for tax relief); covered cycling parking; drying room. 
  • Research the above, estimate costs, and gather literature/leaflets to persuade your employer that promoting cycling has something in it for them as well, e.g. healthier staff; need for fewer costly car parking places; less congestion on the roads. CTC's guide to Cycle-friendly Employers helps explain the benefits.
  • Work out who in your management structure should be able to help put your proposals into practice. Meet them, perhaps offering a presentation. Be constructive and well-informed and, above all, do your best to come out with managerial endorsement plus timetabled action points and, ideally, a budget. If your BUG membership is already impressive, let them know – it demonstrates the popularity of your project.

Things for BUGS to do

Admin and publicity

  • Set up and maintain a database of members; and register any skills than might be useful to the BUG.
  • Design a logo.
  • Produce posters and a regular newsletter; publicise success.
  • If your company has an intranet, use it.
  • Set up a central noticeboard / leaflet stand / suggestion box.

Contacts

  • Arrange regular meetings, both with the relevant managers and with BUG supporters.
  • Contact whoever is responsible for cycling at your local council. They may be able to help with any road engineering issues you have; or tell you about any work they're doing on business ‘travel plans’. Invite them to address a BUG meeting.
  • Find out if there is a local CTC campaigner and/or cycle campaign group and involve them.

Resources and research

  • Collect a library/leaflets on:
  • cycle training
  • the local area (procure an appropriate local map – if none, draw one up!)
  • train timetables and information on cycle carriage
  • tax incentives for both employees and employer alike
  • cycle maintenance
  • load carrying, cycle lighting and other equipment
  • Find out more about your workforce via a cycling survey. What's stopping other people from cycling? How can the BUG help?
  • Carry out a survey of your premises and surrounds - are there any access or infrastructure problems for cyclists? Are any of them curable, and if so, how?

Encouraging other people to cycle

  • Ask your employer to take part in a Workplace Challenge.
  • Set up ‘bike buddy’ schemes whereby an experienced cyclist rides to work with a novice until they feel comfortable about the route and more confident about their skills.
  • Contribute to the development of a staff and/or company travel plan.
  • Help arrange cycle training for anyone who wants it.
  • Help arrange for the provision of ‘pool’ bikes, plus related equipment.
  • Investigate your company's willingness to subscribe to the Cycle to Work Scheme, which offers employers of all sizes across the public, private and voluntary sectors a tax exempt cycle and cycle equipment loan scheme for staff.
  • Develop incentives, e.g. vouchers / discounts at local bike shops
  • Assess the need for cycle parking, lockers, showers, drying room, and work with your employer to supply them.
  • Arrange events, e.g.cycling breakfasts (tax free benefit until 2013);  rides; cycle maintenance sessions (your local bike shop might help); presentations.
  • Affiliate your BUG to CTC by calling 0844 736 8451 for advice. Costs start from £50 per year plus a one-off £25 admin fee for BUGs with fewer than 250 members, £75 for more than 250 members plus the £25 one-off admin fee.
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  • Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC): A company limited by guarantee, registered in England no.25185. Registered as a charity in England and Wales No 1147607 and in Scotland No SC042541
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