The provision and safe use of company bicycles
Many organisations provide pool bicycles in accordance with their employee travel policies. The
purpose of this summary is to heighten awareness of the associated risk management issues.
There are significant benefits in cycling to and from work and when making business journeys
which include improving health, fitness and general wellbeing, reducing environmental pollution,
traffic congestion in urban areas and travel costs.
The UK government introduced the Cycle to Work Scheme under the 1999 Finance Act to
promote healthier and sustainable journeys to work. The scheme allows employers to loan
bicycles and associated safety equipment either themselves or through a third party provider to
employees as a tax free benefit. Employers are able to treat the cost as capital expenditure and
Many organisations that encourage cycling and run a cycle to work scheme also provide pool
bicycles. A summary of the Cycle to Work Scheme is set out below to highlight the difference
between the two.
Organisations that provide pool bicycles for business use have to make an initial investment in the
bicycles and equipment which can be recovered through savings in other transport costs, e.g. car
mileage expenses, parking fees, train fares etc. The reduction of employee travel time in heavy
traffic or where there is limited public transport can also provide savings. Employees can gain from
the opportunity of increasing their physical activity and having an immediate travel option with a
flexible route choice and control over their journey times.
Cycle to work schemes
The Cycle to Work Scheme requires that the bicycles and equipment are used more than 50 per
cent of the time for ‘qualifying journeys’, i.e.:-
between an employee’s home and workplace,
between one workplace and another,
to and from a train station to get to work.
In most cases employers choose to provide the benefit of a loaned bicycle in conjunction with
salary sacrifice arrangements and for the bicycle to be sold or transferred to the employee after
the end of a loan agreement over a set period, e.g. twelve months. Provided the payment that the
employee makes for the bicycle is equal to or more than the market value of the bicycle there is no
tax charge under the employment income rules otherwise the difference is taxable.
The market value of bicycles is difficult to determine so HMRC have set out a simplified valuation
table to assist employers with their approach to implementing the scheme and which sets out a fair
charge to the employee.
Insurance arrangements for the bicycles have to be determined and set out in the loan agreement.
Employers can add them to their insurance agreement with their own insurer or it may be more
practical for the employee to have the bicycle covered under their own house and contents policy.
Repair arrangements are also set out in the loan agreement. Some organisations choose to
partner with a local retailer for this purpose.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched the ‘Cycle to Work Guarantee’ to encourage
more employers to overcome the barriers which discourage their employees from cycling to work.
The guarantee provides a toolkit which requires organisations to commit to providing:-
secure, safe and accessible parking facilities.
good quality changing and locker facilities.
offset cost of equipment and save on the tax through the ‘Cycle to Work Scheme’.
bicycle repair on or near site.
training, reward and incentive programmes.
It is not possible to quantify the number of organisations that run Cycle to Work Schemes although
it appears that a large number of both public and private sector employers have signed up to the
‘Cycle to Work Guarantee’ indicating that they may also provide pool bicycles.
Cycling on the commute to work does not create the same risk of liability for an employer as
cycling for work as the employer is only expected to manage risks which are under their control
and it is not reasonable to expect them to control an individual’s journey to work.
Pool bicycles for business
Workplace pool bicycle schemes provide bicycles and safety equipment for use by employees for
any kind of journey but are usually used for work-related journeys, e.g. trips to local meetings, site
visits, client home visits etc. The bicycles are usually kept in a central place and are booked out by
authorised employees who have certified themselves as competent to use them on public roads.
Employers can pay up 20p per mile tax free to employees who use their own bicycles for business
travel under the current HMRC allowance. There is no requirement to pay expenses for pool bike
use but it can be an incentive and some organisations offer this.
Pool bicycles are intended for business use only and will usually be booked out to an employee to
be returned the same day. Some organisations will loan them out for commuting or holiday use
(see insurance below) and run a late returns fine policy.
The successful implementation of a pool bicycle scheme relies on the support and interest of
employees and senior management.
The hazards encountered by cyclists in today’s traffic conditions are often of concern to
employees and employers. Employees may lack confidence in riding a bicycle and feel wary of
cycling in traffic or are uncomfortable about appearing sweaty or untidy when arriving at work,
while at the other extreme there are employees that may feel overconfident. Employers’ concerns
are related to their employees’ safety, their budgetary constraints and potential liabilities.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) statistics show that every year in
Great Britain around 17,000 cyclists are killed or injured in reported road accidents. This includes
around 2,500 who are killed or seriously injured. These figures exclude accidents that occur away
from the main road. Many cyclist casualties are not reported to the police and it is believed that the
number of injured cyclists could be much higher. The most common key contributory factor in
collisions involving a bicycle and another vehicle recorded by the police is ‘failed to look properly’
by either the driver or rider.
Collisions involving cyclists, as with motor cyclists are relatively infrequent but the effects are very
serious and the collisions are often caused by human error which could be prevented by taking
certain precautions. The most common root causes are driver distraction, poor observation, driver
fatigue and poor vehicle maintenance.
Statistics indicate that 80% of cyclist casualties are males, 75% of fatal or serious accidents occur
in urban areas, around half of cyclist fatalities occur on rural roads, 75% of accidents happen at or
near a road junction, 80% of accidents occur in daylight and more accidents occur during the
Spring and Summer months.
The British government and the British Medical Association state that cycling is actually getting
safer and that the benefits outweigh the risks involved. Research shows that increases in cycling
are accompanied by reductions in cycling casualties e.g. London has seen a 91% increase in
cycling since 2000 and there was a 33% fall in cycle casualties from 1994 to 1998 while the
Netherlands saw a 45% increase in cycling from 1980 to 2005 and a 58% decrease in cyclist
It is also stated that taking the worst possible scenario there is just one recorded death for every
33 million kilometres, which the average cyclist could never cover in a life time. Moreover there is
a well established view that the risks are outweighed by the positive benefits that cycling has for
the individual and the organisation.
Claims information available within Zurich is limited to motor claims involving collisions with cars
and large goods vehicles resulting in injuries to cyclists however, there is minimal assessment of
the risks that can be drawn from this information.
Managing the risks
The risks associated with cycling and the misconceptions of the dangers need to be carefully
considered by the organisation providing the pool bicycle scheme. There are clearly risks
associated with cycling and it is essential that a risk management approach is taken when
designing and setting up a scheme.
Generally the use of pool bicycles should be covered by the organisation’s overall health and
safety policies and procedures and the specific risks should be identified, assessed and controlled
in the same way as with other activities carried out at work.
Employers have a general duty under health and safety legislation to manage the risks associated
with their workplace and work activities. They should consider what may cause harm and who may
be harmed, what can be done to prevent or reduce the harm and where appropriate put control
measures in place to manage identified risks. This risk assessment should then be formally
Appropriate control measures include providing a safe workplace, safe working equipment, safe
systems of work and adequate information, instruction and training.
Employees have a duty under health and safety legislation to take care of themselves and others
that may be affected by their work activities and to cooperate with their employers in respect of
health and safety.
An understanding of the risks enables employers to make informed and balanced judgements and
it is essential that those carrying out the risk assessment understand the relevant issues
associated with cycling and cyclist behaviour.
It is beneficial to appoint more than one person to carry out the risk assessment and ensure that
key people are involved, e.g. a manager with budgetary authority, an employee who is a proficient
cyclist and a main point of contact for the ongoing management of the scheme. Those involved in
the setting up of the scheme may be called upon at varying times in the process and may not
necessarily be involved in the day-to-day running of it.
Setting up a pool bicycle scheme requires the following:-
Building the business case.
Obtaining bicycles, equipment and storage.
Launching the scheme.
Careful consideration should be given to the risk management aspects of storage of bicycles,
changing facilities, buying equipment, maintaining and repairing bicycles and training for users
similarly to the aspects outlined in the DFT’s ‘Cycle to Work Guarantee’ toolkit.
The Health and Safety Executive’s general five step risk assessment approach should be applied
to the use of pool bicycles:-
Step 1 Identify the hazards
Step 2 Decide who might be harmed and how
Step 3 Evaluate the risks and decide
Step 4 Record your findings
Step 5 Review your assessment and update it as necessary.
Consideration should be given to safe access, egress and movement around the workplace and
the risks that may arise with regard to the vehicle and pedestrian traffic routes. Employers have a
duty to manage such risks under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations also place a duty on employers to assess
the risks from equipment that they use for work and this includes pool bicycles.
The overall risk assessment for the use of pool bicycles should identify the hazards, e.g. injury due
to accident and the appropriate control measures e.g. user training that need to be implemented to
ensure the safety of users and others. The work activities carried out by departments across the
organisation should also consider any additional risks that may arise from staff travelling by bicycle
e.g. the job requires equipment to be carried that would make cycling unsuitable.
The control measures for ensuring the safe use of pool bicycles primarily involve adequate
maintenance, repair and monitoring of the equipment and the management and monitoring of the
Selection of bicycles and equipment
Choosing the right bicycles for employees is important as this will affect the way in which they are
used and their safety, so consideration should be given to:-
What will employees be using the bicycles for?
Is it appropriate to have a range of different types of bikes, e.g. hybrid, folding, mountain,
Having a range of sizes/types to suit all potential users e.g. male, female, specialist?
How and where will they be stored on site and at destinations?
Are they easily adaptable e.g. with quick release seats, etc.?
The provision of tricycles and other specialist bicycles should be considered to meet the needs of
people with mobility impairments including those with difficulties with balance.
Equipment requirements will vary for individuals at different times but it is essential that some
standard safety equipment and accessories are supplied for use with the pool bicycles. The table
below sets out those that may be considered essential or desirable and some optional items that
may need to be considered.
Essential Desirable Optional
Helmet Panniers / rucksack Trailer
Lights / reflectors Trouser clips / snapband Waterproof jacket / trousers
Hi-visibility jacket / waistcoats Pump / puncture repair kit Track pump
Bell / horn Cycle route maps
Emergency contact numbers
Bicycles maintenance and repairs
Pool bicycles must be maintained in a roadworthy condition. There should be an appointed person
within the organisation who has responsibility for ensuring that the bicycles are regularly serviced
and repaired. The organisation’s Estates of Facilities Management departments are usually best
placed fulfil this role.
Each bicycle should be clearly identifiable and have its own maintenance schedule. The
maintenance may be carried out in-house or under a maintenance contract with a local bicycle
retailer who can also be called upon to carry out repairs when faults are reported.
Some local bicycle retailers offer ‘Dr Bike’ sessions for employers. These are free sessions where
trained mechanics or enthusiasts perform health checks and basic repairs and give advice to
bicycle owners at events and workplaces. Larger organisations can enter into partnerships with
local retailers and provide an on-site shop.
Leased bicycle packages would usually include regular maintenance, call-out for repairs and
periodic replacement with new bicycles.
Employers should manage pool bicycles in the same way as other equipment provided for
employees use at work and have a legal duty to maintain work equipment under the Provision and
Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER).
In the case of Stark v The Post Office 2000 Mr Stark was employed as a postman and was
provided with a bicycle. The wheel of his bicycle locked while he was on his round and he was
propelled over the handlebars and seriously injured and claimed damages. It was established that
the incident was caused by the stirrup of the front brake breaking in two and one piece jamming in
the front wheel. This was due to a manufacturing defect which could not have been discovered on
inspection. Although the Post Office had a system in place for maintenance, inspection and
replacement of bicycles and had done everything they could the Court of Appeal ruled that they
were in breach of PUWER which imposes an absolute duty on the employer. However, the
reasonable practicability of the regulatory provisions will continue to be debated by the courts.
Inspection systems and defect reporting
It is essential that a proactive system is in place for regularly checking the bicycles and equipment
e.g. weekly in order to identify and report any problems and monitor defects. This should be
carried out by the appointed person.
Users should also be required to check that bicycles are in good working order and safe to use
before taking them out as a part of the booking process. They should not use the bicycle if they
find it damaged or defective or anything is missing and should report it immediately. The check
seat and handle bars are securely fixed,
tyres are suitably inflated,
wheels are secure,
brakes are working correctly,
lights are working,
bell/horn is working,
panniers are correctly fitted,
there is a lock.
Booking process for pool bicycles
The booking system will need to be appropriate for the size of the organisation and the number of
bicycles available. Electronic systems are commonly used in a similar way to booking meeting
rooms in a shared calendar and are managed by the appointed person.
It is good practice for employees to complete a formal registration process before using a pool
The user employee supplies their contact details.
A short induction is provided to ensure that they are familiar with the use of the bicycles
and the booking process.
The user signs a form to self certify that they are competent to ride a bicycle on public
The registered user receives a formal acknowledgement.
The user can book a pool bicycle.
When the pool bicycle is booked out a log should be made of:-
the date and time that it was taken out,
any equipment that was provided with it,
when it is to be used,
when it is returned and any problems or faults that need to be reported.
If a bicycle malfunctions during a journey employees should be instructed not to use it and to
secure it and retrieve it later.
A written record/log should kept and maintained for all reported defects that are identified either
during inspections or when the bicycles are booked out or returned by users.
A record should then be made of the repair or any action taken.
Some maintenance providers will manage the repairs through an on-line management system and
maintain a record for each bicycle.
It is essential that records are maintained of all of the practices associated with the use of pool
Provision of helmets
There is no legal requirement to wear a helmet when cycling in the UK. However, although the
effectiveness of wearing them may be questioned by some cyclists it is advisable for employers to
provide cycle helmets with pool bicycles and make it compulsory for them to be worn.
In the case of Smith v Finch 2009 a High Court judge ruled that a cyclist failing to wear a cycle
helmet was ‘contributory negligence’. Mr Smith was riding to a friend’s house on a summer
evening in 2005 when Mr Finch’s motorcycle collided with his bicycle. Mr Smith sustained a
serious brain injury and Mr Finch was entirely at fault for the collision but alleged that Mr Smith
should have been wearing a helmet. Reference was also made to the case of Froom v Butcher
(1976) where a finding of contributory negligence was made for failure to wear a seat belt.
Helmets should be available with pool bicycles and should be offered in a range of sizes so that
employees can choose one that fits with minimal adjustments having to be made.
The shelf life of the helmets should be confirmed with the manufacturer so that they are replaced
The material inside safety helmets is designed to crush on impact and damage to a helmet may
not always be visible externally. After any impact, including dropping, a helmet should be replaced.
Cyclists should report and return helmets that have been dropped or damaged in any way.
All helmets should be inspected at the same time as bicycles for signs of damage and to ensure
that they are clean and hygienic.
Where helmets are used by more than one person there should be a system in place for cleaning
the lining before and after each use. Appropriate sprays or wipes should be purchased.
Some organisations allow employees to buy their own helmets and reimburse the cost once they
have been established as regular users of the pool bicycles, e.g. having used a pool bicycle on six
Lights and reflectors
All bicycles should have reflectors fitted at the rear and reflective strips on the back of each pedal
along with white front and red rear lights as this is a legal requirement at night.
Employees should wear hi-visibility and reflective clothing to increase the likelihood of being seen
by other road users. There is a broad range of hi-visibility jackets, waistcoats, reflective tabards
and ankle straps available. Wearing fluorescent colour strips or clothing may serve to make a
cyclist more noticeable during the day.
Use of bells and horns
Bell and horns fitted to bicycles are useful where cyclists on shared paths and need to make their
presence known. Bells should be used in a considerate way to avoid alarming other path users.
Consideration should be given to the method that employees use to safely transport equipment
and documents etc. when cycling as it is essential that they have both hands free to control the
bicycle. This should be considered in the risk assessment process referred to above.
The provision of luggage racks, panniers or rucksacks would be beneficial for certain journeys.
Rucksacks tend to be the least favoured by cyclists.
Storage and changing facilities
The provision of lockers for storing cycling accessories and a change of clothing will need to be
The organisations existing shower and changing facilities will need to be reviewed. Consultation
should be carried out with users to assess their needs.
It is recognised that good quality locks reduce the risk of bicycle theft. Suppliers will provide advice
on ways to ensure that wheels and other parts can be prevented from being easily removed.
Many locks are supplied with a logo and a security grading. Where appropriate the use of two
locks may be necessary. The security measures should also be observed for folding bicycles that
can be taken into buildings and which, if poorly secured can be easily stolen.
As a part of the booking process the organisation can request that the user signs to say that they
are responsible for the bicycle and its security until it is returned and that they will ensure that it is
Keeping a set of spare keys is advisable.
Cyclist training and competence
Employees that use the pool bikes should be capable of cycling safely and understand the
Highway Code and how it applies to them.
Employers should provide cycle training and ensure that employees are competent. Some
organisations do require employees to undergo basic training before they are able to use the
Training is available from a number of local councils and several independent providers. The
training is available for all levels through the UK National Standard known as ‘Bikeability’ which is
an agreed programme developed by experts including the ROSPA and cycling associations. There
are three levels of training from basic cycling skills to cycling in traffic. The training is delivered by
accredited instructors who have passed the National Standards cycle training course.
The relevant standard for most work-related journeys is Level 2, which covers cycling safely on
quiet roads and cycle lanes and Level 3, which covers cycling safely on busy roads.
To encourage good practice some organisations support ‘buddy schemes’ where an experienced
cyclist is paired up with a new bicycle user to give tips on cycle routes, etc. Bicycle User Groups
(BUG’s) can also be set up to which provide a forum for current and potential cyclists. Good
cycling practice safety information should be provided for users.
The on-road safety culture in an organisation is important to generate a reduction in accidents and
injuries. An organisations travel policy should develop a safety/operational balance that fits the
organisation’s risk appetite and ensures that employees do not need to take risks to get their job
done. Employees need to recognise that their riding standards and behaviour have an impact on
theirs and others safety. Effective communication across the organisation is fundamental in
changing attitudes and behaviours and successfully managing risks.
It is advisable to set out the responsibilities and arrangements for the use of the organisations pool
bicycles in a policy. The following list is not exhaustive but should be covered.
Clear guidelines about the principles and purpose of the scheme.
Roles and responsibilities of employers, employees and appointed persons.
The process for using pool bicycles.
The pool bike booking system.
Reference to relevant forms, e.g. booking forms.
Accidents involving employees cycling at work should be monitored by the organisation and if
necessary the control measures improved or additional measures implemented
Arranging adequate insurance cover is a key area of consideration when providing pool bicycles.
Generally organisations will limit the use of pool bikes to their own employees, excluding those
from other organisations that may be based at their workplace. They will be covered by their public
liability and employer’s liability insurance against claims for injury or damage to other persons or
property when engaged on business trips.
The view taken by Zurich underwriters is that the risk is covered under ‘public liability’ with no
additional premium required. Where there is public liability cover, the employer’s liability cover will
also operate where required. The bicycles will need to be covered under a specified ‘all risks’
cover with an additional premium if the customer requires ‘material damage’
Organisations should be encouraged to contact their insurers when they introduce a pool bicycle
Some organisations choose to have additional specialist cyclist insurance or have the value of the
Insurance cover can be negotiated on bicycle leasing packages which cover third party liability and
In some cases both the organisation and its service providers who manage the pool bicycles have
third party liability cover and staff can obtain a discount on individual cycle insurance through a
joint arrangement between the service provider and the insurer.
If bicycles are made available for other uses, e.g. shopping or leisure during lunch periods, these
arrangements should be agreed with the insurer.
It is clear that the use of pool bicycles schemes assists with broader organisation travel policies
and that there are personal benefits. Nevertheless there are risks associated with cycling,
particularly in certain traffic conditions that need to be acknowledged, and in accordance with all
work activities employers should consider the risks when setting up a scheme.
By implementing a suitable bicycle selection process, regular maintenance and inspection regimes
and ensuring that employees are equipped with basic awareness training, suitable protective
clothing and other relevant equipment the risks can be adequately controlled and the benefits can
be experienced by employers and their employees.
Information and guidance
Further information regarding cycling to work is available from the HM Government website:
www.direct.gov.uk under travel and transport.
The cycle to work guarantee sets out good practice which can be applied to the pool bicycle
scheme and is accessible at: www.cycletoworkguaranee.org.uk
Guidance on employer’s health and safety responsibilities and risk management is available from
the Health and Safety Executive’s website: www.hse.gov.uk
Guidance on cycling and road safety the Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
All information contained in this document has been compiled and obtained from sources believed to be reliable
and credible but no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made by Zurich Financial Services Ltd or any
of its subsidiaries (the ‘Group’) as to their accuracy or completeness. Some of the information contained herein
may be time sensitive. Thus, you should consult the most recent referenced material.
Information relating to risk engineering is intended as a general description of certain types of risk engineering
services available to qualified customers. The Group and its employees do not assume any liability of any kind
whatsoever, resulting from the use, or reliance upon any information, material or procedure contained herein.
The Group and its employees do not guarantee particular outcomes and there may be conditions on your
premises or within your organization which may not be apparent to us. You are in the best position to
understand your business and your organization and to take steps to minimize risk, and we wish to assist you by
providing the information and tools to assess your changing risk environment.
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