CEO of Free2Cycle, Eric G Craig, explains how providing bikes for free and encouraging employees to use them can unlock a new market for the UK cycling community…
Free2Cycle resets the paradigm. In contrast to current cycle schemes which are not available to all employees, it aims to dramatically increase the number of cyclists on the roads throughout the country. For employees who meet or exceed their personal mileage pledge, the bike is not only free but Free2Cycle sets itself apart from other business models by rewarding their progress. This benefits both employee, employer and the whole cycling community as it keeps Britain cycling.
The love of bikes is ingrained in the foundations of Free2Cycle, all founders are passionate about cycling and how it can benefit society. Eric G Craig the CEO became particularly active as a cyclist after noticing himself carrying a few extra pounds when looking back at holiday photographs. “I didn’t enjoy the pictures as much as the holiday,” he explains. “A few extra pounds had suddenly appeared, which spurred me on to get riding. Cycling has not only helped me lose weight but it has also increased my fitness levels, reduced my stress levels and has been a great influence on my health and lifestyle.”
Early in 2016, the co-founders discussed the concept of giving bikes away for free and encouraging people to use them. “We were debating the problems that our society faces with the lack of physical exercise and growing problems of obesity, traffic congestion and the environment,” he explains. “When looking for a positive – and realistic – way for the UK to address these issues, we realised that the solution was to get more people to ride bikes.” Eric and his team then became determined to unlock the estimated seven million employees in
Britain who are not currently cycling to work but potentially could and would benefit from doing so.
How Free2Cycle works
Employers sign up to Free2Cycle online and each employee enters their planned commute mileage. Based on the number of miles they have individually committed to, employees are offered a free bike of their choice. The bike is then ordered from the supplier of choice, delivered to a supplier-authorised retailer before it is provided to the customer.
After that, it’s down to the employee to earn the bicycle he/she choses by cycling the ledged mileage to and from work, effectively paying for the bike through ‘pedal power’.
Without having to pay any upfront costs, the employer simply contributes 20p per commute mile achieved by their employee and receives a monthly report on carbon savings. Eric adds: “Typically this is likely to equate to a cost of £20 to £30 per month with a tenfold benefit being realistically achieved by many employers as a result of increased productivity, reduced sick days, decreased late arrivals, reduced parking costs and other benefits.”
Once employees are using their bikes, Free2Cycle encourages them to keep up the good ork by offering rewards for those hitting their commuter miles. Eric explains: “The objective of Free2Cycle is not only to get those who already cycle to take up a free bike, but to help and encourage those who could cycle but currently choose other methods of transport to get to and from work.”
The strength of the correlation between physical activity and health outcomes is by no means a new discovery. Free2Cycle addresses this and delivers a positive return to employers by enabling and encouraging their team to live more active, healthier lives while being kind to the environment.
Sickness absence costs UK businesses an estimated £29 billion each year, a report published in Economic Evidence report for workplace health 2016 suggests. Free2Cycle tackles this head on by encouraging employers to invest in the health and fitness of their employees. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) indicated that physically active workers take 27 per cent fewer sick days.
1 Furthermore, HR Magazine recently published that 33 per cent of employers said that cyclists are more productive at work, while 44 per cent described those who cycle as being more efficient and 89 per cent said that those who cycle to work were more energised throughout the day.
2 Wider health benefits
In the largest study into the impact of cycling on the reduction of cancer and heart disease,
3 “active” commuters were compared with those who had a mostly stationary journey. The findings of the five-year study, which was conducted by the University of Glasgow and published by the British Medical Journal, showed that regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41 per cent. Furthermore, it cut the incidence of cancer by 45 per cent, znd heart disease by 46 per cent.
Not only is Free2Cycle expecting employees to pay for their bike by cycling rather than parting with cash, but research from Office for National Statistics (ONS), Department for Transport (DfT) and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) show that the average savings enjoyed by those who choose to commute by bike over other means of transport is approximately seven per cent of their gross income. Annually, that equates to more than £1,800 (£150 per month).
Encouraging staff to make these savings shows that they are valued, which boosts morale within the workplace. This, in turn, leads to higher engagement and results in an increase in general productivity.
Supporting suppliers and retailers
Driving business back to the high street, the Free2Cycle business model is set to stimulate business for suppliers, retailers and service providers alike. Unlocking a much broader market will benefit the overall cycling economy.
Ultimately, Free2Cycle encourages and reinforces behavioural change, helping to create a more active workforce. “With Free2Cycle, you become part of a community of cyclists,” explains Eric. “We commit to supporting and rewarding all aspects of this community to build a healthier, happier society and help people to reach their goals.”
Going a step further than simply providing the employee with a free-of-charge bike, Free2Cycle offers employees a better lifestyle, improved and increased activity, and thus, more effectiveness in the workplace. As Sean Sullivan of the institute for Health and Productivity Management states, “better management of employee health can lead to improved productivity, which can create a competitive business advantage”, and in turn, this will benefit employers.
To find out more information on Free2Cycle, visit www.free2cycle.com
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Notes to editor
About Eric G Craig:
Eric was born in the UK to adventurous parents, and his childhood was spent living in many
different countries, enjoying cultural diversity. Throughout his life, Eric has believed that
doing what is good for others is both good for business and the soul; this ethos guides his
approach to life.
From a business point of view, Eric has been fortunate to gain an exceptional depth and
breadth of experience as a result of the managerial, directorship, industry leadership and
extensive consulting roles in which he has been involved. He is a big supporter assessing
what can be improved and what works well which is the ultimate university of life. He also
values the skills enhanced through formal qualifications which for him includes an MBA and
additional qualifications in Marketing, Business Management and Assurance.
With the creation of Free2Cycle, Eric is able to follow his passion for social improvement in
health and wellbeing as well as the environment. Calling on his catalogue of personal and
business knowledge, skills and competencies, he has delivered what he hopes will be a
meaningful and beneficial initiative to help many individuals and businesses alike.
Full Q&A with Founder and CEO of Free2Cycle, Eric G Craig
1) Where, when and why did you decide to launch Free2Cycle?
It all started with a couple of us chatting back in 2016 about the problems that our society
faces with the lack of physical exercise and growing problems of obesity, traffic congestion
and the environment and how these could be addressed by getting people to ride bikes. We
decided that we wanted to have offer the people of Great Britain a realistic way to have a
positive impact on these issues.
2) What would you say is the ethos of Free2Cycle?
We are striving to make our society healthier and happier, and to help the environment by
encouraging people not to simply own a bike but use it.
3) Why is it important to support employees after supplying them with a bike?
Free2Cycle is about behavioural change, not simply providing the bike. In order to get people
on their bikes we need to overcome a number of challenges and obstacles, once they are using
their bike we need to reward and encourage them to continue and influence others to do the
same. The objective of Free2Cycle is to not only to get those who already cycle to take up a
free bike, but to help and encourage those who could cycle but don’t to give it a go.
4) How have you made Free2Cycle inclusive for all?
We normally expect to pay for things to use them. Free2Cycle turns this upside down – you
use your bike and it pays for itself! Free2Cycle is available to everyone in employment (over
the age of 18) regardless of earnings. With Free2Cycle you become part of a community of
cyclists, we commit to supporting and rewarding all aspects of this community to build a
healthier, happier society and help people to reach their goals.
5) How much is it for the employer?
There is no upfront cost to employers they simply contribute 20p per commute mile achieved
by their employees. Typically this is likely to equate to a cost of £20 to £30 per month with a
tenfold benefit being realistically achieved by many employers as a result of increased
productivity, reduced sick days, decreased late arrivals, reduced parking costs and other
6) What are Free2Cycle’s plans for growth?
While existing cyclists are likely to be interested in getting involved, we are focussed on
encouraging those people that currently don’t use a bike as a preferred part of their commute
to do so. This opens up a much bigger market.
7) How did you personally get into cycling and what do you get out of participating in the
A few years back I enjoyed a beach family holiday, I didn’t enjoy the pictures as much as the
holiday! A few extra pounds had somehow appeared, I think that spurred me on to get riding.
Cycling has not only shed the pounds but increased fitness, reduced stress and has been a
great influence on my health and lifestyle.
8) What would you say to anybody thinking of giving cycling a go?
Don’t give it a second thought, go out and do it, give yourself a chance to make it a habit and
you’ll never look back.
1.National Institude of Care and Excellence, 2012,
2.HR Magazine, Gabriella Jozwiak, August 5, 2016,
3.British Medical Journal, April 2017, http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1456
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