12 October 2010

Carbon Trust Reverses Anti-Bicycle Stance

London Turn

Thanks to an unexpectedly large number of re-tweets and re-posts and not least to Carlton Reid over at BikeBiz it appears that Carbon Trust is having second thoughts about their anti-bicycle stance - which we wrote about yesterday.

In this email sent round to employees this afternoon we can see a change of heart/ volte face :

"Since Friday’s email from a Health & Safety perspective regarding the use of bicycles for business travel we have been contacted by a number of staff seeking clarification on our overall position on cycling. Due to a number of recent serious accidents related to staff cycling the email was cautionary as we were reviewing our approach.

Our overall position on cycling has always been positive and we have always been supportive of taking the low carbon choice when travelling. To encourage staff to cycle we have provided access to cycle safety training, secure cycle storage (in place of car parking spaces), cycle maintenance, access to the Cycle To Work Scheme and showering facilities in our office.

Having reviewed our approach we want to clarify our overall support for staff using bicycles for business travel. This applies to staff using their own bicycles or those hired for business travel. Furthermore staff wishing to travel by bicycle will be reimbursed through travel expenses as we do other forms of transport.

We recognise there are specific health and safety issues with travelling by bicycle and therefore any staff wishing to travel by bicycle for business travel must comply with the following:

1. Staff must feel competent and confident in their ability to cycle for business travel (training is available).

2. The bicycle being used is properly maintained to a safe standard.

3. Appropriate safety equipment is worn at all times – a proper cycle helmet, high visibility clothing and front and rear lights.

We hope this clarifies the situation. Thank you."

Regarding #3, there is no helmet compulsion in the UK so wouldn't that be tricky to enforce that one? What is the legal background for making helmets mandatory when there is no law? And why does Carbon Trust not recommend Motoring Helmets for travel in cars or taxis? Doesn't make much sense.

Apart from that, it's nice to see Carbon Trust wake up and smell the bicycles.

Just found an email in my inbox from Carbon Trust's Head of Corporate Communications and Stakeholder Engagement:

Dear Copenhagenize,
In relation to your recent coverage of our position on cycling and using bicycles for business travel, the email did not clearly communicate our position and I have included below our statement that I hope will clarify things.

The Carbon Trust actively encourages staff to take the low carbon option for business travel. As part of this we support cycling and actively encourage our employees to cycle by providing access to cycle safety training, secure cycle storage, cycle maintenance, access to the Cycle To Work Scheme and shower facilities in our office. The recent email to our staff was sent out of our duty of care for their health a safety, which is something we take very seriously, after a number of recent serious accidents related to staff cycling. Having reviewed our approach we support our staff in using bicycles for business travel as long as they feel competent to do so, the bicycle they are using is properly maintained and they are wearing the appropriate safety equipment at all times – a proper cycle helmet, high visibility clothing and front and rear lights. We will be reimbursing staff for cycle travel as we do for other forms of transport.


Carlton Reid said...

Good team work, Mikael!

Klaus Mohn said...

"Clarification" my arse. Don't have a shred more respect for these clowns than I did this morning. This is all spin-doctor garbage, and that's not what's gonna make cycling more attractive to commuters and reduce carbon emissions. Spell it with me: I.N.F.R.A.S.T.R.U.C.T.U.R.E. is what London and the UK need. That, and Mikael taking pictures of sexy people in bikes.

(why yes, I have been reading crapwalthamforest archives quite a bit lately, how did you know?)

Herzog said...

This clarification is a joke. It's too late know. They've already been outed as ignorant and small minded hypocrites.

kdt said...

Private companies generally have more leeway to impose rules on their employees' behavior than governments do. That said, the helmet requirement is a difficult one to enforce. If this were a US company, I would say that it was a requirement imposed by the company's lawyers to shield it from liability in the event an employee is injured (or injures someone else) while riding a bike on company business.

Many companies in the US had 'rules' against using mobile phones while driving long before it became generally against the law to do so. In those cases the rule was less for the employee's benefit than it was for the company's - if an employee injures someone while using a mobile and driving on company business, the company wants to be able to say that the employee was violating company regulations while doing so.

Neil said...

Regarding helmet rules:
While the actual benefit of helmets is debatable, being required to wear a helmet while riding for work (different from riding TO work) is no different from other Health and Safety rules that you may be subject to on the job.

I work for a survey company, and we require our field staff to wear hard hats while working. Period, no question, no context. Many of our crews work deep in the woods where there's no greater risk of head injury than going on a hike. But hard hats are "best practice," so that's the requirement.

It's enforceable only because someone might see you and report you if you fail to comply. The lack of a helmet law in the UK would increase your chances of getting away with it, if you choose to ride w/o a helmet, but it's by no means certain.

wee folding bike said...

Sent an email to ask them what a cycle helmet has to do with safety equipment.

nathan_h said...

I work for an otherwise awesome company that tries to impose such a policy on employees. Their trick is to offer $100 towards the purchase of a "nice" helmet and require that you pay that money back if anyone spots you not wearing it--even on the weekend! It's creepy and disturbing, yes, but in established American cycling culture this "Helmet Policy" is mostly a reflection of the *good* fact that a high portion of people cycle to this office. Naturally at least a few of them are staunch believers in the lifesaving power of foam helmets, and those are typically the more agressive (competitive) cyclists who can bend the rest to their will.

But not everyone. I didn't accept the money when I joined on, and I continue to ride every day as before. I'm occasionally asked "where my helmet is", which is an asinine question (sorry dude, if you're reading, but it is) that I can safely ignore, and that's it.

I would encourage anyone laboring under a similar policy, including Copenhagenize's tipster, to call their employer's ignorant bluff. Ride often, safely, and happily. It shows!

Anonymous said...

s59 Highway Code
Clothing. You should wear

a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations...

Light coloured or flouresent clothing which helps other road users see you in daylight and poor light

reflective clothing.. in the dark

Not much choice for the Carbon Trust as an employer whatever they may think of the foregoing as a campaign group.

Anonymous said...

Actually, what the clarification says to me is, "Ride if you must, but remember it is highly dangerous, and if you get hurt, well, we told you so."

I'd file this under "Mixed Messages."

townmouse said...

@Anonymous 'should' in the highway code means it's recommended but not the law. If it was the law it would say 'must'

I'd be very surprised if an employer had any jurisdiction over its employees while they were travelling to & from work, seeing as they wouldn't be paid to do it. Travelling on a work trip might be different.

wee folding bike said...

Anonymous said...
"s59 Highway Code
Clothing. You should wear "

It's not a "Must" so you don't need to do it.

Lawyers may try to reduce a damages claim using this line but you can ignore it if you like. The CTC wanted it changed. You can find their response here, I'm afraid it's a closed format. The HTML link was huge and didn't work in Tiny.


Anonymous said...

Woohoo! Way-to-go Mikael / Copenhagenize!! Thank you! Perhaps you may consider coming to the UK and working alongside our Mayor!?! :-)

We need more "cycle advocacy" here!

I am, of course, doing my bit, but we are greater in mumber!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"s59 Highway Code
Clothing. You should wear "

It's not a "Must" so you don't need to do it."

The point is that as a private individual you can chose to ignore the recommendations of the Highway Code. Like Neil said ,as an employer, the Carbon Trust has much less leeway under best practice, even when it is contradictory to their aims as a pressure group.

Yokota Fritz said...

We had a local government agency tasked specifically with improving air quality ban bike riding for their employees back in 2007.

Dave said...

I would love to know what makes a company send an email warning about bike usage after a 'spate of recent cycling accidents', but not even think about doing the same after a 'spate of recent car accidents'?

Why is it that no level of road toll will stop people driving cars but a few bike accidents (caused by cars) will see people seeking to limit cycling?

Is is because car injuries are mostly caused by the driver/victim and most cycling injuries caused by the non-cyclist, or just because people feel 'safer' in a steel box travelling at 100km/h?

ian... said...

nathan h wrote: "I'm occasionally asked "where my helmet is"

You could always reply: "And where are your manners?

Kim said...

Nice reply ian...

One of the major problems with the Highway Code is that is written almost entirely from the motorist point, sadly it has a tendency to ignore the
Sacred Bull in Society's China Shop

Personally I feel that policy makers could do a lot better!

Branko Collin said...

"I would love to know what makes a company send an email warning about bike usage after a 'spate of recent cycling accidents', but not even think about doing the same after a 'spate of recent car accidents'?"

The sad thing is they probably were talking about a spate of accidents involving cars.

djangosChef said...

What if:
"After a recent spate of accidents in which employees of ours were injured by cars highlighted for us the dangers sometimes faced by cyclists, we are requiring all of our employees who drive cars to take a safety course, to reduce the chances that any of our employees will ever find themselves involved in such an accident at the expense of some cyclist in our community. Furthermore, we have decided to redouble our efforts to lobby for improved cycling infrastructure."