Topic Resources

Tools Used
Initiated By

Challenge for Change Ltd.

Results

Shifts in cycling behavior were still evident thirteen months after the Challenge.

Workplace Cycle Challenge Program

The ‘Workplace Cycle Challenge’ is a three-week long intervention to encourage people to take up and continue cycling; encourage people who are already cycling to cycle more often; and encourage people to cycle to work.

Background

Note: To minimize site maintenance costs, all case studies on this site are written in the past tense, even if they are ongoing as is the case with this particular program.

The Challenge has been run in dozens of locations in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. This case study focuses on one such local program – The Southampton Cycle Challenge.

The Workplace Cycle Challenge is one of the principal programs of Challenge for Change Ltd., a for-profit social marketing company. The first Workplace Cycle Challenges were piloted in 2008.

In the UK, Challenge for Change partners with the Cyclists Touring Club (CTC). CTC is the UK’s National Cyclists’ Organisation (ctc.org.uk), a not-for-profit that provides cycling advice and helps campaign for cyclists’ rights.

Cycling helps improve health, the environment, congestion, and saves money and makes communities more livable. Depending on where the funding comes from, the program can be modified to further enhance the benefits in one particular area.

Delivering the Program

The Workplace Cycle Challenge was essentially a fun competition between organisations to see who could get the most employees to ride a bike. Staff only had to ride a bike for 10 minutes or more for their participation to count. They could ride whenever they liked over a three week Challenge period.

Regular cyclists encouraged their non-cycling friends and colleagues to take part. The Challenge focused on participation, rather than mileage to engage new and occasional cyclists as well as regular cyclists. It also created a real sense of teamwork fosters an accessible cycling culture within organisations.

An innovative website application facilitated the running of each Challenge. The website allowed people to register, complete baseline and follow-up surveys, record their cycling activity and see live results for comparison to motivate further participation.

In terms of Self Perception Theory, the Workplace Cycle Challenge looked to bypass and ‘rewrite’ participants' attitudes about cycling by encouraging them to try cycling for just 10 minutes. The experience was much more powerful than messages about health benefits or cost savings. The program heightened norm appeal by enlisting existing cyclists to encourage their non-cycling colleagues to take part. In addition, the program aimed to overcome barriers to action by addressing key sub-behaviours preceding cycling. For example, in free Dr. Bike sessions, participants were offered free bike safety checks. The program also provided route planning assistance and cycle skills training when available. (Overcoming Specific Barriers; Vivid, Personalized, Credible, Empowering Communication)

Financing the Program

Sources of funding for the Workplace Cycling Challenge change from project to project. The Southampton Cycle Challenge cost £34,000--US$55,000 or CAD$53,000.

Measuring Achievements

The Challenges were evaluated using participant surveys at baseline (when participants first registered) and then again at subsequent time points. Impact tracking was complicated (as usual) by the fact that some participants chose not to participate in the surveys, whether or not they were actively participating in the program. Further, at 10 months and 13 months, many of the original participants did not register for the second challenge and were no longer included in the surveys. Both of these factors made it difficult to know how representative the data were. For this reason, the results section (below) provides results at each milestone in terms of numbers of individuals and then expresses that number both as a percentage of respondents at that milestone and also as a percentage of respondents at baseline. The actual percentage of people cycling regularly, occasionally, etc. is likely between these two numbers.

Results

Baseline

The first Southampton Cycle Challenge was held in June 2010. During the three-week Challenge, 56 organizations and 1,200 people logged over 61,000 miles and 11,700 trips via the Challenge website. At baseline, 32% of registrants formed the key target audience of non-cyclists. A further 19% of registrants had cycled once a week or 1-3 times a month and were classed as occasional cyclists.

Three months after the 2010 Challenge

  • 86 participants (22% of participants at this point) had been classed as non-cyclists at baseline. That is 21% of the entire group of 416 participants who reported not cycling at baseline.
    • 32% of them (7% of the entire group of 416 participants who reported not cycling at baseline) reported cycling once a week or several times a month
    • An additional 29% of them (6% of the entire group of 416 participants who reported not cycling at baseline) reported cycling regularly to work (two days or more a week).
  • 56 participants (16%) had been classed as occasional cyclists at baseline. That is 23% of the entire group of 247 participants who reported not cycling at baseline.
    • 50% of them (11% of the entire group of 247 participants who reported not cycling at baseline) reported cycling regularly (two days or more a week).
  • 19% of participants who traveled to work mainly by car at baseline reported cycling to work as their main mode of transport.

Ten months after the 2010 Challenge

In May 2011, the second Southampton Cycle Challenge was held - 68 organizations participated and 1,439 people logged over 86,900 miles via 11,100 trips. There were 392 participants who took part in the 2010 Challenge who registered again for the 2011 Challenge. Baseline data from both years has been used to track the behaviour change of these participants:

  • 83 participants (21% of participants at this point) had been classed as non-cyclists at baseline. That is 20% of the entire group of 416 participants who reported not cycling at baseline.
    • 16% of them (3% of the entire group of 416 participants who reported not cycling at baseline) reported cycling to work regularly
    • An additional 16% of them (3% of the entire group of 416 participants who reported not cycling at baseline) reported cycling to work occasionally
  • 64 participants (16% of participants at this point) had been classed as occasional cyclists at baseline. That is 26% of the entire group of 247 participants who reported cycling occasionally at baseline.
    • 41% (11% of the entire group of 247 participants who reported cycling occasionally at baseline) reported cycling to work regularly.
  • 8% of participants who reported traveling to work by car in 2010 had switched to cycling to work as their main mode of transport by the 2011 Challenge.

Thirteen months after the 2010 Challenge

There were 177 participants who took part in both the 2010 and 2011 Challenges and who also completed the three-month Post-Challenge Survey from the 2011 Challenge. This data can be used to track the cumulative impact of taking part in both Challenges:

  • 38 participants (21% of participants at this point) had been classed as non-cyclists at baseline. That is 9% of the entire group of 416 participants who reported not cycling at baseline.
    • 34% of them (3% of the entire group of 416 participants who reported not cycling at baseline) reported cycling to work regularly (two days or more a week).
  • 22 participants (12% of participants at this point) had been classed as occasional cyclists at baseline. That is 9% of the entire group of 247 participants who reported cycling occasionally at baseline.
    • 82% of them (7% of the entire group of 247 participants who reported cycling occasionally at baseline) reported cycling to work regularly.
  • Amongst occasional and regular cyclists who reported cycling less than two days a week to work at baseline in 2010, 58% reported cycling to work regularly 13 months later.
  • 20% of participants who reported traveling to work by car in 2010 had switched to cycling to work as their main mode of transport.

For comparison, Southampton City Council estimated that during this period city-wide cycle traffic had increased by 10-20% over the six years (a compounded rate of between 1.8% and 3.1% per year) from 2004 and 2010. According to the national census in 2001, only 2.6% of Southampton’s resident population cycled to work.

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