The super practical guide
So, you and a couple of your colleagues are interested to start a local cycling group in your institution, but you are not sure what and how to do.
Here’s some tips that you can follow, based on the learning from the very successful EASME Cycling Group. They grew from a few people in 2015 to a group of 100 in 2018 (EASME has about 500 staff), and are very active.
Steps to start a local cycling group
- Invite people for a kick-off meeting: breakfast, lunch, or whatever works in your institution, for a staff initiative about cycling. Be inclusive: staff cycling, staff who support cycling, staff who are cool and chic.
- Declare at this meeting that your cycling group is formed. Make a list of the founding members, and have fun. Maybe take a picture to preserve the moment for the eternity. (You can also include people in the list who cannot show up, but support the group.)
- Outlook mailing list for all members (ex. EUXYZ-Cycling-Group-ALL@xxxx.europa.eu)
- Functional mailbox (FMB) for the core group (ex. EUXZY-Cycling-Group@ec.europa.eu)
- Folder on the shared drive (ex. P:\CYCLING_GROUP\), where you can already store the members’ list in an Excel file.
- MS Teams Group: GRP-EUXYZ-Cycling-Group or similar to share and discuss
For the name, keep it simple: “EU-INSTITUTION CYCLING GROUP”.
In general, we suggest to approach it as a horizontal staff initiative, which doesn’t require permission. Why would you need permission to talk about cycling during your lunch-break?! Anyway, at most institutions, management is usually happy that staff has some good initiatives. Don’t ask for budget for the group itself. You can ask for budget for projects or, events, later on, which the group organises, and are open to all/lot of staff.
However, we do recommend to match organisational goals the cycling group can support, and discuss these with HR, EMAS, management. Usually theses are:
- Supporting staff well-being, and fit@work.
- Cooperation between units, breaking down silos.
- Make to organisation more sustainable, reduce the carbon footprint.
A) On the first meeting, you can also fill some roles.
- Ask for volunteers to be a president, and elect him/her by show of hands. Even more optional: elect two extra board members. We suggest to keep it to a maximum of three persons, so you are quick and efficient. If you are above 100, you can have maybe four people. The less people, the more flexible it is. It is best not to ask managers/senior managers to be president and board members, as they don’t have time for it, and it risks to become hierarchical. Keep it a staff initiative. Ask managers to be ambassadors.
- If more people interested to be active, they can lead projects, organise events, or support other ways.
- Make the election with Outlook voting buttons for a larger group (people present can vote on their phones), so also those who are not at the first meeting, can be involved in the voting.
B) You can create the following after the first meeting:
- page on your intranet, usually under “Staff matters”, or similar.
- logo for your group
- poster to invite people for the first project/event
- signature in Outlook with your new cycling group contact details
- IT geeks can later create a self-subscribe button for an auto-generated member list on the intranet page, instead of an Excel file
- survey to ask members why they joined, what they can offer for the group, what they would need to cycle more
Template from the EASME Cycling Group:
Join the EASME Cycling Group!
Cycling is the most reliable, most convenient, fastest, cheapest and healthiest way to move. Cycling is a good form of physical activity and regular utility cycling, such as riding to work, builds exercise into busy everyday life and increases your productivity in the work place. Cycling is safe and the more people cycle, the safer our streets will become – even for those who do not cycle!
In order to support staff to cycle to work, we created the EASME cycling group. 98 colleagues have so far joined the group (51% women, 49% men).
We invite staff that falls into one of the following five categories to join the EASME Cycling Group:
Staff who cycle to work (les cyclistes quotidiens)
Staff who would like to cycle to work
Staff who cycle for leisure purposes
Staff who do not cycle but would like to see more people on bikes
Staff who are cool & chic
What we offer:
1. Coaching: You would like to cycle to work but you don’t feel safe with all these crazy voituristes around you? We help you and coach you to find the best way from your home to Place Rogier and even cycle with you for the first time. Remember: only those who never cycle perceive cycling as unsafe, those who cycle regularly just do it!
2. Brussels cycling trips: Cycling is the perfect way for newcomers to discover Brussels. If you have recently joint the EASME and you are new in the city, we will organize every once in a while (or on demand) a bicycle trip to get to know different parts of Brussels and also get to know each other. Everyone is welcome! Meet and get to know your colleagues outside work in a friendly atmosphere and on a bike.
3. Technical support: Bring your bike to work and we’ll help you adjust it and also give you smart tips on where to buy bicycle parts, or have it repaired. Thinking about buying a new bike or e-bike? We have many friendly colleagues who can share their experience.
4. Advocacy: We inform our Director and the Management Team about the benefits of cycling for the EASME and cooperate to implement concrete measures to become a cycle-friendly employer. We support our members in active steps to make the cycling infrastructure easier in the building and in Brussels.
5. Information and exchange: We inform you about new developments in cycling and hold lunchtime discussions to exchange information. We also work with the EU Cycling Group (EUCG) and other cycling organisations, to share the information with each other.
The EASME Cycling group aims for a good gender representation and encourage staff in all Units to join us.
We also welcome and have around 10 more members from the other institutions in the COV2 building, ERCEA, REA, RTD, on top of 98 members from EASME.
1) How we work?
The EASME Cycling Group is made by EASME staff for EASME staff.
We do what we have energy for – if someone volunteers to bring something forward, and puts energy into it, it goes forward. We make sure our activities support daily work in general, through encouragment to reduce commuting time, re-energizing breaks with exercise, and building connections, vs. competing with working time/duties.
Our main forum is the Working Committee, which consists of the members who come and show up.
2) The Working Committee
1. It is held regularly, anybody who is interested can come, and is chaired by a member of the group, or the president of the group.
2. We discuss, decide, and plan our activities in this group. We form project groups around the topics for which people show interest, as needed.
3. This is the main group to drive the cycling group.
The working group meets once every one or two months, usually as a monthly breakfast 09:00-09:30.
We also elect a president, who plays an active role, represents the EASME Cycling Group inside and outside the agency, and provides the continuity for the group.
3. We are also in connection with a few partner organisations:
– EUCG, our main partner organisation, open to all EU instituion staff – please join them if you want more people on bikes in the EU institutions 🙂 – LINK
– European Cyclist’s Federation (ECF.com) – we support their initiatives for cycling in the wider policy agenda – LINK
– GRACQ Les Cyclistes Quotidiens ABSL (French speaking organisation in Belgium) – we help back and forth to improve everyday cycling conditions in Brussels- LINK
– Fietsersbond (Dutch speaking organisation in Belgium) – we support each other to improve everyday cycling in Brussels) – LINK
– ProVelo – we get help for safety training, bike rentals – LINK
The above template shows an approach that is inclusive for several levels of interest: already cycling, cycling sometimes, not cycling but interested, not interested yet. This worked well in EASME to support colleagues to go one step forward in their habit development to cycle more.