When Hollywood star Ewan McGregor announces that urban cycling is becoming super cool, prepare for legions of fans to follow his tracks to save the planet with pedal power. But one Aberdeen energy sector business is already streaks ahead of the Scots superstar, having signed up for a subsidised bike scheme that set the wheels in motion for an extraordinary chain reaction.
For the initiative promptly encouraged 80% of David Thomson's staff to saddle up and "think green" like round-the-world biker McGregor who has a new passion - the environmentally-friendly bicycle. Now the bike racks outside David's office in Aberdeen's Carden Place are crammed with cycles, courtesy of the Bike2Work scheme. And David has not only boosted the green credentials of his firm, the draughting, design and multi-media specialist Cadherent, but acquired a fitter, leaner and healthier bunch of workers.
David, Managing Director of Cadherent, and his Operations Director Chris Reid, both 37, were already cycling enthusiasts. But the zeal with which their staff embraced the Government's green transport scheme took them pleasantly by surprise. "I just put the poster up and everyone went for it - it's proved very, very popular," said David, who commutes by cycle from Stonehaven. "A couple of them had not really been doing any exercise for a long time but now they cycle to work every day."
Under the scheme the employer buys the bikes, valued at up to £1000, and hires them out to workers who, in return, agree to accept a reduced level of pay - usually about £60 a month - over a fixed period. It means employers don't have to pay tax or national insurance on the salary that is sacrificed.
To benefit from the savings, the bike must be used at least 50% of the time for journeys to and from work. Cadherent, has a total of 17 people, including seven contractors, working with the company and of its own core of 10 staff, 80% have already got on their bike. David puts the success of the scheme down to the fact that the business is located in the city's west end and most of the staff live within an easy commute of their work.
They are also getting the use of an expensive bike for around half the price. "It's quite a perk to get," he said, "and people's mood is definitely brighter when they come in off the bike. If you do it all at the same time it lifts morale and creates a bit of excitement.
Plus we have an environmental policy at work and it ties in well with that. And if it's good enough for Ewan McGregor it is definitely good enough for us. I would encourage any company to give it a go."