According to the experts, a half-hour bike ride every day significantly reduces the risk of illness. What’s more, it’s a cheap, fast and environmentally friendly way to travel. Swiss Life is a keen supporter of “bike to work”, not only because the health of our staff is important, but also as a way to help build a model of sustainable mobility.
The “bike to work” campaign set up by Pro Velo Schweiz (the Swiss Biking Association) has been running since 2006. The goal is to encourage as many commuters as possible to travel to work on a bike – at least for part of their journey. Last year around 600 companies with 33,000 employees took part. So far in 2009, over 1000 firms have signed up for the campaign. Swiss Life is proud to be among them.

Healthy competition
To promote the programme, which ran throughout the month of June, Swiss Life encouraged its staff to form teams of four participants. The aim was to ride to work on at least half the days of the month, and for team members to encourage and coach each other. Non-bikers could also take part by using “human power” to get to work – such as on foot or using inline skates. Each team, as well as individual participants, had the chance to win attractive prizes.

The Swiss Life Network was proud to have twelve employees sign up (including Swiss Life Network Head Margrit Schmid), making three teams. We asked the members of Chevere Cambur (which means “Splendid Banana”) to tell us how they got on:

What made you decide to take part in this programme?
Alessandra Acciarito: I took part because I like to ride my bicycle. Particularly in the morning, when the air is fresh and the city is waking up. It puts me in a very positive mood to start the day.

Do you feel it is making a real difference to your health and energy levels?
Maria Mülli Ramirez: Sport has always meant energy for me. I grew up with sport, so it has always been an important part of my life. “Bike to work” was a motivating way to start the day, especially as I brought my daughter to kindergarten that way too. It was a little adventure for her, and it meant we could also share the fun together - which filled me with energy.

Besides, the fact that I didn’t need to run to the bus and tram, and I could just jump on the bike and concentrate on cycling carefully really relaxed me. When I arrived at the office I was full of energy and had a clear mind; it eliminated the stress totally. So it improved my energy levels and health. This certainly also applied when going home, since the moment I changed into my biking clothes, my working day was finished and I could clear my mind and bring new energy back home.

Are there any disadvantages to taking your bike to work?
Pablo A Quadri: Really no disadvantages. It was just a little complicated, because I combined train and bike. Otherwise, I would have spent too much time just getting to the office. This was largely compensated for by the excellent goat cheese that I discovered at a mobile cheese retailer on a street on my way to work.

Will you continue to bike to work after the end of the campaign?

Robert Tokarczyk: I intend to continue biking to work as long as the weather continues to hold up. So far the weather has given me the opportunity to cycle in all the different elements a year has to offer. In just one short month we experienced almost every possible condition: from a refreshing breeze to hot sun, and from cooling rain to driving hail. Although these don’t all let you step straight into the office without cleaning up first, we had the good luck of having the wet ones at the end of the day. The morning bike ride definitely wakes you up better than a cup of “Joe” (coffee). The short answer is: Yes!

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