A recent study by the BCO found that 38% of British office workers would consider cycling to work if their workplace offered better facilities. What better time to consider it!
UK businesses must gear up and offer better facilities for cyclists in light of the government’s ambitious cycling growth targets, according to new research published by the British Council for Offices.
In April, the Department for Transport announced that they aim to double the number of cycling stages, defined as a change in the form of transport as part of a longer “trip” (e.g. cycling to the train station before catching a train to work), from 0.8 billion stages in 2013 to 1.6 billion in 2025.
However, many cycling facilities are currently falling short of accommodating that increase. 16% of office workers are claiming that inadequate facilities are discouraging them from considering commuting by bike.
The research finds that whilst 83% of workplaces in the UK offer some form of bike storage, less than half (47%) of this is covered and secure. Improved parking facilities could help increase numbers of those cycling to work, with office workers saying that better bike storage would encourage them to do so.
Many workplaces are also failing to provide other basic facilities for cyclists. According to the research, just under half (45%) of offices do not have showers, something which almost a quarter (24%) of those workers surveyed said would encourage them to consider commuting by bike.
Overall, almost two fifths (38%) of office workers surveyed said that they would consider commuting to work by bike if their workplace was geared up with better or more facilities. There is clearly a need for UK businesses to cater to cyclists.
It seems that as cycling continues to rise in popularity, ostensibly the most pressing issue for businesses will be finding the space for bikes, lockers and storage. However, the report shows that the focus needs to be on the quality of the facilities offered, not just the quantity. Alongside safe storage and showers, there is a clear demand for towels, hairdryers and complimentary toiletries. This provision may not just encourage existing employees to cycle to work, it could also act as a market differentiator for prospective employees, even having a positive impact on lettability. One of the key findings of the research is that, compared to five years ago, cycling provision is increasingly becoming accepted as an integral component of Grade A office specification.
Many local authorities are currently providing grants to help local businesses towards the cost of installing cycle parking (and sometimes showers) as part of their Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) projects.
UK businesses must ensure that their service provision for cyclists meets the evolving expectations of today’s worker. In the same way that reception spaces in a number of office buildings are beginning to resemble concierge desks, showering and changing facilities are taking inspiration from high-end gyms. To encourage more employees to cycle to work, this level of attention to detail will be as important as the providing the basics.”
The report also finds that:
- Over a third of those (35%) surveyed had taken up cycling to work in the past two years, with 31% having done so between two and five years ago
- Of those surveyed that do cycle to work, 71% do so for health, 62% for enjoyment and 51% because it is a cheaper form of transport. 20% do so because cycling to work offers “thinking time”
- Just 16% cycle to work every working day, while 23% do so once a week
- Commuting by bike was found to be much more popular among men, with over double the number of men cycling to work compared to women
- As well as insufficient facilities, reasons given by respondents who currently do not cycle to work include dangerous roads (35%), poor cycling routes (21%) and length of commute (40%)
- 29% of people would be encouraged to cycle if there were safer routes
- One in 10 workplaces offer no cycling provision at all