Catering for the modern day commute

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As more employees take to cycling to work, the traditional bike rack is being replaced by an array of creative solutions from cycle-in offices to underground storage lockers. Are you ready for the cycling revolution?

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Catering for the modern day commute
“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride” is a phrase attributed to John F. Kennedy. His words may have been slightly different had he experienced the morning rush in a big city, followed by the infuriating lack of places to park a bike. As more employees take to cycling into the office than ever before, the issue of finding a parking space is becoming increasingly acute. Even Amsterdam, famous for its cycling infrastructure, is exploring the idea of underwater bike storage and floating islands to meet the ever-rising demand.

Big cities in trouble
There’s been a steep growth in the number of cyclists in the UK and the rest of Europe, fuelled by health and eco benefits and the rising cost of public transport. The number of cyclists commuting in London is set to increase to 325,000 by 2021, up from 81,000 in 2001 – with some predicting that cycling will overtake driving in central London in rush-hour by 2020. And, while many cities across the globe – from Paris to Hangzhou – now have bike sharing schemes in place, these do not help the vast majority of regular cyclists who want to use their own bikes.

No one-size-fits-all solution
It’s not just an issue for town planners – workplaces are also facing a challenge in providing facilities for more bikes and cyclists. We have not (yet) reached the situation where staff would choose employers because of their cycling facilities, but the issue is becoming more important.

The revamped Alphabeta building in London’s Finsbury Square took a novel approach to the cycling trend – a ‘cycle-in’ office which provides parking for 200 bikes. But even organisations restricted by the design and location of their buildings can still find solutions to the issue – even in dense urban locations. For example, in central London, more companies now provide secure places for staff to leave their bikes, as well as changing rooms, showers and other conveniences that cater to not just cyclists, but a growing number of walkers and runners too.

Challenge unmet
With provisions often falling short, creative bike storage systems are emerging to meet the gap between supply and demand. These include Eco Cycle, which stores bikes underground, and Active Commuting, which provides modular containers with storage and showering facilities. Nick Knight, managing director of Eco Cycle, says: “In many ways cycling is the new golf and people are prepared to spend significant sums of money on their bikes and accessories. They’re looking for somewhere secure and hassle-free to store their equipment while they’re at work, yet many companies now find themselves in a position where they have insufficient facilities to meet demand.”

Looking to the future
With the popularity of cycling to work showing no signs of abating, employers need to consider their location, their facilities and the needs of their staff. Accommodating the modern cyclist is not only good news for employees; employers have a lot to gain too – from healthier, happier and more productive staff. Are you ready for the cycling revolution?

This article was first published on JLL Real Views, JLL’s global site providing expert insights on the trends and developments shaping real estate.

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