Commuting to work by bike isn’t always the easy option, and has it’s challenges regardless of the weather. In the summer cyclists are more likely to arrive on the sweaty side, whilst in winter they are more likely to arrive wet or cold (or both).
If you want to encourage people to commute by bike, regardless of the season or weather, you need to try and do what you can to accommodate them. Good quality facilities provide a huge benefit for cyclists, and can help people to overcome many of the challenges faced.
So, what facilities should you be looking to provide if you are going encourage the workforce onto their bikes, and keep them there? Ultimately it will come down to the space you have available, and your budgets. To help get you started, below are some handy tips and advice on some of the things you should consider.
One thing is for sure, however, and that is that you should be thinking beyond an old cycle stand at the bottom of the car park, littered with more cigarette buts than bike locks. At the same time, don’t be put off by a fear that you need a money tree. There are a whole range of cheap and easy ways that you can improve the facilities available to cyclists, where the bang can far outweigh the buck.
Cycle parking is at the top of the checklist when considering the facilities cyclists require. No one wants to go to the effort of cycling into the office just to find that the local toe-rag has wandered off with their wheels. Cycle parking can come in all shapes and sizes, and workplace provision will often depend upon the type of space that you occupy. Here are some of the things to consider when designing your cycle parking provision:
- Location: If the aim is to make cycling attractive and high profile, it’s best not to locate the cycle parking at the back of the car park under an old tree. Cycle parking close to the building entrance, or within the building, is more secure and more attractive. It also sets a great image for what you are trying to achieve.
- Consider different types of storage: Sheffield stands are cheap and easy to install … but not so space efficient. On the other hand two-tier cycle racks can be great for maximising use of space, but don’t accommodate all bike types. The ideal solution is to try and provide a mix of cycle parking options. A combination of racks and Sheffield stands can help ensure you are catering for all. Another handy trick is to throw in some folding bike lockers. These can be stacked on top of one another, making good use of the space available;
- Cater for E-bikes: E-bikes are becoming increasingly popular so it can be handy to locate a few plugs next to your cycle parking, helping power people back home;
- Quantity: There are various cycle parking standards available, however, the key point is to ensure you provide enough to accommodate demand. How many cyclists do you have, and how many would you like to have? Don’t limit the number of people who cycle to work, just because of a lack of cycle parking spaces;
- Security and Cover: Clearly, the more secure you can make your cycle parking, the better. In an ideal world cycle parking will be provided within your building, however, where that isn’t an option you should consider whether you can provide overlooked cycle cages or lockers (their are plenty on the market). Unfortunately we all have to contend with those willing to steal, so don’t make life easy for them … and don’t forget that a bike lock alone often isn’t enough to put of a determined thief. It’s also advisable to keep bikes dry wherever possible. As a minimum look to provide a covered shelter, but again, internal parking or cycle cages/lockers would be a better option.
Changing and Shower Facilities
We would go as far as to say that access to good quality shower and changing facilities is essential for cyclists. A need to overcome the weather on the way to work can be quickly forgotten after a nice shower and change of clothes. On the other hand, don’t expect even the most avid of cyclists to commute by bike if they have to rely upon baby wipes and getting changed in a toilet cubicle.
Beyond the provision of shower and changing facilities there are some really handy and cost effective things to consider to support your cyclists:
- Cleaning – it’s amazing how many workplace shower and changing rooms seem to slip off the cleaning checklist. Make sure that your showers and changing facilities are clean and clear of clutter if you want to encourage people to use them;
- Towels – Could you provide laundered towels for people to use? It’s a lot easier than carrying a towel in your bag, which you then need to store wet through the day;
- Hairdryers and Straighteners – A great low budget way to make things so much easier for people to get ready for work having commuted by bike;
- Shower Gel & Shampoo – The little things can make all of the difference. A few ££s on some shower gel can be really well received by cyclists.
Drying and Storage Space
Avoid wet towels on the back of chairs, radiators or doors by making sure that you are providing suitable storage facilities. You should also look to facilitate cyclists keeping a change of clothes at work, ready for them crease free after a long ride.
In an ideal world you would provide one locker per cycling space, so that everyone has somewhere to keep/hang their belongings. Don’t forget to also consider the need to accommodate those who run to work, however. Separate drying space for wet clothes is also more than handy, and can make the whole experience of cycling to work much more enjoyable on days where the great British weather catches up with us.
Here are some of our tips on things to consider when designing storage and drying space:
- Look to provide different types of storage facilities, and ideally lockers which can be used to hang up clean clothes. Racks, shelves or small lockers for cycling shoes and helmets are also ideal;
- The best drying spaces are ventilated, and well designed to accommodate different types of wet kit. If you can’t provide a ventilated room there are a range of drying lockers and shoe drying racks on the market which can provide a space efficient solution – and even a clothes rack with some hangers is better than the back of a chair;
- Providing lockers with key pads, rather than keys, can make them much easier to manage. Keys go missing … a lot …. trust us.
Signage and Access
Your cycle facilities (parking, storage, changing) should be as high profile as possible. If it’s in the basement, or in the third floor block B toilets, don’t however assume that people know it is there. Use of clear signage inside and outside the building can help illustrate your efforts to support cyclists and make sure everyone is able to benefit from the facilities available.
You should also consider how safe and convenient access to cycle parking can be accommodated. This can very much be a site specific consideration, however, things to bear in mind include:
- As a minimum, try and ensure that cycle parking can be accessed without obstruction and that suitable surfacing is provided. Accessing basement car parks with painted floors, on wet tyres, whilst swerving a barrier, will often only lead to one outcome!;
- Where possible try and segregate cyclists from vehicles within your site, and in an ideal world look to provide a traffic free route. This all helps to avoid conflict and any potential health and safety issues.
Further ideas ….
Here are some thoughts and tips on other simple facilities and services which can help to support cyclists as far as possible:
- Provide a rail within your cycle parking area, for people to store their bike lock on;
- Provide a bike maintenance stand, or some basic tools such as a track pump and spanner set;
- Provide an ironing board for those who arrive with their clothes scrunched into a ball within their bag;
- Provide a cycle SOS spares box (potentially in a vending machine), including things like spare inner tubes and bike lights;
- Offer regular bike servicing and maintenance classes, helping to keep your cyclists on the road;
- Provide a selection of bike locks for cyclists to make use of.
Get In Touch
We hope that the above has provided some useful tips on things which could be considered when planning and providing workplace facilities for cyclists. For similar articles visit our website thecommute.co.uk, or get in touch to discuss how we could support your business through the development and delivery of a Workplace Travel Plan, or associated support and measures.