Workplace facilities the key to encourage cycling to work

Access to appropriate end-of-trip facilities such as change rooms and showers plays a significant role in whether people decide to ride to work in difficult weather, a new report shows.

A study conducted by researchers at Monash University found more than half of respondents said the availability of end-of-trip facilities affected their decision to ride to work in difficult weather conditions. These facilities include undercover bicycle parking, showers, change rooms and lockers.

Lead researcher Farhana Ahmed from the Institute of Transport Studies says the importance of good facilities to accommodate cyclists should not be underestimated.

“From my analysis I found more than half of respondents said these end-of-trip facilities help them cope with adverse weather conditions and help them ride to work,” she says.

The government’s National Cycling Strategy, implemented in 2011, aims to double the number of people cycling in Australia by 2016. However, this new research by the Institute of Transport Studies suggests policymakers need to focus on cyclists’ preferences if they are to achieve this goal.

“Governments are promoting cycling and they have different programs such as the Ride to Work program which are very successful,” Ahmed says. “They are also investing a lot through bike-hire schemes. But the outcomes from this research highlights end-of-trip facilities which should also be considered.”

Ahmed says weather is another factor that negatively affects people’s cycling ventures, such as the recent heatwaves across the country.

“The climate is changing so we can expect more diverse weather in the near future. If there are more facilities like showers, it would be helpful for commuters to ride to work. I think that it will increase their cycling frequency as well.”

Tristan White, founder of The Physio Co and workplace culture blogger, says businesses can play a crucial role in providing an environment that encourages people to cycle to work.

“More people are cycling,” he told SmartCompany. “There is an increasing trend in people being active in the way they get to work.”

White says in his experience more people ride during moderate weather, but he does have a few staff members who regularly ride to work.  

“I certainly support this. We have created a small corner of the office which is effectively a bike rack. So they are safely off the street and securely part of our office.”

White says the bike rack also provides a talking point for staff members, and promotes the fact that the business has people who are active on their way to work. This might encourage others to do the same.

“We’re also fortunate that our toilet and bathroom facilities are a little bit bigger. This means there is space for people to get changed before and after work.”

White understands not all businesses, particularly smaller companies, will have the same facilities as his does. However, he says it is still possible to embrace a cycling culture without going to extreme measures.

“It’s about having a conversation with cyclists to find a way that meets their needs without costing a fortune. For small businesses there is a middle ground without having to install elaborate facilities.”

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