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Designing office spaces for cycling to work

Impacts of increased cycling activity on the modern workplace

Recently Footprint attended an event held by the British Council for Offices (BCO) in which Neil Webster of Cyclo Consulting chaired a discussion entitled ‘Cycling and the Modern Workplace’’. The event focused on the impact of increased cycling on London’s architecture, infrastructure and the wider workplace. Speakers included:

Many practices attended the discussion, including architects from John Robertson Architects, Glenn Howells, Make, EPR Architects, Woods Bagot, Hawkins Brown, and ORMS.

The benefits of cycling such as improved health and well-being, better time management, reduced travel expenses and smaller carbon footprints were stressed.

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Basement Bikeworks at Deloitte’s Stonecutter Square.

A survey conducted by the BCO found that the demand for workplace cycling facilities was increasing and for some employees it is a deciding factor in where to work. The most important facilities were showers and drying space. The provision of infrastructure to facilitate these increased cycling trends is attracting greater consideration by developers and large companies. Lend Lease’s Duncan Young says providing good infrastructure creates good value buildings and makes business sense.

Rob Colley showed two London Deloitte offices with cycle amenities retrofit into basesments at Stonecutter Square and Athene Place. All lockers provided were occupied and wet and dry facilities utilised, evidencing significant demand. However, Young added that changes in weather affect the occupancy levels of cycle storage and numbers actually cycling to work.

Accident liability and where the responsibility of providing such infrastructure lies is currently not clear. It is common for individuals to provide their own safety equipment and cycles, whilst the building owner ensures there are provisions for storage and changing. Responsibility becomes more of a concern when the whole building is let to several offices.

Folding bikes eliminate large storage concerns for retrofitting into existing offices, allowing more funding and space allowance for crucial wet and dry areas.

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Folding Brompton bicycle

There is increased utilisation of car parking space for cycle storage. Currently retrofitting solutions into existing basements is expensive due to adding mechanical ventilation and working with spaces not designed for the purpose. Usually car park spaces with steep ramps ideal for motor vehicles, are not ergonomically designed for cycle access.

The future will see integrated design considerations which are easier to successfully accomplish in new office buildings. Different local authorities have recommended cycle parking for new B1 (Business) Use Class developments. The London Plan (July 2011) sets a standard for B1 as 1 cycle space per 250m2 gross floor area. BREEAM do not have any figures per gross floor area, but calculate via percentage of building occupants.

Once government grasp the economic benefits of nurturing cycling, it is anticipated that funding opportunities will be released to meet increased demand. 

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