In recent years Bristol Airport has worked hard to deliver targeted help to encourage staff to cycle. By surveying colleagues we could understand the competing push and pull factors which impacted their propensity to cycle to work. Despite the difficulties of 24/7 operational shift pattern, of the respondents who could be encouraged to cycle to and from Bristol Airport, we saw that the most persuasive in-house alteration was ‘improved showers and changing facilities’. In 2019 a brand new administration building – Lulsgate House -was opened which houses the new improved showering and changing facilities.
To compliment this, new cycle parking shelters were also installed. There are now three covered bike shelters on site. The one outside the administration building, nearest to the new shower and changing facilities is right next to an internal bus stop where staff can easily catch a free shuttle over to the terminal. There are also shelters outside the security checkpoint for colleagues who work airside and a further shelter outside the main terminal for staff and customers.
Bristol airport is part of Cyclescheme, offering staff affordable access to bikes and safety equipment. We use national events such as “Cycle to Work Day” to promote all these opportunities.
A significant trend in office facilities in Bristol over the last few years has been to increase the capacity and improve the quality of bike parking at office buildings, often at the expense of car parking allocation. And at many locations, the on-site bike parking being created exceeds the statutory Bristol Local Plan requirements, signifying that this is being done to make the office space more appealing to potential business tenants, rather than to simply meet a planning threshold.
With its famous hilly terrain, Bristol may not be the obvious place for commuting by bike, but according to Strava Metro in pre-COVID 2019, Bristol topped the per capita cycling commuting charts amongst the other major UK cities measured (see LINK). Add to this the increasing popularity and affordability of e-bikes, our renowned hills no longer offer a reason not to commute by bike. Employees across all sectors are realising the benefits and journey reliability of commuting by bike. A significant deterrent to cycling to work expressed by commuters after concerns about safety on the roads is the worry about the security of their bike during the working day. And this is where well-designed bike parking can provide peace of mind and when combined with changing facilities & lockers make commuting by bike a healthy, reliable, and fossil fuel free option, that is practical for many living within a “bike-sized” distance (~2-5 miles) from their workplace.
CyclingWorks Bristol had the pleasure to visit the most recent example of this trend, the new 321 bike capacity “Cycle Vault” installed at Castlemead as part of the £2.1M refurbishment of Bristol’s tallest office building by Floreat Real Estate, designed and certified by CyclingScore. Forget the bike sheds round the back added as an afterthought, the Castlemead Cycle Vault has been carefully designed to be a key selling point and tenant amenity for this office space. Occupying the whole footprint of one basement floor within the building, bike commuters enter via a dedicated access door with double card swipe protection to stop tailgating. Then use a spacious lift and ramp into the Cycle Vault where they can choose to lock their bikes into the many racks or Sheffield stands available. Folding bikes are catered for with dedicated lockers to store them and the space includes charging facilities for e-bikes or e-scooters and a tool station for any maintenance emergencies.
Once their trusty steed is securely tethered, bike commuters have easy access to lockers, a drying room, and private shower/changing cubicles to make themselves ready for the working day before heading up to the office floors. The changing facilities have sufficient capacity to also benefit office residents who want to go for a run or take exercise during their breaks. The Castlemead Cycle Vault also holds a pool of Brompton folding bikes for short term loan by tenants of the building. The whole facility has a bespoke colour scheme and graphics designed to welcome and attract active commuters and it makes for a bright and appealing environment, a world apart from the traditional dark basement car park corner or exposed outdoor wall.
Commenting on the Castlemead Cycle Vault Greg Davison, Asset Manager at Floreat…. “Ensuring tenants have access to market leading amenities is crucial to the ongoing success of office space. The facilities provided at Castlemead have received enormously positive feedback and have generated an increase in viewings and new lettings. Payback is notoriously difficult to forecast for such investments, but the opportunity that Castlemead presented deserved the investment it received.” The facility has been awarded the highest platinum certification by Cycling Score, one of only 2 buildings in the UK achieving this level, commenting on the Castlemead Cycle Vault – Alex Georgiadis at Cycling Score … “It’s a great example of an existing building that was lucky enough to have forward-thinking people on board that only focused on the building’s potential and never considered its age as a limiting factor.” Alex added “With every project we’re involved in, we ultimately want people’s decision to actively travel an easier one to make. We believe Castlemead’s Cycle Vault has achieved this in a number of ways, some of which are by providing infrastructure that caters for a wide range of users, ensuring clear and easy wayfinding/signage is displayed throughout the facilities, creating an environment that is welcoming yet safe and secure.”
Castlemead in Bristol is a laudable example of property developers and office space designers going the extra mile to make getting to work using active travel easy and practical for commuters, this is in direct response to the needs of employers in Bristol.
This message comes through loud and clear from employers, who are supporting CyclingWorks Bristol. Kirsty Green-Mann, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Burges Salmon LLP stated “At Burges Salmon we provide changing and shower facilities, secure bike racks, have an internal bike users group and arrange for bike mechanics to come onto our premises to provide bike servicing and advice. We are supporters of the Government’s cycle to work scheme with our people. We think it is important to have good cycling infrastructure for a variety of reasons including wellbeing, health and safety, easing congestion, transport connectivity, air quality, the environment and climate change.” David Watkins, Associate at Arup added “We have supported and encouraged cycling through investment in new active travel facilities. Most recently in July 2019, we removed two car parking spaces and made other adjustments to our garage to accommodate 24 new cycle spaces in a two-tier rack with a further 15 cycle spaces provided in semi vertical racks. Prior to this in 2018 we invested in the construction of a new shower facilities with a dedicated clothes drying facility and larger lockers. The office has a pool bicycle which can be booked for short business trips and there are communal bicycle repair facilities provided in the garage.” Looking to the future, David added “A high level of cycling access, parking and associated facilities will be a primary requirement as we develop plans for our next city centre office.” Also planning for the future Barry Gipson, Head of Organisation Development at Osborne Clarke stated that “we specialise in legal advice for decarbonisation and urban mobility and this focus extends to support for our people as well as our clients. In 2022, our Bristol people will move to new offices in the Halo building (set to be amongst the UK’s most sustainable office buildings). As part of this, and as part of the post-covid transition back to hybrid office working, we are supporting all our people to adapt to more sustainable commutes and travel. This includes a mix of creative mobility solutions to minimise car journeys/parking and to encourage active travel to work such as cycling. Our new building will be set up to support cycling with ample bike parking, e-bike charging, showers, changing rooms, lockers etc. We’ve also enhanced our Cycle to Work scheme and established active travel hints and tips, route planners, buddy networks and more to support novice riders from all over Bristol and beyond to take up cycling to work for the first time. A regular concern and restriction to take up is the safety of cycling, or indeed e-scootering, on busy roads. We would therefore support plans for enhancing segregated cycle infrastructure in Bristol to link up safer cycling routes in and out of the city’s suburbs and within the city itself. ” Steve Lane, Partner – Office Leasing at Cushman & Wakefield stated: “Office occupiers are increasingly demanding high quality secure bike facilities for their staff. This is driven by a combination of sustainability, the associated health benefits as well as the response to the pandemic which are all influencing the way many occupiers are looking to commute to their place of work. The improving infrastructure within the local cycling networks, Bike 2 Works Schemes as well as many office buildings greatly improving their end of journey offering will continue to drive this trend. Many new office buildings in the city are embracing this, none more so than EQ which is taking the use and amenity provision for bike commuters’ way beyond what has traditionally been offered.”
Here’s also a a case study provided by Bristol Airport on steps they have taken. LINK
Other organisations working hard to enable their staff to cycle to work include Key Transport Consultants Limited, David Tingay told us “As a transport planning business we are well aware of the benefits of encouraging active travel to work. These benefits include improved health and wellbeing, improved air quality, reduced congestion and cost saving. We have installed secure cycle stands in a covered lockable store and maintain emergency cycle kit which includes repair kit and spare lights, locks and batteries. Earlier this year a shower was installed in the office building to further encourage active travel. We have a salary sacrifice cycle purchase scheme and following participation in a scheme which allowed us to borrow an electric bike for a month for staff use, a member of staff purchased an electric cycle through the purchase scheme. We also encourage participation in cycle to work day by offering breakfast to those who cycle to work on that day.” Maria Connolly at UK law firm TLT, says: “Through our employee surveys we know that more people want to travel on two wheels, so we’ve encouraged this with updated cycling facilities at our office and our popular Cycle to Work scheme. We’ve also run events like free bike maintenance and adopted the Bristol Women’s Cycling Charter, which aims to inspire and empower more women to cycle, and we’ll be looking for more ways to support cycling as people start returning to the office.” Annabel Harford at Avon Fire & Rescue Service explained “Supporting employees to cycle to work forms a key part of Avon Fire & Rescue Service’s sustainable travel ambitions. Measures we already have in place include shower facilities, cycle storage, external ground-mounted cycle pumps, Travelwest emergency bike kits and a Cycle to Work scheme – as well as regularly promoting cycle initiatives such as Dr Bike sessions. Responses from our staff in the annual West of England travel survey often highlight the need for safer, better cycle routes.”
Phil Smith, Managing Director at Business West, who partner with CyclingWorks Bristol comments “Earlier this year we surveyed 500 businesses across the region. 80% of them agreed that climate change is a core business issue, and one that can be addressed by encouraging employees to embrace active travel as part of their commute. From the cycle to work scheme and pool bikes to dedicated cycle parking and mileage, there is no shortage of employers in the region who are doing their bit to incentivise behaviour change. However, a key barrier to widespread adoption of commuting by bicycle is the severe lack of dedicated cycling infrastructure in and around the Bristol city region.”
Next year, as travelling by car into Bristol centre is further discouraged by the Bristol Clean Air Zone, it is good to see that property developers and employers are investing in making it easier for workers to opt for active travel. At CyclingWorks Bristol, we continue to work to highlight the need for our local & regional authorities to commit to the early implementation of continuous & protected bike lanes to connect the centre with residential areas and transport hubs, as described in WECA’s adopted Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). This is critical to address the fear held by many people about their safety when cycling on the road. By making it safer to travel by bike/ebike/escooter on protected bike lanes, evidence from cities around the world shows that more non-cyclists are encouraged to make the switch to active travel, which is both good for their health, as well as helping our region reduce transport carbon as part of the stated aim of Net Carbon Zero by 2030.
CyclingWorks Bristol became concerned by the spike in crime that took place on specific sections of the Bristol to Bath Railway Path in late 2020, as we know that many bike commuters use this traffic-free corridor as part of their daily journey allowing them to avoid the alternative of busy roads.
We raised the issue with both Bristol City Council (BCC) & South Glos Council (SGC) and have reached out to other organisation with expertise locally and beyond to try to understand what actions might be taken to improve personal safety. We used these learnings (our thanks go to all contributors) to put together a survey for all path users (cyclists, walkers & runners) working with Bristol Cycling Campaign (BCyC), Bristol Walking Alliance (BWA) and others.
The survey was completed by just under 1,100 people, the fact that 72% of these live in postcodes bordering the path and 59% of them told us that they (normally) use the path at least a few times each week, means that we are confident that the results are robust and offer compelling evidence for decision makers & stakeholders.
The key data points from the results were as follows:
93% of people were aware of the crime spike, with social media being the primary of source of information for 60% of them.
85% of people told us that their confidence in using the path had been eroded by the recent crime spike.
47% of males, rising to 57% of females said that they were “considering alternatives, especially after dusk”, or are now “avoiding using the path until reassured”.
When asked about “steps that could be taken to make you feel safer” 94% of people expressed that increased police patrols were very important or important.
When asked about the visibility of police on the path, 70% of those on the path recently said they had not seen the police.
Of the other crime reduction steps raised in the survey, improved lighting & targeted CCTV were supported by 90% or more, with 84% supporting better maintenance of undergrowth along the path borders.
Based on these results, together with BCyC & BWA, we are now in discussion with BCC & SGC and calling for:
A commitment to a determined plan of action to restore people’s confidence about their personal safety when using the path.
Work to encourage Avon & Somerset Police to maintain/increase patrols in the short term.
A commitment to an immediate path maintenance programme i.e. fix broken lights & thin undergrowth.
Funding for improvements to lighting & installation of CCTV at some access points and known crime hotspots.
We have also asked that a location based incident tracking mechanism be set-up to allow an accurate path crime report to be created, as this has been highlighted as an issue for non-street locations, like the path. You can find more about the survey results and requested actions in the survey report
The Government make two major announcements about promoting active travel and making it safer on the roads for cyclists.
This week saw the publication of “Gear Change” Strategy and Department for Transport’s LTN 1/20 – Cycle Infrastructure Design. In “Gear Change” the government announced the details of how it intends to spend £2 billion on increasing the numbers of people walking and cycling and includes the creation of a new body Active Travel England It will have a key focus on safety by improving bike lanes and offering training to help cyclists with skills to boost their confidence, so that they’re more likely to choose to travel by bike for when commuting, shopping locally and making short journeys. In its foreword by the Prime Minster he states that his plan is “ to start prescribing bikes on the NHS – with the bicycle in effect giant, universal prescription, with our bike lanes becoming huge, 24-hour gyms, free and open to everyone.” Follow link to see “Gear Change” document.
This week also saw the launch of the Department for Transport’s Local Transport Note LTN 1/20 Cycle Infrastructure Design. This document provides guidance to local authorities on the design of safe cycling lanes, junctions, and bike parking. The foreword by the Minister of State with responsibility for cycling and walking includes some stark words about previous practice stating “Too much cycling infrastructure is substandard, providing little protection from motorised traffic and giving up at the very places it is most needed. Some is actually worse than nothing, because it entices novice cyclists with the promise of protection, then abandons them at the most important places. Poor cycling infrastructure discourages cycling and wastes public money.“ Follow link to LTN1/20
Business focused bike commuting campaign CyclingWorks Bristol invites the region’s employers to support protected bike lanes and better cycling infrastructure
3rd Aug 2020 – Following the adoption in June by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) of its Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP), business focused bike commuting campaign CyclingWorks Bristol calls for the support of employers across the Bristol travel to work area for the priority delivery of N-to-S and E-to-W protected cycling corridors to make it safer and easier for workers to commute by bike. An important part of the priority proposals is to make each of the city’s Park & Ride location more cycle friendly, together with increasing the availability of secure bike parking across the City. The campaign has already signed up the support of regional business representation bodies; Business West, Bristol Green Capital Partnership, North Bristol Suscom and Destination Bristol, together with Sustrans, the champions of active travel as campaign partners and a growing number of regional employer organisations have already expressed their support. As well as seeking the broad support of employers for the cycling and walking plan, the campaign has identified three initial priorities that will make a big difference to cycle safety. Firstly, the creation of two protected bike lanes to connect from E-to-W & N-to-S, based on existing and LCWIP routes. It is critical that these routes are continuous and separated from vehicles and pedestrians. Safe cycling corridors across the city will give more people the confidence to opt for their bike. Secondly, we consider that the regions’ Park & Ride locations should be cycle friendly with secure overnight cycle parking, bike rental, charging points for e-bikes, so that people living further afield can drive to the periphery, then cycle from there, without needing to transport bikes home each day. The third is the installation of significantly more secure cycling parking facilities across the city centre. Bristolians have already embraced bike commuting to a good degree in spite of our hilly terrain, the increasing use of e-bikes will make them easier for all, however it is only by creating safe end-to-end cycling corridors and infrastructure, we will give even more people the confidence to get on their bike. Commenting on the launch, James Durie, Chief Executive of Bristol Chambers of Commerce and Initiative at Business West stated “We’re very pleased to be partners of the CyclingWorks Bristol campaign. The 22,000 businesses and employers we represent wish to see an acceleration in the improvement and decarbonisation of our transport system and recognise the need to now place a higher priority on active travel.” Ann O’Driscoll, Director of North Bristol Suscom representing the employers of around 45,000 staff in the Northern fringe said “North Bristol SusCom are proud to partner with the CyclingWorks Bristol campaign. Our members have worked hard to enable staff to commute to work by bike by investing in secure cycle parking, shower/drying facilities, offering the cycle to work scheme and running commuter fairs where staff can get their bike serviced and try out the latest e-bikes. We now need proper cycling infrastructure in place to make sure many more of our employees can cycle to work safely.”
Major employer Rolls Royce is supporting the campaign, Mark Lovatt, Director Manufacturing, Assembly & Test, Rolls Royce added “each year the travel to work survey amongst our 3,000 employees finds that the reasons for not cycling have included road safety, poor road surfaces and lack of cycle lanes, these improvements could encourage our employees to switch modes of transport.”
CyclingWorks Bristol is modelled on the successful campaign used in London, that was influential in enabling the City’s first Cycling Superhighways. In 2014, the so called “Crossrail for bikes” encountered resistance – the letters of support from over 200 of London’s Biggest employers helped the London Assembly & Boroughs understand its importance to Business. The catalyst for getting the campaign going now in Bristol is the adoption on 19th June 2020 by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) of its Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). Now that our region has a plan, there is an opportunity for business to support this. It is important because it is about giving staff the option to commute by bike safely on protected bike lanes. More staff commuting by bike delivers other tangible benefits. It improves Physical & Mental Health, Reduces Absenteeism & increases Productivity, delivers Environmental benefits, Parking related costs savings, & Recruitment & Retention benefits. The focus is on 3 priorities to deliver a better bike commuting experience:
N-to-S & E-to-W protected bike corridors, based on the LCWIP & existing routes.
Cycle friendly facilities at each of our Park & Rides.
Additional secure bike parking across the city centre
We are currently inviting business leaders to learn more and ideally back it. Please do contact us.