Bike parks and showers. Do we really need them?

29 July 2019

End-of-trip facilities (EOTF), often including bicycle parking, lockers, and change rooms, can be effective in encouraging greener, more sustainable ways of travelling. Some facilities go above-and-beyond, including showers and towel-hire services. As more people opt for alternative ways to get from place to place, building managers and contractors need to consider the long-term implications of including and improving these EOTFs. By incorporating better facilities, there can be direct economic and health benefits to both the individual and the community. Here’s a quick review of the many benefits EOTFs provide.

Several sources indicate that, as EOTFs improve, property prices and retail sales also increase. As the transportation networks and services diversify, they can meet the needs of more people. Moreover, as these facilities continue expanding, the economic benefits become more apparent. EOTFs are a major influencing factor when people decide how to get from point-A to point-B.

People have different transportation needs. Companies are responsible for attempting to meet the travel needs of their staff to the best of their ability. The degree that people can maximise on their transportation choices can directly affect revenue. As the mentioned studies indicate, when companies provide enhanced EOTFs, their business can increase. A more extensive customer base becomes available when people who use alternative ways of transport have the resources they need at the places they are going to. Moreover, in an economically driven climate, it may be an essential investment for economic gain in your company.

In 2017, a study conducted in Portland, Oregon, USA indicated strong evidence that bicycle facilities increased property values. Single-family homes that measured a quarter-mile away to the nearest bicycle facility, enjoyed an increase in property value by $1,571 USD (PDF). There is empirical evidence demonstrating the economic benefit of conveniently placed EOTFs. 

There are obvious health benefits to using physical activity to get to a destination. There are well-documented studies which indicate the positive physical and mental effects cycling, walking and jogging have on people. Significant benefits include, but are not limited to, weight control, overall fitness, emotional wellbeing, and cognitive functioning. As more people shift from car to bicycle for the intended health benefits, the demand for EOTFs continues to rise.

The economic and health benefits to cycling couple well together. As people begin to take note of the cost-effectiveness and health benefits of cycling and other alternative ways of transport, the benefits extend into a company’s income. A 2017 study indicates that innovative commuter health promotions (ie. EOTFs), focus on an active commuting experience. That physical activity leads to improved employee wellbeing, translating to stronger business performance. Additionally, as employee health improves, corporate health expenditure decreases as health of employees is less of a concern.

An overarching benefit to improving and increasing EOTFs is the goal to mitigate the impact commuting has on the environment. By motivating and incentivising other means of transportation, people will become more inclined to want to use clean, more active forms of transportation. Society, in turn, ends up benefitting the most from reduced carbon emissions from vehicles. In national efforts to reduce carbon emissions, it is on all of us to make a conscious effort to find ways to reduce our output; biking may be the answer.

In New Zealand the transport authority and local councils up and down the country have been investing heavily in alternative urban transport infrastructure, allowing people unprecedented access to safer cycleways away from motorised traffic. This is not a trend. This is part of a strategic national transport plan. Any responsible new building design should accommodate the needs of this growing, low carbon, healthier commuting option. 

The economy, health, and the state of the environment are all interconnected. And alternative ways of commuting postively link all three. Improving and increasing EOTFs will jump-start the direct and indirect benefits of cycling.

These facilities can be purely functional (bicycle rack, change room, & lockers), or they can turn into a holistic experience (showers, towel-hire, and other wellness amenities). One of the most impressive EOTF exists in Melbourne, Australia. Mimicking the amenities of a six-star hotel, this facility boasts top-end materials with black marble showers, wood-panel walls, hydration stations, local handmade soaps, and professional-grade hair straighteners and driers.

101 Collins Street takes end of trip cycling facilities to a new five-star level. CREDIT: AXA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT

At this facility, an entire floor of the car park was re-purposed into an EOTF, including a fully operable wellness centre. This example is at the far end of what EOTF can become, and what happens when a company prioritises the needs of employees, the community, and the environment.

In New Zealand, there are EOTF projects popping up everywhere. The majority of buildings that have or have planned EOTFs ensure that the structure's sustainability is not sacrificed in favour of amenities. Currently under construction, the PwC Tower at Commercial Bay, a 5-star Greenstar design rated new development, will feature extensive EOTF. The building will feature 230 cycle parks, 39 showers, towel services, and hair-dryers. The development manager, Anthony Randell, notes that the overwhelming feedback on healthy lifestyles sparked a heavy need for EOTFs.

Bike racks at NZGBC head office building, 5 Green Star Design rated 205 Queen Street, Auckland.  

As time progresses and more people choose to use alternate ways to get from point A to point B, the need of enhanced EOTFs increases. New Zealand will continue to help pave the way for the future of sustainable transport, ensuring the needs of the people are met with the country’s goals.

   by Thomas Sullivan, NZGBC Marketing and Communications Intern

Green Star awards points under Credit 17 to projects promoting sustainable transport such as end-of-trip facilities. More on Green Star