While it has been a long and lonely few months for many of us (little darling), the silver lining is that bikes are returning to the streets…in droves. Cities across the globe are witnessing historic increases in ridership: 52% in NYC, 300% in Melbourne, 48% in Vancouver, and over 100% on London’s bike share service. The list continues. Similarly, bicycle shops around the world have never been busier. One shop in Brooklyn, NY saw a 600 percent increase in sales compared to last year. Meanwhile in Sydney, the 99 Bikes shops increased their staff size by 40 percent just to keep up with demand. Bike commuting is clearly having a moment, and we’re certain it’s not just a fad, which is why it is imperative that we support this uptake in cycling by opening end-of-trip facilities.

Facing a new “normal”

As businesses are starting to reopen, commuting to work is looking very different with new social distancing norms and heavy sanitation expectations. Public transportation has dropped to 15 percent of normal capacity in major cities like Sydney, San Francisco, and London. Sydney expects bicycling to make up at least 15 percent of public transport’s lost capacity while London is planning for a ten-fold increase in cycling. Melbourne is already fast tracking 40 km of bicycle lanes as the city reopens to meet their new demand. More people biking to offices means more people needing secure bike parking and storage, and in the spirit of cleanliness and sanitation, more people needing showers and inevitably towels. In other words, end-of-trip facilities (EOT). 

EOT are a crucial component of the transportation infrastructure and by reopening your facilities, you’re helping ensure that the growing number of bike commuters can do so safely, decreasing the spread of germs. Restarting your existing towel service is the next best thing you can do to improve hygiene in your building; readily available clean towels minimise contamination and encourage frequent hand washing (towels are more hygienic than air dryers). Not to mention, offering showers and towels to tenants can provide mental health benefits as many people will continue to grapple with fears of returning to crowded spaces for months to come.

[Re]open for business

The early signs are promising; across the globe, more and more buildings are reopening their EOT. In Australia, we’ve seen the likes of Charter Hall, GPT and Mirvac are leading the charge, whilst in the UK prominent players such as Landsec and Brookfield are quickly developing EOT in anticipation of this new wave of cyclists into the office later this year. 

This sort of proactiveness will help to take the strain off the roadways and pick up the lost capacity on the public transport systems. If you already have bike parking, change rooms, and/or showers, we’ll say it again: make sure your facilities open when your building does (and this includes your towel service).

Complementary measures Five at Heart recommends: 

  • Provide disinfectant wipes for users at entry and exit points. This will assist tenants to take precaution and responsibility for high use areas and common touch points. 
  • Work with your cleaning teams on best practice for EOT hygiene. This will likely include multiple cleans per day. Five at Heart works with cleaning partners who can assist and consult on this if you wish to get in touch
  • Restart your existing towel service. This is a no brainer, and is the most hygienic method to provide toweling for your customers as it prevents the storing of used towels in lockers (which is not a good idea)
  • More soap and hand wash stations. This goes without saying, Five at Heart has a partnership with Leif who have what we consider the best products on the market. If you’d like more information please click here.
  • Practice social distancing. Signage is a great answer here, your tenants are generally responsible and know the ways to practice this, although reminders don’t hurt. More hand sanitiser points won’t hurt either!

Cycle Heart Rating

So you already have the whole shebang (bravo!), and you’re planning on reopening your facilities (double bravo!), the question now is will your facilities support this new demand? That is a more complicated question to answer, but lucky for you, we’ve got just the thing that can help. Our Cycle Heart Rating assessment is a detailed survey that asks questions about your facilities to help us pinpoint exactly what, where, and how you can make upgrades to future proof your facilities. And of course, if you have bike parking but no showers, or showers but no bike parking, or have never even heard of our towel service, then you know who to call (hint: it’s not Ghostbusters).

Bikes are the future

History doesn’t necessarily repeat itself, but it rhymes. When we look back, we can see that this isn’t the first time bikes have played a crucial role during a crisis: the 1973 oil crisis led to the Netherlands becoming the second most bicycle-friendly country in the world; the 2011 earthquake in Tokyo halted public transit causing bikes to sell out across the city; bicycling shot up 130 percent when Hurricane Sandy knocked out most of NYC’s subway system in 2012; and the 2017 earthquake in Mexico City crippled the transit system and bikes became a lifeline for distributing medicines and light supplies. 

Looking ahead, the verdict is clear – bicycles are the key to urban resilience and if you want to come out on top after this pandemic, future proofing your facilities is the way to go. Cities around the world get this and they are already taking action to address and support this cycling boom. Berlin, Mexico City, Oakland, and now Sydney are just a handful of cities that are installing temporary bike lanes and pedestrian spaces. More notably, Athens, Paris, and Vancouver are planning to dedicate more road space to bicyclists and pedestrians, permanently. Finally, the U.K. Government’s whopping £2 billion investment to boost cycling and walking is one more unmistakable sign that bikes aren’t going anywhere, on the contrary, they are the future of transportation.

And we say, it’s alright.