Offering storage for bikes is not enough in today’s modern office buildings – the best now accommodate different sizes and styles of bikes, as well as charging points for e-bikes.
These were among the findings of Remit Consulting’s second annual ReTour event, where 25 property professionals took part in a cycle tour of eight office properties in central London to allow them to experience first-hand the facilities properties offer for cycling commuters.
Starting at 4 Pancras Square in Kings Cross the cycle tour included new and remodelled properties in Midtown, The City and Docklands and revealed the challenges to the office sector brought about by the increase in numbers of people cycling to work and the need for innovation and proactive property management.
Remit Consulting’s director Neil Webster said: “The ReTour event provided an opportunity for members of the commercial property sector to experience cycling facilities from the perspective of an occupier. The event allowed those participating to get a real idea of what people who cycle to work have to put up with, in the offices our industry designs, builds and manages.”
In 2017, Remit Consulting and the British Council of Offices (BCO) published ‘The Market Cycles’, a report that looked at the rise of cycling and its impact on office specification and investment. The report predicted that the existing infrastructure and properties would come under increasing pressure due to the increasing volume of cyclists and that office buildings would begin to compete not only in terms of quantity of the cycle spaces provided but also with regard to quality in the form of drying rooms, locker solutions and shower provision.
“Cycling, and running, to work are on the increase as an alternative to increasingly crowded public transport systems and commuting by bike is being actively encouraged in towns and cities up and down the country. This is important, as getting more people to use bicycles is positive for both health and congestion reasons. Making it easy for staff to cycle to work can also make a difference for businesses in the war for talent and encourages greater engagement within the working community,” said Webster.
“This year’s ReTour confirmed what we predicted in 2017 and highlighted that having a good cycling provision in a building can be a differentiator in a competitive market. Argent’s 4 Pancras Square is a prime example.
“It is also clear that while having poor provision might tick the BREAM/GRESB boxes it can actually waste valuable space in a property and money,” he added.
Remit Consulting’s partner Andrew Waller said: “Two years on from our report, it is clear that both developers and investors are taking the question of cycling facilities far more seriously. Our cycling inspection tour revealed not only a number of great ideas and innovations but also showed what can be achieved in older buildings that were not originally built with the needs of cyclists in mind.
“The ReTour event highlighted that the rise of bicycle commuting is not only a challenge to building design but that it is increasingly becoming a property management issue. It is not only a question of access and security but adapting to the variety of cycle designs and types owned and used by occupiers and the ways in which cycling itself is changing. When it comes to bicycle racks, one size does not fit all and the best approach is to provide a range of solutions. Watling House close to St Paul’s Cathedral is a fine example of how this can be done and the building managers have installed five different types of storage solutions.
“The rising popularity of electric bikes is another area that property managers need to pay attention to. Only a few weeks ago the government’s Cycle to Work guidance was updated to include e-bikes and there is likely to be a surge in demand for charging points within office buildings.”
Neil Webster added: “With the UK government looking to double cycling activity over the next five years, it is clear that the property sector needs to play its part by providing, and managing, commercial properties that bring tangible benefits to the health and wellbeing of occupiers and our environment.
“This changing landscape was perhaps best illustrated on ReTour by Brookfield Properties’ 97,000 sq ft development at 100 Bishopsgate which, when completed this year, will provide 900 cycle spaces, but only parking for four cars.”