Monday, 2 May 2011

End of trip facilities

I had to go to the Women's and Children's Hospital the other day. It was late afternoon - a busy visiting time - and so I felt quite lucky to find a spare lamp-post to lock my bike against. It was at the Brougham Place entrance.

There used to be a large bike locker there. It was in the middle of the drive-through space you can see in the picture below:

It was obviously only for staff because it had a sturdy padlock on it so visitors could not get their bike inside. Visitors have to make do with lamp-posts or the pedestrian barrier at the Kermode Street entrance:

These days, staff members have a purpose built locked bike park but it is around the corner at the tradesmen's entrance. You can just about see it in the distance from this picture which was taken from the emergency department:

To get to it, staff members use the same sloped entrance as ambulances:

The locked bike park is an "end of trip facility" along with things like lockers, changing rooms and showers which are meant to encourage more people to cycle. Sure enough, when I visited the hospital, I saw a couple of nurses ride out on mountain bikes after finishing their shift, dressed in lycra shorts and sporting a helmet, gloves and goggles as if they were preparing for a spot of mig-welding.

I must confess I have never been entirely convinced by the argument that it is end of trip facilities that will suddenly change cycling's modal share. I certainly do not agree that showers and changing rooms are needed. Unless people are actually training, cycling should really not be any more strenuous than walking and I have never heard it suggested that showers and changing rooms are needed to encourage people to walk to work. In the same way, I think calling for showers and changing rooms merely reinforces the (wrong) view that riding a bike is some sort of extreme sport requiring special equipment. The only special equipment it does need is safe routes.

I could of course be wrong. Generally there is a good number of bikes parked in the lock up. However given the number of doctors, nurses and other staff members that work at the Women's and Children's at any one time, it may not actually be that many at all.

Bike racks by themselves do not encourage cycling and neither, if you ask me, do end-of-trip facilities like showers and changing rooms. If you really want to encourage your employees to ride a bike to work, I think you need three things:

1. Easily accessible undercover bike parking and plenty of it;

2. An uninterrupted network of decent separated bike paths leading to it (something obviously the responsibility of local authorities rather than employers);

3. A little bit of information telling people about the network once its complete.

The bike park at the Women's and Children's is obviously meant for staff members and rightly so. Decent bike parking for visitors would be useful but a hospital is really not the place for making it difficult for people to arrive by car and charging them through the nose for the privilege of parking. If cycling were made pleasant so people had a genuine choice, you would not need to do anything that discouraged car use. I'm fairly sure people would just make the most rational choice depending on their needs at the time.

By the way, when I talk of decent bike paths, I do not mean this sort of garbage:

Taken in George Street, Norwood. That Holden is legally parked whatever the time of day.


  1. Hi Edward,

    interesting that you make the point of providing good facilities at work for riding.
    I was chatting to a mate this last weekend that has started cycling to work, along with half of his office, in part because of the new facilities provided. Dedicated bike storage, clean showers / change rooms on each floor and a city council dedicated to improving infrastructure for riding in the Perth cbd.
    Makes a big difference!



  2. There you go. Like I said, I could well be wrong. Glad to see it has worked. I'm also glad to see that you have a "city council dedicated to improving infrastructure for riding in the Perth cbd". That is what is required more than anything.

    Thanks for the comment.