Many people select a bicycle instead of crowded public transport means, or even their own car. Observations and research also indicate that the prevailing coronavirus pandemic caused many of us to switch to this mode of transport. Nowadays also people in Poland use bike when going to work, what has been a regular activity in many Western Europe for many years. So what does a cyclist employee need?
The first thing that comes to mind in response to this question is “safe bicycle paths”, however the standard of such is not the same in Polish cities yet. In larger ones, like Warsaw or Krakow, things have been going quite well for several years and routes renovations have increased their quality, but there are also quite a few cities where, unfortunately, no one thinks about cyclists. Bicycle paths are the solution that can only be provided by the authorities of individual cities, although developers erecting new office buildings and ensuring the redevelopment of the road infrastructure have a significant impact on it. When planning urban infrastructure, it is also worth considering locating bicycle rental systems near the office buildings, as well as electric scooters, which – right after bicycles – are one of the most popular ways to move around the city these days.
In many cases, cycling anywhere – not only to work – is a significant time-saver. While cars and buses stuck in traffic jams, a bicycle – although theoretically has a lower speed than a car – can slip past from point A to point B; not to mention the health and support maintenance your body shape. However, there is one disadvantage – cycling is usually associated with physical exertion. Cyclists do not feel well if they are unable to refresh themselves. Therefore, it is extremely important for an employee riding to work by bike, to take a shower in the office building. The shower cabins in the sanitary area is not a new or extravagant invention at all. Even old office buildings, built in the 1970s, were often equipped with such amenities. Currently, they must be provided by office buildings applying for LEED or BREEAM certificates.
As for an employee coming to work by car, it is important to be able to find a free parking space near the office, for a cyclist (and scooter user) crucial amenity is to be able to park vehicle safe for couple of hours on dedicated parking area near to entrance to the office building. The most important emphasis is put on the word “safe”. Although most bicycle owners take care of equipping their vehicles with appropriate security, about 200,000 bicycles are stolen every year in Poland. This is almost 23 times more in comparison to cars disappearance in Poland! The requirements of LEED or BREEAM certificates also contain for the provision of special zones or garages for bicycles (for at least 0.5% of office users in the case of LEED, as well as at least 5% of employees and 10% of visitors in the case of BREEAM). It is important for the cyclist that bikes shall be monitored. If the bike-zone is additionally equipped with a tire compressor and a tool kit in the event of a minor breakdown, it gains additional points in the eyes of the cyclist. The most convenient solution for an employee-cyclist appears when such places are covered by a roof. Sometimes, despite the fact that the morning sun was beautiful, it rains during working hours. And while it does not matter for the bicycle frame, it is not very comfortable to ride on a wet saddle or in a helmet that has been poured with rain.
It is desired that offices shall be equipped with lockers for employees, where they could change their clothes. If a cyclist is caught by a downpour on the way to work, the prospect of not being able to change to a dry cover makes it impossible to perform any working activity. Another issue is the dress code in the company. A business suit is absolutely unsuitable for cycling, while a bicycle suit – does not match to the working dress code, especially one that involves contact with the Client. It is also difficult to imagine a cyclist carrying a disguise outfit hanging on a hanger or a suit in a backpack. Therefore, the possibility of leaving it at work seems indisputable.
Companies are increasingly aware of the cyclists’ needs, as well as the benefits of riding to work by bike (employee well-being of an employee, less sickness absenteeism) and try to provide them with appropriate facilities at the workplace. It is also noticeable when they offer other benefits associated to employees commuting, e.g. vouchers, salary supplements or a free bicycle service.