Thursday, 22 September 2011

Big business is starting to ditch cars in favour of bikes in central London

News reaches me from a colleague at one of the big four City accounting firms that the firm is adding a further 200 additional bike parking spaces in its  offices in the Square Mile.

Earlier this week, I reported how a property developer that owns some of the world's most iconic office buildings is asking the Mayor to sort out better conditions for people to walk and cycle. It's not doing this for altruistic reasons. Its letter to TfL is clear that this is about making it easier for people to walk or cycle to meetings rather than have to sit in taxis, going nowhere and belching fumes. The streets controlled by the Mayor in the City of London, it says, are not suitable for walking or cycling and they should be. 

So it's extremely encouraging to see the accounting firm Deloitte taking out car parking spaces in its offices in the Square Mile and adding yet more cycle parking spaces. From what I understand, the partners at Deloitte pay for parking spaces on an annual fee. Not only have they given up those spaces but the company has given up that income in order to provide extra space for people who cycle to work.

Makes me think I'd like to work at Deloitte, quite frankly. They join the ranks of a number of other City employers who are wholeheartedly embracing the fact that people want to get around London on foot or on cycles. Too bad that the Mayor's Transport for London is trying to do pretty much anything it can to stop them, in favour of more and faster motor vehicle traffic. 

By the way, if you have time, skip to minutes 3.40 and 3.59 in this video from the newly-launched Dutch Cycling Embassy. And just imagine that sort of thing ever happening in the UK. It's standard practice in all sorts of countries. Not here, though.

Cycling For Everyone from Dutch Cycling Embassy on Vimeo.


  1. That is an excellent news indeed. It's a snowball effect I think - the more people talk and blog about bicycles the closer we are to getting proper conditions for cycling.

  2. Not all totally altruistic - In Windsor House (a block largely occupied by TfL, and possibly by now entirely occupied by them) TfL leased just 2 of the 50 or so car parking spaces in the basement, whilst the other (minority) tenants scrabbled for the remainder. At Canary Wharf the KPMG building made substantial savings on below ground accommodation (expensive to provide - especially for motor vehicles with forced ventilation, fume sensors, fire protection.... around £1000/space/year to maintain) and installed a space efficient cycle store.

    Leasing a car parking space -even in a provincial city costs £2000-£2500/year - so in Central London ramp that up by a factor of 2.5 to 3 at least, or the site 'owner' might look to leasing out the company car parking not used for cars for others who want to park cars, or as storage, on site, potentially 'worth' or 'earning' more than it would as a car parking.

    Perhaps one of the worst sites for cycle parking and access is the very site occupied by City Hall - owned and run as One London (and linked riverside developments. The site policies forced City Hall to agree for badly sited (and insecure) public parking on land owned by LB Southwark, and one tenant could not get more than 2 parking garage passes for 2 parking bays that they wanted to use for more efficient use parking staff cycles.

    Worth noting that in residential developments it is more often the developer who wants to build car-free flats in the city - as for every 2 flats with car parking they could build 3 without, and earn a lot more from the site.

    Pressure from city firms might actually get Boris to see sense with Boris Bike tariffs and offer a commuter tariff to save all the bike shuffling that costs us (ultimately) with the triple handling of bikes from stand to truck, and transfer trip and then from truck to new stand (or piled in a heap in EC2/Waterloo) (Commuters should be using the OV-Fiets form of bike hire rather than try to fit this massive tidal flow in to the bike share model)

    The other detail very apparent at Waterloo and Paddington, and to lesser extent at other termini is that 60% of the bikes heading out in the morning peak are compact folding bikes, and 2/3 of those are Bromptons. The small fleet of Bromptons being hired out from Waterloo by SWT are almost all on long-term hire, with moves afoot to place the automated units now operational in Guildford, elsewhere with other hosts. You'll generally spot 2-3 SWT Bromptons if you observe the bikes leaving Waterloo for 10-20 minutes during the morning peak

  3. After about 30 drivers past me at a junction where a cycle path crosses a main road, one finally let me out before joining the queue at the other side of the junction.

  4. What a superb little video, it cheered me up no end!

    Early on, it discusses the 'Stop the Child Murder' campaign, which seems to have kicked off the Dutch reversal of their car-oriented transport policy.

    I recently had a discussion with my wife, who said the Dutch embracing of cycling was a cultural thing. Of course, I completely disagreed with her, saying that they merely made a political decision to challenge the dominance of the car and we could do exactly the same if we had the political will.

    However, I now wonder if there is an element of truth in the cultural argument. It seems to me that the Dutch nation looked at their road deaths and had the moral compass to say "enough is enough".

    Thousands of people are killed and injured on Britain's roads every year, yet we seem to accept this as normal or inevitable. We lack the national moral compass to challenge the status quo.

    I don't think we are as civilised as the Dutch. I think its a cultural thing..