Active commuting an essential for business sustainability reports BCO

Published on March 11, 2022

Businesses are being encouraged by the British Council for Offices (BCO) to put active commuting at the heart of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies.

A new BCO research report – The Market Cycles II – highlights that, “ESG policies can shift commuters towards more sustainable forms of travel, improve individual health and wellbeing and help companies cut carbon emissions.”

Rob Harris, Chair of the BCO Research Committee, said: “As the UK works towards its carbon reduction commitments, it is imperative that real estate and transport both play an active role. ESG is a fundamental driver in occupier decisions to take, renew or move offices, and those which are designed or redesigned to encourage active commuting are increasingly desirable in the UK market.”

When reviewing progress made in supporting active commuting (cycling as transport) the report highlights:

  • 2017 research: 45% said their offices did not have showers, or covered and secured parking 47%
  • 2022 research: 84% said their offices provided showers, and 68% provided covered and secure parking

The Market Cycles II report also reflects that, “In May 2020, £2 billion was committed to cycling and walking over the course of the parliament, and during 2020/21 over £320 million was provided to local authorities through the Emergency Active Travel Fund. This funding is set to pay dividends for the UK economy, with research from HSBC estimating that if cycling was doubled from the 2020 level of 1.5% of all journeys made to 3% of all journeys nationwide, this would lead to an economic benefit of up to £2.09 billion per year for the UK.”

With this in mind, a survey of commercial landlords found:

  • 66% are adding new, or enhancing existing, cycling facilities
  • 87% plan to increase capacity for accommodating power-assisted cycles and e-bikes

Neil Webster, Associate Director at Remit Consulting and lead author of The Market Cycles II, comments: “Cycling and active commuting has enjoyed a sharp increase in popularity in recent years, and the office industry has risen to meet the challenge. In 2017 our research with the BCO found the focus for developers and landlords needed to be on the quality of the facilities offered, to encourage more workers to adopt active commuting.”

“It is encouraging to see that five years on, quality facilities including showers and secure parking are more readily available to occupiers.”

“Bicycle parking is increasingly a marketing differentiator for office space, with developers and investors of new buildings using ground floor and visitor parking, towel and shower services, and bike maintenance as key selling points. But there is still work to be done, such as increasing capacity for e-bikes and improving the accessibility of facilities for disabled cyclists, to ensure all workers, regardless of age and ability, have the option of embracing the active commute.”

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has also highlighted that switching to cycling and public transport is “essential” to hitting sustainability targets.

Source: Simon Cox, Cycling Industry News