Closed car parks lead to mini sustainable transport revolution, with surprisingly few complaints

Comment: Incentives to bring cycling to work to the masses?

Just over a month ago at the BikeBiz offices, which also house numerous other print and online trade titles, something brilliant, yet temporary, happened. Strangely similar to the motorist avoiding London during the Olympics and finding alternate means of travel in, out and around the capital, we’d had a ‘ban’ on parking at the office while some painters and decorators gave the building a lick of paint.

Now declared open once more, the car park is inevitably full to the brim again, yet for the week or so the ban was imposed, I heard no complaints. What I did hear was people talking to each other, planning to walk or cycle as a group and seemingly looking forward to it. I’ll perhaps get some stick for this, but that almost never happens – it took a forced break in the motoring routine to bring about a mini transport revolution that ultimately seemed to bond a number of our colleagues.

Though a doubled-edged sword, my arrival at work on the Monday saw a bit of a struggle to lock my bike to the railings. On the one hand, the spots typically ‘reserved’ for team BikeBiz’s pedal powered crew had been long taken by the early birds with an imminent deadline. The brighter flipside is that it was great to see so many enjoying cycling as a form of transport.

By mid-week and with the sun making a rare appearance, I had to be a little resourceful to secure a space – the railing clogged with bikes and enthused by an active start to the day.

So, what does this prove? Drawing once more on the comparison between what’s happening in London and our office – let’s call it mini-London – it proves that, with a little encouragement from the powers that be, it can be done – the routine engine start can easily be replaced with a short pedal, or stroll, to the office. Though London clearly requires some infrastructure changes, the parallels really are that easily drawn, the car can and no doubt will, eventually, be phased out of the urban nine-to-five.

It has to start somewhere, though. Personally, I can’t see a Government being as bold as to bring about the pedestrianisation of large chunks of cities and entirely remove cars from central areas any time soon.

Could employers perhaps be encouraged to jump start a new transport movement in a more significant way than providing a little tax break on bike purchases? Furthermore, could our industry lobby for the means to make it quick and easy for employers to install cycle parking and provide incentives to shun four wheels? Build it and they will come.

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