CityCyclingEdinburgh Forum » Commuting

Facilities for commuters - how does your employer treat you?

(100 posts)
  • Started 12 years ago by kaputnik
  • Latest reply from HankChief

  1. kaputnik
    Moderator

    We (bikeists) often moan about the weather, kit, taxi drivers, potholes etc. but there is another aspect to commuting which is how our employers treat (or otherwise) us in terms of facilities. I thought there might be some merit in starting a general comparison / discussion on the subject. What is it essential to have provided? what is it nice to have? what are the downright extravagances and luxuries some more enlightened employers provide us with?

    So, welcome to my work. I won't name them as they're so paranoid this is probably a sackable offence.
    The basement is currently off-limits to cars, so I have the whole place to myself. The bike racks aren't the best, but they are racks and you can lock a bike to them, so who am I to complain!

    The kit room is warm and dehumidified. Wet gear will dry during the day and be warm and dry for the ride home. lockable cages (albeit too small to get a coat-hanger inside!) for more prized possessions you might fear for. This is a matter of trusting your colleagues I suppose.

    Showers. Quite public for the more modest, but plenty hot and plenty flow.

    Changing and locker space. A locker is yours for as long as you can spare the £1 to release the key. Note also the radiator which has controls you can access! Elightened!

    My only complaint is the lunchtime football players who use these facilities (rather than those for the sports pitches), leave them filthy afterwards and hog the lockers! It clearly says "cycle changing rooms" on the sign on the door!

    AA

    Posted 12 years ago #
  2. chdot
    Admin

    "So, welcome to my work. I won't name them"

    Oh go on...

    At least make sure they know about -

    http://www.cyclingscotland.org/cyclefriendlyemployer.aspx

    Posted 12 years ago #
  3. kaputnik
    Moderator

    They aren't totally enlightened. For instance they participate in the Cycle to Work scheme but restrict you to Halfords only and even then only Halfords-supplied brands (e.g. Apollo, Carerra, CBoardman). You used to be able to order the bike of your choice through them, but they changed that.
    I don't have a good word to say about Halfords. They quote you for a new wheel ("that will be 2 or 3 weeks on order, mate") that Macdonald Cycles managed to fix overnight with £2 for 2 spokes and £8 for truing labour.

    Posted 12 years ago #
  4. chdot
    Admin

    "What is it essential to have provided?"

    A track pump

    This one is absurdly cheap and easy to chain up.

    Great for schools

    It is a bit small, but easy to use and light enough to take on trips as the 'group' pump.

    Posted 12 years ago #
  5. miggy_magic
    Member

    I work in Leith Links in a building containing many companies. We have a shared secure bike storage in the basement, accessed via a key fob. No complaints really and it's very well used. There's a communal shower too but it's not the cleanest, though I don't really work up a sweat on the way in anyway and don't have to use it.

    My company recently took part in the bike to work scheme AND we can choose a bike from anywhere, which is great. Took lots of lobbying but worth the wait. More than half of us are regular cyclists.

    I'd say my employers were very supportive of the cyclists and consider myself quite fortunate!

    Posted 12 years ago #
  6. blmweb
    Member

    When I moved offices from the east end of Embra to the west end the facilities improved greatly. Probably helped by the boss being a cyclist...

    We have a selection of lockups at basement level under the street in our townhouse office. Admittedly they are a bit dark and damp but no need for bike locks and infinitely better than the last place.

    One shower in a converted loo also in the basement, and some spare rooms for drying stuff if need be. No lockers but plenty of hanging space.

    Out of the 16 or so employees here, 3 cycle every day, 1 cycles 2 or 3 times a week from fife, and 1 cycles in the fairer weather.

    We also do the Cycle2Work thing through Halfords.

    Posted 12 years ago #
  7. Stepdoh
    Member

    wow kaputnik those look like nice gym facilities let alone those put on for bikers! Here there's a bike rack outside and a shower, but that's okay, would kill for a locker though!

    Posted 12 years ago #
  8. SRD
    Moderator

    I take it those are the blokes showers and that there are others for women (or viceversa)? We have three showers with curtains and doors; haven't tried them though. My ride's not _that_ exerting.

    Posted 12 years ago #
  9. Arellcat
    Moderator

    The building I work in has quite a lot of outdoor Sheffield stands - some covered, some not - sufficient for maybe three dozen bikes at a push. None of the stands are totally secure but are quite well used even in winter, although cyclists are still a small proportion of all the people that use the building. I remember when the numbers used to reduce to just the few hardcore bike commuters. So right now, my bike is probably covered in hailstones and snow.

    My building has showers and lockers, his-n-hers changing (which is so much nicer than trying to get changed in a little toilet cubicle), somewhere to dry clothes and towels, and we have a bike to work scheme. We've also taken part in the Cycle Friendly Employer Award that Chris mentioned above, and we have a bike users group.

    My building doesn't however have any floodlighting for our bike stands (cue headtorches!), or a communal toolkit (we cyclists have a shared list of who carries what, though), so otherwise we're doing quite well.

    Posted 12 years ago #
  10. Facilities? Facilities?!?!?!

    Being the only cyclist in the building has its drawbacks. We moved office and I was given a key to the lockups under the street by the basement of the office. But they're very damp, verging on wet, so the bike is just as well left outside locked up.

    There is a shower, but as has been mentioned above, I don't really work up enough of a sweat to justify it, so I've never used it.

    And that's it.

    I am this.

    Jealous.

    Posted 12 years ago #
  11. SRD
    Moderator

    The Uni had this bicycles+ thing, but only for random weeks which never coincide with when I actually want to buy a bike. is this common?

    Posted 12 years ago #
  12. chdot
    Admin

    I believe various large employers have sign-up 'windows'.

    Not entirely about benefitting employees then...

    Posted 12 years ago #
  13. Stepdoh
    Member

    Our facilities. Couldn't resist :)

    Posted 12 years ago #
  14. chdot
    Admin

    Lock it or lose it....

    Posted 12 years ago #
  15. Stepdoh
    Member

    It's okay, I'm just to the left of the middle of nowhere.

    Posted 12 years ago #
  16. effemm
    Member

    Here at the nation's favourite ex-nationalised telecomms provider, facilities for cyclists are good. We have covered parking, decent showers and lockers but no drying facilities, alas. That would be the icing on the cake, especially at this time of year.

    One downside of this organisation's approach to cycling is their persistent refusal to sign up for any kind of bike purchase scheme. Here's the blurb (suitably anonymised) from our intranet for your amusement:

    Lots of people inquire about the government's Cycle to Work scheme, a salary sacrifice scheme that allows employees to save on the cost of a new bike provided that they use it mainly for commuting to and from their workplace.

    The HR team regularly review such schemes as part of its wider remit to provide [our] people with attractive benefits. However, after thorough investigation it's been decided that the Cycle to Work scheme won't be adopted.

    Here are the reasons:

    Take up is low
    Evidence from other employers reveals that the take up of the offer is relatively low - around 1% - 2%. In order to justify the cost of offering them, any employee benefit needs to be cost effective and be open to a large number of people. Although we're really proud of the fact that many of our employees choose to cycle to work, it's a difficult to justify introducing an employee benefit that only benefits a relatively small number of people. If take up was 2% of the eligible workforce it would be around 800 people.

    Set up and admin costs
    Setting up and managing the scheme requires budget, estimated at £150k, plus the cost of [an] employee to run the scheme. With a relatively small number of beneficiaries, this isn't felt to be a cost effective investment.

    The legislation that enables the tax saving requires that the primary use of the bike is for work. Additional infrastructures would also need to be put in place to comply with this and ensure that people were really using the bike for work.

    Potential savings
    The savings to [our] people are not huge. The average cost of a bike is £350, so for a basic rate tax payer the saving would be c.30%, [our] employees can already save 15% via [our discount scheme] so the additional saving is c.15% of £350 or £52.50 which spread across 24 months is 2.20 per month.

    CO2 savings are limited
    Of the 1% who took up the offer, 50% were existing cyclists who used the scheme to upgrade their bikes. So there is little impact on CO2 emissions as so few people swapped other forms of transport for cycling.

    We realise that this is disappointing for people, but we have to make decisions based on what's fair for the majority of [our] people.

    (Apologies, can't get the "quote" tag to work)

    Instead, they've implemented a pretty lame scheme which basically amounted to a competition to win vouchers (enough to buy a BSO) and some training. For a very small number of people.

    C'est la vie. I can see the point about existing cyclists upgrading (I want a new bike too, who doesn't) but I reckon most of their other points are bogus.

    Posted 12 years ago #
  17. Kirst
    Member

    I work for probably Edinburgh's biggest employer, which has numerous locations across the city. My previous workplace has a large bike rack, roofed and partially covered but it only really keeps the bikes dry on the rare occasions when the rain is vertical.

    That building is big and I never really ventured off the first floor where I was located so I'm not sure what delights lurked elsewhere. On the first floor one of the toilet cubicles in the women's toilets had been converted into a shower cubicle with small changing area. There were four small lockers, one of which was locked permanently because someone had lost the key. We weren't allowed to keep the lockers locked overnight, keys had to be returned at the end of the day, so it was a rush to be sure I could get a locker in the morning. There was nowhere secure to hang things to dry or to keep shower gel etc overnight so things either had to be left out, or carted back and forth every day. There was no hairdryer and nowhere to plug one in. It all felt a bit tokenistic - we want people to cycle so we'll provide a shower but not actually think about the reality of what that means for the user.

    At my current workplace, we have wheelbender stands outside but we don't use them, we bring our bikes inside and leave them in a corridor the public don't have access to. There are showers but they're off the male toilets so women would have to make sure the way was clear before entering, and we can't actually use them anyway because of legionella or something.

    I understand that our big new build headquarters in the city centre has much better provision, but I almost never get to go there. I have used the public bike racks there at the front of the building and can't understand why they've been built on a gradient which ensures that while you're trying to lock the bike, the bike is trying to roll backwards.

    I would say my employer scores 4/10, could do better.

    Posted 12 years ago #
  18. Dave
    Member

    I think I must work with miggy_magic... I assume you've spotted the odd looking recumbent in the basement?

    Posted 12 years ago #
  19. spytfyre
    Member

    Our employer is again all over the city, the HQ had underground parking which is nice but not had opportunity to try the showers there
    The building I am in has exellent parking with roof (75% covered plus an overspill area when busy), good fence and locked gate. The changing rooms are just about big enough and I managed to claim a locker, there are plenty showers, one of which is electric should you get in once all the hot water is used, hair dryers and a small towel rack. They are even extending the changing room I believe to add more drying space, (go ON!) in addition to the fact I got my nice new bike on the bike to work scheme (damn you child tax credit office for making that the most paper heavy process in the world) and the fact they have their own cycling club I'd say 100% from my employer :)

    I used to work where effemm is now I think, one shower cubicle which backed up as the drainage was too close to the water table, three other showers dotted around the building so if one was full and you went looking for an empty one, you could find yourself getting back to shower #1 just to see someone walk in as the other person left... also if it is out at the Gyle the smell of the Chicken farm drifting over the bypass meant I didn't eat breakfast for 2 years...
    I liked cycling along the canal though

    Posted 12 years ago #
  20. miggy_magic
    Member

    @Dave, yes we must work in the same building, I have seen a recumbent down there! Small world, although Edinburgh's quite small. You have flown past me effortlessly up Leith Walk a couple of times on your fancy machine. I'm one of the SanDisk blokes with a shiny new road bike, but in the winter I'm on my trusty Spesh hybrid.

    Posted 12 years ago #
  21. chdot
    Admin

    Those of you who work in places with intranets may like to see if they have any/enough info about cycling.

    Might even suggest adding a link to this site!

    It seems to be getting quite useful...

    Posted 12 years ago #
  22. Dave
    Member

    @miggy_magic - say hi if you catch me down there. It's a bit harder for me to identify people by their bikes than the other way around!

    I work next door in number 14. Do you guys have hot water at the moment? Our boilers are out (not that it matters because I'm about to take a two week break, but it would be good to know if it's worth coming next door if it happens again.

    I don't shower after riding in, it's only 15 minutes from KB, but I do after jogging in (which I've taken up recently specifically because the ride is too easy).

    Posted 12 years ago #
  23. chdot
    Admin

    If you work at Bush this will be useful.

    http://sites.google.com/site/bushbikegroup

    If not, it might inspire you.

    This is very old but might help if you are thinking about a Bicycle User Group -

    http://www.spokes.org.uk/oldsite/bugs.htm

    Posted 12 years ago #
  24. chdot
    Admin

    "because the ride is too easy"

    Try a longer one - say via Arthur's Seat -

    http://www.arthursseatchallenge.co.uk

    Posted 12 years ago #
  25. miggy_magic
    Member

    @Dave, I will certainly say hello. Yes our boilers are working full pelt today. Nice and toasty, in fact it seems to be warmer than usual!

    Posted 12 years ago #
  26. SRD
    Moderator

    I looked up our 'cycling' page to confirm my recollection that one could only buy a bike for 3 days in July, and found (a) that we have BUG mailing lists and (b) pumps, spares, tools available in two locations. Had no idea!

    If your ride's too easy, I recommend adding child seat and occupant. Not only do you get fitter, but there's companionship too. And on bad days the howls warn people to get out of your way.......

    Posted 12 years ago #
  27. Cyclingmollie
    Member

    @Kirst I think I would score Edinburgh's largest employer about the same 4/10. When my manager was relocated to the new HQ I had to go there for supervision. I turned up on my bike but there was no cycle parking for casual visitors (the racks were built about 18 months leter). So I locked my bike to the statue outside the main entrance. The security guards were on me in moments. Oddly a couple of years later the building won an award for its cycle friendly facilities.

    Posted 12 years ago #
  28. Min
    Member

    Mine is quite good. We have a secure and partially covered bike shed and showers although for years the showers overflowed if you tried to shower for more than about 30 seconds. This has only just been fixed. We have lockers but no where to put damp clothes. I just take them with me and string them about to dry. There is a bike scheme but I would never use it since after you have made all the payments the bike belongs to your employer (WTF?).

    Posted 12 years ago #
  29. miggy_magic
    Member

    @min - about your bike scheme - isn't there an option to purchase the bike from your employer for a token sum at the end of the lease period? That's how ours works anyhoo.

    Posted 12 years ago #
  30. Kirst
    Member

    Min, if it's the Bike to Work scheme or Cycle to Work or similar, the employer will sell you the bike at the end of the scheme, for more or less the cost of another monthly payment. They're just not allowed to say they will definitely do that always because of something to do with tax law. But what are they going to do with it if they keep it?

    Posted 12 years ago #

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