The general desire to encourage people to cycle to work is often hampered by the lack of adequate end-of-trip facilities. “End-of-trip facilities” are more than just bike parking, but rather a well designed package of infrastructure that makes cycling to work attractive. Lived experience tells us that end-of-trip facilities will often not be built or added to a commercial building – unless explicitly mandated. With this in mind, the ACT Government has introduced Territory Plan Variation 357.
- Great is throwing your heart into it
- What are end-of-trip facilities
- Draft variation 357
Great is throwing your heart into it
The thing that makes end-of-trip facilities so wonderful in high cycling countries, such as the Netherlands, is that many in the population care about cycling. It has become a valued part of the culture. People have their heart in it, so that everybody involved with a project from the initiates and sponsors, regulation, practitioners and builders, know that it is done properly.
High cycling countries, such as the Netherlands, show now good cycling infrastructure can be and set the high bar, the benchmark, for which Canberra should strive.
Canberra has since acknowledge that the Territory Planning approach, of setting the minimum standard, is not producing the good outcomes that we would desire. The goals for active travel, for example, are not being realised. Developers tend to see the general and specific codes from the Territory Plan as setting barriers rather than providing inspiration. They see the codes as the minimum requirement and worse in some cases look for loopholes. The object is then not to do something well but to tick all the boxes to get the development application through – to pass the hurdle.
It is not surprising that such an approach will produce less than satisfactory results that are hardly likely to increase the uptake of cycling. Cyclists care, but in Canberra most people do not commute to work on a bike, so that there is little understanding for why little things matter. Building codes help but do not replace a culture where Canberrans care about cycling infrastructure.
The Planning and Development (Draft Variation 357) Consultation Notice 2021 is long overdue and most welcome – a step in the right direction. It will, however, not establish cultural values which are essential for building end-of-trip facilities well. To do that, Canberrans need to understand that cycling is important and in lieu of riding themselves, they need to understand that cars are not the answer and that we need to build Canberra differently and make it people friendly. This is about values and change evolution. The nature of this discussion is for another article but the ACT Government must start the conversation now.
If there are any doubts how long it takes to build awareness, take the example of climate change. Two decades after we started the discussion, we are still struggling to achieve meaningful interventions – so powerful is culture and tradition. The lilly pond analogy tells us the values and question assumptions are the way, but the process for cycling has yet to begin. Cultural evolution is done alongside regulatory change and not afterwards.
What are end-of-trip facilities?
End-of-trip facilities are designed to make the transition between commuting and work safe, secure, and convenient.
We have long taken car parking for granted, but it is by no means certain that a cyclist will find a place to securely lock up their bike, where it will remain untouched and undamaged until the end of the day. Many cyclists feel uneasy about leaving their much loved bike in a public space. That is especially true about expensive e-bikes. Bikes that are not secured to something firmly screwed into the ground can – and eventually will – be carried off. Riding a good quality bike is something every cyclist appreciates, but good quality bikes are likely to be targeted by thieves and vandals. Unlike motor vehicles, bikes are not insured or registered, and it can be expensive and stressful should the bike be stolen or damaged.
Commuters that ride to work may require storage facilities at work. Lockers are the most common practice, but they are often too small and often there are too few to cater for the demands of all the active travel employees, which is why lockers must be mandated.
While a change of clothes is not stringently necessary when riding to work, a workplace that provides change rooms will encourage their employees to be more active. People can run or walk, alone or with colleagues, before and after work or even during lunchtime. It is well accepted that most people in our society are too sedentary and that sitting is the new smoking. We sit at home, sit in the car and then go home to sit and watch Netflix. Health issues associated with modern life are well documented. Active travel does not only free our cities of the clutter of cars, but also provides numerous health benefits.
Cycling is a popular form of active travel and about a third of all trips in a high cycling countries are with a bicycle. Change rooms provide convenience for all employees to create a healthier and better workplace.
Toilets, showers, and bathroom facilities
At home, we have a toilet and bathroom conveniently available whenever we need it. In public spaces, even a toilet can be hard to find. Many new suburbs have only one public toilet and the local shops may have none. The toilets in office buildings are often inaccessible for casual staff. This discourages cycling.
Work places will have toilets, which may not be well-designed getting changed. Leisure centres have well-designed toilet, shower, and bathroom facilities. The change room is usually adjacent to the showers and toilets, with secure entrances for both men and women, close to the bike cage and entrance of the building, which is typically secured and monitored. However, this standard setup is not always a given, even at new offices. The reason is simple enough: a well-designed facility takes time, space, effort, and money. Again, it will not happen by accident and must therefore be mandated.
Personal safety is important to us all, and no less for cyclists. Women can be sensitive to their personal safety. However, it is not just women – younger and older people often express concerns for their safety, too. Whether we feel safe is a highly complex psychological phenomenon and depends on many factors. Like perception, fears are real, as they change our behaviour. Cycling is all about behaviour and establishing habits. If we wish to encourage it, people need to feel safe. It can be achieved with good design at a minimum of expense. Designing our buildings and urban environments to enhance our personal safety must be mandated.
Draft variation 357
A long time coming
The ACT Government works in slow and mysterious ways. Minister Gentlemen kicked off active travel in 2015, The draft variation of end-of-trip general code is from 2017. Why it has taken four years to be finalised is not clear. Clearly the consultations in 2018-2019 were perhaps longer than anticipated. It seems clear that end-of-trip facilities were not given any priority.
Planning and Development (Draft Variation 357) Consultation Notice 2021
The Planning Minister’s 2015 Statement of Planning Intent includes priorities to create environments that support walking and bicycle riding (active travel) and demonstrates that planning encourages greater take-up of active travel.Planning and Development (Draft Variation 357) Consultation Notice 2021
In 2017, Draft Variation 357 was prepared to replace the Bicycle Parking General Code with a new End-of-Trip Facilities General Code to provide end-of-trip facilities for bicycle riders and other active travel users.Planning and Development (Draft Variation 357) Consultation Notice 2021
End-of-trip facilities encourage people to use active travel modes of transport now and into the future. This is consistent with the Government’s plan to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles by providing accessible opportunities for active travel users and reducing the barriers that might limit the uptake of these activities.
The provision of bicycle parking facilities at destinations and places of residence provides the fundamental requirements to support cycling as a form of active travel. In many instances, the provision of basic bicycle parking with good passive surveillance adjacent to a building entrance may be all that is required. Commuters and riders, however, also require longer term parking, more secure facilities and appropriate showers and change rooms.Planning and Development (Draft Variation 357) Consultation Notice 2021
To work through the key issues, a series of workshops were held from 2017 to 2019 with interested community and professional/industry stakeholders.Planning and Development (Draft Variation 357) Consultation Notice 2021
2.2 Proposed Changes
2.2.1 Proposed Changes to the Territory Plan Map
There are no changes proposed to the Territory Plan Map.
2.2.2 Proposed Changes to Territory Plan
It is proposed to:
– replace the Bicycle Parking General Code of the Territory Plan by introducing an End-of-Trip Facilities General Code. The aim of the code is to provide adequate facilities for bicycle riders and other active travel usersPlanning and Development (Draft Variation 357) Consultation Notice 2021
– amend the current definition of gross floor area (GFA) in the Definitions section of the Territory Plan to exclude areas for bicycle parking and associated end-of-trip facilities from GFA calculations.
– include a new definition for end-of-trip facilities in the Definitions of the Territory Plan
– consequential changes to substitute Bicycle Parking General Code with End-of-Trip Facilities General Code in relevant development codes and precinct codes.
Considering how long it has taken to get here, any code must be welcome. Having said that, we must remember that such a code may be reviewed only once a decade. It is therefore worth considering what could be improved. The submission is open to public consultation.
Here is one comment:
I have been cycling to work for years now. I have also been a contractor for a few years, so that this comment is based on lived experience.
1. Most government departments and agencies have bike cages that are secure and big enough.
2. Most have showers and locker rooms, BUT as a contractor I typically don’t get a locker, let alone 2 (one for dry and 1 for wet/damp clothes and towels).
3. Typically the airing is bad, so that wet and damp clothes don’t dry during the day.
4. If there are lockers, then they are too small and too narrow.
Proper end-of-trip facilities must include adequate lockers for ALL staff, please. Thanks
Developers may not see the benefit of end-of-trip facilities, as they increase the cost and complexity of the project and take away from the lettable area. For this reason, the draft refers to the “net lettable area” rather than the “gross”. Gross and net differ in all those common areas of the building, which the building owner cannot directly let. Clearly, we need a clear formula for this otherwise the benefits of the General Code can be negated.
Even when there is a code, there is a tendency to build to the minimum requirement. Perhaps this is due to the view that money can be saved on less important things. This attitude marginalises cyclists. End-of-trip facilities done badly don’t do anyone a favour.
If we want to get serious about cycling we need to get serious about end-of-trip facilities! High cycling countries show how it can be done well, and we would be well advised to copy them. We are reluctant to do so, and address instead the new with old and outdated approaches. Some developers are more ambitious but all too often the short term viability rides roughshod over the long term utility.
The challenge to encourage more people to take up cycling will be to make enough headway, building end-of-trip facilities of quality, and to avoid just ticking boxes. Our heart needs to be in it to succeed. That is why ACT Government change communication is so important!