May 26, 2014

Bike Rooms – 5: Vancouver General Hospital

From Ken Ohrn

Here are a few shots of the new and ultra-fabulous VGH bike room.  Parking for 174 bikes, plus showers and lockers.  Busy, too, even before it has officially opened.  Savvy employers are starting to see that this helps to attract and retain the best and the brightest.

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Bikeroom1

Bikeroom 2

Bikroom 3

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  1. Hmm, so the measure of the “best and the brightest” is that they ride bicycles? Well, I guess all those doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, baristas and other slobs on the bus and in their cars can just go to the back of the line.

    1. Nope. Go back and read what Ken wrote. He said that “this helps attract and retain the best and the brightest”.

      Your indignation is fueled only by your own straw-man assertion.

      1. It’s not a straw man. A neutral, inclusive statement is “it’s great to see companies trying to cater to everyone”. A smug, in-crowd statement is that bicycle rooms “help[s] to attract and retain the best and the brightest”. Really, riding or not riding a bicycle has no bearing on your abilities at your job. If you can’t see that, well, it doesn’t really matter – I’m just an anonymous internet commentator.

        On the other hand, if you want to persuade people who are generally supportive, but not part of the in-crowd, then it would be better to be less smug and self-congratulatory. Trying to be inclusive might even win some support from the unwashed masses who aren’t “the best and the brightest”.

        1. It is a straw man because Ken never claimed that “the measure of the best and the brightest is that they ride bicycles.”

          On your second point: I honestly don’t see the smugness. Bike rooms give employees more transportation options, which helps attract the best and the brightest. Where’s the smugness?

          What if we were talking about a company that started offering a daycare service? Or an in-house cafeteria that serves fresh, not processed, food to employees? Or a company shuttle where public transit is poor? Or a loaner vehicle for employees to use while theirs is in the shop? Or flexibility on work hours so employees can have more work-life balance? Would you equally say it’s smug and “in-crowd” to claim that these amenities help attract and retain the best and the brightest? What makes bike rooms any different?

          On your point about whether riding a bicycle has any bearing on abilities at work, you are wrong. There have been studies showing that people who commute by bicycle take fewer sick days and are more productive at work than those who drive.

  2. An employer needs to do many things right to attract and retain the best and brightest. Salaries, solid products and product plans, clear lines of communication, and many more things.

    But making sure that employees have effective choices in transportation is one of them. Proximity to rapid transit, nearby residential opportunities — and yes, a bike room for the increasing numbers who ride to work. Plopping your business in the middle of a parking lot in the middle of freeway-land is just not attractive any more. Many people, including the best and brightest, don’t want to be forced to buy, operate and commute in a car.

    People want choices, and increasingly it is to use alternatives for their personal transportation.

  3. I’ve only had a quick orientation visit to the bike room under this building. My first impression is that it’s small and very crowded. Colleagues tell me that it’s usually almost full when they arrive. I think it’s a bit of an L shaped or T shaped room so it may not photograph well.

    The head of this company has always refused to leave the downtown core because he feels that it’s the best location to conduct business. Most of our clients are from the US or eastern Canada so proximity to hotels is important, but we don’t get a lot of visitors.
    The key reason for staying downtown is easy access from all over Metro Vancouver. We have employees from UBC to PoCo, North Van to Newton. Attracting and retaining good employees is always a challenge in high tech. You have to offer interesting work and an attractive working environment. Downtown offers the best public transit, the best cycling infrastructure and is adjacent to West End, Yaletown and Gastown housing. We have employees who walk to work from all three. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the building is surrounded by food trucks, food courts and drinking establishments.

    1. Chris, people pay for parking, there is no reason why cyclists shouldn’t do the same. Anybody working at VGH can afford that nominal amount.

    2. That’s the counterpoint to the “tax dollars at work” comment above.

      At Pacific Centre and other private office developments, there’s no cost to the individual bike room user, because the cost of the bike facility and showers, etc. woud be rolled into occupancy costs shared by the tenants (i.e. the cyclist’s employer) together with base rent.

      I suppose at public institutions, the cost needs to be covered by the users themselves.