May 12, 2015

The Bike as Amenity: Raising the Bar

This morning I had a chance to see the latest in bike amenities being integrated into the newest corporate office building in Vancouver – the MNP Tower on Hastings (just behind the Marine Building), one of Oxford Properties’ four buildings in the 1000-block.

Director of Leasing Chuck We showed me how the company is not only building but managing the complex of fitness facilities that serve the 3,000 employees spread over 1.1 million square feet – and who are filling the already-provided bike rooms beyond capacity.


Bike 9


Whether winter or summer, the 120 spaces have proved insufficient, and another room for 50 is under construction.  But get this: one space is also being converted to the “Executive Bike Room” – full separate lockers, room for suits, changing space.

It’s not as though the regular employees are stuffing their bikes into a dark hole in the basement. In addition to the bike rooms, everyone has access to this:

Bike 7


For $150 to $200 a year, they get a change room, towel service, lockers, and also this bit of genius:

Bike 8


Bike 4Cyclists can take care of damp biking gear by putting it all in the dryer in one of the blue bags, for the next user to pull out and hang on the bar.  Down the hall, there’s an ironing board for those who need extra spiffiness.

When City Council passed an amendment to the building bylaw in the 1990s requiring bike rooms to be provided (generally in dark holes in the basement), few would have believed that they would be so well patronized and finished so well.  But this is becoming the new norm.

Not only do employers looking for talent need to provide spaces for cycling, they have to add on a range of fitness facilities.  Here is the just-opened fitness area integrated into the Marine Building (there’s a climbing wall on one of the upper floors of the MNP Tower too):


Bike 6


And here is the personal trainer who comes with it – Rob Williams:

Bike 5


As Chuck noted, none of this scale of amenity really made sense until the bikeways and separated lanes were constructed.  It was at that point that cycling really took off, and became accepted as part of the corporate culture.  Employees integrate it into their workday, not only as a way of working out but engaging others in the workplace.  Oxford is going to provide a custom branded bike for people to use among their various downtown properties.

Which raises the question: now that we are so past the cycling wars that characterized Hornby Street, where oh where are the bikeshare facilities that will take this city the next step.  As corporate Vancouver has so effectively demonstrated, the demand is there.  What we need is the supply.

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  1. Great to see this change in attitude, at least by Oxford, towards people who ride bikes.

    My take on Vancouver’s bike-share is that there are two issues.

    1. The mandatory helmet law increases capital and operating cost, and reduces usage revenue. This is a very unattractive picture, since CoV smartly does not wish to subsidize operations (as I understand it).

    2. I’m guessing that no big corporate sponsors have emerged yet. As with NYC, this is a major and necessary condition for a non-subsidized bike-share system.

  2. Great facility!
    The bike parking requirements for offices are really inadequate. Probably enough for maybe a 4% mode share. Now we are getting much higher than that, the requirements need to be significantly increased. As buildings are built to last for decades if not longer, assuming a 20% mode share or higher would be a good start.

  3. Very nice!

    One of the issues has always been the ability to store a change of clothes (i.e. dress clothes) at the office. Having a locker in the changeroom avoids a trip up to the office to retrieve clothing after parking the bike.

    and the dryers look like they’d solve the wet smelly clothing issue.

    1. Ministry of Supply pants have fixed this issue for me, you don’t need to change them rain or shine. Only available for men though.

  4. Those facilities look amazing and the price is definitely reasonable.

    At my old office the shower facilities and towel service were free for users (easily covered by the high rent). The lockers were for day use only, however, so I had to keep supplies elsewhere.

    Normally I carried a change of clothes in my pannier, but occasionally I had too much stuff with me. Luckily there were some lockers in the bike room that could be claimed simply by attaching a lock. Strangely enough almost nobody used them. I kept shampoo, comb, etc. plus an “emergency” change of clothes in the bike room locker.

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