If you own a business in Cardiff and you are not embracing bicycles for deliveries or for your employees, you’re missing a trick.
Whether it is for the last mile or just getting to the office on time, the bicycle is the solution to urban mobility that has been sat under everyone’s noses since the 1880s.
Last-mile deliveries and messengers
As responsible business needs to be thinking about two things –delivering to customers in a timely fashion and being mindful of your environmental footprint.
Bike messengers are a perfect fit for congested city streets. If you need to move small packages or paperwork with a wet signature, until they figure out drones and their dismal battery life you’re going to want to employ a bike messenger.
As luck would have it, Cardiff has a team of bike messengers at Priority Express.
We’ve spoken at length about the congestion problems brewing in Cardiff. Whether we are talking about how it snarls up the public transport network, or threatens the lives of people waiting for the emergency services, Cardiff is going to get more and more congested as it grows. Even now it is costing every business in Cardiff money.
Cardiff is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and with that growth, with the default transport option being the car for many, the roads are going to cease up just as quickly as the arteries of the city’s drivers.
London has recently found that protected bike lanes are moving five times as many people per hour as the main carriageway.
The new protected cycle lanes that opened last year in London can move five times as many people per hour as a main carriageway lane in the most congested parts of our city. At peak times, the new cycling infrastructure moves an average of 46% of people along the route despite occupying only 30% of the equivalent road space. Just two weeks after opening, the east-west and north-south cycle superhighway roads were moving 5% more people per hour than they could without cycle lanes – and that number is increasing as more cyclists are attracted to the routes.
The council is hoping to install protected bike lanes in Cardiff, but they need support.
Recruitment can be an expensive, time-consuming process. Not only do you often have to pay to advertise a post, you have to take time out to sift through dozens if not hundreds of applications; conduct interviews and hope to get someone in place before too much productivity is lost.
Now, if your crop of applicants are part of the growing band of heavy, wheezing generation-x and baby-boomers with a smorgasbord of avoidable health problems, you’re looking at a lot of lost time and money in the future.
Inactive people tend to be more prone to illness and early death than active people. Studies have shown that inactivity is twice as likely to kill as obesity and being active can add up to four extra years onto the life of your employees.
More than 5 million deaths worldwide are attributed to physical inactivity. In the UK alone it causes one in ten premature deaths from coronary heart disease, and one in six deaths overall.
Bearing in mind many people will be expected to work to 68 and beyond, that’s probably a good thing. However, the benefits aren’t limited to merely staying alive. Employees who cycle are more likely to feel happier, have better self-esteem and be more alert at work.
The link between exercise and improved mental health is not new, many studies over the years have made the connection the two. But as the body of research grows, it becomes clear that regular exercise – especially physical activity outdoors – should not simply be a supplementary method to improve our mood, but a key part of any strategy to combat depression, anxiety, and the general stress of daily life.
What we need
That all sounds great, doesn’t it. You’re hopefully thinking “well, what are we doing still sitting here, talking. Let’s get people cycling!”
Well, we’d like to, but there are a few things standing in the way and a few things we need.
Protected cycle lanes & bike parking
One thing that puts people off cycling is motorists. Unfortunately, “motorists” is a body of people that makes up the vast majority. Even the people who want to cycle or are cycling are often motorists too. Losing road space or parking spaces is a battle that is often lost, particularly when a stubborn number of businesses still conflate “cars” with “customers”.
We people on bicycles spend money, we really do. Some of us who aren’t paying for cars have more money to spend in shops. There is research to show that whilst we spend less on individual trips, we tend to visit more frequently and end up spending more overall.
Many of us also get through food like nobody’s business (I burn around 600 calories just getting to work and back). We really want to get to you, but we also want somewhere safe to lock our bikes when we get there. The council will provide Sheffield Stands, you just need to ask.
Whilst it often isn’t necessary for the 52% of commuters who are currently traveling less than 5km by car, some of us do like to take a shower or at least change when we’re riding in from the edge of the city or the next county over.
A culture change
Let’s not beat around the bush here. The urban sprawl experiment has failed. The car as a mode of transport has failed and even when cars are driving around by themselves with electric engines they’re still going to be carrying overweight, wheezing bodies around, condemned to an early death.
Frustratingly, it is often business owners who stand in the way of changing our cities for the better.
“Two years ago the council decided to change the road from a two-way to a one-way system with the loss of up to 20 car parking spaces. As an independent retailer I wasn’t too happy with this.
“However, since the changes have been made Acorn Road has become more vibrant with the increase in pedestrians and cyclists. Now with more bike racks we get more cyclists coming into the store.”
Last year our “Car Free” day was watered down into a farce. We managed to get half of Park Place closed off. Word has it that this was because there was little buy-in from local businesses.
As 2018 looms large on the horizon, it would be nice to see Cardiff turn that around, wouldn’t it.