Employers and Facilities

I am very lucky with my current employer.  There are fantastic facilities here for those who commute by bike: bike racks; showers; dry room (got to love the dry room!); pumps; an outdoor area dedicated to bike washing; an indoor area dedicated to bike maintenance with bike stands and tools; generous discount schemes on bikes, equipment, clothing…  What more could a Girl on a Road Bike want?  It isn’t always like this though, in fact I would say I am currently rather close to one extreme of the range.

At my last job, in Biggin Hill, there was a shower.  I took advantage of this when I started running.  Even if the commute had been bikeable for me at the time though I’m not sure I would have been happy with leaving my bike outside all day and I’m not sure how long the management would have put up with me leaving it in a corner of the hangar.  Then there are the damp clothes.  Not only do they smell but also they really need to be hung up so they actually dry (never undervalue a dry room!).  I can’t think of a single place there where I could have done this, and the thought of putting on wet lycra is unappealing, to put it mildly.  I didn’t hear anything about discount schemes for cycle commuters but I was neither in a position to take that up nor there for long enough.

Before that was London.  I did cycle there and their facilities were very good.  I applied for and got a place in the bike racks (admittedly first come, first served and my “place” was sometimes propped against the end of the racks), there were showers and ladies’ (and gents’) changing rooms with lockers where I could hang up my (bargain basement) lycra to dry during the day.  There was a government-backed scheme to get a bike.  I seem to remember it was something along the lines of the company would buy the bike and the employee would hire it from the company for a period of three years during which time the employee would pay the equivalent of the value of the bike from pre-tax salary.  At the end of the hire period the company may (but always would) choose to sell the bike to the employee for a balloon payment equivalent to the bike’s residual value (in practice a token payment as the purchase price would already have been repaid).

Going back further (before Commuting – the real beginning), my previous employer’s facilities amounted to some maintenance sheds in which I parked my bike the two times I rode in; the company before that had a space under the stairs into which you could fit up to three bicycles, usually my best friend’s, mine a dozen times or so; before that (my first ever job) and we didn’t even have that much, although at that time I didn’t even have a bike.

While the facilities at my office have been put together with the aim of providing every reasonable amenity to our cyclists, from my boyfriend’s description of his experiences, his employers had a checklist of what cyclists might need and went down it, ticking the items off.  “Can we fit a shower in here?  Good; shower room, tick!  Next we need a cupboard we don’t use much with a socket so we can plug in a heater for a dry room…”  Credit where it’s due though, they had a pretty good list.

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