Bike commute thoughts re: bicycles and buildings

IMG_0540The LEED rating system rewards designs that include bicycle amenities. This has been criticized in the past as being too easy as a way to gain points toward green certification.
As a (sometimes) bicycle commuter, I’ve noticed many factors that make for a successful alternative transportation strategy.
Separated pedestrian and bike lanes make a huge difference in terms of safety and navigating the best routes. A difficult stretch along a busy road or a dangerous intersection can discourage these modes of mobility. Connection to Skytrain and bus routes helps too. At the destination, where the LEED points are considered, the connection to a bicycle trail network, the perceived safety of storing one’s bike on site, the provision of storage lockers, and access to showers makes a difference in whether or not people will participate in the plan to increase transportation efficiency, reduce vehicle distance traveled, improve public health, and engage in healthy activity. All of this points to the need to consider any building-based energy and resource improvement in the most holistic way possible. The critics are correct in many regards, a building isn’t any ‘greener’ because there are bicycle racks. LEEDv4 (the latest version) has addressed this by requiring proof of access to bicycle networks, plans for bicycle paths and trails, storage and shower rooms, and more. These are steps in the right direction.

For an organization considering building a LEED certified facility, the provision of bicycle amenities will come up in design meetings. It would be valuable to have some facts and numbers. Here are some  ideas for the type of information needed to make a case for (or against) including bicycle amenities :

  • Average commute time from appropriate locations to the facility (by car, by Skytrain, by bus, by bicycle) This information is available on
  • Average cost of round trip travel for above trips
  • Cost of providing one car parking space (construction, operation)
  • Average revenue per car space for underground parking (x number of parking spaces removed from use to provide bicycle storage)
  • Cost of providing one bicycle storage space with locker
  • For similar mobility in the region:
    • Average cost of owning a vehicle per year
    • Average cost of owning a bicycle per year
    • Average cost of public transportation per year
    • Carbon emissions associated with each of the above

bike storage area with lockers (note the former car-parking location):

Bike storage locker

Indoor bike rack (minimal floor area allocation under staircase, in a high-visibility area):

bike rack

bicycle parking near a farmer’s market, along a well-developed dedicated bike route:

outdoor bike parking

I’m interested in your thoughts re: the connection between alternative transportation modes, built-environment infrastructure, and building amenities.

What else might be considered when making space-allocation decisions in a building?

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