JS+P goes green!

A member of the JS+P team has recently taken the plunge and started to commute each day from the outskirts of Manchester to our studio in Ancoats by bike. Our Architect Jonathan had some reservations of course, most of which are most likely shared by many others. High on the list were the safety of cycling into and around the city, the intensity of exercise, the lack of good changing facilities and secure cycle storage, and of course, helmet hair!

Starting with the kit; as a lover of Scandinavian design and exciting new tech, Jonathan discovered the beautifully designed MATE foldable ebike and cutting edge Hövding airbag helmet, addressing worries over exertion levels, safety and helmet hair in one swoop, whilst having a great deal of fun in the process – he’s a clever one isn’t he? Seriously though, the benefits felt by the 5% of Greater Manchester residents currently cycling to work (survey by Sustrans), include reduced commuting costs (fuel, parking, public transport), time saved from not being stuck in never-ending congestion or waiting for late running trains, a new sense of freedom by not being squashed into a tram for 20 minutes and, of course, improved overall health and well-being.

With over half of residents in Greater Manchester wanting to start riding a bike or to ride their bike more, there is scope to drastically increase the number of cycling commuters. But can our workplaces cater for such a change?

Cycling to work not only improves physical fitness but mental fitness as well. Employees who cycle to work are fitter, happier and take half as many sick days according to recent Sustrans survey. Increasing levels of exercise boosts brain power (Cycling Weekly); the increased blood-flow to the brain aids in focus and mental agility, reduces stress and anxiety which in turn aids better quality sleep. There is no denying that exercise improves well-being across all areas of life and the daily commute is an ideal chance to squeeze that activity into our busy lives.

With over half of residents in Greater Manchester wanting to start riding a bike or to ride their bike more (Sustrans), there is scope to drastically increase the number of cycling commuters. But can our workplaces cater for such a change? Statistics show 39% of all employees want somewhere to park their bike at work and 53% of employees want showers and lockers available at their workplace (survey by British Land). Developers are starting to listen to this demand, transforming underutilised car parking spaces into bike storage and changing facilities, as was the case when JS+P recently designed a new cycle hub at ONE Portland Street for client M&G Real Estate.

However, it isn’t just about ‘build and they will come’ as the city itself needs transforming along with perceptions on the safety of cycling within Greater Manchester. According to a Sustrans survey only 27% of people think cycling safety is good in the region. Following in the footsteps of cycle friendly cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam, the introduction of the ambitious £1.5bn ‘Beelines’ cycling and walking masterplan would aim to make the city safe for cyclists and walkers and is fundamentally about “making better places to live and work by giving normal people a real choice about how they travel” (Chris Boardman in Manchester Evening News). Bold ideas like this are what we like to see, especially when they share our people-focussed ethos.

We are looking forward to seeing how both the people of Manchester and the city itself develop into what is hopefully an environmentally friendly, people-focussed, forward thinking future city. In the meantime, we are enjoying the ride!