I have recently taken on the role of Corporate Social Responsbility Champion for my office, and in amongst all the great great stuff we’ll be doing to make Salford that little bit nicer than it already is, I have been working on a travel plan for my office.
My appointment has been quite timely as our landlord, Exchange Quay Management is pushing a travel plan for the whole of Exchange Quay, home to about 2,200 workers and Sage represents about a tenth of the population. I had introduced myself to Paula Tidmarsh of EQM as soon as I was appointed as I knew she had various plans to tempt us out of our cars, or at least to share them. These included our own carsharing website (which can also be used to find walking, cycling and taxi buddies), travel information, a car club and possibly corporate discounts on travel. This is quite amazing considering there is such demand for car parking spaces on the quay that there is a waiting list for Sage employees and EQM actually earn money from selling us extra spaces. Naturally I had my space fitted with racking for 10 bikes a couple of years ago removing the “safe and convenient parking” excuse from the lips of all the potential Sage cyclists and to be honest it hasn’t made any difference. Nor have the showers, which I and a former colleague spent a couple of years lobbying for. There are rumours of a drying room becoming available (I’ll be sure it’s me that cuts the ribbon!) and this too will have no impact upon the proportion of people cycling to work which has dropped from 4% in 2007 to 1% recorded in the survey last month. We had the offer of a 10% discount at Halfords (I know, I know but less than 5 minutes ride from the office) which has been removed because nobody used it. Sage operates the popular cycle to work scheme with a few people whinging about the recent change to the scheme meaning that greedy so and sos spending the full £1000 are being stung for a £250 final payment demand rather than the £60 they were expecting. I know of a dozen people who have been through the scheme at our office and we have gained just 1 new regular cycle commuter (Go Hendo!).
It’s cycle training on the dangerous Salford streets that they need! No it isn’t Nigel! The generous offer from Trans-global Ernie to give an hour’s lunchtime cyclecraft training as well as 1 to 1 consultancy on people’s personal commutes was rebuffed about a year ago. I talked JP (aka Mr Puncture) into supporting it but other regular cyclists thought they knew it all and ‘potential’ cyclists were not bothered.
After attending the first meeting of the Exchange Quay travel forum a couple of weeks ago I got all excited about the possibilities of a BUG for Exchange Quay thinking that this might have some legs in the spring with the days lengthening and weather improving. Granted none of the other tenants in the room were bothered but Paula chose to put out a well worded communitcation immediately with New Year’s Resolutions in mind. I suppose it was doomed to failure while there was still ice and snow on the ground. One point Paula made about was predictable journey times (which I think is a significant benefit of cycle commuting) and whilst forwarding the mail to our workforce I added, with a humourous wink, that my commute through the snow was only 5 minutes longer than it would normally be.
Surprise surprise I have had no interest in the BUG.
I hope it will be pushed again when the spring arrives and it might tempt someone to try cycling (please?). Failing that I hope to gatecrash a BBC/MediaCity BUG that will inevitably be set up soon and then, together with the groovy people, I’ll fight for our rights to ride easily and safely around the Quays.
Nobody ever said that cycle advocacy was going to be easy.