A bicycle-friendly workplace – for a sustainable future
There are undoubtedly many benefits to riding your bicycle to work, both from a personal viewpoint and from the employer’s perspective, but how can we make it easier for staff to choose sustainable transport and what specific plans does the University have in this regard?
Eight campus areas at Uppsala University are currently participating in the Bicycle-friendly Workplace initiative, which is administered within the framework of the Uppsala Climate Protocol, a local network of private and public-sector stakeholders, academia and associations working to achieve Uppsala Municipality’s climate goals. The working methods used are inspired by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The work to transform the University into a bicycle-friendly workplace is being led by the University Administration’s environmental coordinator Anna Sandström.
“Building works are underway in collaboration with landlords to make life easier for cyclists, including several secure bike parks where students and staff can lock up their bicycles during the daytime. The first of these buildings is already completed at Ekonomikum and it will shortly be joined by another at the Evolutionary Biology Centre. Others will soon follow. Roofs will also be erected over existing bicycle racks, including at Blåsenhus.”
Ekonomikum facilities manager Peter Götlind is managing the project that recently saw the brand new bicycle parking house opened.
“The response has been positive and a number of parking spaces have already been leased. Students and staff are offered spaces on the same terms and we are hopeful that even more people will choose to cycle to work once they can park protected from the weather and locked up inside.”
The newly built bicycle parking house next to Ekonomikum. Photo: Johan Ahlenius.
The original local project was launched back in 2014, with the ambition of offering secure bicycle parking to staff and students at Ekonomikum.
“Today, it has evolved into a broader collaboration with landlord Akademiska Hus, in which similar buildings will be erected in several areas of campus, with the next building already under construction at the Evolutionary Biology Centre,” says Peter Götlind.
Making it easy to do the right things
If a workplace is to succeed in promoting a more sustainable physical environment, the basic preconditions must first be in place. As Anna Sandström explains, this can be a matter of working with the landlord and others at an early stage to ensure the workplace is designed for sustainable behaviour.
“It should be easy to do the right things: to be able to cycle to work, to provide weather-protected bike parking spaces and to make it possible to separate waste, or refill your water bottle, and so on. Theft prevention is also very important of course.”
While due consideration must of course be given to those who are unable to walk, bicycle or take the bus to work, the hope is that in future facilities such as car parks can be given over to bicycle-promoting initiatives to a greater extent.
“At the Ångström Laboratory, for example, car park spaces have already been moved further from the entrance to make room for bicycle parking. This is exactly the kind of encouragement staff and students need to travel sustainably and that we hope to see more of,” says Sandström.
A push in the right direction
A recent article in regional newspaper Upsala Nya Tidning featured an interview with Harris Stamatopoulos at the Uppsala University Innovation Partnership Office (UU Samverkan) regarding the University’s ambition to see more people choosing cycling and public transport. He described how specific strategies, such as nudging, can be used to change a certain behaviour and help people make wiser day-to-day choices.
“Nudging, or ‘a small push in the right direction’, may for example mean measures aiming to make it easier to follow a certain rule or to act in a more healthy or sustainable manner. The research which already exists about nudging is relatively new, but within this project we are working to create an entire database of ‘nudges’ that have affected individual choices when it comes to transport. We will soon have a significant amount of data on nudging,” says Harris Stamatopoulos.
Information campaign underway
Earlier in the autumn, Annika Björklund and Malin Gustafsson Nyqvist at the University Administration, who both work with central services in the Segerstedt Building, organised an information campaign at the University’s various campus areas. The information on the bicycle-friendly workplace is available in print and digitally on information screens.
“I am proud that, here at Uppsala University, we take this issue seriously and that we have committed employees who disseminate information about important things to bear in mind when one cycles,” says Annika Björklund.
They are also working on a smaller initiative to encourage staff and students to continue cycling during the winter.
“We are investing in making sure more people can be seen after dark, including by handing out reflectors. In addition, we are working on a healthy habits bingo game focused on cycling, this time primarily aimed at students,” says Malin Gustafsson Nyqvist.