The British Council Office has called for businesses to include active commuting Environmental, Social, and (Corporate) Governance (ESG) policies today, in order to tackle the ever-rising issue of carbon emissions.
The announcement, which was made this morning on 8th March, follows a recent study made by the British Council Office; The Market Cycles II. In the report, cycling habits over the past five years have been analysed alongside carbon emissions data to see the impact of active commuting versus communing via vehicle, with particular focus on the past two years, due to the drastic impact COVID-19 had on commuting patterns.
What Did The Market Cycles II Report Find?
According to The Market Cycles II, 28% of commutes were taken on foot or by bike in 2019, however between 2020 and 2021, this percentage shot up drastically, to 46%– something also seen reflected in bicycle sales, with a Mintel report noticing a 22% bike sales increase during the pandemic.
This trend is expected to continue in upcoming years, with the UK government having pledged £2 Billion to improve active commuting across parliament, and hundreds of millions put towards the Emergency Active Trust Fund. The fund exists to increase cycling numbers, with the goal being that the millions spent on the fund will result in economic benefits in the billions in the future. According to research from HSBC3, if 3% of all UK journeys were made by bike, compared to the 1.5% reported in 2020, the UK economy would benefit from a £2.09 Billion annual boost- something necessary, after the negative economic impact of COVID-19.
This shift towards cycling and active commuting is also something that can be seen reflected in the architecture of homes and office spaces, The Market Cycles II reported. Between 2017 and 2022, the amount of office spaces offering shower facilities and bicycle parking has increased drastically, with a near 30% increase of office spaces with showers, and over 20% increase of secure bike parking.
Furthermore, landlords are also working on improving accessibility for cyclists, with The Market Cycles II reporting that two out of three landlords are improving on or adding completely new cycling facilities to their properties, with 87% also wishing to improve accommodation capacity for e-bikes and other motorised bikes.
On this matter, lead author of The Market Cycles II, Neil Webster, said:
“In 2017 our research with the BCO found the focus for developers and landlords needed to be on the quality of the facilities offered, not just the quantity, to encourage more workers to adopt active commuting. It is encouraging to see that five years on, quality facilities including showers and secure parking are more readily available to occupiers. Bicycle parking is increasingly a marketing differentiator for office space, with developers and investors of new buildings using ground floor and visitor parking, towel and shower services, and bike maintenance as key selling points.
But there is still work to be done, such as increasing capacity for e-bikes and improving the accessibility of facilities for disabled cyclists, to ensure all workers regardless of age and ability have the option of embracing the active commute.”
Why Switch to Active Commuting?
A combination of factors have allowed for this upswing in active commuting, with government funding and unforeseen circumstances promoting this positive change not only for the environment, but for individuals’ health as well. Cycling has been proven time and time again to have phenomenal health benefits both mental and physical, which in a time as trying as the pandemic, was essential.
The publication of The Market Cycles II, and the British Council Offices’ statements regarding the promotion of active commuting in ESG policies, is intended to usher a continuation of this trend, with a continuation of the reported trends being a net positive for all involved. An increase to public health, as well as a positive impact on the environment are all things the world is in desperate need of, and with the additional benefits of help towards the UK economy, there is little reason not to ditch the morning car commute.