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Sydney’s white-collar riding boom

Sydney’s white-collar riding boom

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Sydney is often cited as one of the world’s less friendly cities for cyclists. Often singled out for its impatient motorists and lack of bike lanes, Australia’s largest city is far from cycling paradise.

Despite these challenges, a record number of commuters are now travelling to work by bike in Sydney.

Between 2006 and 2011, the number of Sydneysiders riding to work across the entire city increased 38 per cent to 22,320, with the number of inner Sydney bike commuters increasing 79 per cent over this period. The NSW Government has a strategy to double cycling trips on these levels by 2016.

Around 7000 people now commute into the CBD by bike every day according to the City of Sydney.

It expected the major interruptions on city roads from this week’s closure of George Street for the construction of the new light rail line will encourage even more people to switch from public transport to bike commuting.

This surge in demand – particularly from office workers in Sydney’s CBD – has now seen it become standard for premium-grade office buildings to provide facilities for workers to store their bicycles and shower before work.

Aside from at least one conveniently located coffee cart near the entrance of a building, most tenants now see it as a standard feature for premium office buildings to have an end-of-trip facility.

This expectation has only increased since a Colliers Office Survey in 2012 found that 46 per cent of tenants thought such amenities were important, compared to 36 per cent who thought on-site secure car parking was important.

Driving the demand for end-of-trip facilities is the even stronger growth in bike commuting among white-collar workers and executives. The boom in cycle commuting in not just Sydney – but globally – has been dominated by office workers and higher income earners.

According to statistics provided by the City of Sydney, 20 per cent of bike commuters into the Sydney CBD are managers, 56 per cent professionals and 11 per cent clerical or administrative workers. Around 52 per cent of the bike trips into the Sydney CBD in 2011 were by people earning more than $104,000 a year.

That’s a large proportion of riders who need a facility where they can change from bike or running gear into an ironed shirt and suit.

A simple shower and bike rack will no longer do. Tenants are increasingly looking for amenities that provide more comfort and convenience for their staff who ride or jog into work.

The latest end-of-trip facility to open in Sydney’s CBD is the Executive Quarters in the GPT and QIC owned MLC Centre.

“Top companies are in a war for talent and they need to offer their employees the very best offices and the best facilities,’’ said GPT’s Head of Commercial Chris Davis.

“The Executive Quarters does just that, and is akin to what you would find in a luxury hotel,’’ said Mr Davis of the facility, which features 318 lockers, 193 bike racks, 27 showers, a complimentary towel service, ironing stations and a bike repair facility.

The Executive Quarters adds to the growing list of luxury end-of-trip facilities in GPT owned or co-owned office towers, which include the HSBC Centre, Liberty Place and One Farrer Place.

Disclosure: Scott Rochfort is one of the 7000 commuters who rides into the Sydney CBD each work day.