Voice of the Month: Stewart Dring talks about how bicycle user groups (BUGs) in workplaces can improve cycling facilities

Stewart Dring is the manager of our Cycling Projects team, which designs cycling services and behaviour-change programmes for the public sector, business, educational institutions and charities. Why not get in touch to see how our cycling consultancy services can help your organisation?

More of us are cycling to work across the capital, which is great, but often the facilities at the other end aren’t great. Not that we need much – if you live less than 30 minutes ride from work then all you should need is a safe place to lock up your bike and space to dry your jacket. If you have a longer or hillier route to work, you might want showers and lockers too.

A lack of even basic facilities is a real barrier to people taking up cycling and getting all the benefits, such as health, happiness, money, time, and so on. Often a few simple changes by the facilities team or office manager can help; if they’re a cyclist, then you might already have good facilities. If not, then those of you cycling to work or college need to let them know – and the more of you the better. 

Bicycle User Groups (BUGs) are an invaluable way to bring together a group of employees to lobby for better cycling facilities. They are often employer-specific, but also work at universities or schools with a mixture of students and staff.  

Our Cycling Projects team is creating a network of BUGs across the capital, and can help your workplace encourage (or at least not discourage) everyday cycling. We can help you set up a BUG, and let you know what services are available to increase the number of cyclists in your organisation.

We work with the public and private sectors to encourage cycling using the knowledge and experience we've built up during over three decades of activity in London. These projects generate money for LCC to support our campaign work (alongside membership income). The team also provides event-organising expertise such as providing logistical support for the recent Space for Cycling protest rides. 

BUGs can be very simple: they're coordinated via a simple email list, with one or two people organising an agenda. We're supporting the creation of 35 BUGs in universities and colleges as part of our TfL-funded student programme. We're also working with a large landowner in the City of London to bring together BUGs from large corporations. As well as getting better facilities internally, networks of business can successfully lobby for better infrastructure from the public sector.

The measures you ask for are likely to be secure parking or showers. The measures asked by a group of businesses could be more bike stands outside your office, or demanding safe cycle routes through the area. Local government does listen to what businesses want, and we can help you talk to the right people. Also, having employees and businesses back our campaigns (such as Space for Cycling) makes our voice stronger.  

If you reckon your workplace or organisation could do more, then start your own BUG. The process can be started as easily as talking to or emailing colleagues that already commute by bike or want to. 

Get in touch with us and we’ll support you, and help you link up with other BUGs that are relevant to you. And lastly join LCC, the biggest BUG in London!

To sign up to our BUG network, please email us via bug@lcc.org.uk.

If you already run a BUG group and have any tips then leave them in the comments field below

Replies

I'm the co-editor / co-adminstrator of the BUG for the London Borough of Camden. We have over 150 members and this sums up what we are about:

The BUG is a mutual support network which represents the interests of council employees who use a cycle at work.

The BUG covers a wide spectrum of activities such as:

• producing up to 6 newsletters on the BUG blog annually
• distributing regular email updates, which go to BUG subscribers only
• working with corporate departments, for example, to make sure cycle parking provision is communicated and maintained
• answering ad-hoc queries from subscribers, for example, helping them with the cycle to work scheme

Most importantly, the BUG has been working with Corporate Property on the cycling and facilities provision in B3, the new Kings Cross town hall building.

The benefits of joining BUG:

• you will receive newsletters and regular emails detailing the latest cycling news from Camden, Greater London and further afield
• all members queries on cycling provision within the council are answered
• the opportunity to work alongside other corporate departments to promote events like Bike Week and Cycle to Work Day
• representing your voice when it comes to getting the best for cyclists

So, if you are starting a BUG, the above may give you some ideas - happy to send out samples of our communications on request [email to david.cohen@camden.gov.uk]

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