Bike Rooms: A Valued Tenant Amenity
Chicago, IL | May 24, 2021
When summer 2020 hit, an unintended consequence of the pandemic was a sizable increase in demand for bikes as commuters flocked to alternative forms of travel. This was especially true in cities like Chicago, where riding the “El” train was to be avoided if at all possible. Will everyone who bought a bike during the pandemic become an all-season, two-wheeled, pedaling road warrior? Doubtful. But those who do take to biking, whether it’s just during the warm months or year-round, will find that many buildings—certainly the ones managed by MBRE’s asset management team—already cater to their travel choice.
At MBRE, we’re sold on biking. We don’t expect everyone to don a helmet and hop on to a Trek, but for those who do commute to work by biking, the benefits are clear to us. MBRE is committed to offering amenities to bikers for both the health benefits and the environmental benefits. We're proud to cater to tenants who find themselves Googling, "Does my Chicago building have a bike room?"
Within MBRE’s portfolio, there are many resources for avid pedalers. 181 W. Madison has a complimentary bike room and a complimentary bikeshare program. Michigan Plaza has a bike room where tenant employees can reserve spots, along with rentable lockers. Daley Plaza has inside bike storage, and General Manager Andre Wiggins expects spots to quickly fill back up as the pandemic ends. 333 North Michigan has bike storage for tenants, and General Manager Anne Cunningham said that their bike amenities have seen increased interest and usage during the pandemic. And 1 N. LaSalle does not just have a bike room but also a repair station with tools and an air pump, along with bikes available for tenant use.
“Bike rooms are really great for tenant employees that live within the city limits and are avid cyclists,” said 1 N. LaSalle General Manager Courtney Hamm. “When you see the pride employees take in their bikes, secure bike room storage becomes a no-brainer. Also, having bike loans available for use has come in handy when a tenant needs to run something across town on a nice day and doesn’t want to take a cab!”
Biking isn’t for everyone, but employers and cities have realized that this niche hobby has considerable benefits. The most obvious: health.
“Cycling to work was associated with very large health benefits,” wrote Forbes while highlighting a gargantuan commuting study from the British Medical Journal. “Commuters who cycled to work had a 41% lower risk of dying from all causes than people who drove or took public transport. They also had a 46% lower risk of developing and a 52% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 45% lower risk of developing and a 40% lower risk of dying from cancer.”
And these health benefits cause ripple effects that benefit employers and municipalities. For one, avid bikers reduce work time lost due to illness. The study above also indicates that municipalities save when long-term treatment of people with cancer and cardiovascular disease is reduced. In Chicago, the mayor’s office has doubled down on biking in their latest infrastructure plan. The multi-billion-dollar plan unveiled this April will improve bike lanes, expand protected bike lanes, and expand the city’s Divvy bike-share program. Is Chicago a safe city for biking? Increasingly, yes, thanks to the mayor's office.
Other benefits of biking only reveal themselves to those who do it. For example, some bikers can outpace traffic and trains during rush hour when biking to work in the Loop. This is another example where the benefits travel to others, as more bike commuters mean fewer cars on the road and fewer people squeezing into packed “El” trains. Consider, too, the effort it takes to park downtown day in day out when you work a nine-to-five. A secure, 40 bike storage room inside a building takes up significantly less space than 40 parking spots. Finally, and this may be the most crucial benefit…biking is just fun!
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