Make Heathrow a big­ger hub air­port – for cy­clists

Push to en­cour­age more staff to get to work on their bikes

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Robert Cum­ber robert.cum­ber@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

FEWER than one in 20 Heathrow staff liv­ing within 5km of the air­port cy­cle to work, it has emerged.

An es­ti­mated 16,500 of the air­port’s 76,000 strong work­force live within that dis­tance, yet Heathrow es­ti­mates only around 800 em­ploy­ees cur­rently come by bike.

The fig­ure was re­vealed as part of ef­forts by Heathrow to get more work­ers to ditch their cars and sad­dle up.

In­creas­ing the pro­por­tion of work­ers cy­cling to and from the air­port is a key plank of Heathrow’s com­mit­ment to re­duce air pol­lu­tion, which is one of the big­gest ob­sta­cles to a third run­way.

Heathrow’s busi­ness re­silience man­ager Ray Fitzger­ald stars in a new video high­light­ing the fa­cil­i­ties avail­able to staff wish­ing to cy­cle.

“Given we’re not in a hilly area I think the per­cent­age of staff cy­cling to work is pretty dis­ap­point­ing,” said the 44-year-old.

“I think a lot of staff don’t re­alise the fa­cil­i­ties avail­able here, like show­ers, lock­ers and the Cy­cle Hub, which of­fers bikes, cy­cling equip­ment and free re­pairs for air­port work­ers.

“The num­ber of work­ers cy­cling has al­ready in­creased by 45 per cent since the hub opened, and I’d like to see it pass the 1,000 mark this year and in­crease by 200 to 300 a year af­ter that.”

Mr Fitzger­ald says it takes him just 20 min­utes to pedal from his home in Feltham to his desk at Heathrow, com­pared with about 25 min­utes by bus and 30 min­utes by car. He says he of­ten passes col­leagues sat in heavy traf­fic in their cars on his way home.

He said cy­cle routes into the air­port are gen­er­ally quite good, but that ex­tend­ing the long-awaited Cy­cle Su­per­high­way 9 from Houn­slow to Heathrow along the A4 – as sup­ported by Houn­slow Coun­cil – would make a big dif­fer­ence.

How­ever he poured cold wa­ter on the idea pre­vi­ously mooted by Houn­slow Coun­cil that peo­ple head­ing off on short breaks might cy­cle to the air­port. He said this was un­likely un­less they were tak­ing their bikes with them for a cy­cling hol­i­day.

Asked whether he was wor­ried as a cy­clist about the high lev­els of air pol­lu­tion around Heathrow, where air qual­ity at some sites is cur­rently in breach of EU lim­its, he said he did not feel the need to wear a mask.

He also said he gen­er­ally felt safe cy­cling on the roads around the air­port, though he un­der­stood this could be a con­cern for less con­fi­dent cy­clists.

He said he hoped im­prove­ments in cen­tral Lon­don, where more fully seg­re­gated cy­cle lanes are planned, would even­tu­ally ra­di­ate out to the sub­urbs.

The num­ber of work­ers cy­cling has al­ready in­creased... since the hub opened and I’d like to see it pass the

1,000 mark this year”

n HUB AIR­PORT: Heathrow’s busi­ness re­silience man­ager Ray Fitzger­ald stars in a new video high­light­ing the fa­cil­i­ties avail­able to air­port staff wish­ing to cy­cle

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