Thursday, October 11, 2012

bikes in offices

On Thu, Oct 11, 2012 at 10:38 AM, Peter Whalley-Thompson <> wrote:
This is a question for anyone with an office (and a bike) at JCU.

I know we are all excited about the developments on the Townsville campus with the advent of the big new bike shed, but I'm sure a lot of folk still store their bikes somewhere closer to their place of work, and if you are in Cairns, a lot closer to your place of work than the Douglas bike shed :-)

So where is everyone keeping their bikes, and specifically, how many of you keep them in your office?

The reason for my question is that one of our number is the proud owner of a beautiful carbon-fibre work of art, with no secure storage close by, and as a result they choose to make space in their own office to keep this pride and joy secure.

Then out of nowhere, a supervisor has come along and claimed there is a policy which does not allow bicycles to be kept in offices......

I've never heard of such a thing, and I am going to take the matter up with senior management at JCU through the staff consultative committee, to clarify exactly what the university's position is regarding the real estate required to house a bicycle compared to the square metres of bitumen required to park a car, but I just thought I would check around the BUG to see if anyone else has been subjected to such a 'policy'.

Share your stories here, even if they are good ones about keeping your two-wheeled friend close by, and I will forward you the official line from the university when they decide what it is.


  1. This is a knotted question and as soon as we/you start on it the knot may well unravel in an unexpected way.

    I suspect that, if pushed, the Corporate Institution will decree that no bikes may be kept in offices. I would take the low path of doing what you do, and if some bureaucrat objects then work around it.

    I have two anecdotes.

    Once, as head of a school, I was approached by a cleaner (who had clearly been delegated by someone) to tell me that I could not park my bike in the unused alcove at the foot of the stairwell because it may block egress from the building in the case of a fire. There are two things about this. One is that the space is about 1.2m high, and the second is that it is not the designated egress path because there is a human-sized opening right along side. I found another place for a few weeks and then went back.

    My second anecdote is more recent. As leader of a small research group in somewhat cramped space I parked my bike outside (under the stair well) while others in the group made space in offices. This was in preparation for my case to be made if the bicycles really were affecting work. When I relinquished leadership of the group - and at about the same time acquired a pride-and-joy - I started parking my bike in my office.

    I reckon don't rock the bicycle boat.


  2. from eric Wilsom:
    In principle, I agree with Mal's suggestion, that it would be advisable to just let this particular 'sleeping dog' lie. However, we have one person who has already been told to get the bike out of the office by her direct supervisor and we can't let that go without some affirmative action. I happened to be with this person yesterday, shortly after having been told by the supervisor, in no uncertain terms, that the bike has to go out of the office. We discussed some of the ramifications if such a practice was enforced across the institution. Clearly management would need to weigh up the pressure this would put on the institution to provide better end-of-ride facilities or face all sorts of undesirable consequences. We may need to be prepared to put these arguments, should this go 'to the top' for an 'official' position on bikes inside buildings on campus.

    As for Peter's quasi-survey of current practice among BUG people: when I ride one of my bikes to work I always park it in my office – there is no way I am going to park such an important (and expensive) part of my life anywhere else on the Cairns camps at this stage. For those who don't have know, there is only one open-sided under-roof parking place for about 10 bikes on the Cairns campus and all the rest are wide-open 'pillars' where one might lock a bike, open to the elements and other risks. There are currently no options with which I am comfortable, other than my office. If I were told that this is no longer permissible, I would seriously need to re-think riding to work again, which is already troublesome with issues around other things like showers etc. If a number of cyclists felt this way, it would be a very poor mark against management, to provide such a disincentive to cycling, as opposed to promoting it for all the right reasons, with some decent facilities.

    Maybe, before we go to management for an 'official' declaration, it would be useful to have some data on how many bikes are parked internally, in some place, on each of the campuses - including photos as examples of how our bikes 'fit' into the space might be useful as well, both in cases where these are in more 'public' spaces, such as Mal's under stair well space, as well as in offices, to show the little impact they have, in terms of our functioning in the work place. If each of us takes a photo of our bike in the 'normal' space we use on campus and upload those to the BUG Facebook page, it could be of interest, should we need to provide arguments for continuing to use these spaces, if it comes to that.

  3. I am on the Cairns campus. My bike (and accessories) are at the cheap end of the scale, so I am not too worried about the risk of theft.

    When I first started working at JCU, I tried locking my bike outside my office window where it was sheltered from the weather. That was soon stopped by security, as a fire hazard.

    So I moved my bike into my office and, for years, nobody said anything. Not security, not cleaners, not my colleagues or boss - especially not once I was the boss!

    Recently, having moved upstairs and with the advent of the first (and, so far, only) covered bike park on the Cairns campus, I have been locking my bike in a prescribed location.

    This week, however, I moved into the first floor of the Library, in an open plan office. There is no covered bike parking nearby and bringing my bike up into the office is not really an option. For the moment, I am locking my bike up in the designated uncovered space. By the wet season, I will need a better solution.

    Shower facilities are also pretty dire, with only one shower in the building for all staff, male or female - though not necessarily concurrently! [This is perhaps for another thread.]

    I would like to see JCU leading the community in encouraging cycle commuting. Sadly we appear to be lagging in this respect.


    1. Sounds like you need a Penny farthing Green Pod for your building!

  4. G'Day,

    I'm all for flying low here.

    I did some searching through curent JCU policies ( on my flight from Brisbane to Melbourne. I found no reference to bicycles in JCU spaces/offices/labs, etc. There is a clear reference in the policy to ensure that no object blocks or impedes emergency evacuation routes for any period of time as well as office and structural egresses will not be blocked without proper procedure and notification to grounds and facilities management office.

    So wrt this individuals case with her supervisor, either this supervisor is operating under some policy that is not university-wide or doesn't know what he/she talking about. I would advise that individual to investigate this policy on her own and if nothing can be furnished resume with her normal behaviour whilst standing her ground with this rogue supervisor, and if need be (if she's a passionate/principled enough commuting cyclist) then individually pursuing recourse with this supervisor for discrimination.

    Wrt the survey, I park my bike in my office.

    Possibly of more significance than who-parks-their-bike-where survey, is just knowing a fairly accurate estimate of how many bicycle commuters there are to the respective JCU campuses. If broken into students and staff that would be even better. This number and a properly organised and motivated JCU BUG can promote effective change. Heck! We have bike shed, and we didn't before!

    Furthermore, I would strongly encourage members of JCU BUG not to act singularly in approaching JCU Management with a JCU Bicycle Commuting Agenda without JCU BUG endorsing that agenda.


    Daniel Atwater

  5. It depends on what bike I take. If I'm riding the full-sized bike, I park it in the secure bike shed because it's right next to the building in which I work. If I'm riding my foldable, though, I fold it up and put it under my desk.

    The managers in my area have both seen the bike under my desk, and both think it's highly amusing. I doubt they'd be as amused by the full-sized bicycle, which has less entertainment value and looks more like an "outside" thing and would definitely take up more space.

  6. I am a student and I love the secure bike shed!! Good to know my bike is safe and if for some reason I have to catch a bus into town when I have ridden I know the bike is safe until the next day. I read in the emails that a new bike shed is being built? What location? THe location near the library is so handy, especially when staying late at night!!!!

  7. Rachel, glad you love the shed, I think it is brilliant too. There will be a new shed built in the medical precinct, since they are basically their own little campus up there.

    Thanks to everyone for the comments. In the next few days I will conduct a bike count in my building. Please everyone, try and do the same for yours. We won't name any names or anything, just start to gather some numbers. If my bike wasn't allowed in the building where I work, I would be looking for a friendlier workplace I suppose, it means that much to me.

  8. I’m one of the lucky ones, I am based in the ATSIP building in Townsville which has its own lockup bike shed right next to the building directly en route to the showers.

    But for the broader campus – the rampant construction of carparks is just out of control, as is the traffic jam coming into the campus of a morning; JCU is so horrifically car-centric. There needs to be a broader culture shift to support and encourage alternative modes of transport such as proper bike lanes (not glorified footpaths) and bike storage.

    April Reside
    Postdoctoral Research Fellow

    1. I couldn't agree more that we have failed to see a fundamental change to the way facilities are priorized to change travel behavior at JCU where it matters the most, on the approaches to the campus and within the campus on safe, wide, smooth and direct paths. I am also saddened that the ATSIP building seems to be a one of, rather than heralding a shift in thinking that applies to future development.

    2. Couldn’t agree more! I’ve seen a small statistical brochure handed out by JCU recently claiming we are among the 10 greenest unies. If this is correct (which I doubt) then I don’t wanna know how bad it is on other places as literally almost everyone drives to the JCU – sad but true!

      As far as my bike place goes it’s neither in the office nor in the shed (too far to walk to showers and my school) but one I cannot disclose (fear someone will go to the HoS and make my life miserable).... Don’t rock the bike boat!!!

  9. Hmmm, while i have an older and not very fancy road bike, if there wasn't a covered bike rack nearby in Cairns or anywhere where I have lived, I would seek out obscure out-of-the-way spots where the bike was not in the sun or rain. Don't tell the uni admin this but at Cairns in some buildings there are huge stair wells and half of the space (under the lower part of the stairs) cannot be claimed as "having to be clear for fire exit", so bolt some bike hooks on the walls and bingo, a nice bike storage spot out of the weather and everyone's way except the jealous people who don't own a fancy bike might claim the bikes are impeding fire exit!!

    Have a fine cycling day, Andrew Mirtschin

    And ALWAYS keep a watch for those 4 wheeled beasts (cars) for they have attacked me twice, not nice...

  10. I park my bike in the racks under building 4, which is where my office is. Sometimes if I forget my keys I bring my bike up to my office, and no one says anything. Others in my building sometimes do the same. But the rack under the building is under cover and I get in very early in the morning so it's never full.

  11. Couldn’t agree more! I’ve seen a small statistical brochure handed out by JCU recently claiming we are among the 10 greenest unies. If this is correct (which I doubt) then I don’t wanna know how bad it is on other places as literally almost everyone drives to the JCU – sad but true!

    As far as my bike place goes it’s neither in the office nor in the shed (too far to walk to showers and my school) but one I cannot disclose (fear someone will go to the HoS and make my life miserable).... Don’t rock the bike boat!!!