Healthy Spaces & Places Healthy Spaces & Places

Development Types

Workplaces - Full Text

Introduction

Offices comprise a large proportion of workplaces in Australia.  Individual car travel to and from work generates approximately 14 million tonnes of greenhouse gas every year (Bicycle Victoria, 2007).  A workplace that encourages cycling and walking to work by providing end of trip facilities will:

  • reduce environmental impacts by contributing to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and
  • contribute to the health of its workers, given that regular walking and cycling to work can help control stress, anxiety and depression, and build social connections in the workplace. As a result, cycle and walking friendly workplaces may have greater morale, lower absenteeism and higher productivity (Bicycle Victoria, 2007).

Offices that are accessible by public transport also reduce the use of motor vehicles and encourage walking to and from public transport.


Offices within a town centre surrounded by public spaces for interaction
 and physical activity for workers and visitors - Brisbane City, Queensland.
Source: Planning Institute of Australia

PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS

An urban structure that is designed to be walkable and cyclable will encourage people to use active transport to commute to work. 

Spatial Location

  • Offices should be located within designated activity centres that are accessible by walking, cycling and public transport via interconnected street and pathway networks that have the centre as a hub.
  • A hierarchy of activity centres within a metropolitan area and region can help reduce traffic congestion and maximise opportunities for active transport and public transport.  In some cases, smaller branch offices that are closer to the sources of the trips may be more appropriate than a single central office.

Definition

Activity centres are key destinations and should be the focus of a neighbourhood. In the case of larger centres they should be centrally located to serve a number of neighbourhoods.  This encourages one trip to a centre where multiple activities can be undertaken.

Transport Network and Design
The movement network should be designed to encourage active transport by providing:

  • an interconnected street network that is safe for pedestrians, day and night
  • streetscapes that provide walking and cycling infrastructure, as these are more likely to encourage people to use active transport to commute
  • safe and convenient public transport stops, and
  • appropriate pedestrian and cycling routes (refer to the Healthy Spaces and Places Active Transport Design Principle for more detail).

Spatial Location
Offices should be located in suitable activity centres to:

  • reduce the need for longer trips
  • promote active transport and public transport
  • support local activity centres, and
  • minimise trip distance between different businesses and other uses.

End of trip facilities

  • End of trip facilities such as secure bicycle parking, change rooms, showers and clothing lockers are necessary to encourage cycling to work.  Attractive, convenient, secure and safe places to park will attract riders to use the facility.

Bike, Townsville
End of trip facilities, Townsville
Source: SGS Economics and Planning

Building Design

  • Building design that encourages use of stairs in lieu of passenger lifts.
  • Where open space is to be provided on site it should be located and designed to be easily accessible, pleasant and comfortable for users. 
Health & Planning Fact
Bicycle Victoria noted that a study commissioned by Medibank Private in 2005, found that healthy workers are almost three times more effective at work than unhealthy workers and indicated the following statistics:

Healthy workers – 143 effective hours worked per month
Unhealthy workers – 49 effective hours worked per month

This study also reported:
  • 10% of workers surveyed were completely inactive
  • 40% engaged in only minimal exercise
  • 62% of workers surveyed were overweight, including 28% clinically obese as defined by the World Health Organisation, and
  • 53% felt overwhelmed with stress and pressure a significant proportion of the time.
    (Bicycle Victoria, 2007)

PRACTICE ADVICE

Good Practice

  • Encourage pedestrian and cycle networks that conveniently and safely access offices.
  • Ensure end of trip facilities are provided in all new office developments.
  • Ensure public transport is available within easy walking distance.

Cyclist, Canberra
Connected cycle routes can encourage cycling to work,Canberra.
Source: Pamela Miller Photographer

Optimum Practice

  • The pedestrian and cycle network and the public transport network is focused on office development as a component of an activity centre and hence a key destination.
  • End of trip facilities are provided in all new office developments and retrofitted for existing offices that do not already offer such facilities.

Avoid

  • New office development should avoid being located outside of designated activity centres where cycling, walking and public transport options are minimal.
  • New office development should avoid overshadowing areas of open space and creating wind tunnels.

REFERENCES

ACT Planning and Land Authority, 2008, Territory Plan 2008, ACT Planning and Land Authority, Canberra.

Bicycle Victoria, 2004, The Bicycle Parking Handbook, Bicycle Victoria, Melbourne.

Bicycle Victoria, 2007, The Cycle Friendly Workplace, Bicycle Victoria, Melbourne.

Department of Planning, Infrastructure and Natural Resources, 2004, Planning Guidelines for Walking and Cycling, Department of Planning, Infrastructure and Natural Resources, Sydney.

Last updated on 24th June, 2009

Sponsors This project was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.