Cycling to work provides health and economy besides collaborating with urban mobility

More bike lanes, bike stations and shared bicycles drive the growth of the number of cyclists in the cities.

March 21, 2019

A few kilos less, more breath, reduced stress and anxiety, better quality sleep, saving money and making new friends. These are some of the benefits that Manager Guido Sonnino from JLL's Property Management area has achieved by exchanging the car use for the bicycle in a few days of his trip to work.

The change of habit started about a year ago and was gradual, as he tells us. "I started by renting an electric bike, as a tip from a JLL colleague, and soon I realized that I could ride a conventional one."

At the age of 46, Sonnino travels 24 km a day round trip to the office and says that his relationship with the city has changed by modifying the mean of transportation.

“Before, I used to drive for everything, even for small displacements. Now, with the bike, the distances seem smaller. I started to see the city in a different way. Bicycle, besides being a mean of transportation, is a leisure activity. On Sundays, I do rides that I did not do before, like riding in São Paulo downtown, on Avenida Paulista, going to the Horto Florestal or to the zoo.”

Guido Sonnino, Property Management, JLL

In addition, the JLL professional started to make more use of the infrastructure of the building where he works – the São Paulo Corporate Towers, in the JK region – with bicycle parking and changing room, which guaranteed him new friends with a common interest: the bicycle.

As his work routine includes many visits to clients, the car was not totally left out, but Sonnino estimates a reduction of at least 30% with fuel and parking expenses.

"The coolest thing is to be a contagious current. People ask me what it is like to bike to work, and I encourage it a lot. It is good for physical and mental health, and it is fun. Instead of standing in traffic for nothing, I am exercising. It gives a sense of duty fulfilled, besides being pleasant", says.

The number of people who go to work by bike is growing

Like Sonnino, many people have started using the bicycle as a mean of transportation for work in recent years. In São Paulo, data from CET (Traffic Engineering Company) show that in just one year the number of cyclists passing through Faria Lima's bicycle lane increased more than 140%: there were 192,186 in January 2019 compared to 79,783 in January 2018.

The increase in the number of cyclists follows the growth of the city's bicycle network. By August 2014, São Paulo had 82.4 km of exclusive bike lanes. Currently, there are 468 km of bicycle paths and cycle paths, according to CET.

Besides the infrastructure to move around safely, other factors contribute to attract more people to the pedal, such as the offer of shared bicycles, like Yellow, which from August to December 2018 totaled 1 million races, and Bike Sampa, with 2,600 bicycles for rent in the city. Many people use them only in one stretch of their journey, integrating them with another means of transportation.

Other events also drive the growth of bicycles: the increase in public transport fares, the truck drivers' strike last year, which ran out of fuel at the stations, the fall of a viaduct at Marginal Pinheiros, causing great impact on traffic, among others.

The cyclist Renata Falzoni, a reference on the subject, lists several benefits of the bicycle:

  • It does not pollute the air;
  • It does not make noise;
  • It takes up less space;
  • It does not cause traffic;
  • It brings joy;
  • Improves physical and mental health and cuts related expenses.

For her, however, it is necessary to value those who choose to leave their car at home to go to work or to go somewhere else.

"Bicycle lanes have no trees, no benches for resting, no drinking fountain. When you get somewhere, you have to attach the bike to a pole if there is no bicycle stand, or, in some cases, you have to go down three parking basements, breathing an addicted and polluted air, to get to it. We're seen as second-class citizens", complains Renata.

How to have cyclists and bicycles well treated at work

In commercial buildings, offering bike parking for occupants and visitors and changing rooms with shower and lockers is part of valuing cyclists, according to Renata Falzoni.

This is the case of São Paulo Corporate Towers, which has JLL's management and houses the company's headquarters.

"The development has truly clear benefits generated by the bike. Therefore, it offers covered parking for cyclists with 210 parking spaces, with an electronic access control system, outlets for recharging electric bicycles, changing rooms with several showers and benches for accommodating employees, in addition to hair dryer. It's nice to see the cyclist's transformation to formal work clothes", says Maurício Savassa, JLL Property Manager responsible for São Paulo Corporate Towers.

He states that about 200 people use the infrastructure daily and that an expansion is already planned. The quality of the equipment should be highlighted: the bike station, in the first basement, is in the inverted U model, which offers safety and stability when locking the bicycle by the frame.

Renata Falzoni explains that when the bicycle is trapped by its wheel, there is the risk of bending it, which also facilitates the action of thieves by unhooking the frame and take the bike away without one of the wheels. “We must bring more intelligence to the projects. These details make a difference in the cyclists’ lives", argues the cyclist.

Due to the attention small and essential details, São Paulo Corporate Towers was the first Brazilian venture to achieve the highest sustainability pre-certification: LEED Platinum 3.0 Core and Shell.