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NEWS Last modified on May 18, 2016

Heathrow hires world's first airport cycle officer to encourage staff to get on their bikes

Heathrow has hired what it believes is the world's first airport cycle officer in a bid to get more staff living within a 5km distance of the gateway to ride to work.

The initiative is in line with the airport's strategy of being more proactive on the environment and follows a 2015 trial when it loaned bikes to staff in a move designed to encourage them to get fitter and make it and them more eco-friendly.

Getting 16,500 local colleagues who live within 5km of the airport onto bikes is the daunting task of Heathrow’s new airport cycle officer, Ali Jafarey, but he firmly believes that the challenge is achievable.

He is leading a one year cycle partnership between Heathrow and Sustrans, the UK’s foremost cycling and walking charity. 

According to Heathrow, the partnership will work to make the airport’s cycle routes safer, more accessible and train airport colleagues to feel more confident on their bikes.

In the first year Sustrans and Heathrow will publish a cycle strategy aligned with the wider West London Cycling strategy.

This will be drafted in conjunction with local authorities and link Heathrow’s existing cycling network with corridors running to Feltham, Chiswick, West Drayton, Hayes, Slough and Staines.

Persuading Heathrow colleagues to take up cycling is part of the airport’s wider campaign to reduce single occupancy car journeys, as well as related congestion and emissions.

Theo Panayi, sustainable travel manager for Heathrow, said: “We are looking forward to the partnership with Sustrans, which will make the airport’s cycle routes safer and more accessible, helping many of our 16,500 colleagues who live locally feel more confident about making the journey to the airport on their bikes.”

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While James Scott, Sustrans' programme manager for workplace behaviour change, noted: “Heathrow is the largest centre of employment in West London and is uniquely placed to deliver changes to the cycling experience our region.

"Our one year cycle partnership project will help make cycling to work the easy choice for staff, enabling them to travel more sustainably and ease congestion and emissions in local road networks.  

"I look forward to seeing the changes that we create to deliver a great cycling experience, and improve employee wellbeing.”

Last year's loan bike trial, which coincided with National Bike Week, saw Heathrow join forces with BMW for a campain that allowed staff to borrow either a BMW Cruise e-Bike or a Standard bike for two weeks free of charge.

Electric Cruise e-Bikes assist the rider so they do not have to provide 100% of the effort to ride.

The UK's busiest gateway claims that it is committed to reducing the number of staff that drive to work and in the last five years has decreased single occupancy car journeys to work by over 10% from 61.4% to 50.9%.

The airport is also quick to point out that a quarter of all airport workers already commute to work by bus every day, which is in part down to its on-going commitment to incentivise alternative more sustainable modes of travel to work.

Heathrow's chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, says: “Heathrow’s cycling journey began by opening up our own bike shop back in 2010 and installing hundreds of free cycle parking spaces around the airport campus. 

"More than 900 of our colleagues working at the airport travelled to work on their cycle at the peak of summer last year and with this trial, we hope to push this number past a thousand this year."


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