Full speed ahead for electric bikes

Aibel Bergen is treading new ground in order to get more people to travel to and from work in an eco-friendly way.

In 2015 all of Aibel's Bergen employees will move to a new and modern office building at Kokstad. An important goal for the new building is that it will be classified as “Excellent” according to the BREEAM NOR environmental certification. However, it is not only the building that must be up to standard. The people who use it must also take the environment into consideration.

“We are currently making good progress with a mobility plan with the purpose of getting a greater share of our colleagues to use eco-friendly transport before moving into the new building.”

These are the words of Joachim Schröder, Aibel's project manager for the new building, who believes it is possible to change commuting habits, given time and good solutions.

Testing electric bikes
This week the employees were invited to try electric bikes. These look like and work just like regular bikes, but they have an electric auxiliary motor that increases speed and makes it easier to cycle without getting tired and sweaty.

Cycling girls
“Great fun! This could be a great way to commute, at least when the weather is fair,” says Jorunn Gulbrandsen (left). 

“We've bought eight bikes in different sizes and models that we'll lend to the employees for one week at a time. We hope this makes it easier to start cycling for those who previously have found this to be strenuous. So far, interest has been encouraging,” Schröder says.

22 km in a headwind and rain
Kim Andreassen was one of the first to take a bike home. Now he has tried it back and forth to work for several days – 22 km each way – with proper “Bergen weather” to boot.

“This was a success! I have always been against cycling, cause I thought it was too far. And there's a lot of hills, and I'm not built for that. But with the electric motor, it is manageable. This may well be a solution for me,” he says.    

Plentiful options to single occupant cars
However, even with an extra shove up the hills, cycling isn't for everyone. Aibel's internal project group for the new building is therefore looking at other measures that make it easier to commute in an eco-friendly way.

“We are in dialogue with Skyss (the administrative company for public transport in Hordaland, editor's note) on possible adaptation of routes. We are also developing a carpooling app to make it easier for people to find others to carpool with,” the project manager says.

For those who want to use their own engine, and even get some exercise while they're at it, there will be good changing room facilities and indoor bike parking at the new building.

“We also want to make it possible for employees to have kindergarten spaces close to work so that they don't have to depend on a car to deliver and pick up children,” Schröder adds.

Man testing electric bike
There was a long line to try the new electric bikes when they arrived. Here Tommy Gatland is behind the handlebars.

Published 2013-05-03, 14:00 CET Updated 2014-01-22, 03:33 CET

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