Jacobs Babtie is an authority on sustainable transportation, bicycling, and traffic engineering projects in the UK. One of their biggest clients is Transport for London (TfL), a group whose goal is to promote bike transportation, hosting the opening races for the Tour de France last weekend. On its website, Jacobs states: “In the area of cycling, we can offer expert resources at every stage from cycle policy and promotion through to the detailed design and implementation of cycle schemes.”
In a memo posted to all employees at their 36 offices across Britain, Jacobs Babtie banned staff from riding their bikes to work due to safety issues.
The memo reads, “It’s patently obvious that if you are struck by a wayward vehicle when you are on a bicycle or motorbike you are going to be more severely affected than if you were in a car. The reason for this policy is to protect our employees from other vehicles on the road. There will be a few limited exceptions when employees will be permitted to travel by bicycle, but that would be when that mode of transport is required to undertake the job, for example, carrying out surveys along river banks and tow paths.”
The memo goes on to acknowledge that this new policy “could be construed as being at odds with our environmental policy and the requirement to be environmentally responsible”.
Many staff at the company are avid cyclists, and have been riding their bikes to work for years without incident. They believe this ban is partially due to a new company insurance policy.
This new policy has come under scrutiny by many officials, including the Green Transportation Office of the Mayor of London, who issued this statement, “It is hypocritical to offer advice on promoting cycling but at the same time ban your staff from using bikes. If Jacobs does not understand how important cycling is to TfL, we need to ask whether they are the right sort of company to work with.”
A TfL spokesman said: “We find the attitude of Jacobs bizarre and we will be urging them to rethink this decision. TfL is committed to encouraging Londoners to get on their bikes whenever and wherever possible. Our serious investment in growing cycling has seen journeys by bike on soar by 83 per cent since 2000. The number of number of cyclists killed or seriously injured has fallen by 28 per cent since the mid to late 1990s.”
Kevin Mayne, the director of the Cyclists Touring Club, said: “Banning cycling on health and safety grounds is ironic; forcing people off their bikes and into cars just reduces their fitness and increases the danger they pose to other road users. Jacobs’ policy shows a complete lack of understanding of transport risk assessment. For TfL and local authorities to pay a company which bans cycling for advice on sustainable transport is like asking the lunatics to help run the asylum.”
TfL paid Jacobs Babtie £6 million in 2006 to monitor the impact on traffic problems in urban cneters and measuring the health issues surrounding different modes of travel. This is one of the statistics they developed:
Deaths per billion km