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Pedaling Toward Sustainability

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Jill Brimacombe paves the way for more cyclist commuters at Lions Gate Hospital.

Across Vancouver Coastal Health, more leaders are directing their focus toward developing sustainable and climate-resilient hospitals. Planning for cycling infrastructure in facilities is a key aspect of supporting sustainable commuting and Jill Brimacombe, a Senior Project Director, is leading this change at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.

Jill’s inspiration to pursue a new cycling facility at Lions Gate Hospital stems from her belief that active transportation and providing the supporting amenities should be a priority in health-care project planning. When more health-care workers can cycle to work, she explains, they not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with commuting, but also gain substantial health and wellness benefits and increase their work productivity. Additionally, cycling makes roads safer and contributes to increased recruitment and retention.

The original plan for the new acute care tower, called the Paul Myers Tower, had some amenities for cyclists, but did not include a dedicated bike cage. When space became available in the area next to the tower, Jill saw this as the perfect opportunity to advocate for its use as a safe and secure bicycle storage facility. Jill brought together the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Team, Vancouver Coastal Health Transportation Services and staff with experience cycling to LGH to provide feedback on a plan for the facility.

The plan for the bike cage was supported by a recent active transportation survey. Responses from Lions Gate Hospital staff indicated that better access to safe and secure bicycle storage would encourage them to cycle to work. The facility will be an enclosed indoor space, complete with charging for e-bikes, storage lockers, and a change room. The rising popularity of e-scooters is also set to introduce a whole new group of commuters, and the facility will have charging for them as well. For added safety and security, the entrance will be controlled by an access card reader and the facility will have security cameras and a panic button.

The project is set to be completed in 2024 and will include more sustainable features like a roof garden and larger windows for more natural light. It’s rewarding for Jill to see her vision take shape as the pieces come together. Through working on this project, she sees a lot of potential for other leaders within Vancouver Coastal Health to advocate for more active transportation options and cycling infrastructure. She emphasizes that stronger policy and requirements would make planning sustainable commuting facilities easier.

The efforts of leaders like Jill are not only reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also promoting the health and wellness of staff. This project is a great example of how staff input can be incorporated in the design of new projects with good planning, creativity, and leadership. It’s exciting to see the potential for similar initiatives beyond Lions Gate Hospital, as more leaders step up for the environment.