UK new Feature

Cycling in bus lanes

1Rebel is planning its own spin on active commuting with cycling studios on London buses. So what’s the consensus on this eye-catching new idea?


1Rebel has grabbed the headlines once again with plans for a series of group cycling buses designed to help fitness fans make the most of their commute.

The boutique studio is in talks with Transport for London (TfL) and coach companies over the plans, which would see specially adapted Ride2Rebel buses offer 45-minute group cycling classes while ferrying commuters into London.

Initial interest in the scheme has been “phenomenal” says 1Rebel co-founder James Balfour, who hopes to soon name a bus company partner with a view to launching the concept by the end of summer.

“Time is precious in London and for the many people who want to work out before work, they often face a three-hour door-to-door commute each morning,” Balfour told Health Club Management.

“We want to break the monotony of the soulless commute and offer people a more fulfilling experience by adding our popular Ride class into their morning routine.”

Balfour hopes that, by securing an agreement whereby the vehicles can use bus lanes, the service will be a no-brainer for commuters, both in terms of grabbing a morning workout and cutting travel time.

1Rebel is currently calling for registrations of interest on its website and will collate the data to help decide how many bus services it should run, and from which locations around London. The operator plans to end journeys at its St Mary Axe 1Rebel studio in the City, where participants will be able to have a shower and a pre-work smoothie.

“We still have a few hurdles to clear in terms of health and safety and permits, but we’ve seen incredible enthusiasm for the concept so far and we’re convinced it will be a hit,” added Balfour. “We received more than 300 registrations in the first couple of hours, and so much interest that our website crashed. The demand is definitely there.”

VIEWS FROM THE INDUSTRY

Steven Ward
Steven Ward
Steven Ward,

Executive director,

ukactive


1Rebel’s announcement of a commuting Spin class is exactly what its disruptor brand is all about: being rebellious.

 Solutions to the big issues of the day come through radical innovation, which is the category this concept fits in to. Unless we work out ways to make our commutes, our jobs and our everyday lives more active, we won’t make the significant dents into inactivity that are needed. Bold plans lead to real change.

The idea of a Spin class on a bus gets people talking and gets people thinking. It sparks a debate about the undeniable dangers of cycling to work, and the need for all of us to find time within increasingly busy schedules to exercise.

My hunch is that this started out as an idea which even the 1Rebel team thought less likely to happen than commuting on a magic carpet ride – albeit a fantastic piece of brand-led PR – but it's something that just might be crazy enough to work.

If the genie is let out of the bottle, then I can guarantee I’ll be one of the first paying customers for this new service.

"Solutions to the big issues of the day come through radical innovation, which is the category this concept fits in to"

VIEWS FROM THE INDUSTRY

Sam Young
Sam Young
Sam Young,

Sustainable Design graduate & active travel expert
,


The Ride2Rebel bus is a very creative and intriguing ‘spin’ on active commuter travel.

Based on my own research and concept creation in this area, I believe it eliminates a few of the main barriers to active travel – for example, weather conditions, safety on the roads, and initial set-up and cost of equipment. By offering a shower at the end of the journey, and presumably somewhere on the bus for people to leave clothes to change into after their workout, other major barriers will be overcome.

In my research, I also found some of these barriers created a gender split. For example, although road safety is a universal concern, women were particularly tuned in to this issue. Women also placed more importance on showers and changing facilities after an active commute. The Ride2Rebel bus service will help eliminate this gender split and encourage active commuting across the board.

As an active commuter myself, I like to be in full control of my commute, able to alter the time I leave to factor in tasks. Ride2Rebel won’t offer this degree of flexibility as it will have to run to a set schedule, but I nevertheless feel it’s a great way to encourage non-active commuters to break the mould. 

The concept will have a few major hurdles with infrastructure and safety, but in the long run I can even see the potential for energy harvesting – which in turn opens up the possibility of creating a fully eco-friendly, renewable service. That would be an amazing step in the right direction in terms of reducing carbon emissions in London, in line with the Ultra Low Emission Zone set for 2020, as well as opening doors to further self-powered transport.

"In the long run I can see the potential for energy harvesting – and with it a fully eco-friendly, renewable service"

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Company profile: Robert D. Henry Architects + Interiors
Robert D Henry Architects (RDH-Architects) was founded in 1990 in New York City by Bob Henry, known as the “sensuous architect of serenity.”
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