Biking to work is the fastest-growing mode of commuting, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The bureau found that the number of people who bike to work increased about 60% from 2000 to the 2008-2012 period.
Mark Martin of Baton Rouge is 1 of those commuters.
“I haven’t owned a motor vehicle for 25 years,” Martin says.
He says he started biking regularly about 14 years ago; then he started a bicycle advocacy organization, now known as Bike Baton Rouge.
“I commute daily to work, and to pretty much everything else I do,” Martin says. “The shortest is a little over 3 miles, the longest a little over 11 miles.”
Biking to work can bring a lot of benefits to employers and employees alike. If you want to create an effective bike-to-work program, start with these tips.
Tout the Benefits
Educate employees about the advantages of biking to work.
“First of all, for an individual, it’s a much healthier way to commute,” says Steve Erickson, director of communications and marketing for the Denver Regional Council of Governments, which helps run a Bike-to-Work program in the city. “It not only provides exercise, but generally people will say they arrive to work feeling refreshed and stress-free.”
In addition, biking to work can save employees money on gas, vehicle wear and tear, and insurance. And keeping cars off the street can reduce traffic congestion and ultimately improve air quality.
“Everyone benefits when more people are biking,” Erickson says.
Joining up with other companies and organizations can boost awareness and get more people involved through competition. Erickson says building partnerships can help keep positive momentum going.
“Some of it is about identifying barriers to bicycling — safety and convenience are often cited as concerns — and some of it is about simply finding new ways to get the word out,” he says. “It’s a constant and ongoing quest.”
Let Dedicated Riders Lead
You likely already have some people who bike to work regularly; tap them as ambassadors. A few of the employees at Dupray Inc. are “hardcore cycling enthusiasts,” says Pierre Tremblay, director of human resources at the company. The company noticed these employees were coming to work with a more positive mindset, and the CTO eventually asked if they could find a way to encourage more cyclists. Now 25 to 30 people participate, Tremblay says. The veteran riders are able to offer advice and expertise about maintenance and gear checks as well.
There are several ways to make it easier for your employees to bike to work. Secure changing rooms, showers and bike and gear storage are some of the main factors that people who bike are looking for.
“Second, create a positive, bicycle-friendly environment within the company,” Martin says.
That might depend on the current company culture as well as the larger local society, but could include offering a little bit of flexibility on starting times if there’s a long line at the shower. Taking the lead on bike-friendly initiatives can show employees that you’re willing to help them make a lasting change.
Once employees have biked to work a certain amount, Dupray gives them a $25 lunch voucher, Tremblay says.
“It creates a positive work environment, keeps our employees happy and healthy, and makes the world a cleaner place,” he says. “Most modern-day employees appreciate the emphasis on healthy living and the environment.”
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