Businesses across the nation are promoting bicycling to work
Bicycling for transportation purposes is a great way to reduce climate change, air and water pollution; address the obesity epidemic and numerous other critical health problems; and create a sense of community. Additionally, there are huge economic benefits to bicycling for transportation purposes.
In order to promote more bicycling to work, businesses can do their part by providing employees with various additional incentives or facilities, such as giving them a monthly bonus instead of an automobile parking space or providing them with lockers, showers or, at the least, safe bicycle storage.
Whether it is to be a more environmentally and socially responsible business, to get a better quality of work out of their employees, to support the interests of their employees, or to decrease the number of sick days employees take off, a number of businesses across the country are doing just these things.
If you want to see your business win a bicycle friendly award, or just want it to be more bicycle friendly for all the great reasons mentioned above, take a look at what the League suggests you do as well as one of this year's big winners.
51 Businesses from a Range of Sectors Win Awards, Including 9 Gold Winners
Bicycle friendly businesses can receive a Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze award from the League. This year, there were nine Gold winners: Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin; Dero Bike Rack Company; Mercy General Hospital; Planet Bike; Specialized Bicycle Components; The Hub of Detroit; Trek Bicycle Corporation; University of California, Santa Barbara; and Wheel & Sprocket, Inc. There were 17 Silver winners (including EPA headquarters in D.C.) and 25 Bronze winners (including an IBM office center and PayPal, Inc.).
The group of winners as a whole were very diverse and from across the U.S., but with an especially large percentage in the Midwest -- not typically known for being a bicycle-friendly region.
"The majority of winners are located in the Midwest – further proving that you can bike to work regardless of climate and that any state, community or business can be bicycle-friendly," Meghan Cahill of the League reported.
"This group represented a broad range of industries, from world renowned technology firms and hoteliers to hospitals and non-profits," said Bill Nesper, Director of the Bicycle Friendly America Program.
"Winners include not only bicycle-related businesses but companies like Ameriprise Financial, Corporate Headquarters; PayPal, Inc.; and International Business Machines-IBM Rochester, MN – all three with 3,000-plus employees," Cahill said.
How to Win Gold
The Bicycle Friendly Business program "evaluates applicants' efforts to promote bicycling in four primary areas: encouragement, education, engineering, and evaluation".
A committee of specialists reviews and scores each application as well as considering feedback from cyclists in the workplace in order to determine an organization’s level of recognition.
To excel in the engineering category, your company should have safe bicycle access, bike racks for employees and guests, and showers and lockers for commuters or lunchtime riders.
To receive a high mark in the education category, the program encourages you to have bike-safety programs, mentorship options for new commuters, and equipment tutorials.
Great encouragement programs could include special benefits for bike commuters, paid mileage for trips made by bike, loaner bikes for errands and short trips, and earn-a-bike programs.
And in an important but less obvious category, to do well in evaluation, the League suggests assessment of both what’s currently being done and what to aim for in the future, in-house bike coordinators, and target ridership numbers.
In all of the categories, though, the League awards innovative programs that will promote or facilitate bicycling and support bicyclists.
2010 Gold winner Mercy General Hospital was able to reduce the number of parking spaces it needed because of the numerous employees who are now regularly biking to work. It pays employees an average of $65 a month to bike to work in addition to proving them with free lunches (a value of $1056 a year) and other benefits. Without even counting increased and higher quality worker productivity, it has found that doing all of this is cheaper than having a parking space set aside for them. The hospital also provides secure bicycle parking, locker rooms, showers, and dry-cleaning services for bicyclists. Do something like this and you have a shot at winning Gold, as well as saving your company money!
If you think your business is bicycle-friendly, look into completing a free BFB application form yourself (or getting someone at your company to do so). The League will provide you with technical assistance if you need help.
If you are inspired by this or want to see your company doing more, share the news!
Photo: Matt Biddulph via flickr/Creative Commons