To begin a bicycle commuting program at your business, follow these three basic steps:
Minimize Obstacles to Bicycle Commuting
Employees are often hesitant to try bicycle commuting because of real or perceived drawbacks and barriers. The following is a list of common concerns among prospective bicycle commuters and some suggestions for eliminating those concerns
Arriving at work hot and sweaty after a bike ride.
It would be ideal if all employers provided showers and locker rooms for their employees. However, this is not always possible and, in fact, such facilities are not as critical as many potential bike commuters believe. Many riders cool down with a small fan in their office and a quick wash-up in the restroom. Another option is to arrange for bicyclists to use the shower/locker room facilities at a nearby health club. Providing storage areas (such as standing wardrobes) where employees can keep a few days' worth of fresh clothes also will make bike commuting more appealing
Read our article about showering for bike commuters.
Secure parking/storage for bicycles and equipment
Knowing that their bicycles are safely parked during work hours is of utmost importance to bicycle commuters. Your company may want to invest in bicycle lockers, which provide complete security as well as protection from the elements. You may also wish to install high-quality bike racks which support bikes by the frame in an area where they can be watched. or, consider allowing employees to park and lock their bikes indoors in a bike room, storage closet, empty office or their own offices
Find techniques and information in our section about bike theft, and how to prevent it.
Bad weather or breakdowns/flat tires.
A program where the employer agrees to pick up "flatted" commuters will provide some vital reassurance to novices. Maintain a "tube library" with a floor pump at work, and encourage riders to use tire liners and flat sealing compounds to help prevent thorn punctures. In addition, offer your employees peace of mind by providing them with a Guaranteed Ride Home Program, such as the RideArrangers program offered by the Denver Regional Council of Governments. Employees who bicycle to work receive a free taxi ride home in the event of bad weather or mechanical problems prevent them from commuting home by bicycle. (The RideArrangers program also covers carpoolers, vanpoolers, transit riders and those who walk to work.)
Unfamiliar with bike routes/uncomfortable riding alone.
Have experienced bicycle commuters lay out their routes on a master map so that riders can arrange to meet along the way and "buddy" to and from work. Also, provide bicyclists with route maps and safety information
Find out how to select a route that will be efficient and enjoyable.
Spending a lot of money on a bicycle and related equipment in order to try bicycling commuting.
Your company may want to purchase bikes which can be loaned to interested employees on a 30 to 60 day trial basis. (Don't buy beach cruisers or mountain bikes, buy road bikes for use on roads.) Prospective bicycle commuters can then try out bicycle commuting without having to invest in equipment themselves. If employees commit to bicycle commuting on a regular basis, they may buy their "loaner" from the company at a discount. Finally, emphasize to your employees that bicycle commuting isn't necessarily expensive and will in fact save them money.
Provide Incentives to Bicycle Commuters
Businesses can also encourage employees to try bicycle commuting by offering some or all of the following incentives:
Promote Your Bicycle Commuting Program
- Purchase equipment such as helmets, rear-view mirrors, headlights or reflective vests for those employees who commit to commuting by bike three or more times a week.
- Offer "flextime" for bicycling employees so they can avoid peak rush hour congestion and fumes.
- Allow an occasional 15-minute "grace period" for bicyclists in case a breakdown or other mishap causes them to arrive at work late.
- Provide a pool of company-owned bikes which employees may use for short business trips, errands and recreation.
- Give cash back to bicyclists for part or all of the parking spaces they don't use (if your business subsidizes parking).
- Permit a more relaxed dress code.
- Hold monthly drawings for cash or other prizes for bicyclists.
- Provide one playing card a day to riders in a weekly bike commuter poker game. You can't beat a straight if you only have two cards!
- Give time bonuses to bicyclists (15 minutes of vacation time each bicycle commute trip)
- Many companies offer cash incentives to commuters (generally from $1 to $0.25 per commute, or per mile from $0.28 to $0.05). Similarly, offering a health package that includes fee reductions for fit and active employees can save everyone money.
A successful bicycle commuting program has the commitment of top management and is promoted on a regular basis. Employers can encourage the program by:
Bicycle Locker Companies
- Providing route and safety information to employees,
- Holding bike-related workshops,
- Reserving bulletin board and newsletter space for bicycle-related issues and information,
- Organizing and supporting a company bike club, and
- Distributing jerseys with your company logo to participating bicyclists. These will reduce the amount of cycling clothing employees have to shell out for. Do not use cotton, instead pick lycra or another moisture-dissipating fabric.
Note: Locker prices range from approximately $580-$1,500 per two-door, two-bike locker depending on model, size, type of lock, material and amount of assembly required. Compare several companies to determine what style best suits your needs.
American Bicycle Security Company
PO Box 7359, Ventura, CA 93006 / 805-933-3688
PO Box 720005, Norman, OK 73070 / 800-245-3565
3152 Wingate Dr. S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49512 / 616-949-0598
Sunshine U-lock Corporation
3136 Via Colinas, #102, Westlake Village, CA 91362 / 818-707-0110