Now is 1 of the best times to promote biking in recent history. Here are a few tips and tricks for encouraging workers to commute by bicycle.
Here's what you need to know:
- To encourage employees to bike to work, invest in facilities for secure bike parking and offer flexible work hours
- Provide resources for disabled workers to participate if they so choose
- Offer a bike share or bike subsidy program
- Consider disincentivizing other modes of transportation to work
Biking is not only good for the environment, it’s good for our health, too. As the Mayo Clinic explains, doctors recommend getting 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day.
Adding yet another thing to the to-do list can be exhausting. But if you simply swap your regular commute to work with a bike ride, for most people at least, those 30 minutes are easily attained if not exceeded.
There are several hurdles to biking to work, though. Who wants to show up to work sweaty? What about a change of clothes — where will that be stored? When it comes to biking to work, employers play a major role in making it an accessible option or not.
Plus, now is 1 of the best times to promote biking in recent history. Since the pandemic, biking levels have remained higher than their pre-pandemic counterparts. This remains true even with all of the supply chain and inflation issues that have touched the industry.
Here are a few tips and tricks for encouraging employees to bike to work.
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Make sure non-able-bodied workers don’t feel excluded
The 1st thing to consider is that non-able-bodied employees can quickly feel left out of something so inherently physical. One critical element to include in your bike-to-work strategy is resources for disabled workers.
One easy way to reach this goal is by including resources for bikes that cater to disabled cyclists. Just because someone is disabled, doesn’t mean they can’t bike. It might mean, though, that finding the right resources can be a more challenging proposition.
So, make it easy for them. Collect resources. Partner with a local bike shop. Do what you can to make inclusion part of the process.
Invest in facilities for secure bike parking
Two of the central barriers that keep people from biking to work are the lack of a place to safely store a bike and access to showers or lockers so workers can transition from cycling to working.
As 511.org explains, providing secure bike parking is essential. This can include anything from bike racks to lockers or even dedicated bike storage in rooms within the building.
This is 1 area where you’ll really want to invest. Bikes can be expensive, so any risk to them means that an employee might opt to leave their bike at home. Best practice is to put bike parking in a high-traffic, visible, and convenient location.
The next facilities that cyclists need are showers and lockers. The more conveniently located, the better.
They should also be well-maintained and meet demand. Especially on days with big meetings, workers will need a way to transition from a sweaty, mid-summer bike commute to a high stakes, professional meeting with ease.
Naturally, many small businesses can’t afford to install their own shower facilities. Instead, consider partnering with a local gym.
You could offer discounted memberships to the gym or strike a deal with the gym for a shower and locker pass. That way your employees can get the showers and lockers they need without you having to make a direct investment in your own facilities.
Offer flexible work hours to encourage biking to work
Flexible work hours might not immediately seem related to biking to work, but they absolutely are. The wiggle room that flexible work hours allow for helps cyclists adapt to the best, safest, or even just the most ideal time to bike to work.
Even with dedicated bike lanes and other similar infrastructure, rush hour can be a dangerous time to bike to work. Just the sheer number of cars on the road alone can mean a more dangerous commute than off-rush hour times.
The wiggle room that flexible work hours allow for helps cyclists adapt to the best, safest, or even just the most ideal time to bike to work.
Then, just like with driving, things can come up. A tire can pop or a route can be blocked by a downed tree, for example. This can mean a different, and likely, extended route to work at a moment’s notice. If start and stop times aren’t flexible, the stress of being late can be enough to discourage biking to work.
Finally, there’s the weather element. If getting to work at 9 am means biking through the blazing heat of the summer or leaving at 6 pm means pedaling through a snowstorm, biking to work gets tricky fast. The more flexible the work hours, the easier it is for employees to build biking to work into their schedule.
Offer a bike share or bike subsidy program
As we noted above, bikes can be expensive! Someone might really want to bike to work but can’t quite pull off the investment in their own set of wheels. So, find other ways to connect them with 2 wheels.
One popular method for solving this problem in cities across the U.S. is bike shares. Many cities are already outfitted with bike share programs.
All you have to do is get your workers involved. This could mean partnering with the bike share company or sponsor to secure a reduced rate for employees who bike to work.
Alternatively, your company could buy a few easily adjustable bikes that employees can check out. This can be a great, low-barrier way to introduce workers to biking if it’s not something that’s already part of their lifestyle.
Finally, you can offer to subsidize bike purchases in order to bring the cost of a quality bike down.
Disincentivize other modes of transportation to work
Sometimes getting employees to bike to work means making other modes of transportation (like driving) a less desirable option.
One way to do this is to charge for parking or to eliminate parking subsidies. This means that driving to work becomes more costly and, thus, less desirable compared to biking.
You can also consider a buy-back program that offers employees the cash value of the parking spaces that you lease in order to offer free parking. This can make the elimination of parking amenities a much less painful process.
Then, if the parking conditions allow, you can lease out those spots to workers from other companies so that you still have the income.
Another option is to offer company vehicles for employees who need to drive during work hours. This way, they have a car to use while at work without having to drive their personal car to and from work.
As you can see, some of these strategies will mean an upfront investment. But if you get your employees to bike to work, eventually you’ll save the money you were spending on parking infrastructure or subsidies. Then, as a result, you’ll have a more physically active workforce as well.
These are also just general recommendations. To put a bike-to-work program together that caters to your specific city or town and its conditions, reach out to a local bike shop or bike non-profit.
These alternative transportation experts will be able to help you put a plan together that makes sense. They’ll also know of (and be able to connect you to) bike-related resources in your city. The more local and uniquely tailored your bike-to-work strategy can be, the more successful it’s likely to be.
Plus, when you connect employees to other bike-related resources, then they have access to the experts they need to make the changes in their lives that will make biking to work easier, too. It’s a win-win-win proposition for your employees, your business, and local bike businesses and advocates!