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Monday, September 29, 2008

Employers warm to bicycle commuting

Work demands have limited my blogging activity. However, in catching up on the bicycle commuting news, a couple items in September seem important to share. One item is this video, which highlights bicycle encouragement programs at the National Institutes of Health, Discovery Channel, and Google.

Another important article on bicycle-friendly employers is this article from Chicago. From Crain's Chicago Business, 09.16.08:

Bike commuters find employers that smooth path

As more Chicago-area commuters opt to bike to work, many workplaces have made an effort to accommodate workers on two wheels, greeting them with secure parking spaces and hot showers. "Businesses are recognizing the benefit of having healthy, happy employees," said Margo O'Hara of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation...

Whether it's due to rising popularity of the green movement or recent sky-high gas prices, many workplaces are gearing up for an increase in bicycle traffic...The Sears Tower offers bike-friendly services to its more than 100 tenants and is ready to add more. "We roughly quadrupled our (bicycle parking) capacity (last) September," said Tom Dempsey, vice-president and general manager. There are now 49 indoor bicycle parking stalls in the garage on the first level, 44 of which are being leased to tenants for $25 per month or $200 per year. "If we lease up the next five stalls, we would definitely add more."

Mr. Dempsey is also exploring other ways to accommodate bicycle commuters, including offering tenants discounted memberships at a health club in the building, where they can use the showers. And they can sign out bicycles from the garage, free of charge, as part of a bike-sharing program. "I have a bike in (the building) garage that I use for meetings, and that kind of inspired it," Mr. Dempsey said. "It's a green alternative to a taxi or having to drive your car downtown because you have an outside meeting." (Read more.)
Bicycle commuting is more appealing when your workplace is supportive. There are many advantages to those employers that encourage bicycle commuting, including improved health of employees, better morale, reduced absenteeism, and reduced demand for vehicle parking. And employers who offer a diverse mix of transportation access have a competitive advantage recruiting the most talented staff.

How does your employer support bicycle commuting? What incentives or support might your employer offer to encourage more of your colleagues to bicycle commute? Health club membership? Cash for bicycling mileage? Secure bicycle parking?

Visit: As Bike Commuting Gains Traction, Companies Get Into Gear,
Visit: Firms promote cycling to work, United Press International
Visit: Bringing a bike to work would be easier under new bill, New York Daily News
Visit: Employers Finally Giving Bike Commuters Some Love,
Visit: Wisconsin’s commuters parking cars in favor of bikes, Milwaukee Journal-Standard
Visit: Bicycling to work can show what co-workers think about you, Chico Enterprise-Record
Visit: Employers: Embrace bicycle commuting, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Portland: Leaving the car behind, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Pharma corp embraces bike commuting, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
Thanks to TheRealEdwin at Current for sharing video link.


Abhishek said...

We got an extra bike rack installed and they may be giving us some kind of credits towards our medical insurance for being healthy. But those credits go to all people that live a healthy life (no smoking, regular gym, etc).

IgorTheCat said...

My employers sentiment seems to be one of ambivalence, with an element of understanding about my long commute (I use the bike to get to work from the commuter train).

I work in the construction industry, were biking is considered something that those tree huggers do. The parking lot is full og SUV's, and F150's. I am the only one using the flag pole out front to lock up a bike, so there is no need to put up a rack.

We build retail stores in the San Diego area, and city ordinaces now mandate that we provide bike racks at new construction.

Kevin Love said...

Interesting article, but it raised two questions:

1. What's with the emphasis on showers? Is everyone racing and working up a muck sweat? Nobody at my workplace takes a shower after arriving. That just seems strange. They don't do that in Holland.

2. What's with the picture of the totally lousy bike. Is this just an ignorant photo editor? In Toronto it would be illegal to take that bike on the street - no legally required bell. Also no mudguards, chainguards, skirtguards, mirror, lights, etc. Nobody around here would use a bike like that.

Abhishek said...

@ Kevin
People in North America are battling suburban sprawl to get to work. Hence the longer commutes and sweat issues. Warmer climates dictate that too. Not every city in North America has weather comparable to that of Holland.

Elaine said...

@shek don't forget the hills, too, especially in the west.

We have showers at my work, although I think they were installed to go with the workout room. It's a great feature in the summertime.

There's a bike rack, not just the minimal required by zoning rules, but a pretty decent one with a shelter.

We have company cars for off-site meetings and limited use for emergencies, which is really reassuring. I think that could be a big one for a lot of people out here in the 'burbs, where it really honestly is too far to bike to things in the middle of the day.

When I vanpooled, that employer had a guaranteed ride home program, which I had to use once when I was felled with a migrane in the middle of the day. A free cab ride home, vs. several hours on the bus, while suffering the most severe headache of my entirely life...yeah, that kind of perk really matters.

Abhishek said...

Those are great perks. Vanpool, emergency ride, company cars for on-site they take resumes?

The Village Scribe said...

The company I presently work for has a health and fitness benefit whereby they reimburse a percentage of an annual gym membership. About a week ago, I was able to talk our benefits manager into counting as reimbursable bike club membership fees and the registration fees for local bike events under the health and fitness benefit.

It's a small thing (especially considering how little these fees are -- nothing like a gym membership), and it doesn't directly encourage bike commuting, but I think it's a step in the right direction. I'm now pushing for a bike rack in the company-owned garage underneath the building (presently not for regular employee use at all) and some kind of cash incentive comparable to the transit checks offered to everyone who commutes by train and bus.

Johnathan said...

First let me start by saying I really like this blog.

Second I also really like the post showing the video.

I work in downtown Sioux City. Thankfully the building I work in is right next to a parking ramp where I can lock up my bike. On the 5th floor of my building is a shower & locker room. I only commute 3.5 miles so I do not need to shower after I ride in. But I do like changing in the locker room & keeping my stuff secured in a locker.

I also have a commute blog. If you're interested here is the URL:

gwadzilla said...

that NIH article interviews my brother Marc

good stuff!

there should be more incentives
instead of the work place unintentionally making things harder for the workers to use alternative transportation

lockers and showers should be standard in the work place!

Martinihk said...

Alas the interesting item on
Bicycling to work can show what co-workers think about you
has been removed. You can find in the Google cache if you're quick.,&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=hk