Be Bicycle Friendly in the New Year!
More and more Cleveland businesses are recognizing that embracing the positive attributes of bicycling brings many benefits to the visitor experience and workforce happiness. Cyclists like to frequent businesses they identify as bike friendly, and prospective & current employees will view your company more favorably if you take a forward approach to integrating bicycles into your company culture.
Some things to consider:
- People on bikes spend more money at local businesses per month than people in cars because they make frequent return trips; businesses gain “regulars.”
- Personal cost saving of riding for transportation means cyclists have more disposable income; increasing their consumer purchasing power.
- Employers who encourage their staff to ride with bicycle friendly policies and work places attract high-quality employees.
- Cycling as part of an active lifestyle promotes a healthy workforce who use less sick days and reduces healthcare costs for employers.
But many businesses don’t know where to start. We understand this, and are here to help. Part of our work is helping businesses assess what they currently have in place, and what they need to add or improve. Everything falls into a few simple categories, and we will use the Cleveland Metroparks and University Circle Inc. (our 2 latest local additions) as examples. They both received national awards as Bicycle Friendly Businesses, and we were there to help every step of the way.
Engineering: Do you have secure, quality parking for your guests and employees? Does your staff have a place to change clothes in a private environment? Can they bring bikes into the office without being hassled? Is there a secure place to keep riding gear stored during the day? The parking may be the only thing the public sees, but everything else is for your staff – and can really make a big impact at a nominal cost. In the case of our latest examples, they both have secure, covered places to park bikes during the day. There is a lockable place to change clothes, and the Metroparks even has showers available. The point is that those who ride can know their bikes are safe during the day, they can get ready for work in peace, and be organized for a quick prep for the ride home.
Encouragement: What is your support system like? Do you have a point of contact within the company that riders can look to for help or inspiration? Do you have a HR policies or incentives for those that ride? Perhaps you sponsor a team for local fundraising rides like VeloSano or PanOhio? Our latest award winners have things like this in place, and also keep bike maps at the ready for staff, have small repair items on hand, and approach daily bicycle use in 2 different ways. University Circle Inc. subsidizes their staff to use UHBikes for local trips during the workday, and the Metroparks invested in a small fleet of bikeshare bikes for employees to use in place of automobiles. Both had workplace challenges and groups that rode together on National Bike to Work Day.
Education: Many people have barriers to riding that can be easily overcome by a bit of knowledge. Often these barriers revolve around things like not knowing what route to safely take, not knowing about bike maintenance or roadside repairs, or just the common and correct rules for cycling on the road. In both examples, we provided some type of on-site education around topics such as this. We have the resources for most topics, and reach out to our local bike shop partners to fill in the rest. Cost is nominal, and often waived for Bike Cleveland Business Members. Another education bit to consider is updating your “new hire” package to include the information about bicycling to work, and making sure they know where all of the facilities are on day 1.
Often when we meet with businesses, they are pleased to learn that they have more available than they think. And, the things they are missing are easy to add as long as the commitment is in place to reach the goal. The first step is usually polling your staff and locating the rider(s) that are already around you [if that person isn’t you :)] They are going to be a valuable resource in learning where you are, and how the current policies and facilities are playing out day to day. From there, simply fill out this brief questionnaire, and we will follow up with you and get things rolling from there! If you are curious to work ahead, you can always look at the League of American Bicyclists’ homepage for the program. There you will find upcoming application deadlines, a sample of the questionnaire, and more resources to help you in your quest.