Bike-to-Work Day is just around the corner. And for that one day a year, at least, everyone can agree—biking to work is a great idea (SunPower’s even gotten in on the act). But, you know what? It’s pretty fantastic the other 364 days, too. In fact, research shows that people who bike to work are more productive, happier and take fewer sick days.
Encouraging your employees to commute to work by bicycle is also good for your business, because it shows your company’s commitment to sustainability, health and wellness. So how do you take something like Bike-to-Work Day and turn it into a living, breathing bike-to-work program in your organization? We’ve got some tips to help you get your program started:
1. Make it easy to commute to work
It may sound obvious, but probably the best thing you can do to encourage employees to bike to work is to make sure they have a clear, secure place to park their bikes once they reach the office. For some companies, this could mean setting aside space—such as a lockable room—in the building for bicycles. To show their support for bicycle commuting, other businesses may invest in creating a clearly-labeled, accessible and well-lit area for bikes outside the building (such as the parking lot)—one that employees feel good about using.
Then, as your program grows, you can buy bike racks and/or bike lockers for employees to provide another level of security. Depending on your space and what works, you can even give employees permission to park their bikes in their own offices or work areas. After all, nothing advertises a thriving bike-to-work program like seeing fellow employees already participating!
As your cycling-to-work program expands and the number of commuters grows, you might also consider providing showers and locker rooms to those who come to work by bicycle. You’d be surprised to hear that, for many people, knowing they have a place to shower and change before starting work goes a long way toward convincing them to give commuting by bike a try.
2. Make your bike-to-work program fun—and rewarding
- Find maps—or create your own—that show employees the best ways to reach your facilities by bicycle (check with local bicycle clubs in your area, as they might already have something you can use).
- Schedule fun events—like your company’s own Bike-to-Work Day, Week or even Month—that give your employees something to plan for and participate in.
- Print and give away t-shirts to all those who join your company’s “Biker Club” and ride to work regularly.
- Consider incentives that reward your employees for participating in your company’s bike-to-work program. This could be anything from recognition on a company bulletin board or newsletter, to offering discounts or subsidies on the purchase of bicycles and biking gear at local shops.
- Provide travel reimbursement (10 cents per mile) to bicyclists, allow employees to earn a quarter-of-an-hour of vacation time for every day they commute by bike or offer flextime (or a fifteen-minute grace period) for bicycle commuters.
Anything you can do to make employees feel as though their commitment to an alternative commute option—such as biking—is appreciated and rewarded will go a long way to making it more long term.
3. Make your bike-to-work program part of your company culture
Easy bike parking, free t-shirts and financial incentives are great... but nothing encourages an employee to try biking to work better than seeing their co-workers do it. That’s why it’s important to find out which of your employees may already be commuting by bicycle to your offices—and involve them in the creation and development of your company’s bike-to-work program. Ask these “bike-to-work evangelists” to organize bike-pools, mentor their co-workers who may be just starting out and act as your bike-to-work program coordinator to communicate bicycle-commuter concerns.
In addition to asking employees to get more involved, engaging company leaders in your bike-to-work program can help reinforce its value, too. Assign a point person to organize social biking activities for employees, such as lunchtime rides to a café or nearby park for a quick picnic. Hold workshops (the lunch hour is a great time for these) on bicycle commuting, maintenance, safety and other biking topics.
Finally, be sure to publicize your bike-to-work program outside the workplace to enhance your company’s profile in the community—and even use it as a recruitment tool. With the help of press releases, interviews and events, make sure the local media is fully aware of your organization’s program. That may even mean becoming more involved in local bicycle issues and events.
The more you can do to give your employees alternative commute options like biking—and make your company’s bike-to-work program easy, fun and engaging—the more likely they’ll give it a try and make it part of their daily routine. Ask those employees who already commute to work by bike to get involved and encourage their fellow workers to give it a spin. And engage other leaders in your organization to play an active role in building a thriving bike-to-work program. After all, it’s not just good for your employees; it’s great for the health of your business too.