How To Be A Bike-Friendly Business
A long-term commitment to harmonizing work-life and bike-life can have far-reaching benefits for both the employee and employer and once established it can foster a more productive workplace. Plus, having the reputation for being a bike and commuter friendly business will earn you customers beyond just the cyclists who frequent your establishment.
Requirements to be considered a BFB (bike friendly business) are dependent on which organization you register your business with. Many organizations, clubs, and coalitions accept applications from local businesses to receive the designation of being an official BFB. Examples of the organizations you may work with are California Bicycle Coalition, LADOT, San Diego Bicycle Coalition, Bike Long Beach, and Bike SLO County, or national organizations like The League of American Bicyclists, which has been around since the 1880’s, and People for Bikes, who “have spent more than $30 million to make bicycling better.” For the employers who find workplace happiness relevant, studies have shown that employees that commute by bike, increase their work production due to improved health and happiness. Employees who stay in good health tend to have lower health care costs.
As long as you provide bicycle facilities for patrons like ample bike parking, bike gear and tools for any mechanical issues, locker room or lavatory for changing, and offer numerous resources and guides for staying safe on city roads, your employees will stay happy and satisfied. It will benefit you to work with your local coalition or organization as you make the transition to becoming a BFB. County coalitions and non-profit groups are great advocates for bicyclists, who offer information, education, and events for the community and newcomers. Be innovative. Create incentives. Encourage your employees to contribute to the goal of being more bike friendly with monthly creative contests related to biking, like a reward for the most innovative conception of a bike parking lot.
From the perspective of the community, being designated as a bike friendly business can improve your visibility and draw business from bicyclists – a loyal group of customers. Your company will be associated with progression and contribution to decreasing our carbon footprint. Bike parking doesn’t cost very much and takes up little space; you can park about 14 bikes in 1 car parking spot. The free and available parking spaces can encourage the locals and tourists to ride their bikes. Win, win.
For 2016, here’s how California’s stacked up with the League of American Bicyclists:
#8 BICYCLE FRIENDLY STATE RANK
62 BICYCLE FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES
99 BICYCLE FRIENDLY BUSINESSES
14 BICYCLE FRIENDLY UNIVERSITIES
You’ll be benefitting from giving your car the boot and riding to work whether or not your employer is designated as a BFB. Ultimately, everybody wins when you commute. The enhancements made to your health will carry over into all of your relationships, both professional and personal. Riding your bike will allow you to become more intimately connected to your city. You’ll start to notice interesting aspects about your surroundings that you have not noticed before.
Before you reap the rewards of becoming a commuter, make sure you set time to plan and prepare the route you will take. There are many things to consider, such as how to pick routes with protected bike lanes on your roadway and if there are locals trails that can take the place of roads. You can sacrifice a few minutes if it means taking a safe and bike friendly route. You may even find a shortcut only available to bicycles. Ask your local shop for help on this if you’re unable to put something together on your own. Utilize the digital tools available to you.
Apps like Ride with GPS are great for discovering new places to ride and planning routes. If it’s possible, record your work ride on Ride with GPS during the weekend to get a feel of the layout from the bicycle perspective. This app gives you what you need to create a route with turn-by-turn directions. The website is the best platform, but the app will allow you to gather the information; you need both. On iOS, you can sync up the ‘Find My Friends’ app with your coworkers on your way to and from work, allowing them to track your location for at least an hour. If your coworkers know your biking to work and you don’t show up, it’ll allow you to be easily located in case of an emergency. You can install the free app from the app store if you have iOS Version 8 or later.
You can make up the cost for your commute with a cash reimbursement of $20 per month or $240 per year given by your employer. The Bicycle Commuter Act was authorized by the IRS beginning on January 1, 1999, and it provides a tax-benefited reimbursement for the expenses of bicycle commuting. There are no official guidelines on how the compensation is dispersed, it is up to the employer how best to pay out the employee.
Use any and all tools to your advantage and always be prepared. Refer back to Victor Prestinary’s article in Issue 129 on “The Discipline of Do Easy”, or being mindful and patient as you go through the steps in preparing for your commute. Make sure you have bright lights on your bike, both the front and back. Check and pump your tires every morning.
Become familiar with your rights and restrictions as a bicyclist by knowing the laws of your city and county. Respect the wonder of this experience and make sure you take responsibility for your safety and security. Commuting by bicycle doesn’t mean you’ll end up being a die-hard cyclist, but it will give you a new-found fondness for the zen of riding a bike. If your way to work is all trails, you couldn’t ask for a better way to start the day. Take comfort in knowing that time and time again, bike riding has been shown to be greatly beneficial to health and well-being and you’ll start your day ahead of most everyone you work with. Win, win.