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7 ways to support and encourage your workplace bike commuters

Portland is one of the best bike cities in the U.S. With over 181 miles of bike lanes and 79 miles of off-street bike paths, Portland is a great city to bike.

Here are 7 of the most common ways our certified businesses are encouraging and supporting bike commuters:

1. Indoor/Covered Bike Parking
Indoor bike parking provides people with a safe place to put their bike, helmet and other gear during the workday. Inside or out, it may be easier than you think to find space for indoor or covered bike parking.

Bike racks at Food Front NW
Many Portland businesses create simple, DIY bike racks like these, using bike hooks and wood (even simple 2x4s). Food Front NW’s bike rack is in their break room along with a bike repair kit and lockers.

Tip: Convert an underused supply closet, room, break room wall, or unused outdoor area into bike parking!

Lensbaby covered bike racks
Covered outdoor bike parking at Lensbaby in Southeast Portland.

Find out how to get free bike racks, sign up for a bike corral through the City, or get tips for creating your own bike rack.For more, read the case study our friends at Bike Portland recently posted about the outdoor bike parking at Green Zebra Grocery and other bike amenities they offer for bike commuters.

2. Bike repair kit
Providing a bike repair kit at work allows bike commuters to take care of maintenance problems like flat tires, small adjustments, or tires needing air.

Tip: Leave your repair kit indoors near bike parking and make sure employees/coworkers know about it. Make the kit available to customers, visitors and clients to encourage more biking.
Bike repair kit list

3. Bike Buddies
A bike buddy – a coworker to commute with for the first few days – is a great way to encourage first time biker commuters. The bike buddy breaks down those initial barriers – “What time should I leave the house? What route do I take? How do I avoid busy roads?”

To get your workplace started with bike buddies, put up a map where employees can mark their bike commutes. New bikers can find a bike commute buddy from the map and connect with their buddy to arrange when and where they’ll meet and ride.

BPS Bike Buddies map
Here at the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS), we used Bike Buddies to encourage more people to ride to work for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s annual Bike Commute Challenge (see 5 below).

4. Route planning
Bike buddies can also help new cyclists with route planning. Experienced cyclists or members of your office green team can help determine the best route between home and work, and suggest how long to allow for the trip.
Tip: Order free citywide and neighborhood bike maps for your office.
5. Participate in the Bike Commute Challenge
Every September, the Bike Transportation Alliance hosts its Bike Commute Challenge. The Challenge pits workplace against workplace to see who can bike more in the month of September. Participating in the Bike Commute Challenge is a great way to attract new bike commuters and have fun!

Tip: You can sign up now, before the Challenge starts, and encourage others too as well. Then you’re ready to go when September 1st rolls around, and everyone can get credit for their miles starting day one.

PGE Bike Commute Challenge participants
Bike Commute Challenge participants at Portland General Electric pose with their bikes

6. Incentives
Incentives are another great way to encourage people to start biking to work or to bike more often. Here are 3 examples of incentives to get more people to bike commute:

  • Have a raffle! Each person gets a raffle ticket every day they bike to work. Twice a year, draw a winner to receive a free bike tune-up. Or, draw winners more often for smaller prizes, like free lunch or a gift card to a bike shop.
  • Publicly praise people who bike to work and encourage them through small acts of thanks, like homemade cookies provided by the office’s best baker.
  • If your workplace offers subsidized transit passes or subsidizes driving or parking, give an equivalent monetary incentive to people who regularly bike to work. Click here for an additional opportunity to provide bike bucks through the Bicycle Commuter Benefit.

7. Showers, changing rooms and lockers
For some employees, the main barrier to biking to work is wanting to be clean for the workday and needing to wear different clothing while biking than at work.  Providing showers, changing rooms and/or lockers reduces this barrier.

For renters, some office buildings already have changing rooms and lockers. Talk to your building manager about getting access for your employees who bike.

TIP: If your business doesn’t have showers already, work out a deal with a nearby fitness center, community center, or gym to allow bikers, walkers and lunchtime joggers to have access to showers and lockers.

Questions about where to start, or how to implement any of these suggestions? Contact us. We’re happy to help!

Quick links for more bike info:

Bike commuters at Fluid Market Strategies
Happy bike commuters pose for the camera at Fluid Market Strategies.

Guest post written by Mia Reback, Sustainability at Work intern.