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On May 18th, Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon President Don Antonucci welcomed over 50 people representing dozens of employers to the city's first Portland Employer Bike Summit.
Speakers from Chris King Components, Daimler Trucks North America, David Evans and Associates, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland State University, Regence and Stoel Rives provided case studies on creating workplaces that encourage healthy, sustainable transportation.
The conference concluded with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance's bicycle tour of covered and secure bike parking in several downtown office buildings.
A number of the speakers (Chris King, David Evans, OHSU and Stoel Rives) described their company's financial reimbursement for bike commuters and how it helped the companies remain competitive in recruiting and retaining talented employees.
Another key focus was providing adequate and safe bicycle parking. OHSU's bike valet system provided the most creative example. The valet system provides four part time jobs and is a faster, more flexible solution than a bike cage. John Landolfe, OHSU's transportation options coordinator, said the bike valet system costs roughly a fourth of the price of a traditional, secure bike cage.
Portland State Universityhas 30,000 students (and only 2,000 students living on campus) and 4,000 faculty and staff. According to PSU Transportation and Parking Manager Ian Stude, the university provides more than 2,000 bike parking spots (including two four indoor bike garages) and discounted student and faculty transit passes. From 2000 to 2010, biking by students and staff has more than doubled tripled.
In 2010, 40% of student commute trips to PSU were made by transit and 12% of students, faculty and staff commuted by bike. If those people all chose to drive it would grind downtown traffic to halt, noted Stude.
It was not only big firms who found a way to encourage biking. At Puppet Labs, a technology startup, 80% of employees commute by bike, foot or transit. According to Jill Burrows, the CEO bikes to work, help setting the tone for the company.
Encouragement was a common theme throughout the conference. OHSU's Landolfe turned the Field of Dreams analogy on its head recommending that companies encourage employees to bike and then build excellent facilities to insure that they get used ((“if they come, build it”).
Daimler Trucks North America's demonstrated the power of promotion through an internal company challenge for one bicycle jersey that generated over 11,000 bike commute miles by employees in the chilly and wet month of February.
The Regence Bike Commuter Team envisioned and organized the conference. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance and the Portland Bureau of Transportation provided support.