Ten Ways to Make your Business More Bike-Friendly

Albemarle-based Commonwealth Computer Research, Inc. transformed one of its storage rooms into a bike locker. (Photo: Amanda Poncy)Albemarle-based Commonwealth Computer Research, Inc. transformed one of its storage rooms into a bike locker. (Photo: Amanda Poncy)

Companies can improve their environmental impact, reduce health-care and parking costs, motivate their staff, and attract more customers by promoting active transportation at your business. Below are some ideas to create a friendly environment for bikers.

1. Provide Ample Parking 
If you want to accommodate both employees and customers who choose to ride bikes to your establishment, it is important to provide them with bike racks and/or other spaces to park their bicycles. Make sure the storage is convenient and safe–indoor bike storage is best. Lastly, make it visible–bike parking can make a powerful statement about your business’s values. 
Check out this link to have bike racks provided in Charlottesville: https://www.charlottesville.org/home/showdocument?id=38530
Here’s a good quick-reference on bike racks and bike parking: https://www.dero.com/bike-parking-guide.pdf

2. Provide Showers
Showers and changing areas for employees who walk, run or bike to work make a big difference. PEC’s recent survey indicated that a lack of such facilities prevents many people from biking to work, yet they don’t take up much space and cost less than an additional parking space. If you cannot provide these in your own business, look to nearby gyms and other facilities that could. If even one person uses these amenities, word will get around and others will be inspired to start traveling to work actively! 

3. Motivation!
Motivate your employees to be fit and travel sustainably! If employees are not in need of pre-paid parking spots, businesses can offer subsidized gym memberships (which also gives them a place to change and potentially reduce health insurance premiums) or even cash in return. Programs such as these will help incentivize employees to give active transport a shot! There are also other ways your business can at reward active transportation, such as a Bike-to-Work day. 

4. Resources
Bicycle-friendly businesses should also provide bike maps and access to tools and supplies for maintenance. That way, active commuters can travel safely and efficiently to work and still get home if they get a flat. 

5. Discounts
Offer discounts to your customers who travel by bike! Put a sign in your window that advertises a discount for cyclists. 

6. Emergency Rides Home
In the event of a personal emergency or extenuating circumstance, guarantee emergency rides home via taxi or other transportation for employees who bike to work. An occasional car fare is likely to be cheaper than providing parking for that employee.
Learn more about Ride Share’s Guaranteed Ride Home program: https://rideshareinfo.org/grh/

7. Location! Location! Location!
Think about where your business is located and how accessible it is. If there are safe and accessible bike paths near your business, your employees are much more likely to want to bike to work. You can also advocate for better accessibility to your existing location. Advocacy from the business community carries a lot of weight.
Learn more about PEC’s bike/pedestrian advocacy

8. Encouragement 
Provide loaner bikes for errands, short trips, and lunch rides around your business, and maybe even create a company biking team or program. There are many ways to encourage your employees to ride to work.  Building a culture of biking at your business will make your employees feel more comfortable biking and increase active transport, while helping them get fitter and building camaraderie. 

9. Education
Help your employees find classes and other ways to learn about biking and bike safety. For those who are interested in becoming a bike commuter, basic skills, and bike traffic education are a good way to start. 
The American League of Bicyclists lists great resources for bike education.

10. Spread the Word
Work with other organizations and businesses in your neighborhood to increase local bike traffic and support one another’s efforts to improve bike-friendliness. You and your business have the power to inspire others, and spreading the word about bike-friendly businesses will help grow the cycling community. The more people on bikes, the safer it is for everyone!
The League of American Bicyclists offers a certification program for bike-friendly businesses. It’s easier to qualify than you might think. But even if you don’t go that far, any of these ten easy steps can make a big difference for your customers, employees and your business.

Kate Pausic, PEC volunteer
Katie is a senior at St. Anne’s-Belfield School with an interest in sustainability and environmental sciences.