People for BikesPeople for Bikes

November 22, 2022

Low Cost Ways to Improve Bike Culture at Work

By: Ryan Birkicht, director of enterprise partnerships

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Curated from 650 individual survey responses, these tips can help promote a pro-bike culture at any workplace.

When was the last time you arrived at work happy? If you’re a person who rides a bike to work, your answer is likely today! Employees who commute via active transportation give themselves an extra boost of dopamine compared to their driving counterparts. Luckily, creating a workplace bike culture to ensure more employees arrive happy is easier than you think. 

The key to starting a successful bike culture is having administration and senior leadership demonstrate support for bicycling. The good news is, support doesn’t require a major monetary investment. Taken from a survey of 650 individuals on biking at their place of work, PeopleForBikes gathered the best ways companies can show support for company bike culture. 

Our first list of support options come at no cost to the participating organization. These should be viewed as a great place to start and low-hanging fruit opportunities to kickstart a great workplace bike culture:

No Cost 

  • Recognition — acknowledge employees who bike to work at all staff meetings or in email newsletters. 
  • Organized group rides — team lunch rides are a great way to feel refreshed for the afternoon. 
  • Buddy (tandem) programs for staff who are interested in riding to work but don’t know how to get started or need help learning the rules of the road.  
  • Grace period (~15 minutes) to allow bike commuters time to shower after arriving at work. 
  • Flex time so employees feel empowered to take a long lunch or leave early on days when weather is ideal for bike riding. 
  • Webinar or in-person lunch and learn classes to answer biking FAQs (best gear for cold weather riding, how to change a flat, etc.)
  • Zero-interest financing for staff interested in purchasing a bicycle.

Once the above list has been considered and implemented, the next area of opportunity is to begin investing in the bike culture to foster additional growth. You’ll see from our low cost list that investment doesn’t need to be exorbitant — sometimes it’s the small things that are the most meaningful. The following items demonstrate to staff that administration supports them and wants to foster a culture where bikes belong. 

Low Cost 

  • Food for participants. Bagels and coffee go a long way! 
  • Gift card raffle. 
  • Discounts on company products/merchandise.
  • Cover bike event entry fees or fundraising minimums (for charity bike rides).
  • Guaranteed ride home in case of family emergency or inclement weather. 
  • Bike repair stipend for an annual bike tune-up or other repairs.
  • Merchandise giveaway — popular on bike-to-work day during May Bike Month. 
  • Extra PTO 

“Instead of free parking, everyone gets a monthly stipend to spend on transportation. It can be used for parking, transit, or buying/maintaining a bike.” - Survey Respondent

So far we’ve touched on bike culture improvements that don’t require a lot of (if any) capital investment. The above items are all things that only take a little bit of time and foresight to help recognize the bicycle as a way to improve employee experience through transportation and/or exercise. The next area of opportunity are one-time investments that can extend bike culture to individuals who may not historically participate. 

One-Time Cost

  • Bike fleet for employee leasing/rental (electric bikes lower the barrier to participation even more). 
  • Improved infrastructure (indoor bike parking, tools, air, outlets for e-bike charging, bike wash station, lockers, showers).
  • Experiences — conduct a drawing to send one bike commuter on a paid vacation.
  • Sponsor a bike-to-work station (coffee, donuts, swag) for commuters.

“Showers, bike racks, and bike lockers are available for all employees. Also, flexible start times are helpful to reduce the stress of biking which can be unpredictable due to traffic, weather, and flat tires” - Survey Respondent

For organizations who see the value of the bicycle as a way to improve the lives of their staff members, the best practice is to invest in culture through ongoing benefits for participating staff. The following are some of the most popular ways to encourage and reward staff for choosing to bike.

Ongoing Cost (The Gold Standard) 

  • Cash-based incentives to ride (i.e. $4/trip).
  • Philanthropic donations (“Ride 25 times and a donation will be made to your designated charity”).
  • Health Savings Account deposit.
  • Subsidized bike share membership.  

“We get a commuter credit towards product purchases up to about $1,000 a year. We also have flex time schedules for 8 months of the year (October-April, as we are in a warm climate) that allows us to come in later, extend lunch, or leave early up to twice a week so we can ride our bikes in nice weather and during daylight hours.” - Survey Respondent

The bicycle is an amazing tool and has the ability to change lives in a meaningful way. For those who believe in the power of the bike, it’s important to allocate time and resources to give more people the opportunity to experience the joys of riding. Share this article with a member of your human resources or employee benefits team to put your organization on the frontline of employee wellness. 

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