Convincing someone to change their commute from driving to a more sustainable option is a challenge. People get caught in a routine, and that routine becomes second nature. With the rise in understanding the importance of transportation demand management (TDM), employers and developers are making substantial efforts to change commuting behaviors.
What’s a better way to get someone to change their behavior than providing the solution? Giving a bike directly to an employee or a resident gives them the tool to change their commuting behavior immediately. Obviously, expecting someone to change their life on a dime is wishful thinking, but it’s a start.
Free bicycle for residents
Providing a bike to every resident in a building sounds like a lot of money and space and that’s not entirely incorrect. But in comparison to building enough parking for every resident’s car, the advantage swings heavily in the bicycle’s favor – but don’t just take our word for it.
Baltimore’s newly opened Wheelhouse apartment building did just that. The building’s developer ordered 92 bikes for the same $25,000 price tag as they would have for one, maybe two parking spaces. Not only are they saving money by not building parking, but the burden is lifted on leasing out the spots. When parking spots go un-leased, that’s money not being made back for the cost of building them.
In addition to the monetary savings, the space saved is just as impressive. Building enough parking requires time, money, and space that’s not always available. But bike parking? That’s a different story. One car spot can fit anywhere between six and 20 bikes. Using the Wheelhouse as an example, if you put just six bikes in one parking spot, those 92 free bikes would only require the space for about 15 parking spots – significantly less than 92 car parking spots.
Free bicycle for employees
Providing a physical bike to every employee is an awesome perk, but can get challenging as your company grows. An easier approach is a bike reimbursement program. A program like this allows employees to buy the bike that fits their needs while taking most, if not all, of the personal financial burden off of buying a bike.
A one-time bike reimbursement is an awesome start to get employees to begin changing their commuting behavior. Some companies also give annual benefits to employees who commit to regularly biking to work.
Clif Bar & Co. gives their employees as much as $750 a year in rewards for biking to work, as well as $500 every six years toward a new bike. New Belgium Brewing gives employees a free bike on their one year work anniversary, plus $200 for bike races and maintenance costs. These two companies, among others, provide some of the best bicycle benefits we’ve seen and are great models to base a new program after.
Bikesharing is caring
We also understand that buying or reimbursing employees for bikes is not always financially possible. Instead, you can consider providing employees with a corporate bikesharing membership. Bikesharing companies such as Capital Bikeshare (Washington, DC) and Bluebikes (Boston), among many other cities, offer corporate bikeshare memberships.
These memberships split the financial burden between the employers and employees. As a growing company, we provide fully subsidized Capital Bikeshare accounts to give our employees the opportunity to bike to work, without needing to own a bike.
Ride it home
All change starts with making a first move – especially when it comes to commuting. Offering a free or subsidized bike to residents or employees is a leap toward change. Want to learn more about TDM and how other companies and organizations are changing the way commuters travel? Check out our resources page!