COMMUTE+ CONTENT

How employers can help new bike commuters

We’ve mentioned the rise in bike sales quite a bit over the past six to eight months. Since people were cooped up inside from late spring until now, they looked to ways to get out and about safely. Individuals who purchased bicycles during quarantine may have been considering leisurely purposes, but you now have a huge opportunity to redirect their newfound hobby into commuting.

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For any of your employees who contributed to the recent rise in bike sales this year, biking to work will be a change for them. This means you will need to make the process easier. While we’ve written about encouraging bike commutes post-COVID, this blog is focused on how you can help out employees who have already decided to bike

Bike repair station

In our most recent Commute+ Reimagined webinar, our panelist Ricardo Vera, SR HR Specialist at NCR Corporation, touched on why they installed a bike repair station. 

“We were missing something that most bike commuters would take for granted, but it’s pretty critical for somebody that doesn’t know much about [bike commuting],” he said. “We had to install a bike fix-it station.”

This stood out to us as an important point about new bike commuters for a few reasons. The first is just how many things there are to consider when biking to work, especially for novices.. They have to worry about the rules of the road, which route to take, when to leave, and what happens if something goes wrong with their bicycle – just for starters.

While a bike repair station can only ease one of those concerns, it’s a pretty big one. If employees bike to the office, they want to make sure they will be able to bike home. It’s really the same as if they drive or take the bus: No one wants to be stranded at the office.

The second point is the responsibility assumed by Ricardo and NCR, as the employer, to help employees successfully make the switch to commuting by bike. It’s easy for employers to encourage their employees with their words to change their commutes to a more sustainable option. It’s another to back up their talk with actions that can make a difference.

Showers, lockers, and secure bike storage

Now that we’ve discussed bike repair stations, we want to talk about other installations that can contribute to long-term success for new bike commuters. The first? Showers. We’ve all – most of us, at least – been in the situation of sweating when you get to the office on a hot day. It’s uncomfortable, it’s annoying, and it’s not particularly pleasant for anyone.

Having showers available at the office can change that. In fact, employees are five times more likely to bike to work if they have the ability to shower when they arrive. That statistic alone should make you put a plan in place to install showers as soon as possible! The timing is perfect, since there are fewer employees in the office than pre-COVID and you don’t have to worry about construction disrupting daily operations.

When someone does have the opportunity to shower after their ride to the office, they are going to want a secure place to store their belongings. Providing a locker room or personal storage spaces is the perfect complement to an in-office shower or hygiene station.

Ricardo also mentioned on our webinar how, in addition to the bike repair station, his company had more than 90 secure bike parking spaces available. It just goes to show how all bicycle accommodations work together to create a full commuting experience. When trying to create lasting new habits, ensuring a positive end-of-trip experience is crucial to long-term success.

Guaranteed ride home

As we mentioned, no one wants to be stranded at the office. If you bike to the office, you want to bike home, or at least get home. Partnering with a local transportation management association (TMA) can help make that a guarantee, even if a bike breaks down on the way to the office and can’t be repaired.

Transportation management associations are organizations that work with employers in their area to help make commuting better. This can include working to pass infrastructure changes, offering shuttle services, or providing guaranteed rides home. For the sake of this blog, we’re going to focus on the guaranteed ride home.

A Better City TMA, located in the greater Boston area, has a great guaranteed ride home program. (They are far from the only TMA providing this service, just one example!)

To take advantage of their guaranteed ride home program, individuals must work for a member organization or be a tenant of a member community. Qualified members can receive as many as six free rides per year, up to $100 in value. Even better? This benefit can be used for your employee, or someone they care for. You can visit their website here for more information about how their program works. If you’re looking for a similar program in your area, you can simply Google “guaranteed ride home + your city/area.”

You don’t necessarily have to take every single one of these suggestions to create a successful bike program at your company. However, making the effort to show your new bike-oriented commuters that you’re thinking of them can be the difference between a one-time trial and a long-term behavior change.