Many employees, with a commute management program, may switch from driving alone to using public transit or carpooling. Mind, however, there are a portion who may choose biking – if the route as well as the resources at the workplace make sense. And if employees are able to choose biking, it can be one of the most enjoyable and healthiest commute choices someone can make.
Bicycles and bike-to-work programs should be centerpieces of commute management programs.
A major concern around companies and organizations surrounds employees driving and parking. Encouraging and assisting employees to adopt bike commutes, even a few days a week, can help mitigate some of these parking issues. You can accommodate 10 bikes by repurposing just one car parking spot for bikes. That’s a lot of space and a lot of money you could be saving if your employees bike instead of driving alone.
Another bike parking solution is repurposing unused conference and meeting rooms into bike storage rooms. When your employees begin to work in the office, you may have policies against meeting in confined rooms with multiple people. Larger conference rooms work for meetings because of the ability to distance. That allows you to use smaller meeting rooms as bike storage, you will occupy less space in your parking garage and employees will feel even more secure about their bikes.
In addition to saving space (and the environment), let’s talk about the money you can save. It’s no secret that parking can be very expensive. As Donald Shoup describes, there is no such thing as free parking. That means someone’s paying, and that someone is usually you, the employer. Paying for your employees’ parking can cost you a lot of money. Depending on the city in which your office is located, a parking spot can go for $200-$300 per month, and that cost is not anticipated to go down.
Bike parking, on the other hand, doesn’t cost nearly as much. You can turn smaller meeting rooms into bike storage for free. If that isn’t viable and you need another solution, bike racks are incredibly less expensive than a parking spot – plus, it’s an upfront cost rather than hundreds (or even thousands) per month.
If you don’t have the room, or authority, to add bike parking in your parking garage, you can always circumvent the parking issue entirely and provide subsidized bikeshare memberships. There are more than 110 bikeshare systems in the US, meaning most major and mid-major cities have them. Paying for your employees’ memberships saves you time, money, and space. Plus, employees no longer have the financial burden of buying their own bikes and may be more likely to give it a try.
Employee happiness and productivity
Studies have found that biking or walking to work leads to better mental health and happiness. If your employees are happy and focused, you can expect to see an increase in productivity. After being inside working from home for more than six months, mental health should be a huge priority for employers and employees. Encouraging bike commutes can be an important piece in ensuring your employees are mentally and emotionally ready to return to the office.
When your employees bike to the office, chances are they’ll be sweaty and want to freshen up. This is where you need to think about the end-of-trip experience. Do your employees have the option to shower? Will they be able to socially distance? Is there storage for their personal belongings? These are questions you need to answer if you are serious about getting your employees to bike to the office.
Installing a shower at the office can also be a marketing tactic for you. Employees are five times more likely to bike to the office if they can shower once they arrive. If you don’t have the power to install a shower, you can try and work with your property management to get one installed. Whatever you can do to improve your employees’ end-of-trip experience will go a long way in changing their commuting behavior.
If you are unable to provide showers, consider working with a nearby gym.
More bike-to-work initiatives
Bike rental program
If you happen to be in a city that doesn’t have a widespread bikeshare program, or none at all, there’s a workaround: an internal bike rental program.
Offering an internal bike rental program can help your employees adopt bike commutes. For starters, it takes the financial burden off of your employees. Compared to providing parking, it’s a little more reasonable. Even a five bike program to start, works! A local bike shop can help with finding the right fit for your budget, as well as recommend bicycles that work for a shared program.
If your employees want to bike, but need help with purchasing a bicycle, you could offer some financial assistance. Maybe $200 towards a new bike, or a percentage of the total up to a certain amount. This type of perk is less expensive than subsidizing parking or even subsidizing transit.
The unspoken rules-of-the-road are foreign to employees who don’t regularly bike to the office. Learning them isn’t easy either. Hosting events with either employees who regularly bike to the office, or with local bike associations can help with that issue. This can be a bike-to-work day or week. You can also help you employees create a bike club, where employees ride to work together, and get more comfortable with a newer commute.
Communication is Key
The bottom line on all of these options are that they only work if they fit with the conversations you’ve been having with employees about commuting. Engage with your company on commuting, survey people on what their habits are, and have real conversations about what the options are to get to and from the office. Many people do not know all of their true transportation choices, and without proper commute planning, both employees and employers are quick to dismiss some of the best commuting options. And even one employee switching from a drive-alone commute to bicycling can make a difference.