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How to make a bike-friendly building

Whether your office is located in a multi-tenant building or you’re the building’s only occupant, accommodating the commuting needs of the people who work in your building is a growing concern. One of the hottest topics? Bicyclists. People who make the effort to bike to work want to feel like they’re recognized, especially because so much of the world around them is designed for cars. So how can you make a bike-friendly building?

Feature image for making a bike-friendly building

There are simple things you can do to get started, like installing a bike rack or putting a plan in place to encourage biking. But unless you maintain a real effort to encourage people to choose a bike commute, you won’t see the results you’re looking for.

Why do it?

Cities such as Washington, DC, Seattle, and San Francisco, are beginning to legally require employers, real estate developers, and property managers to implement a variety of transportation demand management measures in order to lower the number of single-occupancy vehicles added to the roads. Adding bike amenities is a great way for buildings to both fulfill city requirements and show their tenants they care about providing an accommodating environment.

What else can you do?

Parking is expensive. Not just for individuals, but especially for developers and property managers. A single parking spot in a garage can cost between $25,000 and $50,000 to build — that’s why the cost gets passed along to the employer, whether it’s by charging for parking or by increasing the rent. Once it’s built, the employer is often responsible for paying taxes on the land, the upkeep of the garage, and more! The average cost of installing a bike rack, on the other hand, is just $660. Supporting cyclists allows you to be more flexible with your parking policies, saving money in the long run and investing in your employees.

As we mentioned, some measures are going to have more of an impact than others. Installing a bike rack is great, but that’s just the start. Here are some options that will really make a difference to both your employees who already bike to work, as well as those who are more hesitant about making the change.

Install a shower(s)

Nothing is worse than riding to work and arriving sweating, smelling, and just uncomfortable. Employees are almost 5 times more likely to bike to work when they are able to shower and clean up for the day, so consider talking to your building management to see if they are able to transform an existing bathroom to include shower facilities.

Build a bike room

People have enough to stress about while at work; whether their bike is going to get stolen shouldn’t be one of them. Installing wall racks in a designated bike room will help maximize the space given. If there’s no room that seems particularly suited for this, you can just designate an area of the building’s parking garage into a bike parking lot.

To really take your bike area to the next level, provide lockers for cyclists. Having space to store helmets, a change of clothes, and other equipment would provide added peace of mind during the day.

Bike repair facilities

This is a loftier goal to achieve. If your employees bike to work, they’re also going to need to bike home from work. With more than 4,000 employees at their headquarters, Facebook made biking to work a priority by implementing a 24-hour, self-service bike repair shop.

Facebook is tough to compete with, but the 2500 Wilson building in Arlington, Va., won a silver award by the League of American Bicyclists for including a bike repair station for the building’s tenants. When life happens by way of a flat tire or a chain malfunction, knowing you’ll be able to easily fix it will make the decision to bike easier.

The more you know

54% of potential riders don’t bike to work for fear of getting hit by a car, according to a 2015 survey. Providing information about trails, bike lanes, and protected bike lanes will help your employees feel comfortable about being able to bike safely. This is especially important for people who don’t regularly bike to work. 

When it comes to adding bike-friendly features to your building, you’re not alone in the process. The League of American Bicyclists has an incredible amount of information dedicated to making businesses and buildings more desirable for bike commuters. They even have annual awards to recognize those who are doing a great job.  

Another very useful tool is People For Bikes. They provide information about bike-friendly businesses, local biking organizations, and city ratings for biking. Tools such as these will help you find information to easily distribute to your employees.

What are we saying?

Making the effort to create a bike-friendly office building is a great start, but getting your employees to buy-in is what matters. Do you reward your employees who bike to work? Include that in your onboarding process. Work with employees who already bike to find out what works and what can be improved. Biking to work is one of the most sustainable forms of commuting, but your employees can’t be the only ones who make a real effort.

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