5 ways to make your business (more) bike friendly

When you hear “bike friendly business” do you imagine quaint mom-and-pop shops that offer bike parking out front and discounts to customers who’ve left their cars at home? 

These local businesses have a positive effect on our environment and economy, yet they don’t begin to address how bike friendliness has become serious business – for innovative corporations.

Bikes are finding their way into corporate sustainability programs because of their significant ability to impact daily efficiencies and the bottom line.

The League of American Bicyclists recognizes companies with “Bicycle Friendly Business” awards. The latest round includes some of the world’s largest, most respected companies, like Facebook, Apple, Hewlett Packard and Williams-Sonoma. 

Bike programs like these require work in five areas:

1. Infrastructure

If you build it, they will come. With the right infrastructure – bikes, parking, showers and safe roads – more employees will use bikes and get around more efficiently.

Bike Fleets. Company bike fleets are an efficient way to navigate large corporate campuses, travel to meetings in urban centers, deliver packages in densely populated areas and to commute. 

Corporate campuses throughout California’s Silicon Valley, including Google, Facebook and Apple, use bikes as an alternative to cars and company shuttles. Companies with headquarters in urban areas -- like Williams-Sonoma, with buildings throughout San Francisco -- have bikes available for inter-office travel. Elsewhere, companies like FedEx and UPS use bikes for deliveries in dense cities like Paris, and in U.S. cities during the holidays. And General Mills and Sunpower have loaner fleets for employees who want to try bike commuting. 

Parking, Showers, Lockers. Having a convenient and secure place to store bikes during the workday, as well as a place to shower and clean up are important amenities. They can be the make-or-break for many employees weighing the decision to bike commute. 

Facebook and Sunpower, for example, encourage bike commuting with showers, lockers, towel service and indoor bike racks. Levi Strauss & Co. built a large secure bike room with convenient parking for 200 employee bikes and a DIY repair station. 

Safe Roads and Routes. In the U.S. our roads were originally built for bikes but have since been focused on motorized traffic. Companies committed to a bike program need to look at their own parking lots, streets and surrounding neighborhoods. Is it convenient and safe to get to and from your office? Are you working with your local transportation authority and bike coalition to improve surrounding streets? The safer and more efficient the roads, the more people will ride. And interestingly, the more people ride, the statistically safer it is for everyone.

Next page: Liability and risk management