How best to encourage commuting

Discussion in 'Commuting and Road Safety' started by Rufus Woods, Sep 15, 2003.

  1. Rufus Woods

    Rufus Woods New Member

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    I'm an avid cyclist and a recent convert to commuting who's lucky enough to run his own company and would like to encourage other employees to do the same for the sake of fitness. I own a newspaper with 140 full-time employees. The older I get, the more I believe that caring for the entire person makes all the difference in the world in developing a high-performance workplace.

    In wonder what innovative things companies are doing to promote this these days. Any ideas out there?

    Here's one of my ideas. We don't have showers, lockers or a convenient place to store bicycles, so I'm considering adding those when we remodel. This could be developed in conjunction with an exercise room. Without showers or a changing area, it makes it challenging given our summer heat in central washington state to realistically commute.

    Opinions?
     
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  2. Shabby

    Shabby New Member

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    As a minimum:

    - Showers & changing facilities
    - Somewhere to change
    - Secure storage for bikes (get rid of some car spaces) which doesn't damage bikes and is visible/safe enough to prevent theft of computers/pumps etc.
    - Cyclist friendly culture (not abnormal to see people in lycra or having breakfast at their desks and bowls of fruit!)

    Nice to have:

    - Ironing board and iron (cheap, but useful for crumpled shirts)
    - Towel service (one employer I worked for had this!)
    - Formalised buddy system for new riders (the first time is always the hardest).

    Best case scenario:

    - Free lunch (I had this at the same employer as the towels)
    - Company bikewear (commuting every day wears out your cycling clothers as well)
    - personal accident insurance
    - Promotions - free stuff given out to people who ride (tubes etc).


    There's some good info at:

    http://www.bv.com.au/content.cfm?ubmenuid=68&contentid=210
     
  3. Brunswick_kate

    Brunswick_kate New Member

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    The locker room/showers etc are a great idea adn certainly help the commuter and certainly cover the "basics".

    But if you're looking for the "frills", I'd add some organized means of getting employees home in the event of rain/hurricane/snow during the work

    It sounds like you've already got the biggest issue already covered...a boss that doesn't freak about cycling and the occassional mishap (15 mins late due to a flat)

    Speaking of which, flex time is always nice for people who have dark-hour commuting issues.
     
  4. Chris_L

    Chris_L New Member

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    Incongruous as it may sound, most people don't ride their bike to work for one simple reason: they don't want to. I know a lot of people claim other reasons, but I still think that's the main reason. Have you ever tried to convince somebody to do something they simply don't want to do? In my experience of doing this, I have noticed that they come up with all sorts of other reasons as to why they can't, and when you answer all of them, they simply say "well, I just don't want to."

    Providing showers is a good start, although I have never used them, and I live in one of the world's most humid climates (I find a spray of deodorant usually does the job just as effectively after a change of clothes). Having a place to store the bike is probably the most important thing IMO.

    One tactic that a lot of cycling advocates seem reluctant to use is actually promoting cycling. In other words, explain to your employees how it will benefit them directly. Mention all the money they can save on fuel bills. Mention the fact that it is a more reliable way to get to work (I can do my commute in 30 minutes regardless of what traffic is doing, and I can fix most everything that is likely to go wrong). Mention parking issues (if relevant).

    In other words, sell the idea. Providing facilities is part of the job, but I've seen a lot of facilities go unused in the past.
     
  5. Geonz

    Geonz New Member

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    I would have to agree -- though the "showers" concept is one that people do sort of fixate on. But selling the idea and having incentives -- company cycling gear would be cool :) -- would I think get the best results even without remodeling.
     
  6. M2cycler

    M2cycler New Member

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    i commute everyday but i get more nervous everytime. my avg has increased heaps though.

    chris_l, ever thought the reason they said, " i just don't want to," is because you kept badgering them about it even after they had come up with a heap of reasons.

    they proabably thought it was the only way for u to stop bugging them
     
  7. Chris_L

    Chris_L New Member

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    Generally I don't bother "badgering" people about anything - having learned from that mistake long ago. I was merely making the point that merely "building facilities" is not necessarily going to make people ride. I'm quite happy to accept that people may not wish to ride to work, however, a lack of facilities may not always be the real reason.
     
  8. M2cycler

    M2cycler New Member

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    Yes, showing the benefits would be a good idea since everyone always wants to know whats in it for them. as long as you keep encouraging it employees will always know that they are welcome to commute.

    putting in all the facillities is a great idea, if you can afford it.

    another issue is the percieved risk of riding through busy streets in peak hour. to the casual observer, riding on the road with cars is akin to russian roulette. get over that one and many more people would try it
     
  9. manilacyclist

    manilacyclist New Member

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    These guys have said enough. All I can say is...your people sure are lucky to have a boss like you. Geez, to consider even a shower room for cyclists in the office...WOW! Lucky lukcy lucky. Keep it up and here's hoping that my boss would be a convert like you.
     
  10. brightgarden

    brightgarden New Member

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    Yes. Do it. Even if it is just for yourself. You might want to take a poll of the interest level in your org to determine just how much up front investment you make in it, maybe create a long-term improvement plan spanning 5-10 years, where each improvement phase might be scoped in or out depending on how much people are using the current improvements.

    Showers and bike cage/room to secure bikes is the most important for cyclists. If there is a local gym near by, you may perhaps forego the exercise room, especially if you're thinking about investing in equipment. I only say this because it seems in my area that all the indoor gyms attached to offices eventually get busted down to cube farms.

    But you wanted to know about innovative things orgs are doing. My former organization (a non-profit) has full locker facilities and a locked bike room (need building security card to get in). In their former building, they had two showers for each gender in the old restroom areas way down in the parking garage (scary place actually), no sinks, but for the most part, well heated and clean. They also installed a bike cage in the parking garage next to the guard station which effectively halted bike theft for those lucky enough to know the combination to get in. Each improvement was done due to clamoring from the staff.

    However, it seems to work better to take a hands-off stance on encouraging people to exercise--rather, provide them with benefits that they can take advantage of.
     
  11. sea

    sea New Member

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    The Bicycle Alliance of Washington and the Cascade Bicycle Club took a survey.
    One of the questions was: "What are the reasons that you don't commute to work."
    The common answers in no particular order were as follows.

    It's too hard.
    It's too far.
    I don't know how to get started.
    There is no convenient route.
    I use my car in my work.
    It's not safe. / It's too dangerous.
    There are no facilities. (Place to securely store the bike, & no showers, lockers or changing rooms were most mentioned.)

    I don't remember the percentage each answers received but I do remember the most common answer received. That was "It's too dangerous." We had a lot of discussion of that answer and felt that in devolves to two things. 1) It really isn't safe. 2) The perception is that it isn't safe. To address the first one we included that in our work with local government bicycling programs. The only way we could figure out to address the second was to include that focus in cycling classes. (An informed cyclist is aware of the danger and knows the best ways of staying safe.) To further address that issue and the "I don't know how to get started" issue we started the Bike Buddy program. In that we hook up a beginner with an experienced rider to help them get started, find good routes and learn some things about safe cycling.

    Good luck in your endeavor.

    Sea

    PS: The survay was done by the Bicycle Alliance of Washington. http://www.bicyclealliance.org/
    And the Cascade Bicycle Club http://www.cascade.org/ )
     
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