Top 5 most innovative practices at bike-friendly businesses
The secret is out! People who bike to work are happier, healthier and more productive and businesses throughout the region are taking notice. Bicycling makes business sense. Bike-friendly workplaces can expect a decrease in health care costs, fewer employee sick days, greater capacity to attract young, talented employees wanting to align with companies that support active lifestyles, and of course, a valued place in the larger bicycling community.
Below are the top-five most innovative practices we have discovered at businesses throughout our region this past year:
5) Free mini bike-share program
Timbuk2, the San Francisco-based messenger bag company, made a bold move by creating Seattle’s first free and public bicycle-share program shortly after opening in June. Anyone can borrow a bike-share bicycle from Timbuk2’s fleet for any length day-trip through the city on a first come, first served basis. Although Timbuk2 has long fostered a bicycle-friendly work environment for their employees, they demonstrated an even greater commitment to bicycling by providing a bike-share program to not only staff, but locals and tourists as well. This kind of bicycle support outside of the office is worthy of innovation recognition.
4) Exemplary leadership in local bike planning
CH2M Hill serves as an exceptional example of how businesses can engage in local bicycle planning efforts and have substantial influence on a city’s planning priorities and infrastructure implementation. Under the leadership of the firm’s Bellevue office Area Manager Dave Sturtevant, CH2M Hill (in partnership with the Mountains to Sound Greenway) successfully funded the creation of a set of regional I-90 bicycle trail maps and computerized renderings of the trail to build support from the City of Bellevue Planning Department, City Manager, Council members, WSDOT and the City of Issaquah for a new regional trail on the south side of I-90 from Factoria to Issaquah. Sturtevant has also led discussions about access to transit in Bellevue, bike lockers and the city of Bellevue Bicycle Plan. CH2M Hill sets the bar high for businesses to help lead citywide discussions about bicycle infrastructure and planning in the future.
3) Innovation across the board
Washington Bike Law deserves special recognition for being one of the most innovative bike-friendly workplaces in Seattle. Washington Bike Law has become a well-known leader in the community by supporting and funding bike-related programs, such as Bike Works’ “Bike for All” program, which provides bike, gear and safety training to low-income individuals. The firm also launched a creative campaign to distribute waterproof spoke cards with relevant bike laws on one side and a “Don’t Door Me!” graphic on the other. And to top it off, the firm also provided pro-bono representation for six cyclists injured on the South Lake Union streetcar tracks in efforts to help improve the safety of streetcar construction in Seattle. These innovations remind us of the variety of ways businesses can engage in bicycle policy, planning and the riding community.
2) Excellent end-of-trip facilities
This list would not be complete without mentioning the state-of-the-art bicycle facilities at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Their end-of-trip facilities are unparalleled. In addition to 142 long-term bike parking spaces for employees and 30 short-term bike parking spaces for visitors, the Gates Foundation provides locker rooms and 560 private lockers at their on-site gym. Their most prized feature, however, is a heated mud room to hang and dry wet clothing. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a Seattle cyclist who wouldn’t appreciate these accommodations after a chilly and wet commute to work.
1) Creating “last-mile” connections
Seattle Children’s Hospital understands that bicycle infrastructure is most effective when it takes riders all the way to their destination. That is why Children’s has prioritized the planning and execution of innovative projects that connect their facility to other nearby bicycle infrastructure. Recent notable achievements include the 39th Ave Neighborhood Greenway, a new connection between the Burke-Gilman Trail and Sand Point Way NE at 40th Ave NE, and a bicycle climbing lane on the hill up to the main hospital entrance. These critical connections create safer and more convenient bicycle routes to and from the hospital, benefiting not only employees but everyone who visits the facility.
Innovations like the ones mentioned here are replicable, and we intend to share them with other businesses interested in creating more bicycle-friendly workplaces. As we look toward 2014, we’re excited about continuing engagement with our business community. We can’t wait to see what kind of bicycling-related innovations emerge, and the positive impact made.