As Bike to Work month approaches, we’ve got cycling on the brain. Paladino and Company recently achieved a BizCycle Gold rating in recognition of its commitment to creating a bicycle-friendly workplace.
Administered by Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club, BizCycle defines best practices for bicycle friendly workplaces and certifies Puget Sound businesses that actively implement those practices.
Paladino already has many enthusiastic bicycle commuters on staff, so the BizCycle rating was an excellent opportunity to verify through a third party rating that we are “biking the talk” and demonstrate our advocacy for cycling as a preferred commuting option.
The Business Case for Bicycling
As a green building and sustainability consulting firm, supporting alternative commuting options is just part of our DNA. The fitness and environmental benefits of cycling are well documented, and it makes sense that a company like Paladino would embrace eco-friendly modes of transit.
However, cycling is not just about reducing carbon emissions– corporate cycling programs also offer a host of other business benefits. According to research studies collected by BizCycle:
- Regular bike commuters are ill less often and take 1.4 fewer sick days per year
- Employers with wellness programs, such as corporate bicycling programs, can expect a decrease in healthcare costs
- 25% of drivers reported that their productivity is negatively affected by the stress of their commute, compared to 0% of cyclists
The League of American Bicyclists also recently published a study demonstrating the economic benefits of bicycle infrastructure, including the ability to draw more people to business districts, where cyclists tend to spend more each month than drivers.
Last year, a Danish study found that third grade students who biked or walked to school performed better on tasks related to concentration (such as solving puzzles) for up to four hours after arriving at school, indicating a link between productivity and physical activity.
It’s clear that bicycles make triple top line sense, benefiting people, planet and prosperity.
Becoming a BizCycle Company
The application process gave us the chance to not only benchmark our current performance, but look for opportunities to improve. As Paladino prepares to move later this year, we are also examining the design of our new space to ensure it is optimized for cycle commuting.
We were happy to learn that we could achieve a Silver rating without making any changes at all – we already have a 31% bike mode split, a term that designates the percentage of employees who bike to work – but we wanted to go for the Gold!
Several of the new programs we introduced while going through the rating process included:
- Creating a bike club and a methodology to track actual cycling activity
- Establishing a goal to increase our mode split to 34%
- Increasing internal and external communications, including developing a staff bike club newsletter (‘The Dirt’) and SharePoint site, and adding cycling directions to the office on our external web site
- Developing a short-term and long-term corporate bicycle plan to ensure that we continue to build on our successes and measure progress
- Offering in-house bike info/maintenance classes and creating a bike tool kit for staff use
Creating a Pro-Bicycle Corporate Culture
If I’ve convinced you that creating a pro-cycle culture is right for your organization, you may be wondering where to start. Based on our BizCycle experience, we recommend the following:
- Form a committee with bike-riding members from a variety of departments to manage the program – they will be your most enthusiastic cycling ambassadors and it’s a great employee engagement tool
- Measure your baseline. Who is biking now?
- Determine how a cycling program can align with or contribute to other organizational goals, such as corporate responsibility targets or even a LEED rating for your building
- Engage leadership sponsors to implement policy changes, commit to capital investments, and provide incentives
- Develop your bicycle plan and include a cycling value statement, ridership goals, and strategies and tactics with timelines to achieve those goals and contribute to other corporate key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Demonstrate your commitment through clear and consistent communications, and track your progress year-round
What has your organization done to foster a culture of alternative commuting practices? Please share your stories in the comments. If you’re located in Seattle, join Team Paladino on your bikes!
Maggie Santolla is the Marketing Communications Manager at Paladino and Company. Consultants Lexy Relph and Scott Bareither contributed to this post.