by Lisa Montanaro of The Bike Campaign
When you think of what’s good for business, some common themes arise: good customer service, a welcoming atmosphere, great location, and high quality products and services. However, the bicycle doesn’t typically come to mind. And yet, bicycles are proven to be good for business. Indeed, that’s what the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly Business (BFB) program is all about. Through the program, employers are recognized for their efforts to encourage a more welcoming atmosphere for bicycling employees, customers, and the community. Deserving businesses are recognized at the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels and all applicants receive valuable feedback and assistance in becoming more welcoming to bicycling. Awarded businesses are recognized in a national press release, through the League's social media profiles, and on its interactive map.
The Bicycle Friendly Business program recognizes organizations for the role they play in the ecosystem of building a more Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. The League also awards Bicycle Friendly Universities and Bicycle Friendly Communities throughout the year. Hundreds of businesses from across the nation are transforming their communities by creating more bicycle-friendly destinations and workplaces. There are currently 1,366 Bicycle Friendly Businesses in the U.S., and 119 of them are right here in the state of California. California is ranked the 4th Bicycle Friendly State in the U.S. (after Washington, Oregon, and Minnesota), and also includes 66 Bicycle Friendly Communities, and 20 Bicycle Friendly Universities.
With every round of Bicycle Friendly Business awards, the community is inspired by organizations and companies, big and small, taking the time to recognize that #BikesMeanBusiness. Recent local recipients include Davis Community Church (the first church to become Bicycle Friendly certified in the state of California!), Nugget Markets (4 Yolo County locations), the Davis Food Co-op, and several apartment complexes and hotels.
Vinod Patel owns several local hotels and advised that he plans to get his Bicycle Friendly Business application in for the next round. Bicycles and tourism roll well together, as visitors can enjoy the local sights by bike and not be forced to rent a car if they don’t want to.
One of the local universities was also named to the elite Bicycle Friendly list: Woodland Community College recently received Bronze designation. The Bike Campaign has been working directly with WCC to increase active transportation to its campus.
Greg Gassman is a full-time tenured professor at Woodland Community College for the past 25 years. He lived in Davis for most of his life and, therefore, was accustomed to riding his bike as a means of transportation. When he got his full-time position at WCC, he purchased a home in Woodland near campus so he could easily ride his bike to work. He rides to work every day, up to five times a week, as long as it isn’t raining out. "Woodland has become more bicycle friendly over the years. But to be honest, there have been some close calls on my way to work, more than I would like to count,” Greg shared. “WCC has also become more bicycle friendly. When I first started teaching many years ago, there were no places to safely park your bike. There are now a number of locations on campus with bike racks. With more bike racks, more students, faculty and staff are riding their bikes to campus. But, of course, it would be great to see even more!”
One of the most dedicated local businesses to the Bicycle Friendly movement is Nugget Markets, which has received certification for four of its Yolo County based stores. Austin Hofmans, who works in the bakery department, bikes to work at the Nugget on East Covell in Davis from midtown Sacramento 3-4 days per week in the spring, summer and fall. He refrains from riding in the winter due to the (hopefully!) rainy weather, cold early morning temperatures, and the safety concern that it’s typically dark outside when he finishes work. It takes him about an hour to an hour and a half to ride to work each way. Now that’s commitment!
By receiving recognition, businesses increase overall support of cycling in the workplace and community. It’s a way for them to demonstrate to employees and customers how serious they are about improving the cycling experience and the environment. Many organizations install and increase bike racks, resulting in more employees, customers and visitors cycling to the site.
Nationally, the League welcomed the first major airport to the program, Tampa International Airport, which has become a partner in the bicycle movement. The Tampa Airport is a transportation hub that hosts nearly 60,000 employees and visitors each day, and becoming a Bicycle Friendly Business will help transform the status quo for workers and travelers when it welcomes people who bike.
"There are few better grassroots ways to make bicycling an easy transportation choice for people than by destinations — the places we want and need to go — becoming Bicycle Friendly Businesses," said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists.
Whether it’s a church, university, supermarket, or airport, there are easy steps every place can take to make it easier for people to get there by bike. The League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Business application offers organizations a blueprint for what it takes to earn an award and move up to higher tiers, like offering employee perks for bike commuting or providing secure bike parking.
"It shows how much thought an organization has put into welcoming people who bike when it earns [Bicycle Friendly status],” said Amelia Neptune, director of the Bicycle Friendly America program.
Locally, the Bike Campaign is currently working with Kaiser-Davis, Yolo County Health and Human Services, and Dignity Health to help them apply for and receive Bicycle Friendly certification.
If your organization is interested in exploring how bicycling can help it create healthier and more productive employees, decrease your healthcare costs, attract and retain top talent, and draw more customers, contact the Bike Campaign. To learn more about the Bicycle Friendly Business program or to apply for the next round of awards, please visit bikeleague.org/business.
This article was written by Lisa Montanaro, commissioned by The Bike Campaign. For more information about how to “Drive Less. Ride More.,” contact Maria Contreras Tebbutt at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.TheBikeCampaign.com.