• Posted Jan 21, 2002

What can you do to encourage people to bicycle?

Constructing safe convenient bikeways is important but this is largely the work of government. It is generally beyond the ability of businesses, institutions and individuals to make these kinds of improvements.

So what can you do?

We asked ourselves that question and came up with lots of answers. Thirty-one answers in fact! Here are 31 ways that typical businesses, institutions and individuals can promote bicycling. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, nor is each idea applicable to every situation. Some ideas may work in one situation and not in another. Some of the ideas may be appropriate only after other ideas have been implemented. Idea 1: A Bicycle Advisory Committee Idea 2: Staff Contact Person Idea 3: Bike Route Evaluation & Improvement Idea 4: Bike Map Idea 5: Guide to Bicycling Idea 6: Motorist Education Idea 7: Promote Bicycling Idea 8: Orientation Literature Idea 9: Press Releases Idea 10: Bicycle Parking Idea 11: Expansion Plans Idea 12: Showers & Lockers Idea 13: Financial Incentives & Disincentives Idea 14: Bike Repair Facilities Idea 15: Workshops Idea 16: Improvement Request Cards Idea 17: Develop a Position Idea 18: A Help Line Idea 19: Bike to Work Days Idea 20: Loaner Cars Idea 21: Daycare Idea 22: Health Care Coverage Idea 23: Employee Awards Idea 24: Attitudes Idea 25: Bike Fleet Idea 26: Bike Lease Program Idea 27: Stranded Bicyclists Idea 28: Commuter awards Idea 29: Discounts Idea 30: Recruitment Awards Idea 31: Fun Rides Idea 1: A Bicycle Advisory Committee Form a bicycle advisory committee (BAC) to help develop a program for bicyclists. A BAC can identify ideas that are likely to work. It can help implement those ideas and help evaluate their success. The BAC may function as a social club by holding fun rides. This benefits the organization in many ways, including introducing people to the idea of bicycling. The BAC may link existing groups that have common interests. For example, issues of interest to bicyclists may also be of interest to pedestrians, the handicapped, children and their parents, athletes, joggers, eisting bicycle groups and equestrians. Composition of the BAC needs to be representative of the organization, and the mission of the committee must be sanctioned by the leadership for the organization. Idea 2: Staff Contact Person Identify a staff person within the organization who is responsible for coordinating with the BAC and facilitating recommendations of the BAC. Idea 3: Bike Route Evaluation & Improvement Examine all possible bike routes within a reasonable distance of the organization to determine if they are safe and convenient. Identify favorable routes and route problems. Determine if there are areas that need increased cleaning, renewal of stripes, or other maintenance of paving surfaces. Pursue improvements by working with local and perhaps state officials.Some of these improvements may be made by working with government officials to obtain funding. Idea 4: Bike Map Print a bicycle map for the area which indicates recommend routes and routs to avoid. Bus information on the same map makes it easier for people to combine bike and bus trips. Include other information that will aid cyclists. Determine a method(s) for distribution. Idea 5: Guide to Bicycling Produce and distribute a Guide to Bicycling and a Safety Tip Brochure that is available to every person using the organization. Include information of preferred routs to the organization (including commute time information), commuting tips, safety information, rules of the road, and location of parking, showers, and lockers. It may also include information on bike organizations, organized rides, and the BAC. Idea 6: Motorist Education Provide drivers of autos and buses with information on how to share the road with bicyclists. This will encourage motorists to treat bicyclists as legal users of the roads. Idea 7: Promote Bicycling Promote bicycling with posters, buttons, informational cars ("tents") on tables in cafeterias. Many organizations have in-house and promotional newsletters. Advertise the commitment of the organization to responsible environmental stewardship. Idea 8: Orientation Literature Provide literature encouraging bicycling to new employees, students, customers, etc. at orientation. Idea 9: Press Releases Issue press releases about your bicycle program. Invite the press to visit and see what you have done. Idea 10: Bicycle Parking Survey existing bicycle parking to determine if it is convenient,secure and covered from the rain. Determine whether it is in a location that is safe to be in at night. How is the lighting? Are the racks adequate? Are there any bike lockers available? Are bike lockers assignable and marked with the bicyclist's name? Determine whether existing or proposed car parking may be reduced in quantity while the supply of bicycle parking is increased. Limited auto parking can act as a disincentive to auto commuting and plentiful bicycle parking acts as an incentive to bicycle commuting. Evaluate this possibility by determining the cost of providing parking for bikes vs. Cost for cars. Determine what other uses, including revenue producing uses, the auto parking area could be put to. Idea 11: Expansion Plans Determine whether the organization is planning to expand to new facilities. Review expansion plans from the point of view of bicycling. Make recommendations for new facilities. Idea 12: Showers & Lockers Survey existing facilities. Identify shower and lockers available at and very near the organization. Indicate whether these facilities are convenient and determine whether they are in locations that are safe at night. Are the lockers sized to accommodate a suit or dress? Is there room to store a bike bag? Are lockers assigned to bicyclists so that a regular bicyclist is certain of getting one and can leave several changes of clothing in the locker? As an encouragement, can lockers be personalized with name and indication that this person is a bicyclist? Determine whether the facilities are available at appropriate times of the day. Determine the demand for showers and lockers. Where are cyclists likely to be going? Are lockers and showers located near those destinations? Determine whether there is a deficit in showers and lockers and whether improvements to existing facilities need to be made. Idea 13: Financial Incentives & Disincentives Examine existing transportation policies at the organization. In some cases the organization may be paying transportation expenses or giving other benefits to people who drive, carpool, take the bus or bicycle. Examples include subsidies of parking fees, bus pass discounts, merchandise discounts for people who car pools, financial incentives for driving a van pool or carpool to work, and giving paid time off for people who drive carpool cars to compensate for the additional time required to operate a carpool. Similarly, one company in California gives bicyclists twice the time off that carpool drivers get because of the additional time it takes to bike to work. Develop and pursue recommendations which at least put bicycling on an equal financial basis with other modes of transit. Ideally bicyclists should receive a financial incentive. Idea 14: Bike Repair Facilities Determine the locations of the closest repair facilities for cyclists. Determine whether there is a need for supplemental repair facilities located at the organization. Idea 15: Workshops Conduct regular workshops on safety, commuting options and bicycle maintenance. Staff the workshop with a representative from the organization, a professional bicycle instructor, or volunteers from a bike group like the Cascade Bicycle Club. The course, can include information on safety, route selection, clothing, theft prevention, coordination with buses, health and fitness benefits of bicycling, bike rides and other social activities. It may be appropriate to coordinate this effort with commuter fairs sponsored by the transit agency. As an incentive to attend, staff could receive pay for attending. As an incentive for non-staff (clients, students, customers, visitors, etc.) the organization could provide coupons for discounts on bicycle equipment at a local bike shop. Idea 16: Improvement Request Cards Make request cards available. Get feedback from employees. Find out how programs you've implemented are affecting them. Get suggestions for improvements. Idea 17: Develop a Position Develop an official position of the organization which encourages the organization or a bicycle advisory committee to comment on public issues which affect bicycling at the organization but are beyond the direct control of the organization. These issues may include maintenance of bicycle routes, land use decisions, road improvement projects, bus operation and changes, etc. Idea 18: A Help Line Establish a help line and referral service for people interested in exploring bicycle commuting. A list of volunteers who could give local, specific advice about commuting routes, clothing and other issues could be established. Offer a buddy program to assist novice cyclists. Map each cyclist's commute route on a master map. This allows rider to meet and "buddy" to and from work. A subtle benefit of this is an incentive to not let the other person down by allowing them to ride alone. Consider coordinating this with Cascade Bicycle Club. Idea 19: Bike to Work Days Participate in established bike to work days. This offers an opportunity to disseminate advice and information on commuting options. Idea 20: Loaner Cars Make loaner cars available to bicyclists for use in case of emergencies or personal errands which require a car. Idea 21: Daycare Establish convenient daycare at the organization to simplify commute trips of parents. The need to take a child to daycare at some distance from the organization may dissuade some people from commuting by bike. Idea 22: Health Care Coverage Reward bicyclists with better health care coverage. Better coverage might include extended benefits, lower rates or lower deductible. Similar programs are offered for non-smokers. Idea 23: Employee Awards Award outstanding employees, customers, students, etc. with a new bicycle or with other bicycle related items. Reflective vests, safety lights, mirrors or helmets with the person's name and organization insignia are awards that convey support for bicycling and concern for a person's safety. Idea 24: Attitudes Address attitudes regarding bicycling within the organization. Issues to consider include the cyclist's appearance of professionalism and seriousness, the enjoyment of driving a car, and psychological barriers. Frequently psychological barriers are expressed in terms that invoke other limitations such as..."too far", "too old", "bad health", "to lazy", "must drop off dog/child", "don't like changing clothing at work/school", "too rainy", "too dangerous", "too much time". in some cases these may be real barriers, at other times these are really excuses for personal attitudinal barriers. Idea 25: Bike Fleet Create a bike fleet that is modeled on the motor pool that many organizations have. Employees would sign out a bike for use on company business (the City of Seattle and King County have pioneered bike fleets). The bikes could also be part of a guaranteed ride home program - if someone's carpool driver has to leave early then the "stranded" person could ride a bike home. Idea 26: Bike Lease Program Lend or lease bikes for an established period of time, say 30 to 90 days. This allows people to try bicycling without buying a bike. This program could be structured as lend/lease with option to purchase program. Purchase price could be discounted. Idea 27: Stranded Bicyclists Implement a program to assist bicyclists who become stranded when their bikes break down. Idea 28: Commuter awards Hold a monthly drawing for prizes given to people who regularly bicycle. Idea 29: Discounts Arrange discounts at local bike shops. Idea 30: Recruitment Awards Award employees who recruit new bike commuters. Idea 31: Fun Rides Sponsor rides at lunch time, before or after work. These recreational and exercise rides can have multiple benefits to the organization. Not the least of the benefits is the opportunity to increase the number of commuting cyclists. This FACT SHEET is published by The Bicycle Alliance of Washington, a volunteer non-profit organization working to make the Northwest a better place for bicycling. Bicycle Alliance of Washington P.O. Box 2904 Seattle, WA 98111 206-224-9252. If you have any questions for the Bike Alliance staff you may send them e-mail at

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