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Is Your Company Bike-Friendly?

Updated on November 17, 2014

Every year more and more people are using bicycles as their main means of transportation. There are many perks that come with the cause, including cost savings and health benefits, a lighter footprint on the environment, and the convenience of avoiding the rush hour gridlock. For businesses, there's never been a better time to become biker friendly. Doing so could provide a business with many potential benefits, including greater customer loyalty, higher staff productivity, and strengthen the relationship with its' community. With a variety of available options to fit any need or budget, it's hard to find a reason against the investment. Still not convinced? Let's take a deeper look below:

Increased Profits

Studies have proven that a bike friendly business can potentially increase its profits. Why is this? For retailers it seems counter-intuitive: provide more parking for bicycles, whose owners spend less per visit at your business? But bicycle riders tend to visit much more frequently, thus spending a higher amount overall. These customers tend to be local, within biking distance, and they will develop more loyalty to a business that is biker friendly. With word of mouth being a potent sales tool, the customer's experience is sure to be relayed to other cyclists in the community. Support the cause and cyclists will notice.

Financial benefits can come from within the company as well. In 2011, Quality Bicycle Products (QBP), of Bloomington, MN, released a report that demonstrated how their investment in secure bike storage has improved employee health and helped the company save an estimated $170,000 in three years through its Health Reward program and QBP estimates that it saves $300,000 annually through the increases in employee productivity.

“QBP has always been a bicycle passionate organization with lower than average health care costs, according to our health providers,” said QBP president, Steve Flagg. “We are excited to finally be able to establish the statistical links that prove that everyday bike commuting not only promotes individual health but substantially lowers corporate health care costs. Not every company may be completely motivated to have healthy employees but certainly every company is motivated to lower costs.”

Healthier Employees

“Some of the most successful companies in the world are showing that investing in bicycling is not only good for health and sustainability but also the bottom line,” says Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists.

Cycling to work is a great way to incorporate a fitness routine into a workers’ daily schedule and the installation of bike racks is a great way for a company to encourage healthy lifestyle choices. One study, mentioned on the Charlotte County (Florida) Health Department’s website, reports that on average people lose 13 pounds of excess weight in their first year of cycling to work. These healthy employees will take less sick time, and cost a company less in health coverage.

Environmental Benefits and Community Goodwill

On top of the health and financial benefits, businesses should take the time to consider the impact their employees' may have on the environment; a worker's choice of transportation may have a more significant impact than expected. A study by Patz in Environmental Health Perspectives found that if the 30 million commuters in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin chose to use a bike instead of a car for trips less than five miles, during the warmest six months of the year, four trillion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions would be prevented from entering our environment.

By providing staff with the proper tools, companies can help to do their share in cleaning up the environment, while also improving their green image.

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Solutions

Bike Racks

Some may view a bike rack as an old and archaic fixture. Thanks to the growing needs of cyclists and the consistent innovation from companies hoping to differentiate themselves, this sentiment is far from true. Today bike racks are available in more shapes and colors than a single mind could think. From racks shaped like coffee cups and female silhouettes to bench/bike rack hybrids, the perfect solution for any site is right around the corner.

Relatively speaking, bike racks are the most cost-efficient bike parking solution. With their simple install, it's hard not to see these as the go-to method for a business wanting to become biker friendly. Through minimum tools and fuss, they can be either permanently mounted or mounted in a way that they are easily removed, should the need arise.

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Bike Bollards

Though both have the ability to meet a site's aesthetic needs, bike bollards bring something a bike rack can't: the security and crash protection of a standard bollard. These fixtures play double duty, and for some businesses this makes bike bollards the only choice. In one case, Kaufman’s Bagel & Delicatessen, a family-owned specialty food business in Skokie, Illinois, was forced to shut down in 2011 due to a fire, the owners saw a chance to give the old facility a facelift. The community mandated that bicycle racks be installed in front of the store as part of the remodel, but co-owner Bette Dworkin wanted something a bit more structurally interesting and, since they’d had the issue in the past, something that could prevent a car from hitting the building.

“They are a mix of a bollard, bike rack and a bit like chess pieces all rolled into one." said Dworkin "I have always been completely satisfied with the product and the look it gives the exterior of the store.”

Bike bollards can be installed on their own or over existing steel pipes, both permanently or removable. Made from high-grade steel, iron, or aluminum, they're available in a variety of finishes and styles that will compliment the design elements of the existing infrastructure.

Bike Lockers

Bike Lockers are often recognized for providing the highest level of security in bike parking. Their box-like construction protects bicycles from the weather as well as thieves and vandals. Because of the level of protection they provide, bike lockers are often installed in areas where storage may be required for extended periods of time or where there may be an increased risk of theft of vandalism.

Straightforward resources and proprietary mounting systems make installing bike lockers a breeze; generally surface-mounted with concrete inserts, bolts and fender washers. To perform installation, the locker is set in its intended position. Holes with a 7/8” diameter are then drilled through the floor of the locker into the concrete substrate below. There are no set locations for the holes for the most secure results, it is recommended that the markings be placed near the front, rear and middle of the locker’s longest walls. Once the holes are created, the concrete inserts are set in side them. Fender washers are then set over the holes and bolts are tightened into the inserts.

Despite the fact that their more spacious than a bike rack or bike bollard, neither can top the security the fixture provides.

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Summary

A bike friendly company is a more successful company, be it with the company’s employees, their customers, or the community at large.... Or all three! A company that promotes bicycling and supplies parking bike at its location will have healthier, happier employees who take less sick days, resulting in lower health care costs and higher productivity. Businesses who have bike parking will see their profits increases as bike riders will favor their storefront over those who do not have bicycle parking. The number of people who are using bicycles as their main means of transportation is a growing trend that businesses can capitalize on. The goodwill generated by having bike parking will respected by the community and it gives the company an opportunity to do something good for the environment we all share.

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