Bike Friendly is Business Friendly

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Jacobs PeopleIt has been well documented that having happy and fit employees helps productivity and the bottom line, but many businesses may be overlooking one of the cheaper ways to support a healthy work place:  becoming a Bicycle Friendly Business through the League of American Bicyclists. And Arlington businesses may find earning that designation especially easy by adopting bike-friendly policies and amenities [because a) it’s free and b) we’ll help you with the application].

Such was the experience of Candi Carpenter, executive assistant at the Rosslyn-based International Relief and Development (IRD). “IRD supports a healthy workplace”, said Carpenter, but she wasn’t sure they could be considered “bike friendly” when applying in 2011 until talking to staff at Arlington Transportation Partners (ATP), a B2B consulting organization with Arlington County Commuter Services. “They told us, ‘You have a lot of this in place,’” noting that in addition to encouraging its employees to bike and walk, IRD also provides showers and a fitness center for its approximately 125 employees. They have also added Bike Friendly Breakfasts for cycling, running and walking employees every other week in the summer months.

Arlington currently ranks 5th in the country under the League’s program, and we see participation as a reflection of our growing bike-friendly-ness. By earning the BFB designation, which includes bronze, silver, gold and platinum status, businesses help themselves and the community as a whole by encouraging health and sustainability.  

Employers can aid their applications by adding low-cost amenities such as secure park parking areas; free or subsidized access to Capital Bike Share; or having a tire pump and tools available for bike commuters. There are no-cost amenities as well, such as distributing free bike maps and encouraging employees to participate in annual Bike to Work Day events.

Bike Arlington staff and their colleagues at ATP can provide assistance for those wishing to gain a Bicycle Friendly Business designation through the League of American Bicyclists. To apply, visit bikeleague.org/business. The next deadline for applications is January 15, 2015.

Among the benefits of being a bike-friendly workplace are:

  • Healthier employees, who are more productive, take less sick leave, and can reduce health insurance costs.
  • Reduced need for employee parking
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • More relaxed commutes and decreased stress.
  • Identifies your company as one that favors a sustainable business model.

At IRD, Carpenter notes they’ve had a steady cadre of bike commuters who recruit new members all the time. “Some of our bikers have left, but others have taken their place,” she said, adding that many of the new riders are not hard-core, longtime cyclists. “Last year a young colleague asked some of the other cyclists about bike commuting, and now she rides most every day when the weather’s nice. We’ve gotten some novice cyclists to start biking to work and being a Bike Friendly Business is a big part of that.”

And Congratulations to Jacobs engineering firm (photo pictured above) for being named a Bronze Level BFB this summer!

Henry T. Dunbar, Program Director, Bike Arlington

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