Healthy Bikeshare at Kaiser Permanente

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When it comes to employee health and wellness, it’s nice to know Kaiser Permanente walks the talk.

The health insurance behemoth — with more than 10 million members nationwide — made strides to keep its own employees happy, productive, and out of the doctor’s office. How? An easy-to-use bikeshare program aimed at getting employees moving!

With the help of Bikes Make Life Better, KP rolled out a new, custom bikeshare program at its IT campus in Pleasanton California that lets employees borrow a KP Thrive bike to travel between buildings, run errands or get some exercise on a nearby scenic trail.

Employees on bikes

“I now have an alternative to walking to get my 30 minutes of activity in during the workday,” says an Application Coordinator Specialist working at KP’s Pleasanton campus. “It has also given me the opportunity to ride a bike again, which I hadn’t done since I was about 12.”

Bikeshare Boom

Two-wheeled transportation is growing like crazy. In April 2015, the world surpassed 1 million public bikeshare bikes.

And in the US, many of the most innovative companies — like Nike, Google, Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. — make bikes available to their employees for getting around during the workday.

Organizations opt to encourage biking for many reasons. In some cases, having bikes on hand allows employees to ditch the car commute (meaning employers save on parking), move easily between buildings on a large campus (meaning they spend less time in transit), or―in the case of KP’s Pleasanton workforce―be healthier, more energetic, and more productive!

Ride More; Work More

You may think employees who take time out of their days to bike tend to work less, but actually the opposite is true: Studies have shown that exercising raises an employee’s productivity by an average of 15 percent.

This translates into huge cost-savings. A recent study conducted by the Public Health Institute and the American Public Health Association, shows that bicycle commuters saved the state of Iowa $13.2 million a year in health care costs and another $73.9 million for those who cycle recreationally.

Cyclists tend to live longer too—by about two years—and take 15 percent fewer sick days than their non-cyclist compatriots.

“The bikes are a positive reinforcement to a thriving healthy workforce,” says a Senior Learning Consultant. “Seeing people ride them makes you smile.”

KP’s Approach to a Thriving Workforce

Kaiser Permanente surveyed Pleasanton employees on what amenities would make their work lives better and found that bikeshare topped the list. So in spring of 2013, leaders at KP turned to Bikes Make Life Better to come up with a custom approach.

The program launched last August and employees were able to enjoying a fleet of 25 custom dutch-style bikes they could easily check out of the health center. Each “IThrive” bike comes complete with a helmet and lock.

Kaiser bikes

Some employees opted to pedal the newly opened section of the Iron Horse Regional Trail that runs through the Pleasanton campus.

The result? All employees surveyed agreed the campus bikes are a worthwhile amenity. Ninety-five percent think the bikes offer a nice break during the day.

“These bikes are a fun, healthy way to relieve work related stress,” says an executive assistant at the Pleasanton campus, “and great for small teambuilding meetings as well as running errands at lunch time.”

 

When it comes to employee health and wellness, it’s nice to know Kaiser Permanente is leading the way.

Want to start bikeshare at your company? Bikes Make Life Better is dedicated to helping large organizations use bikes for healthy sustainable transportation. They’ve helped Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn, Lucky Brand, Williams-Sonoma, and many others.

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