Session topic: Bike Commute Incentives

As we consider plans for returning to our worksites (even if it’s well into 2021), we’re all worried about a backslide to SOV commuting. Bike commuting can be a great alternative for many. So, how do we help incentivize employees to ride? And will the same strategies used pre-COVID have the same effects post pandemic? We had an enlightening conversation about incentives at the last session of our 2020 Bike Forum Conversations series – don’t worry, we’ll be back in 2021 with more Conversations!

Read the Takeaways from this session

Creative Solutions 

Companies and universities bring diverse incentive strategies to the table. Some focus on creating larger groups while others make it more individualized.

  • Stanford has a “commute club” with 12,000 members. This is a successful legacy program (has been around for 20 years). After students and staff join they are eligible to  receive incentives like cashouts, credits for bikes/gear, and subsidized bike purchases. The club aspect emphasizes a mentality of “we’re all in this together”.  
  • Being in this together means everyone and that includes leadership. Nike has taken away designated parking spots from upper management and encourages them to bike, while Nintendo has convinced some of their leadership to become bike ambassadors!
  • Amazon is piloting individual ebike subscriptions through VanMoof, which is a newer European company that lends ebikes to employees for a monthly subscription. The lending program comes with services like bike maintenance and theft retrieval. If employees want to purchase a bike, VanMoof offers discounts.

Cash Incentives

Do cash incentives work? There are arguments on both sides which we heard during our conversation.

  • Google Seattle offers daily cash incentives for using any non-SOV mode. While they saw a positive mode shift with biking, they are reluctant to contribute it to cash incentives. This is because they took a survey of riders who said that they would commute by bike whether or not they had a cash incentive.     
  • Sometimes it is effective to subsidize benefits or offer cash in the beginning and then remove the subsidy once it reaches critical mass. Nike offered free electric vehicle parking when it was first installed, but now that it’s so popular, they can charge for it.  
  • Credits for internal use (company store, cafeterias, etc) and virtual badges are effective alternatives to cash. 
  • The City of Austin offers PTO incentives which employees seem to like, even more than cash.

Incentives through Infrastructure

Nothing says “bike to the office” like good facilities. There is an argument that investing in end-of-trip infrastructure is a top incentive. 

  • In the Seattle area where rain is a fact of life, many companies find that comfortable end-of-trip facilities are a necessity to incentivize year-round bike commuting. 
    • Nintendo created lockers with built-in drying.
    • Microsoft has drying closets for wet clothes.
    • Facebook (Seattle) installed “marine quality” drying racks that utilize venting and heating systems to rapidly dry clothing. Imagine putting on warm gloves and shoes for the cold, rainy bike ride home!   
    • Google Seattle has a bike wash station for those muddy days.
  • Nike strategically placed bike parking by building entrances, sending the message that biking is the most convenient way to arrive at work. 
  • Having robust bike facilities helps to incentivize all workers and that includes contractors who aren’t able to enjoy the other company benefits that are often exclusive to full time employees.  

Virtual Engagement

The current challenge is to keep people motivated while at home. Transportation managers have found creative ways to engage people virtually to keep biking top of mind.

  • Stanford has had record participation with educational webinars. Topics include beginner riding, bike maintenance, and road safety among others.  
  • Google (Seattle) offers badges for completing various challenges or activities. Employees love the badges, especially since they are used in a “collect-them-all” gamification program. Badges earn people credits that they can spend on bike gear. 

Tracking

Since tracking one’s commute is the key to providing incentives, employers need a reliable system. There are a number of good options, including platforms (like Luum or RideAmigos), Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) systems (like Dero Zap) or through a home-grown, internal solution. The session attendees brought a diverse range of expertise to this subject. 

  • Stanford uses a self-reporting system. To help make sure the honor system works, staff checks whether or not bike riders have purchased a parking permit.
  • T-Mobile has employees virtually log their bike trips. Their system is designed to disallow bike trip logging if they also swiped for a parking event. 
  • Tesla uses DeroZap for logging bike trips. The employee puts an RFID tag on their bike wheel, which is read by the DeroZap scanner, mounted in areas where bikes enter the property. The issue with this system is scalability. It is harder to manage at large campuses with many bike entrances.      
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation uses Luum for tracking, requiring people to self report. They have used it for years and have not found any abuse.

ATTENDEES

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Genentech
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Nike
  • Stanford
  • T-Mobile
  • Tableau
  • UC Berkeley
  • UC San Diego
  • Western Washington University

Resources:

  • Bikes Make Life Better has an Employee Incentives Page offering creative solutions and strategies for the benefit of both companies and universities.
  • Stanford has an award winning TDM program that received special recognition for promoting alternative commute modes when opening their Redwood City campus. Check out some of the highlights of the program that offer incentive-focused best practices here.
  • The Alta Planning + Design Behavioral Insights Team published a report entitled: Applying Behavioral Insights to Transportation Demand Management. Portions of the report offer proven incentive strategies. The entire report is worth a read but we recommend starting with pages: 16, 20 and 29.

 

Session topic: E-Bikes

E-Bikes are all the rage these days. Sales are through the roof, bikeshare systems are adding more e-bikes to their fleets, and employee demand is growing. This rising demand necessitates smart planning on the employer’s side (often requiring more planning than what it takes for pedal powered bikes). This week’s conversation revolved around how employers can meet this demand and embrace the mainstreaming of electric bikes. Read the Takeaways from this session

E-Bikeshare and Loaner Programs

The rise in e-bikes comes with the rise in innovative e-bike business. Employers are looking into these new companies that offer e-bikes and e-bike services.

  • VanMoof is a Dutch company that is expanding their market to the west coast. They offer e-bikes on loan in addition to complimentary services such as bike theft retrieval and repairs. Google uses them for intercampus travel. 
  • Salesforce and Rubrik partner with Rad Power Bikes. Rubrik bought a fleet of Rad bikes for an e-bike loaner program (Rad offers a volume discount program if a company wants to purchase a certain number of bikes). This program comes with worksite demo days where Rad offers additional discounts for employee bike purchases. Rad also has a partnership with Velofix for mobile repair services.
  • Swiftmile runs Tesla’s e-bike loaner program which has directly translated to employee e-bike purchases.
  • Riide is an e-bike company that runs a lease-to-own e-bike, offering monthly payments.     
  • Nike did an e-bike loaner program pilot with 24 bikes to see if people were interested. Everyone wanted to keep the bikes by the end! 
  • T-Mobile wants to use e-bikes as an intercampus travel solution because it will be cheaper than a shuttle system and help to reduce emissions and congestion. 
  • Bikes Make Life Better is working with multiple vendors to develop new options for e-bike fleets, parking, charging and other aspects of corporate e-bike programs.

Parking

E-Bikes make bike parking more complicated, requiring charging and larger parking spaces. These challenges necessitate new thinking around bike room layouts and facility accessibility.

  • Facebook mandates that their bike parking areas include outlets for 40% of the parking spots. Google mandates 25%. 
  • Doorways are an important accessibility factor for e-bikes. Since e-bikes are often longer and less maneuverable than regular bikes (especially dealing with cargo bikes), it is important to accommodate them. If you use double doors, be sure to account for the linear foot needs of larger bikes and door timing to allow cyclists to get through both doors without hindrance. The ideal scenario is adding an automatic push button (can also double as an ADA button). Commuters can kick the button with their foot to open both doors. It is also important to consider this for the entire route from outside of the building to the bike room. 
  • E-Bikes (especially the larger, heavier ones) are harder to park in normal bike parking areas, either because of space constraints or the inability to lift the bikes. Saris makes cargo bike-specific racks (essentially elongated U racks) that offer good stability for larger bikes (especially cargo bikes).  
  • Security is a vital factor. The more secure the parking is, the more employees will want to use it. This is especially true for people with expensive e-bikes/cargo bikes. Badged bike rooms equipped with security cameras and lockable racks are ideal.  
  • It is vital to ensure that bike parking is included in the design process of a new or retrofitted building. When bike parking is an afterthought it leads to last minute, insufficient parking areas. Facebook mitigated this by updating building design guidelines to include bike parking in the building’s design phase. 

Company Incentives

Companies want to know how to incentivize their employees to either utilize their e-bike fleet or purchase the bikes. What creative ideas are employers using to entice their employees (especially during COVID)?

  • Intuit partners with Toward Route Zero to help promote discounts. 
  • Nike partners with local e-bike retailers in the Portland region to offer 10% discounts to their employees. 
  • Facebook finds it easier to entice employees to ride bikes by offering both bike sales and on-site repair. 
  • Salesforce does raffles and gift card giveaways to local bike shops. They have utilized gift cards more than physical giveaways during COVID (physical giveaways are better for in-person events like Bike to Work Day).
  • Google runs reward programs through their commute platform (i.e. RideAmigos, Luum, etc.).
  • Rubrik bought people their first helmet. They also offered a $20 per month stipend if you were a proven avid cyclist (this was run through their health and wellness program, Nadia). Employees also gain points for riding which they can redeem for prizes. 

Bike Tracking

The holy grail of collecting commuter data is being able to track bike commuters. Many companies struggle with the best way to achieve accurate bike counts. Luckily we had companies in our conversation who were able to share their workable solutions!

  • Google had a double scanning system in their garage where cyclists scanned their badge at the entrance to the garage and then again at the bike room. They eliminated the double scan process by building one scanner for cyclists to swipe, which connects to their commute platform to help organize the data. 
  • Tesla uses DeroZap, which is a tracking system that involves putting physical tags on commuter’s bikes and scanners in bike parking areas. Tesla set the program up so bike commuters can get their scanner from any of their reception areas. There they watch a one minute instructional video and then attach the scanner to their bike (usually their spokes). The DeroZap receivers are strategically placed around campus to track any commuters arriving. The entire process is easy to set up (it can be up and running in a week or two).  

ATTENDEES

  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Intuit
  • Nike
  • Portland State University
  • Rubrik
  • Salesforce
  • Stanford
  • T-Mobile
  • Tesla

Resources:

  • People for Bikes created a Business Intelligence Hub to track industry trends. There are places to filter for specific items, such as e-bike trends.
  • E-Bike types are separated into classes (1-3). These classes are increasingly being used to dictate legislation in states and jurisdictions. Wired offers a good breakdown of the bike classes. People for Bikes offers a state-by-state breakdown of their laws, separated by class.

 

Session topic: Remote (Virtual) Support of Bike Programs at Satellite Worksites

Companies and universities with transportation programs have traditionally catered to their headquarters and given less attention to their satellite locations. This paradigm is changing due to a greater demand for alternative transportation and the ability to positively impact employees everywhere with virtual support during work from home orders. This week’s conversation delved into ways to support all employees and campuses, from creative programming to strategic operations. Read the Takeaways from this session

Virtual Programming

Many transportation teams are wondering how best to keep their employees engaged and excited about bikes while working from home. This question prompted a lively discussion about creative solutions.

  • Moving programs online, like classes and other activities, has been successful for a number of companies. Facebook, Stanford and Stanford Research Park have experienced high turnout and low attrition with their bike education webinars, most likely because it’s easier to attend virtually than to show up at a specific location. In Facebook’s case employees are tuning in from around the world. 
  • Bike Bingo! This has been a huge success. Facebook launched a virtual “Bike Everywhere Month” campaign in September, highlighting Bingo among other activities. Each Bingo square is a simple activity, like biking to a landmark, or enrolling in a bike class. Anyone who got “Bingo” was entered into a raffle to win prizes. 
  • Google started a “bike at home” resource website for employees, which is integrated into a larger resource hub that includes other lifestyle interests like arts and cooking. 
  • Google’s most successful incentive for virtual engagement has been a “collect-them-all” badge program. They even got creative with their badges where each badge represents an Android pedaling on a long tandem bike. This incentivized the player to “complete” the tandem bike with all the Androids.
  • Google’s Seattle office is promoting bike safety by advertising the use of the new “stay healthy streets” in Seattle, where streets are blocked off to thru traffic. These are great places to practice riding safely. 
  • Affinity groups are still popular during COVID and a springboard for engagement. Zwift is popular at Facebook (worldwide), for road riding enthusiasts. This program allows users to hook up their in-home bike trainers to the program, create avatars and participate in virtual rides with their colleagues. 
  • Supporting a Bike Champions program during COVID is another good way to keep avid cyclists engaged and helping those newer to biking. Stanford Research Park has kept its program active with regular (virtual) meetings and communications. 
  • Prize giveaways tip: Many companies offer discount codes for their products, in lieu of physical prizes. Don’t hesitate to ask vendors for prizes since they benefit from the exposure.    

Bikeshare: Trials and Tribulations

We discussed Bikeshare at length during this conversation, because it offers a natural solution to creating connections between geographically close campuses. The challenges lie in the details…

  • UC San Diego had Spin manage their on campus bikeshare, offering discounts to faculty, staff and students. They have since moved to a combination of scooters and bikes (at a 2:1 ratio), which has served their campus well. However, Spin no longer offers bikes and only supports bikes at UCSD because of the contractual obligation.
  • Questions came up about which vendor companies can offer small, private bikeshare fleets/services for intercampus use. Swiftmile, an e-bikeshare company is one option. Linka Lock (GPS/lock combo) + a bike of your choice is another. Zagster, which ran private bikeshare until recently, has ended operations (although their scooter arm was acquired by Superpedestrian).
  • Rubrik, a company located in Stanford Research Park, hired a public bikeshare company to run operations, but this posed challenges with communication, especially with the Stanford Research Park transportation team. They were not aware of when the company would alter or end their operations, rendering them unreliable. 
  • The big question is whether to rely on a public bikeshare system or run your own. University of Washington ponders this question, as they are located in the middle of Seattle and rely on public bikeshare. One issue for them is geofencing: Where can bikes go and where can’t they go. They’re also tired of fishing errant bikes out of fountains or other sensitive areas on campus. Operating their own bikeshare system could help control geofencing, but they are also concerned about operating their own system, since bikeshare operations are a resource-heavy endeavor.  

Bikeshare Solutions

Some tips to consider when thinking about launching or improving a private bikeshare fleet.

  • GPS and locking systems benefit private bike share operations, helping to reduce fleet loss and boost security. The problem is that many of these companies are still startups and, as such, can be unreliable. Bikes Make Life Better has had to cycle through many companies that have gone under or could not handle changes in demand to update tech. 
  • It’s best to handle operations in a way that doesn’t take up your time as a transportation manager. Hiring staff to manage those operations or seeking an experienced vendor will open up your time to focus on the larger transportation issues. 
  • Bike shops are one potential solution since they have the knowledge and expertise, especially in fixing and building bikes, and could also help with rebalancing.      
  • E-Scooters are proving better than bikes from a regulatory standpoint, because their tech is more advanced to help regulate factors like speed and geofencing. 

ATTENDEES

  • Genentech
  • Google Seattle (Steer)
  • Nike
  • Stanford Research Park
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Washington

Resources:

  • Webinar: Tips from Facebook’s bike program on how to engage employees virtually. Watch the 30-min video and/or download the deck here.
  • Bikes Make Life Better blog: How to motivate employees at home and when they’re ready to return to work. Read it now!

 

Session topic: How to Plan and Budget in a COVID World

Corporate and university transportation budgeting and planning are particularly difficult right now, with many unknowns due to the pandemic. Key questions include: when will we return to campus and work sites? And, when we do, how many will drive? Answers to these questions greatly influence bike program budgets for the next fiscal year and beyond. We discussed these issues at length during this week’s Bike Forum Conversation. Read the Takeaways from this session

Program Funding

Where does a bike program’s funding come from and how has that funding been impacted by the pandemic?

  • Many universities’ alternative transportation programs are funded by parking fees. These have been drastically impacted by a shortage of students and staff on campus. With the return-to-campus dates pushed out to 2021, schools such as UC Berkeley are looking toward fiscal year 2022 for moving forward with programming. The challenge for the foreseeable future is forecasting virtual vs. in-person bike programming. UC Berkeley switched over to daily parking fees to bring back some of their lost revenue. 
  • Most corporate budgets do not rely on parking fees for funding. Intuit has proposed shifting some of its 2021 transportation budget from vanpools to bike programming, like a bike mentor program and swag incentives. Another challenge is the use-it-or-lose-it school of budgeting. If budgets aren’t used now, due to the pandemic, will they be harder to justify and secure in future years? 

Justification of Need

A changing workplace dynamic may alter the course of a bike program. Will bikes fill a different need than they did pre-pandemic? This could affect how to make a budgeting case to decision makers. 

  • Many are trying to figure out what the need is going forward. Prior to the pandemic, bike programs answered the “parking problem” or the “commuter retention problem” but that could change post-pandemic. Many companies don’t anticipate having parking capacity challenges in the near term, with less than 100% of the workforce returning next year.   
  • Allocating funding to bike programs can be easier because they are often less expensive than other transportation programs. They’re also a great solution for those who live within a bike commutable distance when other transportation options are so limited. Yet, bike programming and support don’t impact as large of a percentage of the workforce. 
  • There is a challenge to convince leadership of the long-term positive effects of bike programming and the need to maintain their bike budget in the short term so as not to lose momentum. One important method is to show how long it takes to get a program to its current rate of success (four years for Stanford Research Park, for example). Taking away funding could hurt all of the gains the program has made, and require more funding down the road to bring it back to where it was pre-pandemic. We don’t want to have to start over again! 
  • There is an argument to be made that even though less than 100% of the workforce will return, there will still be a strain on parking demand if a high percentage of the returning workforce ends up driving. This must be avoided. 
  • Budgeting for additional staff can also be challenging right now. One solution is to hire contractors instead of employees because they offer more flexibility and the ability to scale the workload up or down throughout the year. Stanford Research Park and Stanford both use this method and Intuit has proposed this for 2021.
  • UC Berkeley hires paid interns to help the Transportation team.
  • Data is the “holy grail” to help make the business case and to justify budgets. This is a challenge during work from home, although virtual bike programming (like webinars and remote 1:1 support) have shown strong numbers. The key is to make the case that implementing virtual bike support now, where you help to change and establish a new behavior, should translate to higher bike commute rates upon return to the office. 
  • It’s also useful to focus on the core benefits of biking. Reminding upper management about sustainability, wellness and equity can help justify your bike program, especially now, as we face the serious effects of a climate crisis, pandemic and systemic racism. 

Other Topics Discussed

Targeting Potential Cyclists 

How can virtual programming and targeting those most likely to bike commute translate to more biking when we return to the office? 

  • Stanford’s bike education webinars have been well-received and well attended. However, the webinar attendance has started to slip, so they’re now considering the next step: reaching out to webinar attendees to help them, wherever they may be in the process of becoming bike commuters (e.g. buying a bike, starting to do rides, etc.).    
  • Nike conducted an e-bike pilot and is now going back to the nearly 300 people who wanted to participate to identify those employees who live relatively close to campus and would likely continue to use an e-bike for commuting (potentially starting an e-bike loaner program, or an e-bike store). 

Looking Externally

The public sector and TMAs can have a positive impact on a company or university’s bike commute initiatives. And now seems to be a good time for collaboration.

  • Contra Costa County offers $150 rebates on e-bike purchases. In addition, there are companies that now provide financing for e-bikes, offering companies a low to no budget suggested solution for their employees who want to try e-bikes but cannot afford to buy one outright. While these initiatives need to expand, they’re a solid start to potential car replacement.
  • Nike is working with the city/county on identifying bicycle network gaps that could positively impact Nike’s employee bike commuters. They are also working with the local TMA to look at access to shared destinations. It’s beneficial for companies to work with the public sector on these projects, maybe even an opportunity to spend capital. This can improve the community at large, as well as your employees’ commutes. 
  • UC Berkeley’s Transportation Team is working with the university’s city planning department to help create an updated bike plan.

ATTENDEES

  • Adidas
  • Apple
  • Intuit
  • Nike
  • Stanford University
  • Stanford Research Park
  • University of California, Berkeley

 

Session topic: Shared Bikes or Bike Fleets (Campus, Loaner, Intern, Municipal bike share)

There are many factors when considering bike share for your company. Should you create and run a private fleet or rely on a local public fleet? When should you scale up? What about liability and theft? Are scooters a viable option? These were some of the interesting topics discussed in this week’s Bike Forum Conversation. Read the Takeaways from this session

Growth

  • What is the right type of bike share system that will work best for your company’s work environment? When is a good time to grow a fleet or utilize a private fleet versus public?
  • Is it better to outsource your private fleet to be run by one of the private mobility companies, or run your own fleet? Google tried to outsource one of their fleets to a public share company but ran into many issues including onboarding and billing. Eventually they found it cheaper to run their own fleet.
  • The pendulum has swung back in favor of private bike share for large organizations and campuses as public systems suffer in the covid era.
  • Public bike shares, and the companies behind them such as Lyft and Uber, are not organized to work with corporations and their specific needs.
  • Relying on a company like Lime, for example, might require that scooters are a part of the package.
  • When you’re analyzing and comparing cost, it is important to calculate cost-per-ride and cost-per-participant.

Regional bike share

  • How to look at bike share within the context of your company versus the larger regional impact that bike share could make for your employees and the community at large?
  • Genentech’s campus is located in an office park in South San Francisco, CA. Does it make sense to invest in a private bike share in coordination with surrounding companies?
  • Nike is located in Beaverton, OR, which is roughly twelve miles from Portland. While they would ideally like to integrate their private bike fleet into Portland’s bike share system (Biketown), this poses many challenges including accessibility, co-branding, technology integration, operations, and contractual and municipal policy logistics.
  • What’s the best way to create regional bike share? What if a city, county or Metropolitan Planning Organization (Like MTC) runs it? If bike share was treated similar to transit (subsidized, tax funded, etc.), that could open it up to a wider audience and inevitably help a company’s employees commute regionally.
  • Private bike share isn’t as important for urban campuses if the city already has a robust public bike share system.

E-Bikes

  • How can e-bikes be integrated into a fleet? What are the pros and cons?
  • E-Bikes can be 2x more expensive than running a regular bike.
  • E-Bikes have the potential to increase the bike commute shed by a significant amount, allowing many more employees to realistically commute by bike. (From 6 miles to 10.)
  • It’s less practical to include e-bikes in a campus bike fleet (for intercampus use) but e-bikes really shine when it comes to commuting.
  • They are catching on quick. At Tesla prior to their e-bike loaner pilot there were only a couple e-bike riders. Since the pilot there are sometimes as many as 100 e-bikes per day. Nike has been piloting an e-bike commute program to collect data and almost 300 employees signed up to volunteer.
  • E-Bike loaner fleets are a great way to expose people to fast bikes for commuting.

Bike Loss and Theft

  • Certain private campus bike fleets (like Google in Mountain View, CA and Facebook in Menlo Park, Ca) are free to use, have no automatic locking mechanisms, and can be accessed by the public. How can theft and loss be minimized in this scenario?
  • GPS tracking is used by putting transmitters on every bike and tracking them. Staff can then monitor the location of their entire fleet (in real time) and track down any errant bikes.
  • On-bike locking systems have also proven effective. Linka is a promising brand BMLB is working with for both bikes and scooters.

Liability with Private Fleets

  • Risk assessment is a vital piece when considering owning a private bike share fleet.
  • Many insurance providers put e-bikes in a separate category than regular bikes (e-bikes are more expensive). E-Scooters are generally put in the same risk category as e-bikes.
  • Since companies like Google and Facebook have hop on/hop off bike share systems, they have developed risk mitigation plans. Whenever Google retrieves a stolen bike, it gets put through a checklist process to ensure that every aspect of the bike is in working order before putting it back into circulation.
  • Educating employees on how to ride (whether it be a regular bike, e-bike or scooter) is important for risk mitigation. Create a safe riding marketing campaign for employees. Google conducts a required 30-minute class before employees can borrow a loaner e-bike. There they learn how to safely operate it from a professional and are able to get any questions answered.
  • EHS departments can be a partner in an assessment of campus safety for bike and scooter fleets.
  • Google also sees their campus bike share as a scope of their business. Therefore when someone is hurt, they are covered under worker’s compensation.
  • On the other hand, a loaner bike fleet is not covered. The employee must sign a waiver accepting the risk of borrowing a bike and bringing it home with them. Bottom line: the company needs to spell out what they cover versus what the employee is responsible for.
  • Lime conducts safety demos at companies. They build a closed course to teach employees how to ride their scooters.

Scooters

  • Are e-scooters (whether they be a private or public fleet) a reasonable option?
  • Many public fleets that had bikes are shifting to e-scooters (Lime logs about six e-scooter trips for every one of their bike trips).
  • Local helmet laws can be a hindrance to e-scooters (like in Oregon).
  • Many cities that started with bikes (such as San Diego) have switched to e-scooters.
  • E-Scooter technology is still considered unsafe in many respects (comparably to bikes). Although as mentioned before, from a risk assessment perspective, they are on the same level as e-bikes. That being said, many attendees agreed that they are optimistic that e-scooter safety technology is improving. Some companies like Superpedestrian are focusing on safety.

ATTENDEES

  • Adidas
  • Apple
  • BAE Systems
  • Facebook
  • Genentech
  • Google
  • Nike
  • Portland State University
  • Stanford
  • Steer
  • Walton Enterprises

 

Session topic: Re-entry bike facility safety plans (parking/showers/lockers)

Are employers ready for their employees to bike back to the office? Many employers are grappling with important questions such as: How can cyclists safely park their bikes or clean up and change clothes after riding, given the challenges of mitigating virus transmission? This session explored these questions and the creative solutions (or workarounds) that employers are utilizing to maintain safety within their facilities. Read the Takeaways from this session

Shower and locker areas 

How do we deal with shower and locker rooms? These places are seen as problematic and are perceived to have a higher probability of virus spread. 

  • Employers/Property Managers often close workout facilities, taking away cyclists’ access to showers.
  • Limit shower facilities to bike commuters only.
  • Implement a sign up form for shower/locker use. This will help with safety/organization, and will double as a good place of record in case there is an issue with someone becoming infected.
  • Assign lockers to individuals. E-lockers are helpful for this. Create either a day use or long term use plan for better safety.
  • Provide employees with sanitary wipes and develop a regular clean towel rotation.
  • Creating safer and more sanitized locker room and shower areas during COVID should continue post-COVID to make these areas more appealing places to be!
  • E-Bikes are a good solution to not arrive to work as sweaty as a regular bike, thereby lessening the demand on shower/changing facilities. But make sure that there is sufficient e-bike parking (with extra space for larger/heavier bikes and chargers).


Communication

Employers need to create a solid communication plan for employees returning to work and for employees who are already back.

  • Employers expecting bike-commute increases are developing communication strategies to help people–especially new riders. This includes ambassador programs to assist/educate people on things like routing and bike maintenance. 
  • Create a standardized communication toolkit. This can include downloadable posters and other materials for any administrator on a corporate or university campus. This allows for uniform and consistent communication. 
  • Communication is important with both employees and property managers. Coordinate with property managers on employee communications.

TAKEAWAYS TANGENTIALLY RELATED TO FACILITY SAFETY

Recreation > Commuting

Will an increase in recreational bike use translate to an increase in commuting when people return to the office?

  • Employers who have a small percentage of their workforce currently back in the office are seeing a relatively similar mode share percentage of cyclists vs other modes as they did pre-COVID. 
  • Employers in urban areas (like NYC and Seattle) are anticipating increases in ridership as people come back to work, while employers in suburban areas have a more conservative outlook. Much of this is likely due to the lack of, or aversion to, transit, which will affect people in dense areas (who live close to work) vs people who take transit long distances to commute to suburban campuses. 

Bike Loaner Programs

Companies like Google and Rubrik have programs to loan bikes, e-bikes or e-scooters to employees.

  • This has worked well during COVID, to lend a company’s idle fleet to employees working from home. It’s also helpful during a universal bike supply shortage. 

Other important takeaways

  • It is important to continue to invest in bikes because influencing mode share is a long-term challenge. Transportation teams need to make sure that they are not just looking at their bike programs in the context of the short-term environment, because bikes will continue to play an important role in the transportation landscape well after COVID is behind us. It’s the right thing to do!
  • The current “fear of transit” landscape will ease as COVID (eventually) moves into the rearview. We need to be ready for that, including ensuring that bikes are part of the first mile/last mile equation.
  • There less concern regarding parking capacity issues because many employers are going to be implementing a phased re-entry process.   

Resources and links

Bikes Make Life Better developed a bicycle facility re-entry guidelines document that can be used to generate further ideas. Download a copy here. *Note that the guidelines were recently updated so even if you have downloaded the guidelines in the past, we recommend you download them again.

ATTENDEES

  • Adidas
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Nike
  • Rubrik
  • Stanford
  • Stanford Research Park
  • Steer
  • Tableau
  • T-Mobile
  • Warner Bros.
  • Western Washington University

 

Session topic: Supporting your employees now so that they bike back to work when your workplace re-opens

Many of us remember how fun it was to ride our bikes as kids. Could that impact how we think about biking – and if we’re open to riding – as adults? Studies show that the way an individual feels about bicycling – the degree to which they like it – is an important predictor of whether or not they ride. But why do some people like bicycling and others don’t? Read the Takeaways from this session

Engagement is still happening.

It’s valuable to keep engaging bicyclists and potential bicyclists even when many are still working from home.

  • Keep affinity groups engaged ― like Bicycle Champions or Women on Wheels ― is important. Because it could be a year before we see these groups again in-person, and we’d like to keep them functioning until in-person programs are ready to relaunch.
  • Bike encouragement efforts are important. Many attending companies and universities have some sort of ongoing bike encouragement efforts (some for fitness or family-related) and something like a “bike anywhere” challenge. These are a good reason to send people regular news and updates so they stay engaged. Weekly challenges can vary from competition-based to goofy!
  • Use this time to identify potential bike commuters (who live within 0 – 10 miles of work), and then work with HR to segment lists to create target messages to support those who have the greatest likelihood of bike commuting upon return to the workplace.


We’re getting creative.

The pandemic itself and budget cuts have forced us to find alternative and creative ways to engage. Here are collected ideas:

  • The Morning “Commute” — Apple encourages its employees to get out for a quick (15 minute) morning or early evening ride, just to get them into the habit of getting on bikes during commute time (and to get some fresh air and/or exercise). You can also suggest that prospective bicycle commuters practice their commutes by riding to their worksites when there is little traffic and no early morning meetings to stress over. Riding in the morning may help prospective commuters form a habit. Then they will ride to work once worksites reopen because they want to maintain that “AM bike buzz.”
  • Route Creation for new riders! Cater to their specific routing needs, including any plans to combine their bike ride with transit.
  • “Bike from Home” campaign. Google created an entire website dedicated to the “bike at home” effort.
  • Create a bike mentorship or bike ambassador program. It’s a great way to engage your avid cyclists while they’re still working from home and most likely actively riding, and it supports the people who’ve taken up bikes!
  • Try a “bike with your dog” campaign where everyone posts photos to keep people engaged from home.
  • Create a bike bingo game, where each square on the bingo card requires a fun but doable bike-related task e.g. “Take a photo of your bike parked in front of an ice cream shop.”
  • Offer or coordinate mobile bike repair services (contactless, safe during COVID-19).
  • Create a bicycle COVID resource page, complete with bike movie resources & book resources.
  • Conduct webinars. Interest in Stanford’s webinars has exploded during WorkFromHome. (see the link below)
  • Promote riding with family/kids as another way to get/keep people using their bikes.

There are benefits and new opportunities when employees and students are away.

Here are some of those benefits:

  • Some organizations have seen a decrease in the cost of providing transit passes, with fewer folks traveling to work and campus every day.
  • Some organizations are experiencing budget cuts, which hurts aspects of their transportation programs.
  • A few orgs have found that now is the time to make changes to their physical spaces, such as bike parking.
  • In some cases, capital projects are moving along faster than before COVID due to empty buildings and campuses. The construction process is expedited without tens of thousands of students or employees in place. 
    • The University of Washington reports that capital projects have been moving along much more quickly since they aren’t “concerned about avoiding sophomores with a crane.” (lol) UW has engaged the ADA office, and is working on campus improvements, so students, faculty, and staff can enjoy those improvements when they return.
  • Stanford’s facilities team has a small cadre of employees (safely) on campus responding to requests or issues and making bike improvements.
  • UC Berkeley partnered with the Public Affairs office on communications related to the fluid situation with fall semester. The transportation team there let students, faculty, and staff know about program changes and administered two surveys to gauge access to and interest in transportation options.

We’re wondering how to address diversity and inclusion in bike programs.

UC Berkeley suggests removing the “enforcement” component from your bike program, since that’s a big challenge facing black and brown communities. Before COVID, UC Berkeley was about to receive two grants to help first generation students get around on campus by buying them helmets, and having them do bicycle education with the East Bay Bicycle Coalition (local bicycle coalition). Unfortunately that got pulled for this semester, but UC Berkeley is dedicated to the outcome: To have more students involved with biking, especially with those who are new to bikes.


Resources and links:

Here are resources shared in the chat during the session:


ATTENDEES

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Genentech
  • Google
  • Intuit
  • Nike
  • Portland State University
  • Salesforce
  • Stanford Research Park
  • Stanford University
  • University California, Berkeley
  • University of Washington

 

Bikes Make Life Better is dedicated to helping employees at large organizations use bikes for healthy sustainable transportation. They’ve helped design bike programs, facilities, and fleets for Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Netflix, Stanford, Uber and others.