It’s a hybrid world; where do bikes fit?

We’ve all heard that work will be different from now on: Flexible schedules; a blend of onsite and work-from-home (WFH) days per week; or, in some cases, total annihilation of the physical office. And as transportation professionals, we’re all anxious to know how this new work frontier will affect the commute.

But maybe a more important question, and one we’ve been mulling over collectively at Bikes Make Life Better, is how will this affect life? And then, where do bikes fit?

For example, during shelter-in-place, we learned that it was important to support employees’ bike habits even when they weren’t riding for the commute. With options for little else, biking provided respite from a scary pandemic and a way to interact with the world in a safe way. Some employers created initiatives to help employees ride even when they were working from home full time to keep them engaged and to support their mental and physical health (Facebook gives us many good examples of how to do this).

We still care about the commute, but the need to broaden our bike program and offerings is clear. Below we’ve outlined areas of focus for bikes in a hybrid work world.

Cater to New Riders

Many began biking in 2020, and they’ll likely need some “programmatic training wheels.” PeopleForBikes, the national bike advocacy organization, reported survey findings showing that “during the COVID-19 pandemic, 10% of American adults engaged with bicycling in a new way” and the majority of those new to riding “plan to continue riding at least once per week in the coming year.” So make sure these new riders can tap into bike incentives, amenities, and a workplace culture that is friendly to bikes. Ideas: Offer Bike Commute 101 classes; pair new riders with a more experienced buddy; make sure you have enough secure and safe bike parking; and reward those who commute.

Offer Virtual Bike Education and Remote Help

Virtual bike programming (like webinars and remote 1:1 support) have shown strong numbers with our clients while employees were WFH. 

Since spring 2020, our bike staff have been doing video consultations for employees, covering everything from general routing support; to troubleshooting an indoor trainer set up; to helping an employee with their mountain bike build (over several sessions…phew!)

We’ve found that virtual bike classes are a low stress way for employees to engage with us, since they don’t require a commute or much interaction (many attend classes with their camera’s off). And if you don’t have the bandwidth to provide classes on a regular basis, tap into virtual bike classes hosted by your local bike coalition. Or, consider recording classes for an on-demand library.

If you’re looking to start your own Bike EDU series, here are some of the most popular classes we’ve run at our clients: Bike Buying 101; Where to Ride (a webinar on popular local trails and routes); and All About E-Bikes. Or check out the entire video catalog we produced for Stanford University.

Virtual programming has allowed our clients to reach new audiences, especially for global companies with remote offices whose workers could tune into content or request help in ways they couldn’t prior to the pandemic.

A virtual Bike Buying class.

Create a Community with In-Person Engagement, But…

Creating a community of bike riders who identify as such is a much stronger approach to behavior change than simply promoting biking as a transportation option. This is, admittedly, hard to pull off. But here are some ideas:

  • Make biking part of your corporate culture. Does the CEO bike? How about senior leadership? How about you?
  • Give bikers nice places to stash their bikes.
  • Incorporate bicycle aesthetics or art into your building designs.
  • Open a workplace bike shop/gathering space.

Create a Bicycle Champions group to spearhead bike policies, events, and culture.

…Also Get an Avatar

We’ve had success offering virtual social bike rides on the platform Zwift. It’s especially effective at building a new audience. At one of our clients, weekly Zwift rides have attracted participants from all over the globe and employees enjoy meeting their fellow bike nerds from other cities.

Facebook offers weekly Zwift social rides; employees from all over the world participate.

Offer Bike Repairs or Subsidies

Having a working bike is essential for any kind of riding, and free or subsidized repairs are very popular with employees. For complex repairs, we recommend trying velofix, a mobile bike repair service that operates nationwide. Housecalls are a huge part of their business, and they’ll have the parts and tools needed to get folks rolling. Another option is to send them to their local shop.

A recent mobile bike repair event at Tesla.

Bikes Make Life Better is dedicated to helping employees at large organizations use bikes for healthy sustainable transportation. We’ve designed bike programs, facilities, and fleets for Airbnb, Facebook, Kaiser Permanente, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Netflix, Salesforce, Stanford, Walmart and others.