What is a bicycle friendly business?

According to the League of American Cyclists, a Bicycle Friendly Business (BFB) is a corporation, organization, association, government agency, or non-profit that actively promotes bicycling for transportation, recreation, exercise, and sport.

Whether you’re motivated to cut down on energy costs and lessen the number of kilometres covered by your employees or looking to attract the type of customer who requires somewhere to park their two-wheeler, creating a bike friendly business is a great and low-cost option to help promote energy-efficient and sustainable practices in the workplace.

No matter the industry, here are a few tips that take into consideration the needs of both the customer and members of your staff and will help get your business set-up as a bike (and biker) friendly place to be!

Ten tips to becoming a bike friendly business

Building on some great advice shared by Green Biz and the City of Toronto, we’ve created ten tips for making your business a bike friendly one:

  1. Install the right infrastructure: There’s nothing worse than biking to a restaurant downtown Toronto to discover a serious lack of bike racks nearby. Lack of infrastructure is a sure-fire way to lose customers and turn staff members off the idea of peddling to work. Install bike racks near your office space, retail space or restaurant, or designate specific parking spots for members of staff who arrive on two wheels instead of four. Did you know that businesses can request free Post & Ring bike racks on City property? Call the City at 416-392-9253 for more information.
  2. Offer employees to chance to clean-up! If you’re businesses has access to shower facilities on-site, offer employees the opportunity to rinse off before they start their shift. Many people are dissuaded from biking to work because they have no way to clean up upon arrival. Offering your employees a place to freshen up may push them to take to the streets and forego jumping behind the wheel of that gas guzzling SUV.
  3. Provide lockers: If you want employees to bike to work, they’re going to need somewhere to store their sweaty outfits, helmet, bike lock etc. Offer employees a safe place to store their green gear until it’s time to head home.
  4. Create employee incentive and rewards programs: Get your staff revved up to ride by offering them incentives like time-off, an extra day of vacation, a free lunch or simply a coffee on you! If you can’t afford to do this all year round, consider focusing incentive programs during “National Bicycle Month” or use “Bike to Work Day” as a kick-starter for a contest between employees. Another motivator is to subsidize the costs of people who choose to ride by paying off a percentage of their bike or biking equipment fees.
  5. Educate your staff about the benefits of biking to work:  Provide workshops about how biking to work can help lower emissions, better our planet and improve employee health. If people know why they’re doing something, it’s much more likely they’ll opt to partake. Call the Bicycle Promotions Office at 416-392-7592 to arrange a special seminar or course on safe and effective cycling, or to get more tips on integrating cycling.
  6. Lead by example: Remember that leadership comes from the top! If you’re not biking to work, it’s likely our employees won’t either. Try biking a few days a week and foregoing the comfort of driving in a cushiony car, coffee in hand. You’ll feel great and you may just start seeing a change in staff behaviour. Trickledown effect? I think so.
  7. Deliver by bike: If your business makes deliveries at all (or is continually picking things up), consider doing so by bike! If the cargo is too big, grab a trailer that can easily be attached to the back of a bike and ride on!
  8. Guarantee an emergency ride home: In case of family emergency, torrential weather, or unexpected alien landings, reassure your staff members that a ride home will be provided, at no additional cost. This will make employees much more comfortable riding to work, especially those with young children who may have to be picked up in the middle of the day.
  9. Install a camera: Toronto is the bike theft capital of North America, so it’s understandable if your employees, and customers, don’t want to leave their bikes just hanging around unattended. Install a camera somewhere where you have full view of bike racks and parking spots and help make the workspace a safer place for the eco-minded.
  10. PROMOTE YOUR COMMITMENT TO ENERGY SAVINGS! After you prep your business to be biker friendly, shout it out to everyone who will listen! This is great PR and an honest way to show the public that your company cares. If you think you’re ready, you can even check out the Bicycle Friendly Business Awards and see how your business competes against some of the best Toronto has to offer.

Is your business a bike friendly one? We’d love to hear about it! Tell us your story and we may just feature your business in an upcoming post!

image credit: fabbird1964