Building a Culture of Bicycle Commuting at your Workplace

World Resources Institute’s Innovative Active Commuting Program

Last year, World Resources Institute won goDCgo’s 2018 Ambassador Award for Bike-Friendliest Workplace for their active commuting program. Now in its second year, here’s why and how World Resources Institute’s summer commuter program makes their office one of the bike-friendliest workplaces in the region.

Align bicycle commuting with your organization’s values

World Resources Institute is a global research non-profit organization whose mission is to promote environmental sustainability, economic opportunity, human health and well-being across the globe. Sustainability is central to the World Resources Institute’s work. It was the first non-governmental organization to complete the Greenhouse Gas Inventory in 1999.

Then, through 2000-2010, WRI pushed organizations across the world to adopt their Greenhouse Gas Protocol which establishes a comprehensive, global, standardized framework for measuring and managing emissions from private and public sector operations, value chains, products, cities, and policies.

Anna Bray Sharpin of WRI’s Road Safety team connecting the organization’s work to their internal initiatives.

In 2010, WRI started to “walk the walk” and adopted their own Sustainability Initiative to implement culture changes and achieve zero carbon emissions by 2020.

The 2016 annual commuter survey results revealed significant opportunity to reduce carbon emissions through active commuting. The Sustainability Initiative at WRI used in-house expertise on topics like behavioral economics, cities, transportation, and mobility to launch a holistic bike program at WRI, and further the organization’s sustainability objectives.

Understand your organization’s unique challenges

To build an effective active commuting program, WRI established a comprehensive understanding of general behavior patterns around commuting, biking and walking for transportation, and the specific challenges their organization and staff faced.

WRI used data from their annual commuter survey that has had a 90% response rate among their 300+ DC-based staff to understand the unique staff commute patterns and interests. WRI used their commuter survey, thoughtful coworkers, and other data to answer some of the most important questions any organization needs to understand before implementing an active commuter program:

  1. How do your employees commute?
    • The survey showed relatively consistent transit mode share of 70% (Metro, VRE, MARC, and bus).
    • The survey identified a growing trend in the biking and walking at 14% of mode share!
  1. What commute incentives are there?
    • WRI worked with their benefits manager to learn that the staff in WRI’s DC office had several commute benefits available, including the pre-tax transit benefit and a $20 / month bicycle reimbursement.
    • WRI also learned that more than 200 staff used the transit pre-tax benefit and no one used the $20 / month bicycle reimbursement.
  1. What are the interests and limitations in biking and walking?
      • In WRI’s commuter survey, over 75 survey respondents noted an interest in biking for health and environmental reasons, but also a concern about safety and low comfort with biking.
      • WRI’s Road Safety team found that in the US, people have fairly low confidence bicycling compared to other countries.

Start small

In response to their research and the survey, WRI designed a 12-week summer bike program that not only incentivized biking but offered social support and training to increase confidence in city riding. WRI had three goals with their summer program:

        1. Get more people at WRI to bike,
        2. Encourage staff to help each other bike, and
        3. Increase biking confidence.

The bike commuter program included components to set social norms and garner enthusiasm:

  1. Subsidized Capital Bikeshare Memberships;
  2. A 12-week bike and walk commuting pledge (with data tracking) with prizes and events;
  3. An Everyday Biking Seminar with WABA over lunch;
  4. Bike maintenance workshops and free shared tools;
  5. A Bike Ambassadors program to pair new commuters with seasoned bicyclists;
  6. Weekly Bike Coffee Chats and ride-along happy hours; and
  7. Tours of bike amenities (showers, lockers, maintenance stand and tools, Capital Bikeshare stations, local bike resources, etc) for new and curious staff.

Measure, track, improve

World Resource Institute’s hosted an Everyday Biking Seminar for employees during lunch

The program was highly successful during its 12-week period in 2017. One hundred participants (approximately 50 staff riding more than they ever had and 50 serving as Bike Ambassadors) tracked weekly commute data. Data collected each week as part of the competition showed:

        • An increase in bike miles per person by 8%;
        • Increased rider confidence by 6%;
        • Reduced commute-related carbon emissions by 24% (accounting for 75 staff increasing their biking by 1-2 days from other modes); and
        • Resounding support for rider incentives, Bike Ambassadors, and route and gear recommendations.

Take the things that work and encourage them year-round

WRI used this entry period to help build confidence and establish habits. Even among those who already owned a bike or were already regular commuters, the program provided additional motivation and energy around biking.

Following the 12-week launch, the WRI Sustainability Initiative is maintaining many of the bicycle benefits and features, including the Capital Bikeshare memberships, Bike Ambassador pairings, and trainings and maintenance workshops throughout the year.

If you’re interested in learning more about WRI’s Sustainability Initiative, hosting a WABA Everyday Biking Seminar at your workplace, or have questions about how to make your business bike-friendly, contact business@waba.org.

Let’s Mingle: Summer WABA Member Mixer

Photo by Peter Hershey

Whether you became a WABA member 10 days or 10 years ago, every one of our 6,000+ members is passionate about WABA for a unique reason. What’s yours?

Join us on Wednesday, June 20th at Johnny Pistolas from 5:30pm-8:30pm and let’s mingle at our Summer WABA member mixer sponsored by car2go, our partner in safety, environmentalism, and the future of urban landscapes. Learn about the many ways WABA members connect with our work and each other.

The first round’s on us!

RSVP here!

Bike to Work Day Afterparties!

We can’t wait to see you on Friday morning! If you still haven’t signed up for Bike to Work Day, it’s not too late.

If you’re a morning person or not, the Bike to Work Day party doesn’t stop at 9am. Here are some great stops to consider on your afternoon ride:

Mellow Mushroom

Our friends in Adams Morgan are offering 10% of sales to WABA during happy hour! It’ll be one of your last chances to join or renew at a discounted $30, too!

5-7pm at 2436 18th St NW, Washington, DC.

Bar Roubaix

Join DC’s beloved bicycle bar for their Ride to Roubaix Afterparty for patio grilling, spring weather vibes, and DJ Retrospect spinning records all night starting at 5pm. As an added bonus, Bar Roubaix partnered with Bitburger to give away free beers to participants at select Bike to Work Day Pit stops. *Pro tip: the Columbia Heights pit stop (just a stone’s throw away from the bar) will have extra beer tickets on hand from 4-7pm.

And if you need another reason to join or renew your WABA membership, Bar Roubaix offers 10% off your tab if you’re a card-carrying WABA member, every day.

5-11pm at 1400 Irving St NW, Washington, DC.

New District Brewing Company

Just off the W&OD Trail, join our Bike Arlington friends for a beer and a screening of short films by and about the community.

4:30-6:30pm at 2709 S Oakland Street, Arlington VA

Get a Grip (Unlimited): Meet WABA’s newest business member

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach, and education. Our business members are committed to a creating a healthy, more livable region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today, meet Grip Unlimited.

WABA is thrilled to announce that Grip Unlimited is joining our network of bike-friendly businesses as a Local Leader business member. The DC-based Grip Unlimited makes expertly crafted ride and wear gear for the urban bicyclist.

Grip is the brainchild of CEO Paul Challan, who considers himself one of the least likely people to start a gear company centered around cycling—just a few years ago he couldn’t ride a bike!

In 2009, Challan signed up for Capital Bikeshare and taught himself how to ride (we’re just sorry he didn’t know about WABA’s Learn to Ride classes) in the back alleys of DC. Soon after, a friend offered to help Challan build his first bike: a sweet single speed made for the city streets.

When Challan’s u-lock holder broke, he couldn’t find anything that would hold his lock AND his essentials. Thoughtful, multi-functional design were at the top of his mind when Challan created the Grip Unlimited Frame Bag and tested his concept with a Kickstarter campaign. It was a success, and in April 2016, Challan launched Grip’s online store to offer an array of innovative bags that lighten your load.

All Grip Unlimited bags are designed in DC and made in the USA. They have a lifetime warranty and are made from premium, durable materials. Each bag is designed to quickly attach to the frame of your bike with no need for a rear bike rack or a basket.

Last year, Grip Unlimited was a sponsor of WABA in the Wild, and awarded its most popular commuter bag to one of last year’s top fundraisers who raised over $2,000 for WABA!

Grip Unlimited is proud to invest in WABA’s mission to make biking safer and more accessible to everyone. Challan hopes to amplify this message and get as many people biking as possible.

To learn more about Grip Unlimited, check out their story here and follow Grip on Instagram: @gripunlimitedbags.

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? Help show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

Celebrate Bike Month with business member Island Press

As the leading nonprofit publisher of books about the environment, Island Press supports WABA’s vision of making bicycling safer, easier, and more accessible and is a proud Leadership Level business member. And with a staff full of bicycling enthusiasts, we love to publish books that address our shared goals.

You may have read some of our recent bike-centric books, such as Bike Boom by Carlton Reid, Start-Up City by Gabe Klein (also the keynote speaker at the 2018 Vision Zero Summit!), and our newest biking book, Copenhagenize by Mikael Colville-Andersen.

Copenhagenize: The Definitive Guide to Global Bicycle Urbanism is a fun and visual guide to show cities how to effectively re-establish the bicycle as a respected, accepted, and feasible form of transportation. In his book, Mikael offers project descriptions and stories of best practices alongside beautiful photos to illustrate how to make the bicycle an easy, preferred part of everyday urban life.

“The first step in bicycle urbanism is to think bicycle first…We have been thinking car first for decades and that worked pretty well for motorists and the engineers who cater to them. Now it’s time to switch it up. It’s time to change the question.”

-Mikael Colville Andersen in Copenhagenize

Island Press will be celebrating Copenhagenize throughout May to celebrate bike month and our annual sweepstakes. This year, the grand prize is a trip for two to Washington, DC and two tickets to WABA’s annual 50 States and 13 Colonies Ride! The second place prize is a Fortified bike, and each week we’re giving away a Patagonia biking pack. We will also spotlight a different city with successful bicycle infrastructure alongside the work of local bike organizations on the ground. Enter the sweepstakes each week to increase your chances of winning and to see what city is next on our list!

Enter the sweepstakes by joining our newsletter and entering your zip code https://islandpress.org/bike.  If you’re ready to take a deeper dive into Mikael’s book, you can use the 25% off discount code BIKES to purchase it from the Island Press store. Also check out WABA’s events for more fun ways to enjoy Bike Month!

How to get your business ready for bike month

If you’re a hardcore commuter, every month is bike month. If you are not superwoman, then Bike Month is May.

In the DC region, May brings the promise of warm weather, and major DC biking events, like Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 18 and DC Bike Ride on Saturday, May 19.

What does Bike Month have to do with your business?

Bicycling can help your business decrease your healthcare costs, attract and retain top talent, energize employees, and draw more customers. The proof is in the pedaling:

  • Nationwide, bike commuting is on the rise. From 2004 to 2014, the number of people riding to work grew 64%!
  • DC is the #2 place to commute by bike in the nation, with 4.7% of commuters choosing to bike to work. (We’re coming for you Portland)!
  • According to a recent study published in the Harvard Health blog, bicycling to work lowers the risk of dying early by 40%, the risk of cancer by 45%, and the risk of heart disease by nearly 50%.
  • For retailers, People For Bikes reports better bicycling infrastructure results in increased foot traffic and retail value, and the average bicyclist spends more money on their daily route than the average car driver.

WABA is here to help you grow your business by connecting with bicyclists.

Here are six ways your business can get ready for Bike Month:

Encourage a customer or employee to learn to ride

Spread the joy of bicycling with those who don’t know how to ride and encourage a WABA Learn to Ride class! This class is for adults who have never ridden a bike before and want to start now.

Our technique is intuitive and has a very high success rate. Instructors take students through a progressive curriculum, with the goal of riding with two pedals by the end of the session. Registration includes a bike and helmet to borrow for the class. Share our Learn to Ride classes and encourage someone in your life to give bicycling a try.

Update your business’ bike amenities

According to People for Bikes, businesses that promote bicycling are more attractive to talented workers, and are better at retaining that talent. Something as simple as ample bike parking can encourage more people to enjoy your business by bike. Check out our blog post on how to get bike racks outside your business.

Simple upgrades to your workplace bike room can make a world of difference for commuters. Visit your neighborhood bike shop and add some affordable office amenities like tools to change a flat or make simple bike adjustments. If you’re ready to make an investment in employee satisfaction, provide indoor parking, showers, lockers, and toiletries. According to the Mid-Atlantic Universities Transportation Center, employees are less likely to bike to work if their employer provides free car parking, and more likely to ride if their employer provides bike parking and showers.

Celebrate Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 18

Join 20,000 bicyclists on your commute! On Friday, May 18, make the commitment to bike to work and encourage customers and employees to do the same! Visit as many of the of 100 pit stops in DC, Maryland, and Virginia and receive a free T-shirt, refreshments, and be entered into a raffle for a new bicycle. You can register for free here.

Create a team of employees or customers for DC Bike Ride

Riding together is great for team building, and can be a fun, inclusive way for coworkers to bond. On Saturday, May 19, you can join the region’s only closed-road, car-free, recreational bike ride for all ages (three and up) and all riding abilities. Create a team of employees or customers, and represent your business at the ride! You can see the course map and register for the event here.

Host an Everyday Biking Seminar at your business

Many businesses we work with know they have employees or customers who are interested in biking more, but they’re just not sure where to get started. WABA’s Everyday Biking Seminar is an hour-long presentation to introduce your employees to the basics of how to safely and easily fit biking into your daily life. It includes tips on:

  • Planning a good route
  • Understanding safe riding principles and rules of the road and trail
  • Carrying the things you need to carry
  • Whatever else you’d like to know about biking!

Become a WABA Business Member

The best way to encourage employees or customers to bike to your business is by having safer, more accessible bicycling infrastructure. Join now, and show your customers and employees you support better bicycling in our region. There are some great added benefits of being a business member, like a free Everyday Biking Seminar, and WABA Business Member Mixers.

BONUS: Join us at our Business Member Mixer!

We’ve just scratched the surface of the many ways your business can promote bicycling in Bike Month! Join WABA staff and fellow business members for WABA’s spring business member Mixer on Wednesday, May 9 at Bar Roubaix. Come enjoy a beer on New Belgium, meet fellow and prospective business members, and learn more about making your business bike friendly! RSVP and learn more here.

 

Takoma Bicycle gets a fresh look

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach, and education. Our business members are committed to a creating a healthy, more livable region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today, meet Takoma Bicycle.

You know how you feel when you’re cruising down a protected bike lane? Wind in your hair (through your helmet, of course), smile on your face, not a worry to be bothered by? It’s pretty magical, right? That’s the beauty of design. Much like the layout of a street, the layout of a bike shop has the power to create the same effect as that protected bike laneleaving you with a smile on your face, and ready to start riding.

Bike industry veteran and Takoma Bicycle owner Bruce Sawtelle, has been thinking about bike retail since running around his father’s Schwinn shops as a kid. Bruce’s dad implemented the innovative retail model of Schwinn with a clean, well-lit and organized sales floor, and exceptional customer service.

But since the Schwinn retail revolution of the 1960s, not much has changed for shops. To drive that improvement, Bruce sends employees to retail training sessions each year. And as a member of the National Bicycle Dealers Association Profitability Project (a bike retailer group), Bruce has visited stores across the country to experience the best of various retail models.

Since opening Takoma Bicycle in 2010, Bruce has focused on welcoming all types of riders, from the commuter and the casual weekend rider to kids and families. In the spirit of innovation, Bruce wanted his shop’s layout and design to reflect Takoma Bicycle’s focus on customer experience.

Bruce worked with award-winning retail designers at 3 Dots Design in November 2017 to remodel his store. Some highlights are the new e-bike display, a remodeled kids accessory area, bright apparel section, signs for merchandise categories to orient shoppers, a brand new well-lit fitting room, and storage room that brings hundreds of helmet boxes off the retail floor. New elements clean up the small space and invite customers to stay, chat, and shop.

Whether or not you appreciate the intricacies of bicycle retail, you can appreciate a great bike shop experience, and Takoma Bicycle is worth a visit. While you’re there, make sure you say hi to Bruce who continues his father’s legacy and services the families and commuters in the lovely Takoma Park community.

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? Help show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

Crystal City BID takes Bike to Work Day to the next level

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach, and education. Our business members are committed to a creating a healthy, more livable region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today, meet Crystal City Business Improvement District.

Beyond Bike to Work Day, how can businesses encourage more people to enjoy their business by bike? Longtime WABA Business Member Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) is a great place to look for inspiration.

For the eighth consecutive year, the Crystal City BID is taking its Bike to Work Day celebration to the next level by challenging local bicyclists to commute all week long! Every morning from May 14th to May 18th, bicyclists are invited to stop by the Crystal City Bike to Work Week pit stop at the Stand in the Crystal City Water Park for snacks, coffee, and good old-fashioned encouragement. The stop will be open 7:00am to 9:00am, rain or shine.

The first 125 riders who visit the pit stop all five days will be rewarded with a custom Crystal City Cycling jersey (see below). Special dispensation is provided to anyone who volunteers at other Bike to Work Day pit stops and cannot visit Crystal City. Earning the jersey puts riders into a coveted community of bicyclists and conquering the Bike to Work Week challenge is the only way to obtain it—it’s not for sale.

“Be prepared for frequent trail head nods and fellow cyclist chit chats when sporting the Crystal City jersey,” said Robert Mandle, Chief Operating Officer for the Crystal City BID. “But our goal of building community amongst bicyclists extends well beyond the jersey with many friendships, partnerships, and love affairs with bicycling with roots in Crystal City.”

Interested in taking the challenge to commute by bike all week? Register online for the Crystal City Bike to Work Week pit stop and be sure to also sign up for the region-wide Bike to Work Day.

For additional information, visit www.crystalcity.org.

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? Help show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

Thanks for joining us at the 2018 WABA and Bicyclists’ Choice Awards!

Held on February 8th at the Josephine Butler Parks Center, the 2018 Bicyclists’ Choice Awards were an incredible success! This is a favorite annual events because we get to celebrate the people who are making bicycling better in our community – not only our members, advocates and supporters, but our partners, elected leaders and decision makers. These awards recognized the momentum happening for bicycling in the region right now; we were honored to recognize these people and their work.

This year, WABA received a record number of votes for the Bicyclists’ Choice Awards and hosted a record number of attendees. We also had the best host a bunch of bike nerds could hope for: Lauren Ober, of NPR and WAMU’s The Big Listen. 

The energy in the room was absolutely electric – we can’t wait to do it again next year!  Thank you to everyone who attended, voted, nominated, and supported such an amazing evening.

Continue reading to find out who won and to see photos from the event.

 

WABA Award Winners

  • Community Organizer Award: Anna Irwin
  • Vision Zero Award: City of Alexandria (accepted by Mayor Allison Silberberg)
  • Protecting Bike Lanes Award: Jon Renaut & DDOT Public Space Regulation Team: Matthew Marcou, Elliott Garrett, and Levon Petrosian
  • Educator of the Year Award: Edgar Gil Rico
  • Biking for All Award: Phoenix Bikes (accepted by Edoardo Buenaobra and Raymond Duran)
  • Advocate of the Year Award: Dave Helms
  • Volunteer of the Year Award: Lauren Annenberg and Michael Avilez
  • Public Leadership Award: Chief Sogand Seirafi

 

Bicyclists’ Choice Awards Nominees

Best Improvement for Biking in the District of Columbia in 2017

  • Dockless Bikeshare
  • Oxon Run Trail
  • Bike to Work Day pit stop in Twining, Ward 7
  • Maine Avenue SW protected bike lanes
  • Klingle Valley Trail Opening
  • 15th St. protected bike lane extension to Euclid

Winner: 15th St. protected bike lane extension to Euclid

Best Improvement for Biking in Maryland in 2017

  • Silver Spring Circle
  • Trolley Trail Connector through Riverdale Park Station
  • HAWK Signals
  • M-NCPPC new regulations, allowing bike commuting after dark

Winner: Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission for the promulgation of new regulations to allow bike commuting after dark.

Best Improvement for Biking: Virginia

  • Alexandria’s commitment to Vision Zero
  • Underpass for Belmont Ridge Road on the W&OD trail
  • Four Mile Run Trail improvements
  • Updates to highway funding bill eliminating penalties for bike projects

Winner: Updates to highway funding bill eliminating penalties for bike projects

Best Bike Shop of 2017

  • Spokes, ETC.
  • Conte’s Bike Shop
  • CityBikes
  • BicycleSPACE
  • The Bike Rack
  • Proteus Bicycles
  • Gearin’ Up
  • Bikenetic
  • Big Wheel Bicycles

Winner: Proteus Bicycles

Best Social Ride of 2017

  • Hains Point 100
  • Ride to the Women’s March
  • Proteus Sunday Coffee ride
  • International Women’s Day Alleycat
  • BicycleSPACE City Explorers
  • Freezing Saddles

Winner: Hains Point 100

Bike Friendliest Business of 2017

  • VeloCafe
  • Bar Roubaix
  • Dew Drop Inn
  • Vigilante Coffee
  • Shortcake Bakery
  • Zeke’s Coffee
  • Mapbox
  • World Resources Institute

Winner: Dew Drop Inn

Thank you again to everyone who came out and who made for such an incredible celebration!

Of course, we want to say a huge thank you to our sponsors for supporting better bicycling in our region:

Presenting Sponsor: 

Celebration Sponsors: 

Lauren Ober of WAMU to host 2018 Bicyclists’ Choice Awards

We are excited to announce that Lauren Ober, host of WAMU’s The Big Listen and a proud WABA member, will emcee the 2018 Bicyclists’ Choice Awards, presented by Jump Bikes.

Kara Frame/NPR

The Awards will take place Thursday, February 8th, at the Josephine Butler Parks Center from 7:00-9:00pm, following the Annual Member Meeting. Anyone is welcome to attend the awards ceremony, and admission is free. Food and beer will be provided by CAVA and Caboose Brewing; there is a suggested $10 donation.

Please RSVP by Monday, February 5th

Also, the Bicyclists’ Choice Awards means that we need YOU to decide the winners. Voting will be open through midnight Friday, February 2nd.

Additional information about our annual Bicyclists’ Choice Awards can be found here.

Want to volunteer to help set up, serve food, welcome guests, sell WABA merchandise and keep the night running smoothly? Sign up here.

Of course, we want to say a huge thank you to our sponsors for supporting better bicycling in our region:

Presenting Sponsor

Celebration Sponsors