A bicycle friendly workplace is great for your company and your employees. Here are lots of ways to actively promote commuter bicycling at your workplace:
Appoint a Bicycle Coordinator – A fitness/wellness coordinator, transportation coordinator, or an enthusiastic employee who currently bikes to work are the most practical people to organize a bicycle commuter program at your workplace. With assistance from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, the coordinator can evaluate facilities and identify safe routes to your work place. This employee can devote a few minutes per week to help put together a bike-to-work program.
Provide Bicycle Parking – Employees need to know their bicycles are safe while they work. Good bike parking is in a well lit and easily accessible area, and is designated with signage of some fashion. It’s located as close to the building entrance and shower facilities as possible. Ideally your bicycle parking is sheltered from the elements and located in a locked room or where there are people or security personnel. If it is not feasible to provide bike racks or lockers, consider allowing employees to store their bicycles in their offices or in a locked storage room.
Surveying your employees will help determine the ideal amount of bicycle parking needed. Note: some communities have ordinances governing the number of bicycle parking spaces that employers must provide. For example, in the District of Columbia, 5% of all off-street office and commercial parking spaces must be set aside for bicycles.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Bicycle Program offers free bicycle racks and assistance to employers in the District by request. DDOT will help your company select, locate, and install racks in your garage or on your surface lot. In fact, DDOT will even pay for the racks if you agree to pay for the installation! DDOT will also supply a free bicycle parking sign for your facility. For more information contact the Bicycle Program Manager at 202-671-2331, Jim.Sebastian@dc.gov, or go to DDOT’s BikeBrand Your Biz web site.
Provide Showers and Changing Facilities – Some employees will not consider bicycling to work without the conveniece of showering upon arrival. These facilities will also encourage lunch-time fitness activities which benefits both the employee and employer. For buildings with 50-100 employees, one shower should be sufficient. In buildings with 101-250 employees, one shower for each sex is a good rule of thumb. Ideally, there should be one securable gym locker to store work clothes for every long-term bicycle commuter. When you renew your lease, ask building owners to install bicycle facilities, including a new capital Bikeshare station. They can then market these amenities to prospective tenants and save on parking spaces. If you don’t have the means to provide changing and shower facilities for your employees, consider making arrangements with a nearby health club at a corporate discount rate.
Provide Financial Incentives - Bicycle commuting reimbursement is part of the qualified transportation fringe benefits covered in section 132 (f) of the Internal Revenue Service code. This allows employers to offer financial help to employees towards the purchase a bicycle or bike accessories. Employers may provide a reimbursement of up to $20 per month for reasonable expenses incurred by employees in conjunction with their commute to work by bicycle. Please note, unlike other qualified transportation fringe benefits, a bicycle commuting reimbursement benefit cannot be funded through employee pre-tax income, nor can an employee receive both the transit and bicycle benefit in the same month. Visit the League of American Bicyclists web site for a greater explanation.
Parking Cash-Out – Employees who bike, walk, or take transit often have a parking spot they don’t use. The federal tax law allows employers to pay employees the cost of that space and avoid paying a tax on this benefit. For example employees can either keep their company provided parking spot, receive a tax free transit benefit, or receive $100 a month extra of taxable income in their paycheck. For more information visit the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration web site.
Other Incentives for your Employees –
- Permit a more relaxed dress code on specified biking days.
- Recognize bicyclists at company-wide functions.
- Offer flex-time schedules to make it possible for bicycle commuters to arrange their work schedules to avoid rush hour traffic congestion and darkness, or to take bikes on Metrorail during off-peak hours.
- Provide a company-owned pool of bicycles or access to Capital Bikeshare’s fleet of bicycles for short business trips, errands, and recreation.
- Allow bicycle commuters time to shower or freshen-up.
- Tell employees about the free Guaranteed Ride Home program provided by Commuter Connections. It provides free emergency rides home to commuters who bicycle or take other alternative transportation to work.
- Form a company bike club.