Get people moving in the right direction by creating a bikepool program for commuters
A lot of people are willing to ride their bikes to work, but are anxious about navigating busy city streets on two wheels. Bikepooling has emerged as a successful strategy for helping newbies get over the hump. These bikepool programs match new riders with more experienced cyclists, helping commuters build the skills and confidence to leave their cars behind more often.
At RideAmigos, we love supporting creative solutions like bikepooling. Our newest team member, Corey Tucker, joins us as a program specialist after having worked at MIT, where she used RideAmigos for commuter and transportation demand management. She’s also an avid cyclist, both for commuting and competition.
Here’s Corey’s step-by-step guide for creating a bikepool program that will encourage newbies to try biking and stick with it:
1) Identify Existing Bicycle Commuters
Reach out to existing bike commuters to find out where they’re biking from, what routes they follow, and how long it takes them to get to work. Ask if anyone would be willing to lead a bikepool group, and spread out the leadership responsibilities so that you’re only asking for a once-a-week or once-every-other-week commitment. Seal the deal by offering bonuses or incentives (if you have to); bike shop gift cards or restaurant vouchers can go a long way.
2) Plan Meeting Points and Routes
Identify clear, easy-to-reach landmarks where bikepoolers can meet, and plan routes based on those already in use by bike commuters and program leaders. Ideally, routes should include dedicated cycling infrastructure, like protected bike lanes or cycling paths, to help make new riders more comfortable.
3) Target Potential Participants
Find commuters who live within range of each cycling corridor, and send out emails alerting them to the program. Highlight the steps you’ve taken to select newbie-friendly routes.
4) Add Incentives
Increase participation rates by offering incentives to the individuals or teams who tally the greatest number of trips or ride the most miles. You can also pit teams using various cycling corridors in friendly head-to-head competitions, or offer prizes for biking to work a certain number of days.
These tips are even more effective when they’re paired with internal infrastructure designed for bicycle commuters. Create a secure, designated place for bicycle storage, provide lockers and showers, and consider implementing a “guaranteed ride home” program. By offering free taxi rides or transit vouchers to bicycle commuters stranded by bad weather, you’ll encourage people to stick with the program.