How to Be a More Bike Friendly Employer

With National Bike Month well underway, businesses across the country are seeing a surge in the number of employees who are interested in riding to work instead of driving. In years past, National Bike Month has prompted many employee transportation coordinators to consider how they can turn their organization into a more bike friendly employer. If you’re in that situation, there are many ways you get started in supporting active commuting in your workplace.

Here are four popular ideas:

Secure bike storage

Well-placed bike racks offer a low-cost way to encourage more people to ride to work rather than drive. To make the most of your investment, it’s best to place the bike storage area somewhere accessible only to employees, or at least somewhere that isn’t highly visible to passersby and the general public.

Make sure your racks allow for the easy and secure placement of bike locks, and that your racks are placed to shield bikes from rain and snow. Bike racks generally come in two varieties: freestanding racks that can be bolted down to durable surfaces and in-ground racks that are mounted in poured concrete.

If you’re looking to really impress your bicycle commuters, consider providing covered bike storage that is also protected from sun and rain, or even indoor bike storage for the highest level of convenience and security.

On-site showers and lockers

Biking delivers a healthy workout, especially for commuters who ride a long way. Nobody wants to spend their work day in sweaty clothes, and the prospect of doing so discourages a lot of would-be cyclists from ditching their cars.

The solution? Provide on-site showers and lockers for employees who want to embrace active commuting. That way, they can bring a change of clothes, shower when they arrive, and be fresh as a daisy when the work day begins.

Guaranteed ride home programs

A bike friendly employer also recognizes that emergencies and unexpected situations happen. If a commuter bikes to work, what do they do if the weather turns nasty or they suddenly have to get somewhere faster than their bike can carry them? Such anxieties are often cited as reasons commuters choose to drive instead of biking.

Guaranteed ride home programs are a great way to solve this problem, as they provide emergency rides for employees who use alternative modes of commuting. Typically commuters are offered a free ride home a specified number of times per year if an emergency situation arises. Rides are provided via vouchers, Uber or Lyft codes, or through a reimbursement system.

Ongoing Incentive Programs

Bike to Work Challenges are a great way to get commuters to try out a new way of commuting. However, ongoing bike-related incentives are important to keep them going. Options for incentive programs are as diverse as your imagination and resources, so check out these suggestions for bike-related incentives like point programs, raffles, and even earn-a-bike programs.

Running such bike friendly commuter programs can be complex and tedious unless you’re using commuter management software like RideAmigos. Contact us today to learn how we can help your organization become a bike friendly employer!

Bikeshare Programs Are Getting More Commuters Onto Two Wheels

A growing number of cities, campus communities, and employers are embracing bikeshare programs as alternative commuting options. Bikes offer an environmentally-friendly mode of active transportation that puts practically no impact stress on the body’s joints, all while delivering a healthy dose of aerobic exercise. Yet, start-up costs can be a barrier to participation. A decent-quality commuter bike can easily cost several hundred dollars, which can seem like a significant investment if someone isn’t sure they’ll enjoy biking to work. This is one of the major reasons bikeshare networks have taken off in recent years.

While specifics vary, bikeshare programs generally work the same way. Most allow registered users to use a smartphone app to unlock a bike, ride for a pre-set length of time, then secure the bike at or near the rider’s destination, paying a nominal fee for the time the bike is in use. These programs offer a cost-effective advantage to commuters, as riders can access a bike for low pay-per-use rates, thus avoiding the need to sink hundreds of dollars into a bike of their own. It also solves other practical challenges, since riders don’t have to commit to bike ownership and thus don’t have to worry about issues like secure storage at home or on the road.

The leading bikeshare networks in the United States include:

  • Zagster: Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Zagster is one of the largest programs in the U.S., with more than 100 active programs currently in place.
  • Jump Bikes: This innovative system of dockless electric bikes was recently acquired by Uber.
  • Spin: Another dockless bikeshare system, Spin also launched an electric scooter-sharing program in recent months.
  • LimeBike: LimeBike is focused on creating a human-scale shared mobility fleet, including both traditional and electric bike options, e-scooters, and more.

The RideAmigos commuter management platform offers a wide range of features that can incorporate and complement bikeshare programs, making it an ideal tool for managing alternative commuting initiatives. RideAmigos works with employers, government agencies, educational institutions, and other organizations, and we’ve already played a leading role in the implementation of many successful commuter programs. If you’re looking for a for a toolkit to help manage emerging mobility options like bikeshares, fun challenges like National Bike Month, incentive programs, and more, get started with RideAmigos to find out what we can do for you.

Challenge Your Employees for Bike Month 2018

National Bike Month, an annual tradition since 1956, is coming up in May. Sponsored nationally by the League of American Bicyclists, the National Bike Month event is designed to promote the many health and environmental benefits of cycling.

Each year, employers play a major role in National Bike Month’s success. Thousands of employers across the country hold friendly competitions and challenges designed to get their commuters actively participating. If you’re thinking of hosting a National Bike Month commuting challenge this year, we have a few tips that can help you encourage more robust participation rates.

Create Team-Based Competitions with Attractive Prizes

This go-to strategy is a surefire way to get the whole company engaged. Divide your commuter base up into teams, in whatever way works. For example, you could draw names at random, allow teams to self-select, or have teams for each department (accounting, human resources, etc.). Then, track team-based standings based on the number of bike commutes logged, or the number of miles biked, or both! Offer a prize to the team that wins the competition at the end of the month — something that will motivate people to keep taking part.

Add Smaller Weekly Prizes for Ongoing Engagement

It can be tough to keep people engaged if one team pulls way ahead in the standings, or if luck of the draw leaves another team with little hope of winning the month-long challenge. To encourage continued participation, offer smaller weekly prizes to teams or individuals that log the most trips or miles in each given week.

Run Raffles to Encourage Everyone

A similar strategy that also works well is to run a raffle draw for smaller prizes, giving participants one entry per logged bike commute. The drawings can be held weekly, giving everyone an incentive to participate at least a little bit. Of course, this strategy also rewards those who cycle frequently with more chances to win the draw, which is also a great motivator.

As always, the RideAmigos team is here to help with tools and tips to increase the reach and impact of your commuter programs, during National Bike Month and throughout the year. Please get in touch if we can help.

 

6 Tips for Marketing Your Commuter Program

The success of a commuter program can often depend on reaching and engaging the right audience.

Depending on the target audience, organizations need to market and promote commuter programs in different ways. Government organizations may be looking to reach commuters directly, or to partner with local employers. Businesses are seeking to engage and motivate their own employees. Educational institutions want to spread the word among staff, faculty, and students.

Whichever scenario you are facing, you’ll need a tailored communications plan to connect with your target audience. To that end, here are six helpful tips that will help you market commuter programs more effectively:

  • Start with surveys. Commuter surveys are invaluable tools for understanding commuter behavior and preferences. They are essential in the planning stages of a campaign, especially for learning which alternative modes of transportation your commuter base would be most likely to try.
  • Emphasize benefits that matter to commuters. Surveys can also deliver valuable insights into what matters most to your target commuter base. You can use that information to design campaigns and marketing materials that emphasize benefits. For example, students might be looking to save money, so focusing on that interest might help you appeal to them.
  • Use simple graphics to create eye-catching, easy-to-understand pictorial representations. There are many free or inexpensive graphics platforms you can use to put together visuals that quickly and clearly express your program’s fundamentals. Try pairing graphics with relevant statistics to draw attention to a particular problem associated with commuting, or to illustrate a specific benefit you’re trying to achieve.
  • Create a strong, two-sentence summary for your program. When you market commuter programs, you’ve got to engage people in a simple and direct way. Have a clean, easily digestible, and compelling two-sentence summary of the program to add to your script anytime you talk about your efforts.
  • Make the most of existing communications channels. Before you try to create brand-new channels for communications, use ones that already exist. For instance, use recurring departmental or interdepartmental meetings as an opportunity to market commuter programs, or leverage employee newsletters, campus newspapers, or existing advertising networks to help get the word out.
  • Designate a “point person” to deliver your message. In large organizations, it’s better to designate a “point person” who can deliver your message directly to team members than it is for an anonymous, unconnected individual to reach out to the entire commuter base. Messages are more readily accepted when they’re delivered by someone you know, so try to get departmental or team-based reps involved in your program.

For more insight, check out this talk on marketing techniques from our CommuteCon 2017 event, or contact us to discuss your program. We’re here to help you deliver commuter programs that generate enthusiasm, high participation rates, and real results.

CommuteCon 2018 Highlights and Recap

CommuteCon 2018 was the largest and most successful episode of our annual commuter management and TDM conference to date, with nearly double the registrations and attendees compared to the 2017 event. Professionals from all over the world took part in CommuteCon 2018, and speakers representing a complete range of sectors including enterprise, government, and universities delivered talks filled with meaningful insights and valuable takeaways.

We’ve received great feedback about this year’s event from members of our audience. This year’s attendees were particularly enthusiastic about the presentations by keynote speakers Susan Shaheen and Simon Mainwaring. Shaheen, who co-directs UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center, gave an illuminating talk on the social benefits of shared mobility. Mainwaring, founder and CEO of We First Branding, gave us a peek behind the curtain at some of his most effective strategies for leading conversations that drive social change. We’re incredibly fortunate and thankful that they took the time to join us.

The two keynotes, along with 18 other informative sessions, are available to view and download at commutecon.com. Other audience favorites included:

Hundreds of TDM professionals and stakeholders came together to join the live webcast, with many attending in groups of two to five people or more. It was a landmark event for the global commuter management community, and we’re beyond pleased that it was such a resounding success.

CommuteCon 2018 was presented by RideAmigos. We are grateful to our Sponsors,  JUMP and Scoop; Friends of the conference, Car2Go, CityFi, Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions, Lyft Business, First Transit, TransitScreen, UBER for Business, Waze Carpool, and Zipcar; and our Association Partner, the Association for Commuter Transportation.

The CommuteCon team is thrilled to announce that we’ve set the date for next year’s event. CommuteCon 2019 will take place on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 – mark your calendars now! Like previous conferences, CommuteCon 2019 will be an accessible, community-oriented platform for the free exchange of ideas and strategies, all while helping TDM professionals expand their impact and inspiration. Visit commutecon.com to sign up for conference updates.

Thanks again to everyone who helped make CommuteCon 2018 such a meaningful and valuable event. We hope see you next year!

Partner Highlight: Ready, Set, Go-Tober

RideAmigos is proud to power Denver’s third annual Go-Tober Challenge program

The “Go-Tober Challenge” has taken the Denver metro area by storm for the third straight year. This popular program encourages commuters to ditch solo driving for at least one week during the month of October, and explore alternatives like carpooling, public transit, vanpooling, biking, walking, or teleworking.

Like all good challenge programs, Denver’s Go-Tober Challenge gives participants the chance to earn prizes in addition to bragging rights. According to Steve Erickson, the marketing and communications director for the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), “Go-Tober brings friendly competition into what’s truly a collaborative effort of reducing traffic congestion and emissions one commuter at a time. We all play a part in making our region a great place to live. It’s a win for everyone.”

During Go-Tober, Denver-area businesses can compete against one another to see which company can log the most commutes and the most miles using modes of transportation other than single-occupancy vehicles. The objective is to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of solo driving, promote alternatives, and empowering commuters to try new ways of getting around in the hopes of creating long-term behavior change.

The Go-Tober initiative is run by Way to Go, a partnership between DRCOG and seven local transportation management associations (TMAs). Employees that work for companies participating in the program must register at WayToGoTober.org, and log at least four round-trip commutes using smart alternatives over the course of the month. Companies earn valuable points for every one-way trip logged on the site, with the winners and leaders qualifying for prizes.

With powerful trip logging, route planning, incentive distribution, and transportation gamification features, RideAmigos is proud to be the software platform of choice for Go-Tober. We’re pleased to be a part of this popular and high-impact initiative that’s going a long way toward making Denver a better place to work and live.

Rideshare Month Ideas

Use these Rideshare Month ideas to get people excited about trying smart commuting options

Rideshare Month is an increasingly popular way for regions, businesses and organizations to encourage commuters to give smart commuting alternatives a try. Like National Bike Month, Rideshare Month is built on awareness campaigns and friendly commuter challenges designed to get people excited about taking part.

Rideshare/Carpool Month (or Week) is most often observed in October within the US and during February in Canada. Start planning now for a successful program!

Effective Rideshare Month ideas engage commuters in creative ways, drumming up interest in your initiatives and getting more people on board. If you’re looking to get started, here are some popular approaches that have proven track records of success

Team Challenges

Use team challenges to get people to take part in numbers. Encourage carpoolers to register as teams and engage in friendly competition to see which team can log the most commutes (and/or the most miles) over the course of the month. Top-performing teams can qualify for prizes.

Social Media

Harness the power of social media, much like the Region of Waterloo, a RideAmigos partner, recently did to great success:

 

Pledges

Get rideshare pledges to commit early. Pledge programs engage individuals who want to take part by getting them to promise to carpool a set number of days over the course of Rideshare Month. Reward your pledges by giving fantastic prizes to those who meet their commitments, or with special prizes for those who carpool for a certain number of days. 

Point Programs

Create a point program. Allow commuters who carpool to accumulate points every time they log a smart commute. You can even extend this strategy into other smart commuting modes, like cycling and public transit, allowing participants to earn bonus points. Once a certain point thresholds have been reached, participants can cash in their points for rewards. Check out Commute.org’s STAR store as an example:

Use the Right Tools

If you’re planning to launch or run a carpool-focused initiative, be sure you’ve got a comprehensive set of Rideshare Month tools to put your ideas into action and maximize your impact. Surveys, ridematching software, gamification platforms and other tools can make the difference between a ho-hum program and a movement that inspires lasting behavior change.

TDM + Local Bike Shops = ❤️

Bicycle advocacy powerhouse People for Bikes recently shared a great blog post highlighting the mutual interests of transportation demand management (TDM) and local bike shops.

From TMA’s & TMO’s to universities, enterprises and municipalities, organizations concerned with shifting commuter behavior usually promote biking as a great alternative to single occupancy vehicle (SOV) commuting. In the TDM industry, we know bikes take up less space on roads and in parking lots, cut carbon emissions, and create happier commuters.

Local bike shops are also well aware of all these advantages of biking over driving, so for TDM programs looking for partners to help promote and empower bike commuting, local bike shops are a match made in transportation heaven.

The People for Bikes article mentions the success that our partner Sonos has had with their earn-a-bike program for employees, including partnering with local bike shops. The University of Louisville has also implemented a similar program for students who can trade parking passes for bikes.

When it comes to cycling-related TDM challenges and incentives, local bike shops are great resources for collaborations like prize donations and event leadership. Bike shops are eager to become known as the go-to location for local cyclists, especially new cyclists, and are often willing to be creative partners in bike-related TDM programming.

Here’s a great success story from the People for Bikes post:

Ginny Politz owns Bikesport in Trappe, Pennsylvania. When the Greater Valley Forge TMA approached her seeking prizes to distribute to local winners of the National Bike Challenge, Politz’s enthusiasm was instant. “I said ‘Yes, and why don’t we host a wine and cheese event to kick off the competition?'”

Bikesport’s early buy-in has paid off. “We are the only bike shop member, so they send everything our way. If they have a corporation contact them and say ‘we’d like to do a Lunch and Learn bike program,’ I get an email introducing me as the solution.”

Read more at the People for Bikes blog …

How to Lower Employee Morale

In their efforts to cut costs, reduce overhead expenses, and boost profit margins, employers must balance the need to maintain employee morale while dealing with these economic realities. Unfortunately, many actions (or inactions) taken by employers can unintentionally lower employee morale, rather than raise it. Many studies have shown that happy employees perform better and are more productive, and recent research also suggests that the modes commuters use to get to work can have a strong impact on overall levels of employee satisfaction.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some ways commuting-related workplace practices can lower employee morale and thus take a negative toll on company culture:

  • Only incentivizing solo driving. Free employee parking is a great perk, but if it’s the only commuting-related advantage you offer, you risk alienating team employees who prefer other modes of transportation. Instead, adopt a robust array of commuter support options, like subsidized transit passes and secure bike parking, to make sure everyone’s needs are met.
  • Not offering alternatives to costly parking. Parking is a major expense, and it’s one that a lot of companies deal with by (a) raising the prices of their products and services or (b) having employees pay to park in third-party lots. Parking cash-out programs, ridesharing initiatives, vanpools, and other alternative commuting modes can all be used to reduce parking demand and thus cut costs for employees and employers alike.
  • Inflexible policies on where and when employees work. Strict policies of this nature make it more difficult for employees to arrange carpools and can contribute to traffic congestion. Employees really appreciate the convenience that flexible hours and telework programs offer.

It’s important for employers to make a concerted effort to cultivate a businesslike yet vibrant, fun, and engaging company culture. People feel more invested in their jobs when the company feels more like a community, and building this kind of environment requires a focused, calculated effort that begins at the management level.

Commuting-related initiatives that help foster a workplace community include commuter challenge and incentive programs that encourage informal competition while engaging your workforce in pursuit of positive and beneficial objectives. Commute options like ridematching and bikepooling can also help to create relationships among co-workers. All these can easily be implemented using commuter management software.

RideAmigos can help businesses and organizations of all sizes avoid lower employee morale while building robust commuter programs with high impact levels. Get started with raising employee morale today!

Health Benefits of Bike Commuting

Leaving your car at home is definitely good for your mind, but it’s even better for your body.

This past April, researchers published a new study in the British Medical Journal that’s attracted a lot of attention in the transportation demand management space. The study, which was carried out by scientists in the United Kingdom, compared the relative health benefits of four common modes of commuting: driving, public transportation, walking, and cycling. Their conclusion? Cycling is, by a significant margin, the healthiest option.

The study’s key finding is that when practiced on a daily basis, pedal power reduces an individual’s risk of dying, from any disease or cause, by an amazing 41 percent. Researchers expected that cycling would prove to be the healthiest mode of transportation, given that it is the highest-intensity commuting option included in the study. However, even these seasoned scientists were surprised to learn just how dramatically it can improve a person’s physical health.

This particular study followed over 263,000 participants between the ages of 40 and 69 over a five-year period. Its methodology included controls to correct for lifestyle factors, age disparities, socioeconomic imbalances, and other important variables. The study also included a mixed-mode option, in which active forms of commuting, such as cycling and walking, were combined with inactive transportation options, such as public transit and driving. The conclusive trend held up even in this regard, with study participants who included biking as part of a mixed-mode commuting strategy showing a 24 percent decrease in mortality risk.

So what makes biking so beneficial? Study participants who biked to work generally had longer distances to cover than those who walked, giving them a longer and more intensive regular workout.

If you’re looking to promote an alternative to solo driving, biking is a great place to start. In addition, studies have also shown that shared modes of transportation, such as carpooling and public transportation, are also associated with both mental and physical health benefits. There’s room for a complete range of options in any complete commuter management strategy.

Thinking of this from an employer’s perspective, it’s worth noting that encouraging people to commute by bike can also benefit an organization’s bottom line due to such health benefits. That means biking to work is a win-win for both commuters themselves and the companies they work for! Which is a great reason to promote cycling both during Bike to Work month and year-round.