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.

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.

Introducing Better Backs Athletic & Physical Therapy , A WABA 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 sustainable future of our region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA.

Today meet Better Backs Athletic & Physical Therapy!

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We are excited to welcome Better Backs Athletic & Physical Therapy into the Washington area and into the vast and friendly WABA community. Better Backs is the newest business to support WABA’s mission as a Business Member.

Rachel Davis-Stewart just opened the practice in May 2015 and also supports the biking community by offering a 15% off all products and services to current WABA members. (Yet another reason for you to become a WABA member!) Davis-Stewart is a Certified Athletic Trainer and Massage Therapist. She has also studied Athletic Training and Exercise Physiology and, like you, loves riding her bike.

Better Backs Therapy is located inside the Anacostia Arts Center at 1231 Good Hope Rd in Southeast, Washington, DC. They are open Tuesday-Friday 11-7, and Sunday 11-2. (Please note that appointments after 5pm, and on Sundays require prepayment.)

How it works: You pay for a session with the therapist and receive a same day custom treatment plan. Better Backs uses a range of contemporary rehabilitative techniques including, but not limited to, moist heat, ice packs, soft tissue mobilization, electrical therapy, physical reconditioning, supportive taping, wrapping, and padding procedures.

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Don’t forget to mention you’re a WABA Member!

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can 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.

WABA Gets the Gold

This morning at Interbike in Las Vegas, the League of American Bicyclists awarded WABA a Gold Bike Friendly Business award. These awards are given out twice per year, and the Fall 2010 award class includes one platinum, three golds, twenty-seven silvers and thirty-one bronzes. We’re extremely proud to be recognized by the League for all of our hard work and we want to congratulate all the other awardees–especially our fellow DC-area recipients!

The Bike Friendly Business awards program “recognizes employers’ efforts to encourage a more bicycle friendly atmosphere for employees and customers” and “honors innovative bike-friendly efforts and provides technical assistance and information to help companies and organizations become even better for bicyclists.” We’re certainly honored to have been awarded the Gold level for our first time applying, but you can be sure that we won’t rest until we’ve earned Platinum!

You can read the League’s full announcement here and you can learn more about the Bike Friendly Businesses program here.