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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 08-08-06, 10:59 PM   #1
Bearminder
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Lost a job because of my bike....

Long time lurker...thought I'd share this story.

Had an interview for a job last week. Went very well. The HR manager interviewed me first. Everything went great- so good in fact she asked me to stay and speak with the department head I'd be working for. Knowing this company, I knew this was a good sign- usually applicant do three interviews across several weeks, with the dept. head been the last one - just a formality type thing.

The department head was friendly and asked me when I could start. We discussed salarly (big raise from my current job), benifits, and all the perks of the company. Then came the fun part....

Since this job is only 5 miles from my house, I was thinking of riding my bike. I mwntioned this to him, and asked what type of facilties (racks, showers, etc) the company had. He got a strange look on his face and asked, "You don't have a car? I thought you were making $xx,xxx at your current job?" I explained I did have a car, but just thought since this was so close the excercise, benifits of riding, and so on would make more sense and enjoyable. The conversation changed tones quickly. Basically, all his questions became that since I wanted to ride to work I was some kind of pauper-hippy-unreliable lowlife. It ended with an "We'll get back to you."

Today, the HR lady called and said they had filled the position. After a lengthy phone conversation she did explain say that the choice was made based on my desire to commute by bike to work. In the past, so she says, they have had several employee who biked, who always had some excuse for being out ,late, tired, and so on. Past experience had taught them that bike commuters were not reliable.

While the job, money and perks would have been nice- I glad to find out now what kind of company they are and how much the just employees by surface trappings.
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Old 08-08-06, 11:28 PM   #2
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Yeah, and no one ever calls in late with excuses about their cars (won't start, flat tire, bad traffic, blah blah blah). I guess it's good you found out now, but that's really obnoxious.
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Old 08-08-06, 11:47 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearminder
While the job, money and perks would have been nice- I glad to find out now what kind of company they are and how much the just employees by surface trappings.
I'm sorry you didn't get the job :-/ ... though it sounds like it's better to find out sooner rather than later that they can be such small-minded people. What a strange reason not to hire someone.

Anyway, it sounds like you'll have no trouble finding an even better (and bike-friendly!) job soon. Good luck!
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Old 08-08-06, 11:51 PM   #4
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After I got hired for my job, I found out that one of the Managers who hired me commutes to work by bike, bart, bike. I was very suprised.
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Old 08-08-06, 11:54 PM   #5
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I just got hired at a nice company. I even metioned that I'm a cyclist and interested in commuting by bike during the interview.

Umney Dursk, at least you have a route that doesn't involve high stress, heavy traffic, and two-lane roads. I haven't started my job yet, but I'm trying to figure out how I'm even gonna pull it off aside from starting my commute at 6am when there's no traffic.
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Old 08-09-06, 03:38 AM   #6
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Bearminder,
That was a pretty weak excuse on the part of HR and smacks of discrimination.
I think a complaint to the ESC might be in order? It would be considered discrimnation to eliminate you based on your mode of transportation. It maybe that it wasn't such a good company to work for after all, if they made a decision based on just that. Unfortunately you brought the issue up during the interview stage, I am not so sure I would do that in the future.

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Old 08-09-06, 06:19 AM   #7
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That line of questioning even strikes me as being illegal. "I thought you were making $$$". Hiring you based on your financial status is pretty much a no no. Unless a car is required for you to actually do your job, your mode of commuting is likely not really any concern of theirs.
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Old 08-09-06, 06:22 AM   #8
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I guess its better this way. Do you realy want to work for a company that pulls that crap?
I got lucky and got good reviews when mentioned my commuter plans, but had won the interview before I mentioned the bike.
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Old 08-09-06, 06:28 AM   #9
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I get extra money for riding my bike to work. (Any money I spend on my bike is paid for by pre tax money that I put into a commuter account. Simply submit the bill). Anyone who commutes by bus can also create an account that takes pre tax dollars from our pay to reimburse us for the monthy/weekly tickets.

The company has a guaranteed ride home program for commuteres. We can call Enterprise rent a car, have one delivered to the office, and charge it to the company. Or I can take a cab up to 10 miles. (Working late beyond the bus schedule, is one example of using the guaranteed rided).

My point being that there are good employers around.

Last edited by capejohn; 08-09-06 at 06:55 AM.
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Old 08-09-06, 06:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearminder
Past experience had taught them that bike commuters were not reliable.

While the job, money and perks would have been nice- I glad to find out now what kind of company they are and how much the just employees by surface trappings.
It doesn't say anything about how they treat employees at all. It just shows prejudicial poor expectations of bike commuters.

I guess if that type of interview conversation takes place again, you should emphasize your bike's reliability.

Are bikes less reliable than cars?
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Old 08-09-06, 06:43 AM   #11
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I probably would have asked about bike facilities after I was hired, but I'm a whimp.

That's sad what they did. If you have a lawyer friend, I'd consider telling him the story to see what he says.
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Old 08-09-06, 06:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwhalin
That line of questioning even strikes me as being illegal. "I thought you were making $$$". Hiring you based on your financial status is pretty much a no no. Unless a car is required for you to actually do your job, your mode of commuting is likely not really any concern of theirs.

hopefully, I had a friend that didn't get XYZ job due to the fact that they pulled his credit report
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Old 08-09-06, 07:05 AM   #13
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That really sucks but at least you are not working for some control-freak company that wants to rule your life.
If you want to enquire about shower facilities without appearing counter-cultural a better approach is to say that you are a keen athlete and like to jog at lunchtime in preparation for an upcoming marathon. This will paint you as being "goal oriented", being able to partition your life effectively, separating out excercise from transportation, and having endurance and staying power.
I generally avoid any mention of cycling at job interviews unless I know something about the company policies.
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Old 08-09-06, 07:09 AM   #14
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Never ask about it, just look around the premises for bike racks, or ask an employee you know is not going to be interviewing you either on the way in or out about it.

Just do it.

Oh, and be glad you aren't working for them...that type of behavior is common amongst "sell your soul" stype places of business....you wouldn't have any time to ride a bike anyways. The place I work isn't even that bad, and sometimes I have to fight tooth and nail to have a single day off in a week, or even month.
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Old 08-09-06, 07:22 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by argotnaut
Yeah, and no one ever calls in late with excuses about their cars (won't start, flat tire, bad traffic, blah blah blah). I guess it's good you found out now, but that's really obnoxious.
Tangentially related, yet semi-OT:

One of my cow-orkers is the King of Fscked Up Excuses. He's used:

* Wife's car wouldn't start. While she was in a town 20+ miles away. At lunch. And he didn't go get her, he just went home to wait for her.

* Late coming back from lunch (his allotted one hour lunches are never less than 75 minutes) because a dragonfly flew in to his car. In early March.

* Had a doctor's appointment at 10a, but called from home at 12:30p, saying his doctor told him he had a fever and shouldn't go back to work. He did come in the next morning, miraculously recovered yet late (instead of starting at his official 7a start time, he arrives somewhere between 7:15 and 7:30).

* Late coming back from lunch because the person he bought his car from (a Ford Mustang with high mileage) put a 'performance chip' in it and he has to 'coast' in order to avoid squealing the tires.

* Late coming in because there was a really good raid the night before in 'World of Warcraft' (or Everquest, he plays both) and he was up until 4:30a.

* Had to go home early because he has allergies and when he has an 'attack' he gets vertigo and can't stand up.

And the the most fscked up excuse he's used so far (by general consensus of those of us who have to 'ork with him):

* Have to go home (at 8:30a) because (and I quote!), "I have had several extremely loose bowel movements in the last thirty minutes."

Yeah, commuting by bike is a sure sign of trouble (no, cow-orker is not a bike commuter).
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Old 08-09-06, 07:39 AM   #16
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I think it's best to stay on topic with job interviews. Straying into lifestyle issues, hobbies, religious beliefs, politics, etc can be very risky.

Some folks feel this is kowtowing, I prefer to think of it as staying in control of the situation. The interview process is obscenely short and any red flag (or pink flag) can drop you from a list of candidates that can be quite long. If you later find out the company isn't what you had hoped, you're still in control of whether you work there or not.

Of course, if you walk into an interviewers office and it's decorated with some theme, you may chat lightly about the subject of you know something, but keep it light. You're main goal is to convince the company that you will be dedicated to The Company and no one involved with the process will be embarrassed if they reccomend to hire. If they offer you a job, you can then make a decision.

Just don't expect a broad range of random interviewers to share your passion about bicycling, fishing, auto racing, UFOlogy, the paranormal, Civil War re-enactments, or just about anything else about you that won't relate specifically to the job. You can share later if you find yourself among friends.
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Old 08-09-06, 08:06 AM   #17
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Most companies have a 90 day " trial " policy... After you have been working there for 90 days, bust out the bike and let them know whats up. If they fire you because of it, you will get unemployement pay.

Then, ride your bike for the next 2 years while they pay you 75% of your original salary for you to find another job =)
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Old 08-09-06, 08:08 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
It would be considered discrimnation to eliminate you based on your mode of transportation. It maybe that it wasn't such a good company to work for after all, if they made a decision based on just that.
Wow…. I agree with being discrimination.

Although I’m surprised… I shouldn’t be. I’m sure I would not have been hired at my office (been here 7 years at this point) if I’d begun as a bike commuter… Even though I’ve never been late due to commuting by bike, and I clean up timely and nicely, it’s VERY pretentious around here… and women are expected to be continuously primped and fluffy, which is not my style.

It’s definitely frowned upon that I ride my bike to work.
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Old 08-09-06, 08:11 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WalterMitty
...Just don't expect a broad range of random interviewers to share your passion about bicycling, fishing, auto racing, UFOlogy, the paranormal, Civil War re-enactments, or just about anything else about you that won't relate specifically to the job. You can share later if you find yourself among friends.
Great advice.
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Old 08-09-06, 08:14 AM   #20
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That is terrible. Who are these people? More and more companies are encouraging bike commutes. It saves on parking facilities and lowers health related costs, to say nothing of the broader fuel savings/environmental bonus. Some places even give you a tax break, for god's sake.

This retrograde company better get used to it one or another, as gas prices are heading up.
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Old 08-09-06, 08:18 AM   #21
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I use the "better to ask for forgiveness than permission" policy. In the interview, they only need to know that I can do my job and do it well.
At my current job, I started riding my bike, after I got hired. It did not go un-noticed that I started showing up for work 20 minutes early. They've actually very supportive.
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Old 08-09-06, 08:27 AM   #22
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I would never talk about my bike in a job interview. I wouldnt have asked,hey you got showers for me. I interview and thats going to turn be off right now.
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Old 08-09-06, 08:33 AM   #23
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You could write them a nice professional letter stating your particulars in terms of proximity to the company, emphasis upon dependability, reliability in terms of attendance, having back-up transportation, etc. That way, if the person who took the job flakes out, which happens quite a lot, you could still be in line for the position.

I think that you are lucky though that you learned what you did about the company up front. While I agree with the comments about what should and shouldn't be covered in an interview, going into this kind of detail was actually beneficial in terms of gauging their worthiness for you. If they actually spend time caring about how people get to work, I can only imagine what it would be like to work for them. They are probably psychotic and officious micromanagers about how you do your work. A lot of times the companies that pay more for their workers have to, and a key reason that they have to is because they can't keep anybody working there.

Workers trying to fix a company is tough enough, but makes for an especially bad fit when it comes right from the start of your employment. It would really suck to lose the job that you've got only to find this stuff out once you got there too. I would say that you may have just done a good job of successfully screening out a dysfunctional company.
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Old 08-09-06, 08:38 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fordfasterr
Most companies have a 90 day " trial " policy... After you have been working there for 90 days, bust out the bike and let them know whats up. If they fire you because of it, you will get unemployement pay.

Then, ride your bike for the next 2 years while they pay you 75% of your original salary for you to find another job =)

See the problem with that is some people don't have a car in the first place. I would not buy a car just to please them. I can find different ways to show up for maybe the first few days, but after that its to the bike i go. I have not found a job yet that is willing to pay an "extra" 6,500 dollars so that I may have a car... If they did, then I would want to use the cash to buy more bikes anyway.
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Old 08-09-06, 09:38 AM   #25
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Wow, eye opening. While I admit many people think it's strange to bike commute, I wouldn't think it would be a deal breaker.

I'm considering asking my supervisor for access to the showers here in the bldg. Think I'll stick with the bathroom clean-up now.
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