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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 06-09-11, 01:06 PM   #1
B Piddy
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How would you spend $5,000?

Hello fellow commuters
Our company was recently offered $5k to help encourage and advocate new bicycle commuters. Obviously, those of us who currently bike commute aren't really affected by this but we have chosen to come with ideas to spend this grant.
Some of the ideas currently floating around include facilty modifications
such as covered bike parking, better options for changing/showering, cash/gift certificates for commuters based on number of times you commute, (i.e. $10 for first time, $10 for each 5 times after that....just an example, not sure how we are going to dispurse this).
How would you use this grant money to help encourage new commuters? Based on a survey of our company, probably the biggest barrier is that 80% of the employees live over 12 miles from work. We are focusing on the 15% or so that live less than 5 miles away...it is the only realistic option right now.
Thanks for your input.
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Old 06-09-11, 01:10 PM   #2
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It wasn't really clear from the start that this is a company initiative. That is much different from a community or a municipal grant. I would say buy 5 or more bikes outfitted with basic accessories that people can use to commute on and put up a rack in a covered area to lock them up. Any worker can take them out for free (with some kind of deposit or signout system or whatnot).
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Old 06-09-11, 01:23 PM   #3
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Showers, man, showers. This is the first place I've worked where really nice showers are available, and it impresses upon me the absolute necessity for a decent locker room. Birdbaths get old. Yay for your company.
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Old 06-09-11, 01:28 PM   #4
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I would definitely look into two areas first:

- showers and lockers
- bike parking and bike security

These are two of the top issues that keep people from commuting regularly. Forget gift certificates, freebies, etc. Put that money into lasting bike infrastructure.
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Old 06-09-11, 01:31 PM   #5
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Agree with the above...my building has great protected parking, and without it I would not commute the way I do now. We don't have showers, and it would make things a heck of a lot easier if we did have them.
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Old 06-09-11, 01:35 PM   #6
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Showers, man, showers. This is the first place I've worked where really nice showers are available, and it impresses upon me the absolute necessity for a decent locker room. Birdbaths get old. Yay for your company.
I'd spend it on showers, too. I think I would commute every day if I had that. When it's pouring and cold, I don't mind riding if I can warm up and clean off in a shower, and then change into a fresh pair of clothes. That isn't available here, so I don't ride in very often when it's pouring in the rainy season.

Can people store their bikes in their cubes? If I was allowed to do that, I'd take my road bike instead of my commuter, and it would sweeten the deal; if I didn't already have a commuter, using the bike I already had might be the tipping point.

As nice as being paid to commute would be, I do it because I enjoy it, and because it makes better use of my personal time. $10 a week won't change the equation enough for me to care.
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Old 06-09-11, 01:38 PM   #7
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5 really awesome loaner bikes?
50 beater loaner bikes?
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Old 06-09-11, 01:50 PM   #8
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First, I would figure out how many people currently bike commute. I would then break down that number into sub groups consisting of:
a) year rounders
b) seasonal
c)Occasional (or whatever groupings you thinks best describe them)
d) cross section of people who don't ride

Probably have each group come up with 3 things that they would like improved (i.e. what would make Occasional riders seasonal, or seasonal riders year rounders, or people who don't ride at least start or try).

You might come up with a list of things including new facilities, but you may also come up with things like lack of education (people may be afraid of traffic), inflexible work hours (I have to drop the kids off first to get here by 9), or a host of things you never thought of.

Basically you don't want to make amenities for one group, but have things benefiting a wide range of people. You might even find out that every group wants just one thing .

Last edited by exile; 06-09-11 at 01:54 PM.
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Old 06-09-11, 01:53 PM   #9
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The first thing I look for is a decent bike rack - I really wish my work had bike lockers, so I could ride any of my bikes into work, not just the cheap ones.

The second one is somewhere at work to store a change of clothes and a place to change. At my current job I have a desk and drawers which is better than nothing, but I would prefer a locker so I don't have to walk through my desk area in bike tights (so far I've been commuting in jeans or mtn bike shorts which isn't to bad). It also lets people bike commute without everyone knowing they're bike commuting (wouldn't be a problem for me, but it is for some people), and avoids that "Oh oh oh you're at your desk I need to talk to you right right right now" person in the morning.

The third is showers, as someone else said.

Finally, if you want to encourage people to try bike commuting, I don't know if this is a realistic idea or not, but I've thought it could be useful to have an electric-assist bike for people who wanted to try it, but either are afraid of running out of energy partway in, or aren't in good shape right now but would be interested in trying it. Of course this has several issues - they have to bring the bike home with them the night before, making sure it isn't stolen, electric-assist bikes cost between $1500-$2500, and there's the sizing issue - it's hard to buy one bike that fits everyone.

Of course the biggest obstacle aside from bike parking is out of your control - the availability of good routes to your location. Some people will bike on busy streets - but people like me won't. Other people will bike on side streets and deal with light auto traffic (like me). Other people will only do it if there's dedicated offstreet bike path to your location.

Actually, this brings up another idea. There are 2 other things that keep people from biking to work -
1. Knowledge of a good route to their location. People often hesitate to even try it because they're not sure if a route is available, or what it would be, concerned that they would get lost, etc.
2. If someone they feel comfortable with will ride the route with them the first time that also helps.

I don't know if gift certificates and such would be motivating or not...hard to say.
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Old 06-09-11, 02:00 PM   #10
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To add to the loaner bikes notion, perhaps if showers didn't happen, the loaner scenario could take over. If it is a hit with the office (more people start riding), the company could then sponsor rewards, reinforcing their backing of a bike to work initiative. Unfortunately you are in Minnesota, where winter happens, so it would be seasonal for most. I'm thinking something like keeping track of who rides, how far, and how often, then letting those miles pile up to eventually earn the rider a bike of their own.

To address the beginners and out of shape/under-confident folks, maybe you could take the lead in managing a lunchtime ride?
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Old 06-09-11, 02:00 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
I would definitely look into two areas first:

- showers and lockers
- bike parking and bike security

These are two of the top issues that keep people from commuting regularly. Forget gift certificates, freebies, etc. Put that money into lasting bike infrastructure.
couldn't agree more. and when he says bike parking, I would like to add covered bike parking.
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Old 06-09-11, 02:24 PM   #12
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Re

Thank you everyone so much your input!!

From what I can see from everyone's posts is that infrastructure and education are solid investments. I know road safety and busy intersections scare many people from bike commuting - It's an uphill battle, but it's worth a shot.
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Old 06-09-11, 02:50 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
I would definitely look into two areas first:

- showers and lockers
- bike parking and bike security

These are two of the top issues that keep people from commuting regularly. Forget gift certificates, freebies, etc. Put that money into lasting bike infrastructure.
word.

DO NOT hand the money out to bribe people into bike commuting a handful of times until the money well dries up. put that money into something that will last; into something the will continue to encourage bike commuting after the money has been spent. it's that whole give a man a fish vs. teaching him how to fish thing.

"give a man 20 dollars for biking to work and he bikes to work for a day, but give a man a place to shower after biking to work and he bikes to work for a lifetime."
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Old 06-09-11, 05:40 PM   #14
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+1 on showers and parking!
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Old 06-09-11, 05:44 PM   #15
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Shower/locker room.
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Old 06-09-11, 06:08 PM   #16
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Here's an idea that would probably go under the infrastructure- a room set up with a repair stand, some tools, floor pump. Might be nice (but a logistical nightmare in the making) to stock some 'consumable' items like tubes, CO2 cartridges, hydration/nutrition, maybe batteries...
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Old 06-09-11, 06:13 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by exile View Post
First, I would figure out how many people currently bike commute. I would then break down that number into sub groups consisting of:
a) year rounders
b) seasonal
c)Occasional (or whatever groupings you thinks best describe them)
d) cross section of people who don't ride

Probably have each group come up with 3 things that they would like improved (i.e. what would make Occasional riders seasonal, or seasonal riders year rounders, or people who don't ride at least start or try).

You might come up with a list of things including new facilities, but you may also come up with things like lack of education (people may be afraid of traffic), inflexible work hours (I have to drop the kids off first to get here by 9), or a host of things you never thought of.

Basically you don't want to make amenities for one group, but have things benefiting a wide range of people. You might even find out that every group wants just one thing .
I wouldn't bother with doing all the numbers. I wouldn't ask either. I mean democracy and all is great but people will start arguing and nit-picking and coming up with all the craziest ideas and it'll be just a waste of time. And I really doubt anyone will question the usefulness of showers, lockers and bike parking. Really, I can't imagine that any person genuinely interested in riding to work would question the wisdom of having showers, lockers and secure bike parking ahead of any other amenities. This will benefit the widest range of bike commuters.

The OP has cash on hand and he needs to spent it on improvements that will keep current bike commuters riding and encourage new bike commuters. That cash needs to be spent wisely on something lasting. I really don't think there is anything more worthy spending that money than showers, lockers and secure parking. The chances are very high that the seasonal and occasional people will ride a lot more and the people who don't ride might be tempted to ride as well. I know for a fact from talking to many people that being able to clean up after the ride and have a secure place for their bikes are top concerns and top reasons that prevent people from riding to work. Street safety is another issue, but that's a separate problem that can't be addressed here.

Just announce that showers, lockers and bike parking are coming and watch the reaction. I will be really shocked if there was any opposition to this idea.
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Old 06-09-11, 06:20 PM   #18
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Here's an idea that would probably go under the infrastructure- a room set up with a repair stand, some tools, floor pump. Might be nice (but a logistical nightmare in the making) to stock some 'consumable' items like tubes, CO2 cartridges, hydration/nutrition, maybe batteries...
The benefit from this will be very marginal and this facility would serve a very small percentage of bike commuters: the DIY types are a minority still. Also, tools tend to grow legs and wings and disappear. Like you said it would be a nightmare to keep everything accounted for and in good condition. The consumables will go quickly, money will be depleted and nothing will be left to offer a continuing encouragement to ride.

Unless you wanted to offer bike maintenance and repair classes, but still this will not encourage people to ride more, the benefit is too insignificant and intangible, period.
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Old 06-09-11, 06:25 PM   #19
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I would say, in order of priority:
1. Secure parking
2. Cover the parking
3. Showers
4. Full locker room

If your company already has locker rooms with showers, is there a janitorial closet nearby that could be made into bike storage? That's about as good as it gets, and most of the places I've worked have had at least one janitor closet that has fallen out of use.

Good, secure parking right at - or even inside - the door can make a big difference for a lot of people. With my knees, I'd rather pedal 3-5 miles and park at the door than drive and have to walk 100 yards or more from the car to the door. My wife bike commutes to her teaching job from time to time because the university has notoriously bad parking but the building she needs to get to has a bike rack at each end within ten yards of the door. Right at a mile door-to-door takes just about as long either way due to the search for a parking space, and it's not far enough for the air conditioner in the car to make much progress on 105F heat anyway.

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Old 06-09-11, 06:27 PM   #20
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I would say, in order of priority:
1. Secure parking
2. Cover the parking
3. Showers
4. Full locker room

If your company already has locker rooms with showers, is there a janitorial closet nearby that could be made into bike storage? That's about as good as it gets, and most of the places I've worked have had at least one janitor closet that has fallen out of use.
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couldn't agree more. and when he says bike parking, I would like to add covered bike parking.
Of course. But that would be just the icing on the cake if money is left over. For instance, I would rather have showers and outdoor bike parking, than no showers and covered parking. Bike rain covers are $25. Or, I'd rather have a fence and locking gate first than a roof.

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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
"give a man 20 dollars for biking to work and he bikes to work for a day, but give a man a place to shower after biking to work and he bikes to work for a lifetime."
LOL I Like that!
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Old 06-09-11, 06:33 PM   #21
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Thank you everyone so much your input!!

From what I can see from everyone's posts is that infrastructure and education are solid investments. I know road safety and busy intersections scare many people from bike commuting - It's an uphill battle, but it's worth a shot.
Safety education can be done for free. It takes a couple of enthusiasts and volunteers and some spare time and a room or some emails
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Old 06-09-11, 06:35 PM   #22
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Of course. But that would be just the icing on the cake if money is left over. For instance, I would rather have showers and outdoor bike parking, than no showers and covered parking. Bike rain covers are $25. Or, I'd rather have a fence and locking gate first than a roof.
This depends on your weather; a rain cover will keep the seat dry, but it doesn't keep the handlebars from causing second degree burns after 8 hours of Texas sun. I'd also have to say that, if the public can get to it, covered parking has a bit more appearance of security than a rack sitting out in the corner of the lot.
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Old 06-09-11, 06:42 PM   #23
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This depends on your weather; a rain cover will keep the seat dry, but it doesn't keep the handlebars from causing second degree burns after 8 hours of Texas sun. I'd also have to say that, if the public can get to it, covered parking has a bit more appearance of security than a rack sitting out in the corner of the lot.
That's true. But we're working with a limited budget and covered bike parking will add to the costs significantly I think. And the OP is in Minnesota so the scorching sun might not be that much of a problem. Although, I burned my thighs on my black frame once in NYC.
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Old 06-09-11, 06:49 PM   #24
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That's true. But we're working with a limited budget and covered bike parking will add to the costs significantly I think.
Again, that depends on how it's done; maintenance extending a sheet metal awning off the building wall with a couple of pieces of pipe for supports is pretty cheap compared to something more substantial, but it still gets the job done.
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Old 06-09-11, 10:21 PM   #25
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This is my first internet comment about bicycling ever. I'm 52 and started commuting about a month ago. I didn't know I was going to be a bicycle commuter when I bought the bike but I knew after my second day of riding it. In fact, the first place I rode my bike was 6.7 miles to work. It changed everything about my work day. I can't believe how important this has become to me in just a short time.
Funny, the last bike I owned was a Murray bought at K-Mart 20 years ago. It never saw much action. Before that the last time I rode a bike was the day before I got my drivers license. Ha!
Somehow I knew this was going to be big for me when I bought this new bike.
It took only the first or second day before I knew I was going to be a commuter. Immediately, serious conciderations for the logistics of commuting came up. Many of which have been mentioned here.
If you want to encourage somebody like me a month ago to commute by bicycle, you would have to show me how to keep fresh cloths at work and how I was going to change into them. How was I going to protect my bike from thieves or vandals? How do I get lunch to work? Spend $5000 to encourage someone like me to bike commute? Tear down the barriers of commuting that separate pleasure from burden.
Darned pleased to be here ya'll!
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