In a previous post, I discussed the steps to becoming a BizCycle certified workplace and revealed that even our very own Cascade needed some internal preparation to qualify for the program. BizCycle requires that organizations meet six prerequisites before embarking on the certification process.
What are the prerequisites?
- Have a goal bicycle mode split for the worksite. Nope…
- Know the current bicycle mode split for the worksite. Not yet…
- Provide adequate bicycle parking for commuters and visitors. Sorta…
- Host one event per year that includes bicycles. Roger that one!
- Send out at least one bike-specific message to all commuters yearly. On it.
- Participate in community planning or advocacy for bicycles. Yeah, we do that…
Cascade has thirteen bicycle hooks in two bike rooms downstairs for staff and volunteers to hang their bikes in a secure space inside the office. Outside, our five-space short-term rack is available for visitors, but isn’t visible from the front door. Cascade produces eighteen major cycling events (including the Commute Challenge), 1,500+ free daily rides, over 160 classes and dozens of presentations, camps and fundraisers every year. Just the fact that Cascade staff participate in and form teams for the Commute Challenge would have sufficiently met the bicycle event prerequisite.
For messaging, Cascade sends 26 Braking News releases, seven Crosstown Traffic emails during Bike Month, four Bike Business E-Newsletters and dozens of action alerts yearly.
However, while a hook in the bike room is noticeably harder to come by on some days more than others (plenty of elbow room to hang my bike in January), I found that Cascade does not actively measure employee bicycle commuting. Without an accurate percentage for how many employees bicycle to work on a given day and therefore, a baseline to set a goal from, Cascade fell short of two of our own prerequisites.
How do we measure bicycling?
The result: for the week surveyed, 32% of trips to work by Cascade staff were made by bicycle.
It seemed surprisingly low for a staff of bicycle enthusiasts (in our defense, it was particularly rainy that week), which illustrates a common challenge: when to measure bicycling. Although summer bicycling rates (or Commute Challenge participation) offer more to brag about, seasonal measurements can be useful for planning infrastructure and programs.
BizCycle requires applying organizations to set a baseline. During the winter months, this will result in a lower percentage. Determining a mode split percentage worthy of scientific excellence isn’t necessarily the point and has no weight on your credit total. The objective is to establish a quantitative, repeatable measurement of bicycling to set a baseline and track trends over time (in fact, repeated measurements and demonstrating trends over time, will earn you credit).
Surveying Cascade staff also presented an opportunity to understand barriers to bicycling and what Cascade could change to be more supportive. Weather, hilly terrain, distance and the time it takes to bike were the most common barriers expressed by Cascade staff. Other barriers included errands or after-work activities, family schedules, limited daylight hours and arriving sweaty to a destination. Staff expressed an overwhelming desire for Cascade to offer a financial incentive or a transit subsidy to encourage commute alternatives. The BizCycle credit list represents a 50-point to-do list for what an organization could do to increase bicycling, but we recognize that most workplaces can’t do it all. Reaching out to staff allowed us to identify a few best practices to prioritize as we work to increase bicycle commuting. How much do we want to increase bicycling? Sounds like it’s time to set a goal. Heads up for my next post on setting a goal for bicycling.
Looking for more guidance on how your workplace can measure bicycling? Check out our measurement resources on the BizCycle website.