3 Tips for Creating a Bike-Friendly Workplace From Your Friends at Greenpeace

by Melissa Maigler

June 10, 2016

A way to act for the climate and get some fresh air at the same time? Sign us up! (Polar bear tandem rider optional.)

'Act for Arctic' Ice Ride in Freiburg

Greenpeacers on an 'Ice Ride' for the Arctic in 2014.

© Greenpeace / Jannis Grosse

Protecting the environment is at the heart of Greenpeace’s mission, so it’s a natural instinct for many of our staff to make choices that minimize their environmental footprint. Commuting by bicycle is one way a lot of us have chosen to do that.

Bicycling has emits far less carbon than driving (you know, zero emissions), so it’s an excellent way to integrate climate action into your everyday life. And the exercise from biking helps keep our staff healthy and happy, allowing them to be more productive at work and take fewer sick days.

Because it’s good for the environment and good for our staff, Greenpeace offers support and incentives for bicycling to work. Most of our offices provide secure bicycle parking and storage space for gear. All Greenpeace staff have an option to receive a stipend to help pay for a bicycle, repairs, or accessories. Offering these types of amenities and having dedicated bike commuters helped our San Francisco office earn a bicycle-friendly business award from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition last week.

I recently connected with some Greenpeace staff to talk about what makes a bike-friendly workplace, why they love bicycling to work, and what their top tips are for those who wanted to get started.

1. Provide a safe, accessible space for bike storage.

Gabrielle Leyden

Gabrielle Leyden with her bike in Greenpeace’s San Francisco office. Photo by Melissa Maigler / Greenpeace.

Bikes aren’t just property, they’re how many of our staff get around, whether that’s commuting or out and about in their own life. So protecting that property from theft and the elements is a must for any workplace that encourages employees to bike to work.

I don’t have a car so public transportation is my only other option,” Gabrielle Leyden (left) told me. “While the San Francisco bus system is one of the better ones in the country, buses can be slow and frustrating. Biking allows me to to be in total control of my commute and is great way to get some exercise and fresh air first thing in the morning.”

And if your bike storage is in the office and up a few stories like ours, make sure folks can get there! No one likes carrying a heavy bike up two flights of stairs. Here’s what DC staffer Cassady Sharp said:

An accessible way to get your bike in the building, like a ramp or an elevator, is key. And, of course, a bike rack that accommodates short people, too!”

2. Make sure folks can freshen up when they get to work.

Bob Meyers and Kris Wright

Bob Meyers (left) and Kris Wright (right) after biking to work in Greenpeace’s Washington, DC office. Photo by Livia Hyams / Greenpeace.

Bob Meyers and Kris Wright have two of the longer rides among our staff, biking from the Virginia suburbs to our office in downtown Washington, DC. Kris rides 25 miles round trip every day and Bob rides 34 miles (still, nothing compared to the cross-country bike trip he took in 2014).

Now, for those who don’t know, DC is a fetid swamp quite hot and humid for much of the summer. So having a shower on-site is a must for those who want their staff to show up clean and washed after a potentially sweaty commute.

As Bob put it, “having a bicycle rack on-site is great. Having a shower is priceless.” In fact, every single one of our DC staffers I talked to mentioned how great it was to have a shower.

Both Bob and Kris have been bike commuting for years now, but they still remember what it was like to get started. Here’s Kris’s advice:

If you feel intimated, grab a friend and follow their lead. The bicycle community here in DC and Virginia is very friendly and people look out for one another. One time I got a flat and it wasn’t two minutes before someone stopped to help me out.”

3. Help your staff help themselves!

Carolyn Auwaerter

Carolyn Auwaerter commutes by bike to our Philadelphia field office. Photo by Lora Reehling / Women Bike PHL.

More than driving or commuting by public transportation, bicycling is a community activity. It’s one of the reasons our staff love biking, and one of the things that helped many of them get started biking to work.

Our staff share route advice, gear tips, tricks to stay safe, and even equipment with each other, which we’re now sharing with you!

Here’s a safety tip from Carolyn Auwaerter in our Philadelphia field office:

If you’re new to commuting by bicycle, practice looking over your shoulder while riding in a straight line in a parking lot. It’s a lot easier to change lanes if you’re confident you can steer the bike as you look behind for cars.”

And an idea from B Trewin in our DC office:

I don’t own a bike pump, but there’s one at work and I appreciate sharing one with co-workers.”

And finally, something to seek out for early birds like Hannah Strange from San Francisco:

Get yourself a handle bar-mounted coffee holder. Essential for the morning commute!”

So, are you ready to ride?

(Special thanks to my colleagues, Bob Meyers, Kris Wright, Chad Stein, Davin Hutchins, Nathan Santry, B Trewin, Ben Simon, Gabrielle Leyden, Cassady Sharp, Hannah Strange, and Carolyn Auwaerter for helping to compile these awesome tips and tricks!)

For more on creating a bike-friendly workplace and getting started on your bike commute, check out these resources from our friends at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

Melissa Maigler

By Melissa Maigler

Melissa Maigler is a Facilities Manager with Greenpeace USA. She uses sustainability values like the Triple Bottom Line to reduce the impact of buildings on the environment and help keep people healthy. She is based in San Francisco.

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