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According to AAA, the monthly cost of owning and operating a sedan is approximately $700 a month.

More employers are recognizing the benefits of bike commuting

Elly Blue of Grist continues her series on the economics of bicycling this week with, How employers can encourage happy, healthy bike commuters.

Indeed, a growing number of companies are beginning to recognize the numerous positive impacts of bicycling to the bottom line. They are seeing firsthand that bike commuters get to work earlier, submit fewer sick days, are happier and are less stressed.  

There are many inexpensive ways a company can promote bike commuting:

  • By providing information to their employees: bike maps, safe-cycling information, and bikes-on-transit information are all are available free online by download or request.
  • Others make policy changes or minor infrastructure additions, such allowing bikes in the office and installing bike racks or indoor bike parking.  
  • Still others really put their money where their mouth is and give cash. Grist cites two examples. Right here in Chicago, Christopher B. Burke Engineering of Rosemont pays each employee 75 cents per mile biked. The intitiative has been a huge success: from six riders and 3,000 miles in 2006 to 35 riders and 20,000 miles in 2010. This year is projected to be even bigger with 44 riders projected to log over 25,000 miles. (That's $18,750, if you're counting.)

Even when they are paying employees to bike, the companies are still reaping huge returns on their investment. And the benefits are multiple: 

  • Workplace wellness: Employers implementing health promotion programs have achieved on average:
         o 28 percent reduction in sick leave
         o 26 percent reduction in direct health care costs
         o 30 percent reduction in costs related to workers’ compensation and disability
  • Transportation planning
    • Maintain fewer parking spaces
    • More efficient land use
  • Recruitment and retention
    • Happy, healthy employees with more personal time on their hands
    • Innovative benefits to attract future employees

Now is the perfect time to begin encouraging your colleagues to commute by bicycle. The Active Trans Bike Commuter Challenge is recuiting team leaders now — anyone from a workplace can sign up. We'll provide all the knowledge and tools needed to recuit your employees to pledge to ride during Chicago's own Bike to Work Week, June 11-17.

Chances are very likely there are some would-be bike commuters in your office. Let's get them rolling!