Q: I’m a dedicated bike commuter with a bit of a bone to pick with my boss but I don’t want to come on too strong since I do, after all, enjoy my job and would like to hang on to it. The thing is, I’ve been biking to work for three years now and others in my department are beginning to do the same, yet there’s been no movement from upper-level management when it comes to accommodating us cyclists.

 

At the very least, I’d like to see a bike rack installed outside or in the garage of my building — right now I’m locking my bike up in front of random buildings in the neighborhood. I’d also like to see one of the spare offices turned into a “lounge of sorts” for us cyclists to change and freshen up before hitting the cubicles because, sadly, spandex and pit stains aren’t part of the corporate dress code.

 

I’ve brought up bike-friendly office improvements before in general meetings but they’ve been shot down. Do you have any suggestions on how I can successfully, and tactfully, put something into motion?

 

Spinning my wheels,

 

Andy

[skipwords]Kansas[/skipwords] City, Mo.

Hey Andy,

I got your back (and your bike) on this one. Unless Mr. or Mrs. Bossman/Bosslady is a complete dolt, they’ll hear you out without issue. So, please, don’t worry about losing your job or being put on probation because you’re passionate about biking to work. Just don’t take all of your clothes off, save for a helmet, and chain yourself to the front of your building in protest. That may not work to your advantage.

I’d keep bringing up the topic in meetings and, if you haven’t already, request a one-on-one with whomever you think can help put your ideas into action, someone who’s sympathetic and who has pull. And remember, there’s power in numbers, so band together with your cycling co-workers and make your presence known around the water cooler.

Most importantly, before you take a meeting about the possibility of installing racks and other “amenities” for bike commuters, be prepared. Go in with some ammo other than “I bike to work and leaving my bike chained up down the street is a pain in the butt.”

First, I’d stress how your commute is far less, well, stressful than driving. Employees who commute by bike are healthy, happy and productive which, of course, only benefits your company. Plus, depending on how long your commute is, biking can get you into the office faster. Mention that American commuters spend an average of 47 hours annually stuck in rush hour traffic while emphasizing that you — as I’m sure you do —always roll in right on time with a big smile on your face. And because biking to work keeps you healthy, you take fewer sick days. It also might be worth pointing out that you never take extended lunch breaks to get time in at the gym because your commute is your exercise. For supporting evidence, check out this list of biking-to-work health benefits.

Second, since many companies large and small are striving to green their business operations, be sure to point out that providing employees with bike racks, at the very least, is an essential way your company can truly walk the green talk. Reference other ways that your company has made eco-improvements and voice your concern as to why the “b” word has been neglected. And you mentioned that your company has a garage. I imagine that maintaining one is far more expensive than installing a few bike racks or lockers, so I don’t think it would hurt to bring up the point that when an employee bikes, the company can reap the financial benefits as well.

On the topic of financial benefits, make your employer aware of the Bicycle Commuter Benefit Act, a provision put into effect in 2009 by the IRS that makes regular bike commuters eligible for reimbursements of up to $20 a month. It’s a voluntary benefit program, so be sure to bring it up especially if employees who opt to take public transit to work are receiving perks.

And finally, in terms of when, round up the troops and strike now, Andy, because the timing is perfect. Bike-to-Work Week 2010 is just around the corner, May 17-21, so use the momentum of this event to make your move. You might be already familiar with these resources, but if not, check out Bike Commuters, Bike Hugger and a list of commuter tips from the The League of American Bicyclists to get you revved up. And you’re probably intimate with KCBike.Info but just in case …

Good luck and fingers crossed that you’ll be parking your ride out front, be provided with proper facilities to change into and out of that monkey suit and be reimbursed for tune-ups in no time.

— Matt

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