Saturday, November 14, 2009

Do You Know a Bicycle Friendly Business?

A year ago the League of American Bicyclists named Salem a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community.

Since 2003 the League has been recognizing cities and communities that make bicycling an important part of their transportation system.

Did you know the League also recognizes businesses that show an exemplary commitment to bicycling?

The Bicycle Friendly Business program is new, and people are only just beginning to learn about it!

The state of Oregon currently has only 8 businesses so recognized. There's no company in Salem yet!

The League offers a quick check to see if you should apply:
If your business scores five points or higher, you should apply!

Does your business provide secure bike parking? (three points)

Does your business provide showers for employees? (three points)

Does your business offer incentives for employees to commute to work by bike? (four points)

Does your business work with local advocates to improve bicycling conditions for the community? (two points)

Does your business have an action plan to help promote cycling? (two points)

Does your business support a bicycle team/club? (one point)
Here's the application site and a link to the forms. The application is FREE!

The current application round closes on January 15, 2010, with announcements in March, so there's plenty of time!


Walker said...

This is like LEED and all the other certifications that don't actually require successful implementation, only effort. I can imagine a number of businesses that nobody in their right mind would bike to that could qualify.

There seems to be another part of the "self-esteem culture" at work here -- we'll give prizes and stickers out to anyone who makes the politically correct noises, even if there's zero actual environmental benefit occurring in the real world.

Getting points for supporting a biking team is the giveaway -- bike teams are probably more counterproductive than helpful in terms of persuading average folks that biking is a serious form of everyday transport. Every time I see a Spandex Warrior on a $3500 bike that weighs less than my head I notice how alien they appear and how grimly serious they seem to be, like it's no fun to be them.

Then I watch them pull into the lot where they've all parked together and see that they've all driven SUVs to their rides, and I know that something is seriously wrong with the way we're doing this bike thing.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Walker, you are too harsh! Voltaire, who wasn't exactly a Panglossian optimist, apparently said, "Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien" - which has become our making the "perfect be the enemy of the good" meme. Even if apocryphal (I'm not going to check), the point is a good one.

The LAB's program might not be perfect, how can it be empty? Providing secure bike parking, providing showers, and employee incentives for bike commuting must count as implementation, not merely empty effort. These are concrete improvements, and they deserve recognition! Moreover, the program is on a two-year cycle, and renewals will require improvements over time - it's not static.

(Alta, the Bike Gallery, and King - the gold and platinum level businesses in Oregon - btw have HUGE commitments and employee participation in bike commuting, and an argument that their recognition is a sham would be laughable.)

I'm sorry you are down on this and LEED, but many of us think, as I suppose you do not, that the world is better with them, however imperfect, than without.

Walker said...

You're probably right, I was probably too harsh.

But to answer your question, how can those "concrete" measures be empty? The answer is simple--if they are unused. Installing secure bike parking, showers, etc. is not necessarily the same as making biking possible, plausible or even popular.

Moreover, what I was thinking about was places where bike accessibility deficits outweigh the rated features (which treat the business as an isolated atom rather than examining it in context), which renders the bike assets you mention far less valuable than they would otherwise be.

Consider the Kroc Center, to take a recent example discussed here. They would certainly get points for showers, and they have some bike racks ... but how "bike friendly" is the place? Can you be "Bike Friendly" if anyone riding to your location is taking their life in their hands?

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Ah! There's a reason the award is called "bicycle friendly business" and not "bicycle friendly business and neighborhood infrastructure" award.

Your atomic analysis makes good points, but in the end we disagree.

Molecules are built out of atoms, and bringing together atoms one at a time, and bringing people together one at a time, is most often the best we humans can do. In human society catalysts that crystallize change in a flash are more often mythical than actual.

So the Kroc is an excellent example - and if they were to apply, and meet the requirements, we would be delighted to announce them as a "bike friendly business" on this blog! They would deserve it.

Businesses that make an effort to promote bicycling should not be punished because their neighborhoods haven't caught up.

And I don't believe that an award would stop anyone from advocating for improved bikeways in their neighborhood. Indeed, if anything it would help the cause.

So, haven't persuaded me the program is not terrific!

Unknown said...

So do we have to go look up the eight? Or did I miss something.

Unknown said...

About Kroc - indeed it is stuck out there in no man's land (the broken glass on Industrial is awful), but there's some neat off-road just to the north - I got stuck out there (and burrs in my socks) and had to turn around, but there might be a route out there...

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Perhaps mistakenly I thought a list of non-Salem companies would not be of interest. I'm sorry. Here they are:

Bike Gallery

Alta Planning + Design
King Cycle Group

Frans Pauwels Mem'l Comm. Bicycle Ctr
Providence Portland Medical Center
Saturno Design

EasyStreet Online
Travel Portland

For more on the Kroc see here.