7 Awesome American Bike-Friendly Employers

Woman riding a bike in a cityscape
Photo: Diego Cervo/Shutterstock

It's a sad fact that most adults stop riding bicycles as soon as they get their driver's license. For most of us, a car is a step up from having to pedal where you want to go. But the bike has been staging a comeback. U.S. cities have a long way to go to catch up to their European counterparts when it comes to bike friendliness, but they're getting there, lane by lane. Bicycle sales have been on a steady march upward, and innovations like electric bikes make it easier for everyone to enjoy getting out for a ride. Here are seven companies that are going above and beyond the corporate call of duty in encouraging their workers to bike to work.

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New Belgium Beer

betsyweber/Flickr.

It makes sense that the beer company behind the popular organic beer Fat Tire Ale — with its prominent mountain bike logo — would be a bike-friendly place to work. But, boy, is it ever: employees of the Fort Collins, Colo.-based brewery are given a custom cruiser bike on their one-year anniversary of working with the company and they have the use of on-site locker rooms, covered bike parking and bike lockers.

New Belgium is also host of the popular Tour de Fat bike festival, which raises money for bike-related causes. When the weather is warm, New Belgium holds bike-in outdoor movies and gives the money it makes from beer sales to local nonprofits.

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University of Wisconsin-Madison

Michael Forster Rothbart/UW-Madison University Communications.

In 2009, the League of American Bicyclists named the University of Wisconsin-Madison a silver award winner in its Bicycle Friendly Business program. The university was recognized for its commitment to providing quality facilities and infrastructure for bike riders. The campus has more than 9,000 bike parking spots, and wide, well-lit bike paths or lanes can be found everywhere.

New students are invited on get-to-know-campus rides, and public service announcements regularly extol the virtues of safe riding habits. The city of Madison celebrates the bike every year with its Bike To Work Week, a celebration the school is more than happy to encourage its faculty and staff to participate in.

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Burgerville

Elly Blue/Flickr.

Burgerville is a restaurant chain centered in the northwestern U.S. that made this list for one very simple but powerful action — it lets bike riders order food in the drive-thrus. Most fast-food restaurants ban bicycle riders from ordering food in their drive-thru. (I've been told at more than one burger joint here in Portland, Maine, that the policy was imposed from on high and was for my own good ... health and safety and all that.) It's a silly rule that Burgerville had no problem doing away with after a woman on a bike was turned away from one of its drive-thrus in 2009. Her complaint moved Burgerville to reconsider its policy and it completely flipped, announcing that bicycle riders were welcome at all of its restaurants. In addition to being a boon to hungry bike riders in a rush, both Burgerville's menu and its business plan are heavy on local and sustainable items.

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Widmer Brothers Brewing

Widmer Brothers.

Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, Ore., thinks bike commuting is so important that it shelled out $25,000 to build a facility across the street from its office exclusively for the use of its bike-riding employees. The space features heated storage for 50 to 60 bikes and lockers for their riders. Shower space is available in a nearby building.

The company regularly takes part in Portland's Bike Commute Challenge, and co-founder Rob Widmer (who estimates he pedals to work about 100 times a year) told Bike Portland that 26 out of the brewery's 150 employees commute by bike at least three days a week.

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Google

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Google makes this list just because it's friendly to its employees on every level. But when you focus on bicycles, you'll discover a company that made headlines for giving a free bike plus a helmet to all its employees in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in 2007, and one that piles on the bike-related benefits at its headquarters in Mountainview, Calif. — onsite lockers and facilities for showering after a long ride, protected bike storage and buses that carry bikes to make it easy for riders to go multi-modal.

Google employees have organized monthly and weekly rides from suburbs and cities as far away as San Francisco (42 miles away).

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Nike

tnarik/Flickr.

Nike is another company that isn't a surprising addition to this list. The fitness and lifestyle apparel giant was founded by University of Oregon track runner Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman, and has built and maintained a reputation for caring about the health of its employees (early sweatshop days notwithstanding).

Nike has a department that will help employees plot out the safest route to and from work as well as guide them to other information and resources aimed to make their ride easier. Employees are encouraged to park their bikes in their offices or they can use any of the many bike racks and cages scattered across the corporate campus.

Sweaty bicycle commuters can use one of the two on-site fitness centers to freshen up.

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Specialized

Mike Levy/pinkbike.com.

This is another obvious choice. Specialized Bicycle is located in Morgan Hill, Calif., and has been in the bicycle business since 1974. Its headquarters has the bike storage (see photo) and shower and locker facilities that you might expect from a truly bike-friendly company, but Specialized takes it an extra step, paying employees $1 for every one-way bike commute they make.

It's not a ton of cash, but it adds up to a fun-enough amount over the course of a few months. It's also just a nice way to keep score amongst your fellow riders — Specialized employees can track their bicycle commuting stats against other members through the Commuter Club.

In 2010, Specialized was awarded a Bicycle Friendly Business gold award from the League of American Bicyclists.