5 Great Ways To Get People To Ride Bicycles To Work

Bike To Work Day photo
Photo credit: A. Streeter.

It's Bike to Work day! But in light of some rather gloomy statistics about who's actually getting on bikes in a recent report by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler, we thought it might be great to highlight some of the most effective ways out there to get more men, and also more women and more children riding. And it's not all about money, though some of the most effective methods do come down to dollars and sense.

1.Give Them A Bicycle.

This montage shows New Belgium's employee bicycle from 2010 Montage credit: New Belgium.

Most of us assume that everybody has an old, beat up, slightly rusted bike somewhere in our basement, storage unit, or garage. And most of us probably do. But who wants to ride that to work? A number of companies have given their employees bicycles to encourage them to ride- last year IKEA gave its U.S. employees a silver, blue, and yellow striped bike for Christmas. Nabisco in Los Angeles has in the past given commuting employees a bike after six months of pedaling to work. But the best? Fort Collins, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing gives employees a snazzy cruiser bike on their first anniversary of work (as an employee-owned company, that first birthday is also the moment an employee gets his or her company stock). Each year, production artist Ryan McKee helps make the bikes - from Schwinn, Streamline, and Felt - look distinctive so that every year is a "limited edition" special bike employees are happy to ride.

2. Give Them $ To Bike.

Cosmo Gets Money For Being On A Bike photo
Photo credit: A. Streeter.The Federal Bicycle Commuter Act has been in place since 2009. The Act allows employers to offset the costs of bicycle purchase, improvement, repair, and storage for employees at the rate of $20 per month. The employer has some leeway in setting up the program. Bike commuters are not allowed to receive transit or parking benefits in addition to the bike benefit. While double dipping wouldn't be right, it seems like making cyclists opt out of transit benefit, which can be more generous, is a serious drawback of the bill.

3. Give Them More $$ (Or Something Better).

Bikes At Wieden offices photo
At Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, bikes get pride of place in the office corridors. Photo credit: A. Streeter.Today, Portland advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy will announce their "W+K Cycling" program. Instead of cash, in the first month the bike at least 50% of the time, W+K will give bike commuters a $50 gift certificate to Levi's, Target, Nike, or local Portland bike store the Bike Gallery. Also, these cyclists will be put in a pool eligible to win the big prize of a $200 gift certificate to the Bike Gallery that W+K will match with a $100 contribution to non-profit Village Bicycle Project and $100 to the non-profit of the winner's choice.W+K estimates it has about 40 full-time commuters out of 600 employees, and would like to increase that number. Though these gift incentives are generous, they will likely cost the company less than setting up and administering Bicycle Commuter Act subsidies would, and are more in keeping with W+K culture, the company said.

4. Welcome $5 Per Gallon Gas.

Guy On Bike In Front Of Gas Sign photo
Photo credit: Payton Chung via flickr and Creative Commons license.We've already breached $4 per gallon gasoline in many states, and that has effected the driving habits of U.S. motorists - which somewhat paradoxically, means $5 gas any time soon is less likely, as drivers driving less presses demand and prices downward. But John Pucher of Rutgers says $5 per gallon gas would be a most effective stick, that many Americans would respond to, getting out of their cars and onto their bikes. In fact, lots of news reports (here, here, and here) are already linking rising bike sales to higher prices at the pump.

5. Create Bike Trains.

In 2010, Kiel Johnson decided to make his own job - he wanted to get more kids (and their parents) cycling. He started what he called a bike train at Portland Beach Elementary, and quickly got scores of parents and kids riding bikes together in a pack to school in the mornings. Nine schools in Portland now have bike trains, and Johnson aims to have a bike train at every school.Bike trains get kids riding - which considering that the number of kids biking in America has actually dropped, is a positive thing. It's true, they aren't strictly bike-to-work commuters - not yet, anyway!Like this story? Follow A.K. Streeter on Twitter.More about biking:

Men Vastly Outbike Women and Kids, Study Says

Why Bikes for Girls is a Lifechanging Concept in Africa (Video)
Why Women Bike, and Why They Don't
The Crusade Against Female Cyclists
5 States Where Women Barely Dare to Ride