This year’s bike commuter challenge was a great success. My company had seven members and we all biked in at least once (100% participation), for a total of 24 trips and 287.8 miles (12.1 miles per member). We had four men and three women, including two new bike commuters. I had been interviewed by the Active Transportation Alliance, so I knew I had to give my best effort. As one of the captains, I lead the team with six rides and 78 miles, but due to the weather and other commitments, could not devote more energy towards the challenge.
Forming the team:
About a week before the bike commuter challenge started, another lady bike commuter I had met introduced me to the guy who had been organizing the event for the past few years and we went from there. He had just welcomed a new baby, so the bulk of the responsibility shifted to me to organize and encourage the team. I registered the team on the website, designated us as co-captains and then edited an email template he had sent me to include detailed instructions on how to sign up for the team (this year you needed a password). HR forwarded the email to the entire company and also put up announcements on the TV screens. We also printed out some flyers which were put up by the administrative staff.
HR and I went to a nearby bike store and selected some raffle prizes (bike commuter kit with reflective bands and rear light, active wipes) which the company graciously paid for. Our HR department was really great in helping us advertise the challenge to hundreds of employees. I was unable to recruit my immediate coworkers to join (although they really did entertain the idea), and ultimately we ended up with seven team members.
Preparing for the challenge
Before the challenge started, I brought some clothes and snacks to keep in my office so I wouldn’t have to bring them on the bike.
I sent out an email to the team and wished them luck during the next week. With the weather indicating rain, I reminded people to be more careful (use lights, go slower) and to not ride in the rain if they didn’t want to. I don’t like riding in the rain myself, but a light drizzle is fine with me.
One of the new bike commuters asked us our opinion on the route he should take to work. Being in the suburbs, it can be tricky negotiating traffic when the streets are busy and the speed limit is 50 mph. We found a route which would minimize sidewalk riding and cautioned him to be extra careful and look for turning cars and driveways.
Logging my rides
I tried using their bike commuter app on the first day, but it didn’t record some of my miles so I relied on Strava.
My commute is usually 12 miles to and from work, or 17 miles if I take the long way on the trail.
What most days of the bike commuter challenge looked like:
Friday: 6/12: Little bit of rain in the morning, cloudy in the evening, colder than usual.
Monday 6/15: Did not bike, but did bring a supply of clothes and snacks for the week to store in my office. Hawks win the Stanley Cup.
Tuesday 6/16: Biked in, little bit warmer, feeling good.
Wednesday 6/17: Could’ve biked in but stayed up late watching the NBA Finals.
Thursday 6/18: No biking, lots of things to do.
Friday 6/19: Really felt worn down from the week, but I had to bike in since it was the last day. Luckily the weather was nice. Bought and ate a pan pizza from the cafeteria and it gave me enough energy for the long ride home through the North Branch Trail. I rode as fast as I could and beat some of my personal records I have on Strava.
Every few days I would log into the bike commuter challenge website and send out emails encouraging the team and updating our progress. Some team members even emailed me directly to share their progress. I enjoyed seeing people’s routes and hearing about how they took the opportunity to bike in. A raffle was also held, and the prizes sent out through the company mail.
Until next year..
Next year we hope to get the word out sooner so that more people can think about commuting to work. The rain also put a damper on our efforts.
Participating in the bike commuter challenge was a great way to meet new people and share information about bike commuting. Nearly every week is bike to work week for me, but it is always fun to to share the experience with others and to keep each other motivated.