Like to bike? Cycling offers workplace benefits

Katie Goddeyne
Katie Goddeyne

Most of us have at least a vague memory of learning how to ride a bike — and by this point, probably forgotten the bumps, bruises and skinned knees. If you were lucky, you caught on quickly. If you weren’t, you might have been coerced into wearing your older sibling’s oversized rollerblading elbow pads and kneepads until you got the hang of things.

Regardless, the majority of us eventually figured it out and have continued to reap the benefits ever since.

The Grand Valley celebrates all that is cycling in June with Colorado Bike Month. Everything from trail kickoffs to concerts and, of course, Bike to Work Day are included in the fun.

According to the U.S. Census, the number of workers who traveled to work by bicycle increased from about 488,000 in 2000 to about 786,000 between 2008 and 2012, a larger percentage increase than that of any other commuting mode.

The amount of people biking to work is still less than 1 percent, but numbers are on the rise nonetheless. That’s great because biking improves the health of individuals, businesses and communities.

Cycling is a great way to build muscle mass, improve heart health and lose weight. By one estimate, bicycle commuters lost an average of 13 pounds in their first year of cycling to work.

Moreover, healthy workers are said to be almost three times more effective than unhealthy workers. Employees who cycle also feel stronger and more coordinated, boosting their confidence. Not only do healthy workers produce more effectively, they miss less work due to health problems and keep insurance costs down.

Cyclists even qualify for a tax credit. That’s right, you could get paid to save money on gas and get your 30 minutes of exercise for the day. Since 2012, cyclists who bike to work at least three days a week have been eligible for a $20 a month tax-free reimbursement. Visit www.bikewalk.org for more information on the Bicycle Commuter Act.

There are other benefits: The air we breathe is more polluted in a car. You don’t have to worry about parking. Bicycles are easily carried into an office and stashed in a cubicle or locked to a bike rack outside.

All of this sounds great, but making the change from engine to pedal can be difficult. Employers can encourage cyclists by making small changes in the workplace:

Equip your building with bike parking in a well-lit area.

Provide showers and changing facilities for your cyclist commuters.

Start a company bike club to get employees excited about fitness and changing their morning commutes.

Sign up for the Mesa County Health Department’s Colorado Bike Month Business Challenge.

Businesses can compete for the coveted Bike Month Business Challenge traveling trophies by signing up for Bike to Work Day. The business with the most employees to bike to work on June 24 will take home a trophy – with one winner for small employers with one to 30 employees and another for large employers with 31 or more employees.

A free breakfast for participants is set for 6 to 9 a.m. that day at three locations: Grand Junction City Hall at 250 N. Fifth St., the Taco Bell at 736 Horizon Drive and Fruita Recreational Center at 324 N. Coulson St.

Once employees sign up for the business challenge, they can log their miles throughout the entire month and compete in the Colorado Bike Month Commuter Challenge. Prizes will be awarded to the top commuters in the Grand Valley.