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Q&A: How can I persuade my company to help?

by Commute by Bike

Ed – Below is a question from a reader. If you’ve got some ideas for him, please put them in the comments. If you have a question of your own, please send it to diggers@commutebybike.com.

From Mark:

How can I (you, me, anyone) spur companies to invest in bike lockers or other facilities?

I do not plan to “chain” my bike to the old school metal bike rack out back where the smokers hang out but I do plan to haul it right through the front door past security, although I have no idea what reaction I’ll get. I work for a pretty heavy government defense company where security is tight. I’d like some “ammunition” in the event management prefers I not tote my $800 Trek 7500 to my cubicle.

What information should I have to convince them to allow me some leeway and then provide some help for bike commuters?

 
Burley nomad 229

14 Responses to “Q&A: How can I persuade my company to help?”

  1. Reuben says:

    Asking employers to accomodate bicycles in an office setting is a little pretentious. Just leave it outside where everyone else leaves their commuting vehicles. I doubt the smokers are that interested in your cycle.

    Asking employers to provide a well designed bicycle parking area outdoors is quite reasonable. Contact your local public works office. Many cities have programs to help businesses install bike racks where they are needed. In my city the city will pay for the installation of bike racks if the employers buy the materials. Have a well thought out plan of exactly what you’d like to see. Provide sketches of where it could be located and what it might look like. If possible have a cost estimate prepared. Good luck.

  2. Yangmusa says:

    I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to bring your bike in – so long as you have room in your cube so that your bike doesn’t inconvenience anyone else.

    However, good luck with security.. In my experience, security guards have a “unique” mindset (that’s a flattering euphemism) and can be extremely inflexible. If you run into trouble with them – better not to antagonize them further. Lock your bike out back (it IS insured right??), then start advocating for your company management to make better provisions for bike commuters.

    If your bike isn’t insured and you can’t get it covered (my bikes are insured free under my home insurance), then maybe you should consider getting a beater bike. My favorite bike is a Raleigh roadster off Craigslist for $75 (and another couple of $100 fixing it up and making it a dependable commuter). That’s right – not my $1000 road bike, my $75 beater is my fave, it gets me there and back with no hassle :-)

  3. Erik Hovland says:

    In Southern California there are air quality standards and an air quality board that makes it a requirement for large employers to try to improve their employees commuting statistics. If your employer is in that part of the US, then they likely have a ‘RideShare’ office (or person) and they can help you get resources.

    The other poster’s suggestion about the city’s public works is also good. My city has a bike rack program where they will install a bike rack just about anywhere a business in the city requests it.

    Also, the public transportation department of your city or county is also a good resource. They often have bike locker resources. And they will often work with business in their responsibility areas to provide this kind of infrastructure.

    Is there a cyclist’s advocacy group in your area? They can help with specifics since they are probably working with officials in your area.

    Your $800 trek is probably important to you. But on the scale of expensive bikes, it doesn’t rank very high. I wouldn’t worry about it being outside as long as you have a tougher lock then the bike next to it.

  4. Travis says:

    Lock it up and quit being a whiny bitch. If your smokers are Ns then start riding a beater bike in.

  5. NoTrail says:

    I have found that locking my bike on the stairwell landing works well. It’s completely out of the way, out of view from prying eyes, and the railing doubles as a bike rack.

    I’d think your biggest obstacle would be the security guards. Since they usually enjoy their power, don’t test it (you’ll just get on their bad side). Instead, ask if that’s allowed first.

  6. Dylan says:

    I’d maybe start by asking the security guards for their “professional opinion” about how to secure your commuting bike. Who knows, they may suggest you bring it inside. Or ask them if anyone else does it, or if they think the higher ups would allow it. Get them on your side. Let them exorcize their “power” to help keep you bike safe!

  7. svenny says:

    I had a bike trashed on the bike rack years ago. They never stole anything, they just made the wheels bent enough that I couldn’t ride it home….
    so when I started commuting again last year, I just went with the old “it’s easier to seek forgiveness than ask permission”
    The first day I rolled the bike right into the office over to the large company washroom–where they have a double shower that nobody ever uses–I park it in the shower all the time now…nobody questions it, and it’s a great place for the slush to drip off it in the winter.
    I do however, always back track with paper towels and clean up any dirty tire marks on walls or the tile floor.
    Why advertise right.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Locking your bike to a (indoor) stairwell may violate your local fire code. Not a bad idea to check with the someone at your building *before* they show up with the bolt cutters.

  9. tad says:

    You should start by asking. Send an email to your supervisor courteously stating your concerns about the security of the current rack. Suggest that it needs to be replaced with better one and that the new rack should be installed out front to encourage new riders!
    My wife sent a similar email to her boss a couple of days ago. Within a day or two she had a response saying that a bike rack had been ordered and would be installed in a week.
    Unfortunately, not every organization accommodates their employees so generously. You might want to ask your supervisor who you should talk to if she or he is not the best person to address your concerns.

  10. idbob says:

    GET TO KNOW THE THE SECURITY GUYS A LITTLE. MAYBE ONE LIKES TO RIDE, HE’S THE ONE THAT COULD HELP. THEY HAVE POWER AS DOES THE MAINTENANCE CREW. GET IN WITH THESE GUYS AND MAYBE YOU WON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH SECURITY.

  11. DLuke says:

    Ah, the nice thing about running the department, and the fact that my office is remote from the main headquarters (i.e., security comes for a check-in about once a quarter), is that I can park my bike right outside my office door inside the building.

    Actually, this works out quite well as I very often get questions along the line of, “Do you actually ride your bicycle to work?”, or “It is 98 degrees today, how are you going to get home?”. Good entrance into “yes”, and “on my bike”, which then leads into how I have not put any gas into my car for at least two months, but have had to spend all that saved money on new, smaller clothes.

    But to stay on topic with the question, the easiest thing to do is just ask management where is the best place to place the bicycle inside the building. Don’t even assume that you should have to park outside if there are no facilities, just place the question in the framework of it needs to be safe, which part of the interior would be best for this use. It is amazing how placing the assumption within the question can make that assumption reality.

  12. NoTrail says:

    “Locking your bike to a (indoor) stairwell may violate your local fire code. Not a bad idea to check with the someone at your building *before* they show up with the bolt cutters.”

    Already thought of that and asked. Where it’s located (top of the stairs and out of the traffic flow) it’s not an issue. In fact, the fire inspector saw it a couple of weeks ago and I heard him comment, “Cool, someone actually rides to work.”

  13. Brent says:

    I worked for a large employer and I locked my bike in the bottom floor stairwell. It was out of the way, and nobody really even noticed it being there. We had security guards in our building, and some kind of looked at me strange when I came in with my bike and cycling clothes, but I just showed my badge and acted like I knew what I was doing. Just keep you bike in a place that is out of the way.

  14. Mark says:

    Thanks to all the information and suggestions. Didn’t realize my initial would have been posted for the public.

    DLuke: Great suggestion, I used it and phrased as you suggestion. I got no response. I take that as “we don’t care”, which is fine, at least I have a record of my attempt.

    Travis: Based on your response you have no business chiming in here; please take a course in ethics, your contribution to this site (and perhaps society in general) is miniscule at best.

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