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Bicycling Means Business in Pittsburgh
This post comes to us from Dan Yablonsky, the Business Programs Assistant at BikePGH, which helped encourage and assist eight business in the area to apply and receive Bicycle Friendly Business designations this round. Read more about the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Business awardees here.
In 2009 BikePGH saw that the demand for bike friendly workplaces was high. Productive employees wanted to ride bikes to work, and employers wanted to retain those employees. The organization had heard the scenario time after time, yet, there were no experts on how to bring biking’s benefits to Pittsburgh employers.
Seeing an opportunity to fill the void, BikePGH began the Bike Friendly Employer program; packaging bike friendliness into a product that employers can use to meet their individual goals and receive recognition for their efforts. The timing couldn’t have been better, because with the 2008 launch of the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Business program, BikePGH was able to work with the League to incorporate the two programs into a pathway for Pittsburgh businesses to earn both local and national recognition.
In the four years that BikePGH has run the Bike Friendly Employer program the organization has consulted with 58 different businesses, bringing local bike friendly certification to 41, and the League’s national bike friendly recognition to 28. BikePGH been able to use its Bike Friendly Employer program to leverage change that affects an employee network of over 16,000 people.
With each business, BikePGH helps eliminate as many of the barriers to entry into bicycling as possible. If those barriers are engineering: they help businesses find accessible bike parking. If those barriers are encouragement: they help build HR policy to incentivize biking. If those barriers are education: they help businesses hold classes and distribute BikePGH’s Urban Biking Companion guide to share biking basics.
Providing businesses with tangible, measurable evaluation is where the League of American Bicyclist’s Bicycle Friendly Business program is a real value. Once a business receives the League’s certification -- Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum -- they can see the next target. BikePGH then works with the business to execute their Bicycle Action Plan and gain a higher level of certification in the next round.
The more League-certified Bicycle Friendly Businesses and Bicycle Friendly Universities our city has, the higher our city’s Bicycle Friendly Community ranking is. Our city’s businesses, universities, officials and citizens can see that chain of effect. It coalesces our city behind the goal of reaching the next level, and it has moved Pittsburgh into the national spotlight.
Thanks to that national attention, a supportive city administration, and dedicated community advocates, 2014 will be a boom year for biking in Pittsburgh.
- Pittsburgh was just selected as one of six cities nationally to be included in the Green Lane Project 2.0, bringing 5 miles of protected bike lanes to our streets before 2016.
- This August the newly formed organization Pittsburgh Bike Share will launch 500 bikes into our neighborhoods to be publically available citywide.
- Then, In September, Pittsburgh will host the International Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place conference for the world’s leading urban planners, urban designers, traffic engineers and advocates to come and learn from how Pittsburgh has transformed and reclaimed its place as a proud Rustbelt city.
These improvements couldn’t have been possible without a supportive business community that sees and understands the bicycle’s benefits –- for health, for the environment, for our economy -– and wants to bring them to their employees, their customers, and their city.
BikePGH has gained traction in Pittsburgh’s business community because they approach businesses as a business –- offering experience and services to help businesses reach their goals – not with just an ask for sponsorship. BikePGH’s Bike Friendly Employer program has allowed the organization to form strong, supportive business partnerships that have flourished over time and brought new depth to the ways in which bike advocates can interact with the business community.
To learn more about BikePGH and its Bike Friendly Employer program, visit bikePGH.org.