How We Created a Bike Fleet Program For Less Than $1000
May is Bike Month, and we’re proud to support our staff that chooses to use two wheels to get to work and around town! At our office, employees have access to a secure bike cage, onsite shower, and most recently, an onsite bike fleet.
In putting together our first bike fleet, I learned that there are relatively low barriers to entry, thanks to local partnerships and careful research.
Infrastructure and Operational Support
Acquiring bikes is a pretty critical component of a successful bike fleet program. Based on feedback from our employees, it was clear that these bikes were likely going to be used for short trips to and from our local downtown Tacoma corridor. Purchasing new bikes can get spendy very quickly, especially as you have to consider varying heights of staff so that everyone has a comfortable ride. Fortunately, local bicycle cooperative 2nd Cycle specializes in refurbishing used bikes and makes bike acquisition affordable. They helped us find an adequate variety of frame sizes and are able to provide ongoing maintenance of them at a reasonable cost.
Beyond the bicycles, at a minimum, our successful bike fleet inventory includes:
- Helmets in several sizes
- Appropriate lights, locks, and bells mounted on each bike
- Bike tire pump and other tools necessary to adjust seats
- Adequate storage for the bikes
Through some hand-me-down donations and online purchases, we acquired a small bike rack, tire pump, and an onsite maintenance toolset at a low cost. Downtown on the Go, Tacoma’s local transportation advocate, provided us with low-cost helmets and access to lights and bells for each bike.
The end result? We currently have three bikes in-house with all the necessary accessories for under $600.
Downtown on the Go provided onsite education and hardcopy resources about adequate bike safety. This was an important step in setting up bike fleet users for a safe and positive biking experience around town. Downtown on the Go staff came and set up a simulation of a street intersection outside of our office. Employees practiced safely stopping and starting at an intersection as well as practicing appropriate hand signals. Their staff also walked us through general etiquette of riding with cars on the road and best practices for being an observant and safe rider. As some of our team had not been on a bike in years, it was a welcome refresher. The training ended with a ride into downtown along the waterfront to showcase an accessible route for getting across town.
Following our training, we had employees sign an agreement and liability waiver that laid out the bike check-out process, risks of riding on the road, and responsibilities of bike fleet participants. This is an important step in setting up the program to be a low-risk benefit for the company.
Commitment and Motivation
A successful bike fleet program doesn’t stop with setting up bikes in an office. It’s important to continue to receive feedback from your team on what’s working and provide opportunities and incentives to ride. Two programs that help us with this objective include:
We were fortunate to have non-profit organizations like Downtown on the Go and 2nd Cycle available to make this possible.
If you are thinking about starting your own bike fleet program, consider finding your local transportation advocate organization and/or bicycle cooperative as a starting point for advice. We’re also available to provide additional insight into our experience!