It’s Monday morning. Time for a bike ride! How many people think of that? But if you ride your bike to work, you have that to look forward to. Kickstart your work week by combining exercise with transportation and you have just solved complex problems by making a personal decision that combines human ingenuity with a simple, no-frills technology. It’s life enriching.
Bikes meet basic human needs while providing ample benefits. One of the fantastic unintended consequences of bike commuting to work is you get fit. Say you take one day off per week from your bike commute. You are still getting eight rides (4 commute to, 4 commute from) in each week without even having to think about it. You are just going to work or school or conducting routine business. Necessary destinations are perfect motivators for sustainable exercise.
Bike commuting programs emphasize the tangible benefits businesses will see: increased employee productivity from an energized workforce, more efficient use of parking spaces, lowered health care costs, stronger employee network, positive community orientation promoting the general public welfare. The practical side of bicycling is quantitatively significant and the beneficial gains, like statistical improvements in health, and efficiency gains in travel, are off the charts. Bicycling is like eating well. Or having beauty and the human touch and tenderness in our lives. These things are so basic we often overlook them. But they are central.
The Aspen Institute’s Business and Society program works to help businesses put “values at the heart of practice”, and they help executives and emerging business leaders “explore new routes to business sustainability and values-based leadership.” Facilitating employee bicycle commuting is a sure way to align practices with human needs while also increasing progress toward company goals. It’s a good way to exemplify responsible leadership in the community.
For an employee the returns are palpable as well. Instead of spending $30 for gas and having stress in traffic and worrying about parking, you can sail in on the greenway breathing fresh air while you’re priming your body for a successful day. Most people I meet tell me they bike for wellbeing, to get outdoors, and for the social connections. It is because the human values returned through bicycling are so meaningful that bicycling programs are so successful.
We’ve heard of Einstein getting ideas while riding his bicycle and Beethoven hearing music while out walking. In this qualitative way bicycling is beneficial too. It lifts us out of the doldrums. We start to notice things while bicycling. It also helps us notice each other. David Boies and Ted Olson, the two lawyers who famously argued the opposite sides of the Bush vs. Gore case, spent a lot of time taking bike rides as they bonded to work out their strategy to make arguments in support of gay marriage. They were on the same team in that case. The bicycle is an amazing method for breaking down barriers and bringing people closer while we spin away from our differences going down the same road. Steve Jobs was famous for walking meetings to catch up with friends while sorting through difficulties, solving problems and having a good time.
Since we gather inspiration and energy from biking we may even say it is essential part of work. For these reasons I don’t see any distinction between biking for transportation, recreation, work and leisure. Whenever we are riding a bike we are doing all these things at once. It is an integrated activity, just like business. When we combine the two it helps us realize all the different facets and dimensions that make both business and bicycling fabulously rich together.
Resources and References:
The League of American Bicyclists has a Bicycle Friendly Business program that provides a road map and tools that businesses may use to incentivize and support bike commuting.
Bikes Make Life Better is an enterprising consulting service that works with businesses to set up the structure that fosters and encourages more employee bicycle commuting. They’ve worked with Mozilla Firefox in Silicon Valley, and Stanford University, to create bicycle programs.
The Aspen Institutes Business and Society Program “respects the power of business to shape the long-term health of society and works to align business decisions with the public good.”
David Boies and Ted Olson mention their affinity for sharing bike rides on Charlie Rose.
Epilogue: Who knew instead of ‘rush hour’ the morning commute could be a relaxing bicycle pleasure. Who would imagine flowers could look like Sansai’s arrangements. Make something new, just by rearranging things. Thank you Sansai Ikebana Studio for the flowers.