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BFB Spotlight: ChewBika

We released our latest round of Bicycle Friendly Business awardees — the biggest round ever for the program — this week.  Over the next week, we’re highlighting some of the best stories we heard from the new and renewing honorees. For Phelps, a marketing and communications firm in Santa Monica, Calif., biking to work starts with biking to lunch. This post comes to us from Wesley High, an IT specialist with Phelps, which is a new Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Business.

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The thought of a gang roaming the streets of your neighborhood on two wheels may make you nervous; but, here at Phelps, that’s just lunchtime.

ChewBika, our in house “bike gang” started a few years ago when a couple of the regular bike commuters decided to head down to Venice for lunch by the beach. Not only did they get to take a ride along the Pacific Ocean but it took less time than the 30 minutes it would take to drive. Soon, word got around of our Fridaybike adventures, and more bikes starting popping up around the office.

We started with just a few people who were already riding on a regular basis but now ChewBika has truly become a part of our company culture: We have our weekly Friday lunch ride; we have our own T-shirts; and we help others with information regarding all sorts of bike questions, from rules of the road, to fun places to ride around the area. Most important, it has inspired and given people who haven’t ridden in years a chance to throw their leg over the saddle and get moving.

Our best example is Gabby Gonzalez, our talent coordinator. She hadn’t ridden a bike for more than the five years since college. L.A. didn’t seem like a place where it was feasible. You could tell all that changed the first time we convinced her to ride to lunch with us. Riding a borrowed bike, halfway down the first block she screamed, “I can’t stop smiling!” Soon after, she bought a bike of her own and — before we knew it — she was riding the 10-mile commute to work a couple times a week.

What’s so great about ChewBika is that it gives everyone a chance to take a quick reprieve from  their busy work week to just have fun. Nothing complicated — just great people, fresh air, good food and two wheels. If that’s not a way to get people back on a bike, I’m not sure what is.

— Wes High is the IT specialist at Phelps, an integrated marketing communications agency in Santa Monica, CA. He began biking the 15 miles to and from work 3 ½ years ago, after watching cyclists whiz by as he sat in the infamous L.A. traffic, and thinking, “I could do that.”