Bicycle Friendly Businesses Brewing Better Bike Commuting
If the next local establishment on your “to visit” list has safe and comfortable bike lanes en route, has secure bike parking options, and maybe even has a fix-it stand for public use, aren’t you more likely to bike there? Same goes if you’re an employee and your company offers showers and other amenities. Those are just some of the ways Bicycle Friendly Businesses (BFB) are making it easier and more convenient for people to bike to work, to shop, or to eat and drink!
There are businesses of all shapes and sizes, from bike shops to libraries to Fortune 500 companies, in our movement to build a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. In fact, of the 1,494 total BFBs across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., here’s a breakdown of some of the industries represented in the BFB program:
In May, the League marked the beginning of National Bike to Work Week by announcing our Spring 2022 round of BFB awards, which celebrated 45 organizations earning awards. Of those 45 organizations, two were breweries renewing their awards: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Mills River, North Carolina, renewing at the Silver level, and New Belgium Brewing’s (NBB’s) Asheville, North Carolina, renewing at the Platinum level.
Let’s get to know how both are brewing better bike commuting in their own way.
Meet Sierra Nevada Brewing, Mills River
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has two locations, both holding Silver-level BFB status: the original location in Chico, CA, and a newer outpost of craft creations in Mills River, NC. Sierra Nevada’s Mills River location has 400 employees and serves an average of 1,500 guests a day.
Incentivizing Bike Commuting By Community Improvements
A lack of safe and connected bicycle infrastructure can present a major barrier to enabling more people to become bike commuters. Many BFBs eliminate this barrier by working with the city, their property owners or other businesses and local advocacy organizations to improve local infrastructure and add facilities that make accessing a location by bike safer and easier.
“Our Mills River facility isn’t located in the most ideal location for bicycle commuters, but we believed it can be,” said Sierra Nevada sustainability program manager Leah Cooper. “We funded the construction of a bike lane on the road leading to our facility and a traffic circle to slow traffic, creating a safer commute for bicyclists.”
Incentivizing Bike Commuting With Amenities
|Employee riding loaner bike dedicated to security|
Sierra Nevada’s Mills River location purchased a handful of company bikes to allow employees to move around the campus more easily and without the use of motorized vehicles. To incentivize employees to drive less and bike more, Sierra Nevada’s comprehensive alternative transportation incentive program awards employees up to $2/day for each day they use alternative transportation like biking and walking to get to work.
Employee bike commuters are welcomed with a variety of amenities including eight showers, employee-only locker rooms and 60 designated employee bike racks. In addition, there are two ADA-compliant showers available to employees and an additional unisex locker room available for people of all gender identities. All bike racks and maintenance stations are also located in highly visible, secure areas of the facility for everyone to use safely at any time during the day or evening.
Ongoing bike education and networking opportunities, like a free bike maintenance workshop and a RIDE Connections employee bike group, are offered to help new and inexperienced riders feel confident on the road and find bike (or carpool) buddies.
“These workshops help employees overcome the challenges that come with commuting to work like fixing flats, adjusting brakes and drivetrains, and other maintenance needed for a smooth ride,” said Leah. “Despite the addition of a bike lane leading to the site, commuting to our site via bike can still be perceived as dangerous for inexperienced riders due to a lack of connective infrastructure. Therefore, in addition to offering guidance and facilities for those who are able to bike to work, our bike programming focuses on biking generally and encourages employees to bike around their community if they’re unable to bike to work.”
Additionally, the company partners with a local bike advocacy group during special events at the brewery to set up a bike corral at a shuttle stop downtown. Guests can ride their bikes to the shuttle stop and then take the free shuttle to the brewery.
Meet New Belgium Brewing, Asheville
Both of New Belgium Brewing’s main locations, one in Fort Collins, CO, and the other in Asheville, NC, hold the honor of being Platinum-level BFBs and have been Bicycle Friendly Businesses since 2009 and 2018 respectively. NBB’s Asheville location has 168 employees and serves an average of 500 guests a day.
The brewing company has been a long-time supporter of bike advocacy, running the Tour de Fat since 2000, sponsoring the League’s National Bike Summit for over a decade, and speaking at the League’s 2018 National Bike Summit. At the 2022 National Bike Summit, the League was proud to present the NBB team with their newly-renewed Platinum-level BFB award for the Asheville location in person. Summit attendees also enjoyed the famous bike-inspired Fat Tire beer generously provided by NBB during the nightly happy hours.
Incentivizing Bike Commuting By Community Improvements
“We allowed (and very much encouraged) an easement on our property for the City of Asheville to build a Greenway through our site,” noted Asheville community ambassador Michael Craft in NBB-Asheville’s BFB application. “We also work closely with the City of Asheville on the Greenway Master Plan to promote connectivity of local bike infrastructure and we insisted that Craven Street (which needed construction in order for our property to be built) be turned into a Complete Street — Asheville’s first!”
Incentivizing Bike Commuting Through Partnership
Many of the NBB-Asheville team consider themselves “go-to bike experts” and organize group rides as well as offer employees and guests tips on bicycle maintenance, commuter route planning and more.
Partnerships with local advocates and the city itself have been instrumental in getting not only employees but more of the Asheville community on bikes. Through one of those partnerships, NBB-Asheville helped fund a portion of the neighborhood Greenway by donating money to Green Opportunities, “a local non-profit whose mission is to connect youth and adults from low-wealth neighborhoods to sustained employment opportunities that support families and improve community and environmental health”. According to NBB’s BFB renewal application, the Greenway is a “critical connector to a low-income part of town near our brewery.”
NBB-Asheville also has a long-standing partnership with local biking and walking advocacy group Asheville on Bikes. The two have paired up to host a forum on how to become a Bicycle Friendly Business (a tradition that started at NBB’s Fort Collins location back in 2014!) as well as several group rides and fundraisers, including NBB’s most notable fundraising event: Tour de Fat.
Tour de Fat is a costumed bicycle parade followed by a party at the New Belgium Brewing brewery with music, entertainment, contests and games. The event is held in both flagship locations, Asheville and Fort Collins, as well as other cities around the nation, and has raised over $5 million for bicycle advocacy. Its Fort Collins partners include Bike Fort Collins, Fort Collins Bike Co-op, Send Town Bike Club and Overland Mountain Bike Association. Hope that gives you an idea of who to reach out to in support of your next biking event!
If you’d like to learn more about the Bicycle Friendly Business program, visit bikeleague.org/business. If you would like to be recognized, applications for our fall round of BFB awards are due by November 3, 2022, at 11:59pm PT.