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Challenge Inspires 3M to Become Bicycle Friendly Business

This is a guest post from Peter Grasse, 3M’s Labratory Manager, Recruiting and Leadership Development. 

The National Bike Challenge has become an important part of 3M‘s effort towards becoming a Bicycle Friendly Business

This year, our second year participating in the challenge, 3M had 474 riders registered from 34 different 3M locations around the world.  3M finished in 4th place on the NBC national leaderboard.  Seven 3M executives participated in the Challenge and were encouraged by an internal competitive challenge, asking them to recruit new 3M riders to join the NBC during the month of September.   

In 2013, a grassroots group of bicycling enthusiasts at 3M did not start out with such bold goals in mind.  In January, a cluster of about 20 people committed to meeting every other week over lunch.  This group wanted to share the joy of bicycling and discuss the need for advocacy in creating environments that are conducive to safe bicycling to and from work. The group was introduced to the Bicycle Friendly America program via a presentation made at 3M by Dorian Grilley, Executive Director of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota.  Inspired by this presentation, the group explored the Bicycle Friendly Business application and engaged in discussion about realistic methods used by other companies to promote bicycling amongst employees. 

These discussions led to the group organizing a Bike to Work (BTW) Day in June to coincide with St. Paul BTW festivities.  This 3M BTW event engaged over 80 enthusiastic participants.

The great participation in the Bike to Work Event and the National Bike Challenge were instrumental in demonstrating employee interest in bicycling.  As this interest and enthusiasm spread, 3M executives were recruited to sponsor the application for 3M to become a Bicycle Friendly Business.  Recently, Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) hosted these executive sponsors on a benchmarking trip. Thanks to Matt and Seth of QBP and Andy Clarke, League President, who was in town on a college visit with his son, the sponsors were able to see and learn about “best in class” first hand.

We are eager to see 3M’s application towards becoming a Bicycle Friendly Business be ready by the December 2013 deadline.   A variety of steps are being taken towards that goal.  These include: a wiki cataloging the locker and shower facilities; analyzing bike rack locations for convenience and security; and a project to explore options for transforming the “car-centric” campus into a bicycle and pedestrian friendly campus. 

Additionally, the advocacy group has partnered with 3M’s Sustainability team and recently sponsored a Traffic Skills Class and a Fall Bike to Work Day.  The group has also become involved with Cycles for Change, a local community-based bike shop, and organized a bike drive to supply them with raw materials.  A record number (550!) of bikes were collected for donation.

It is exciting to see the progress our small group of committed bicyclists has made in such a short time. We remain hopeful for  a successful application and recognition of 3M as a Bicycle Friendly Business this year.  

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