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It Is Easier Than You Think to Apply for Bicycle Friendly Business Status. Really!
It’s Bike to Work Week and now more than ever, as employees and customers are returning to businesses and rethinking daily habits like how they commute, it is the perfect time to assess your businesses’ efforts to make it as safe and easy as possible to reach your destination by bike. In fact, we recognize businesses doing just that in our Bicycle Friendly Business (BFB) program — the perfect tool to help your business become even more welcoming to bicyclists. Plus, during Bike Month, you get 10% off the BFB application fee if you apply before June 1 using the coupon code BikeToWork22 at checkout.
Haven’t applied yet but think your business might meet our criteria for an award? Trust us, it’s easier and faster to apply than you might imagine! At a time when employees and customers want to align with organizations that share their values, a BFB designation has many benefits.
Being a Bicycle Friendly Business means more business, more connection to your community, and healthier and happier employees, but we understand that there are still a few reasons an aspiring Bicycle Friendly Business may be hesitant to apply to the BFB program.
Read on to overcome any pre-application jitters and get tips for your next application. If your business would like to be recognized in our next round of Bicycle Friendly Business awards, applications are due by June 15, 2022, at 11:59 pm PT.
We Don’t Have Enough Time
While the time it takes to complete a BFB application often depends on the size and complexity of a business and its bike programs, many businesses can spend as little as 45 minutes on an application. That’s around the length of the average lunch break.
Plus, the flexibility of our application portal allows you to take all the time you need to actually submit your application. The online form allows users to save and return to their work later, so you don’t have to fill it all out at once and you can instead work on pieces at a time. You can also add collaborators to your online application to help share the load (see more on this below!)
If you aren’t ready to submit your application before the next deadline, rest assured your responses on the online application will carry over to the next submission round so you can pick up where you left off and work towards the next deadline instead. Starting an online application is a great way to make sure you’ll be reminded as future deadlines approach and informed when a new round opens after a deadline passes.
We Don’t Know What’s Required
You can preview what we ask on the BFB application before you begin working on the online form. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of checkboxes; we don’t expect any business to check every box on the application – it is instead designed to offer a variety of options that will work for the wide range of applicants we see in the program – from community gardens to hospitals to hotels to office parks. The BFB application is also designed to serve as an educational tool that will give you new ideas and inspiration to improve as you complete the process, before even hitting “submit.”
You can read up on our tips for getting started, FAQs and resources, as well as learn more about the application process and criteria for what we look for in BFBs at each award level on the BFB website.
We Have a Small Staff
More than half of our nearly 1,500 Bicycle Friendly Businesses have fewer than 50 employees, and over 600 of those BFBs have fewer than 15 employees. The Bicycle Friendly Business program encompasses companies and organizations of every shape and size, including all-volunteer organizations, and we welcome and celebrate that! Again, not every check box on the application will be applicable or relevant to every business, so if you’re a smaller business, don’t sweat the parts of the application that feel like they’re for bigger businesses, and vice-versa.
We Don’t Think We’re Doing Enough To Be Awarded
Apply anyway! Again, you don’t need to check every box on the application to be eligible for an award, and our reviewers take the size, type, location, etc. of the applicant entity into consideration when determining award levels and recommendations for improvements.
The BFA applications are designed to meet applicants where they are, to help you benchmark the current status and create a plan to do better. That’s why every applicant, whether they get Honorable Mention or Platinum, gets feedback from the League outlining how to improve. (And if you receive Honorable Mention or no designation at all, your next BFB application will be free!)
We Have a Lot Planned, But Just Aren’t Ready to Apply Yet
This one is a little tricky…Unless a question specifically asks about future plans, the application stresses only checking boxes for things you’re currently doing. Applicants who inflate their points by checking boxes for things they plan to do are doing themselves a disservice: if we can’t get a clear sense of where you are now, our feedback won’t cover all the things we’d recommend if we had the full picture, and your next renewal might not earn you a higher rating, despite new investments that are being planned now.
If you’re a new business and all you have are plans, consider waiting a year before you apply to the BFA program, but feel free to use the online application and application preview to get ideas and continuously gather all the information you’ll need to quickly submit your application once ready.
We’re Doing a Lot for Bicycling, But Not the Things Listed on Application
That’s exactly why we have “Bonus Points” questions on the application! These are optional open-text fields at the end of each section of the application where applicants can elaborate on what they do to make bicycling better at their workplace and in their community.
If an existing checkbox doesn’t fully capture the amazing scale of your organization’s effort, or there’s simply not a checkbox for that activity, please tell us about it! Also, feel free to upload photos or other files to the ‘Supplementary Materials’ section of the application to help our reviewers fully understand your efforts and impact. This also helps the BFA team to improve the application over time – when we learn about new trends or ideas from innovative businesses, we often develop new answer options and resources to encourage more businesses to follow your lead!
We’d Need Financial Assistance To Apply
The BFB application fee is a sliding scale based on the number of employees at the applying location. All non-profit or government agency applicants, regardless of their size, pay the lowest tier fee.
On top of that, we offer discounts for scheduled (4-year) renewals, Women-owned businesses and Minority-owned businesses. Returning applicants that previously received Honorable Mention or no designation automatically get to reapply for free when they are ready! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
And remember, all applicants can get 10% off the BFB application fee during National Bike Month, by using the coupon code BikeToWork22 at checkout.
I’m Still Not Sure I Can Do This
Don’t feel like you have to complete the application process alone! Many local bike advocacy groups around the country are already familiar with the BFB program and have worked with other employers and organizations in their community to help those businesses to apply. Existing BFBs are also often happy to coach and mentor new aspiring BFBs because they know the more support and demand there is for bicycling improvements, the better!
To find a list of local advocacy organizations, League Cycling Instructors, bike shops, and existing BFBs in your community, check out the League’s Connect Locally map: https://bikeleague.org/connect.
Be sure to look internally for partners within your business as well, and think of the application process as an opportunity to identify and engage with all the staff who already bike or might want to bike, even if they’re not biking to work.
The online application includes a ‘Collaborator’ function so that multiple users can access and edit the form, and you can also download a PDF version of your form in-progress to share with others for their input and approval.
Here’s a list of key players you might convene to get you started:
For small businesses:
- business leadership
- any employees who bike
- landlord or property manager from who you lease space from
- external partners like local bike advocates, local bike shops, League Cycling Instructors, or local government
For larger businesses:
- employee bike club or Bicycle User Group
- dedicated bike coordinator for the company
- staff from Human Resources or Health and Wellness
- facilities or building management
- Green Team or sustainability committee
- external partners such as local bike advocates, local bike shops, League Cycling Instructors, or local government
Still have more questions or concerns?
Check out the BFB program FAQs and Resources and the BFA Application Portal FAQs, or feel free to reach out to the Bicycle Friendly America team at email@example.com.