The Story Behind a BFA: Next Day Animations
Since the Bicycle Friendly America program began, we’ve seen so many amazing applications come our way from communities, businesses, and universities across the country. You can find every award on our Bicycle Friendly America map, but what’s a little harder to capture is the story behind every award — so we set up a way for the advocates behind the awards to tell us more about the people on the ground building a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.
Our first installment is Next Day Animation’s Minneapolis location. Earning a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Business award in our Spring 2020 round, their office is creating a welcoming bike culture from within which flows into its surrounding community. Learn more and be inspired by this BFB and then learn how your organization can join the more than 1,400 businesses in our program. Get started here >>
Q. Is there an individual who is helping you build a more Bicycle Friendly America?
A. The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, and our productions director Sage Dahlen.
Q. What moment sparked the idea to apply for the Bicycle Friendly America program?
A. We had been working on an application to become a Benefit Corporation (B Corp), and several of the initiatives we came up with to serve both our people and the planet were connected to bicycling. That work had been well-received by our team, and the committee was already well equipped to work on initiatives. We had already partnered with our statewide bicycle advocacy organization to create a bike safety video and recently had the opportunity to create work with the Safe Routes Partnership about helping kids get safely to school through walking, biking, and rolling. In talking with local bike advocates, we were encouraged to apply to the BFB program as well.
Q. What was your biggest barrier in applying to the Bicycle Friendly America program and how did you overcome it?
A. Our office space and location was possibly our biggest hurdle even though it has proved to be an asset in some ways as well. Our office is located at one of the most dangerous intersections in Minneapolis for pedestrians and has been the source of much discussion around safety. It’s also just a block away from the Midtown Greenway, our most well-known bike path for urban commuting. This provided an opportunity for our team to participate in local advocacy and conversations surrounding changes to county roads and how to make them safer for pedestrians and cyclists. When we started our application process, we had three bike shops within walking distance of our office, and by the time we submitted there was only one still open. We lease our office space, which limits the kinds of changes we are able to make, but we did deliberately look at factors like proximity to transit, accessibility, etc. when we selected the space.
Q. What is the most obvious way bicycling impacts people at your Bicycle Friendly Business?
A. Biking to work gives our team an opportunity to move their bodies and get fresh air and allows them to be better connected to their communities at work and at home. It empowers them to prioritize their health and the health of our climate through small daily actions that really add up. We started tracking daily bike commute mileage for team members as part of our work to become a B Corp. On a smaller scale, the most positive outcome I’ve observed was when one employee told me that they would probably never have started commuting by bike regularly if they did not work for our company.
This individual falls within demographics that are typically underrepresented in the bicycling community. They purchased a bike, started a daily commute, and are now one of the most frequent bicycle commuters at our company. Last year, we logged more than 1500 miles as a team, which they contributed to significantly. Lead Producer Jacqueline Nuzzo shares: “I never thought I’d be a bike commuter! But seeing how most people at the office loved biking definitely inspired me to do so. They made it seem super easy and answered all of my questions about buying a bike, local shops, bike paths near us and maintenance. I learned how to adjust my commute/clothing/how I packed for work, and it was extremely worth it! I feel a lot healthier and also know that I’m traveling in a way that’s better for the environment.”
Q. What one piece of advice would you give others thinking about applying to the BFA program?
A. Use the application form as a checklist or guide for your work. Complete the application once to reflect what you’re already doing right now. Identify the low-hanging fruit for affordable or easy changes you can make next, and longer-term initiatives that might take more work. That gives you a great roadmap for what work you’ll need to do. When you are ready to apply, you’ll already have some questions answered from your initial attempt.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
A. I’d like to give our Productions Director, Sage Dahlen, a big shoutout. She has been a year-round bike commuter since 2006 and took on an unofficial role as bike coordinator to lead the application process and provide resources and support for other team members commuting by bike. She led short technical skill workshops, rode along with team members biking to the office for the first time, provided tools, manuals, and support for basic repairs, and led group rides to/from professional development opportunities and recreational events like Bike to Work Day and local trivia nights. She is a true advocate for bicycling in our workplace and the community! Definitely a BFA Hero!