Commuting in Boston by folding bike

A definition: incentive  – comes from Middle English, from Late Latin incentivum, from neuter of incentivus stimulating, from Latin, setting the tune, from incentus, past participle of incinere to play (a tune), from in- + canere to sing – as defined by my dictionary.

Bike Biz, a cycling industry publication recently served up this article on companies providing incentives for employees to cycle to work.

“New research by Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, has found that a third of employees would cycle to work more often if there were extra incentives for them to do so. Yet, currently 49 percent of employees said they usually drive alone, while just 4 percent routinely cycle.”

If incentive comes from the Latin for stimulating, what are the stimuli that actually get people on a bike in the first place? Of those employees who already do cycle to work, the top five reasons for doing so were: to keep fit (58%), save money (49%), health benefits (46%), environmental benefits (27%) and to improve mood (22%),” the article reports. These were my exact reasons for starting to bike commute in the first place! But this is no easy undertaking, especially if you’re new. It requires a new direction in thinking, especially if you may only have ever commuted by automobile previously.

Some of those questioned who didn’t bike to work, but might consider it listed the following reasons as inhibitors: …distance too far (43%), don’t own a bike (41%), safety concerns (24%) and weather (19%).But all of these things can be addressed in very practical and concrete ways, “ …with a bit of creative thinking or practical support, said Nesta. Of those employees who already cycle, the factors most likely to get them cycling more, are: incentives or rewards (48%), safe storage (40%), access to bike maintenance (31%), and shower facilities (29%).”

One company was able to drop the percentage of employees who drove in alone down from over 80% to just over half. Companies have spoken up that getting more employees cycling in would help them meet environmental goals and have healthier employees, and fewer sick days.

The statistical perspectives mentioned in the article have prompted Nesta to put together a cycling incentive challenge for businesses. There may be one of these near you if you’re hoping to get your workplace to be more supportive of bike commuting.

New to the Commute

When I began bike commuting, I embarked for just the same reasons as those people questioned for the article mentioned. I noticed a positive change, sick days were an incredible rarity. I smiled, even when it rained. But there is no ignoring those obstacles either. If you live much further from work than you feel comfortable cycling, or than is reasonably feasible – you can Park and Pedal. This is a lot easier with a folding bike certainly, and that’s how we do it here at Montague. You keep the bicycle in the trunk, drive part of the way, and then bike in the rest of the way. This approach is also incredibly helpful for inclement weather.

Other incentives that those who did not cycle sited, such as secure storage are also easily addressed with a folding bike. You can fold it up when you get to work and keep it indoors, under your desk where it is not a target. Other things such as maintenance, shower facilities, and other incentives – those creative approaches are often being promoted by companies, municipal agencies, and advocacy groups; some research into these can go a long way if you are aiming to take your company in a cycle-friendly direction.

Or if none of that really convinces you, check this out – this infographic covers London traffic, as infamous as the traffic in Los Angeles:

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