If Copenhagen is any indication, more cyclists and cycling infrastructure can only make things better in the big city.
And yet, you often see a lot of indifference or opposition in cities that haven’t begun the switch to a bicycle city yet. It can be a huge obstacle for people all around the world who want to push their municipality to embrace cyclists and work with them.
Cycling has all kinds of benefits for the individual, of course. It’s efficient (as efficient as a car in a city, when traffic is factored in), healthy, and is safe. Besides, cyclists save a pretty penny on gas and car payments.
However, cyclists can also mean good news for big businesses as well, from helping you have a more efficient and healthy staff to helping you network with other big wigs.
So, all you corporate suits, listen well. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the 13 reasons why big businesses should welcome and support cyclists.
1 – It’s a profitable market
Let’s go right into the big one, shall we? When you go into business, you go into it for one reason. Money. We’re lying to ourselves if we say money’s not the most important thing in the business world.
As we’ve seen in the Copenhagen example, when a city starts gearing (pun intended) towards being a bicycle city, the local market explodes. Copenhagen is rocking near 300 different bicycle shops, their post office has over 300 bikes in service, and there are around 130 bicycle taxis.
There are also several companies that manufacture bicycles and bike parts born out of Copenhagen, magazines, cycling clubs, races and other profitable events. In other words, hoping on the cycling bandwagon is a good way to turn one hell of a profit. And if your city moves towards making bikes more mainstream and accessible, then the cycling market will only grow stronger, more profitable, and more stable. That means more money, for a longer period of time.
2 – It’s a good group activity
Every business has those little events here and there; picnics, dinners, luncheons, ect. One of my old workplaces even had an annual paintball tournament. The intention is obvious; to foster closer office relationships and improve employee satisfaction (and therefore, employee productivity), it’s important to get everyone together to socialize and have fun once in a while. When you’re looking to plan out of office activities for your staff, why not go for a bike ride?
Every town and city has at least one free bike trail nearby these days, almost everyone knows how to ride a bike, and it can be as relaxing and simple or as competitive as you want it to be. The cost of hosting is a lot less than hosting other kinds of events (like, for example, the paintball tournament), and there is so much you can do with biking. As another example, Google Inc. has 9 Conference Bikes (7-seater bikes) at their headquarters, used for team building exercises and transportation.
3 – It’s healthy
Everyone knows that cycling is good for your body’s health and wellness. It’s a good way to stay fit, lose weight, and generally just be healthier. And that is good news for big business! Just think, if your whole staff biked to and from work every day, they would be healthier on average, giving them more energy (which means higher productivity) and less health problems getting in the way of work. A healthy staff means a happy boss, and a happy boss is just good news for everyone involved.
4 – Your employees are more likely to be on time
Cities have lots of traffic. And is there any wonder why? Tens of thousands of cars are all piled into narrow streets sitting bumper to bumper crawling towards their desired destination. Cars take up a lot of space too. 6 Cyclists could occupy roughly the same space as 1 car.
Traffic makes getting from point A to point B a lot more tedious than it has to be. If only there was a smaller form of transportation, that can go faster than a car can in the city, and doesn’t get caught up in traffic jams every 3 metres. Oh wait, there is! It’s called a bicycle.
During rush hour in the Welsh city of Cardiff, on average cars only move about 11 Kilometres per Hour, and get stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. However, during that same time period, cyclists were free to move up to speeds of 24 km/h. Next time your employees complain about traffic making them late, recommend they start biking to work.
5 – People who cycle to and from work are more likely to have better mental health
According to a study done by the University of East Anglia, people who bike to work are more likely to have better mental health (and better concentration) than their motorist counterparts. The study, which collected data from over 18,000 people in the UK, measured various angles that affected peoples work capabilities, such as happiness (or lack thereof), feelings of worthlessness, missed sleep and an inability to effectively or reasonably face problems.
The study actually found that, whether you bike or not, just not taking the car is enough to boost your average mental health and happiness, due to the fact that when you bike, walk or take transit, you have the opportunity to relax (and take a power nap, if you use the bus/train), and have a bit of fun.
It’s also an opportunity to socialize, which has notorious mental health benefits. So why a bike over the bus or walking? Because on top of all of those other things, cycling is great exercise, and exercise is also known to improve mental health and happiness.
6 – You can handle more customers
Cycling isn’t just good for your employees. Think about it. What’s an instant turn away for most customers? No parking. If you can’t find a space, you can’t stop at a shop. Well, when you’re on a bike, you rarely have that problem. Remember earlier when I said you could fit 6 bikes in the space a single car takes up on the road? Yeah. If your store is the kind of place that has a full parking lot every weekend, then having more cyclist customers can only be good for business.
7 – Your customers have more money (to spend)
Doesn’t it just break your heart when your customers can’t afford your products? Wouldn’t it be nice to relieve some of their financial burdens (like say, car payments, parking fees, ect.) so that they can spend that extra cash on your stuff? People who choose cycling over a car save all kinds of money on gas and parking.
On average, UK families spend £70.40 a week on transportation, according to the Money Advice Service. That is £3660.80 a year! That is how much cyclists save just by travelling on a bike year round. That’s a lot of money, and a lot of it could be spent on your products!
8 – Cycling sparks creativity
Cycling has all kinds of benefits for people socially and physically. But it’s also really good for your brain. All types of creative people, both in the arts and the business world, have said that physical activity helps them overcome mental blocks and work through problems, making good decisions.
Scientifically speaking, only 25 minutes of aerobic exercise (so basically a standard bike ride) can boost your creativity. This is because doing so keeps the oxygen flowing to your brain, while also giving you a break from a problem that’s got you stuck. As any writer will tell you, one of the best ways to clear a creative block is to take a break from it and do something else for a little bit.
9 – It’ll keep your employees awake
Got a problem with your staff yawning their work days away? Before you start spiking their coffee, there’s an easier solution. It might seem like an oxymoron to do physical activity when you’re feeling tired, but actually many studies have shown that a short bike ride (or any form of aerobic or cardio exercise) reduces fatigue. If your employees are biking to and from work, they’re going to have that extra morning kick that coffee just can’t quite provide for them.
When your employees are less tired, it’s great for everyone involved. They’ll be more productive, which is already a pretty good benefit, but on top of that, when you aren’t tired you are more creative, and better at problem solving.
10 – It’s a social activity
It used to be that golf was the sport of the business world. You can see the appeal; it’s one of the most laid back sports in the world outside of e-sports. But these days a lot of business leaders are young and energetic. The days of the stereotypical “fat cat” types are winding down. A lot of today’s business leaders are into cycling. And it’s pretty easy to see why. It’s not particularly mentally exhausting (where as golf requires a lot of strategy and planning) and it can be either as relaxed or intense as you see fit.
It’s also a good activity for when you want to socialize, because you can bike at whatever pace is comfortable. It’s constant physical activity that doesn’t really feel like constant physical activity (unless you’re going hard). Another good thing about cycling is it can be competitive without any real winners or losers.
On top of that, golf has actually been on the decline in popularity since the turn of the century, according to the National Golf Federation. But while golf has been on the decline, cycling’s popularity, especially in Europe, continues to steadily climb.
11 – Cycling reduces stress
According to research collected from over 2500 cyclists and 100 employers, 82% of people who bike to and from work report having lower stress levels. Lower stress has fantastic benefits for the work place. Stress can give us anxiety, make us feel pressured or rushed, and it can cause our work quality to decline. Stress also has a severe negative impact on your healthy, both physical and mental.
Low stress means less anxiety, more energy, and a healthier mind approaching the tasks and problems of the day. It’s everything you could hope for as an employer.
12 – It’s environmentally friendly
Going green is great for businesses these days. The more cyclists there are, the less air pollution there is in the streets. Bicycles don’t spit out smog, and they don’t require fossil fuels. By encouraging your employees to bike over using a car, you can earn plenty of brownie points with environmentally-minded consumers while making the city, and therefore the world, a cleaner and fresher place. And the best part is, it doesn’t have to cost your business a nickel. Just lead by example and ask your staff to follow along.
Cyclists also breathe in less pollution than people in cars, which is good for their lungs.
#13 – Bikes are quiet
HONK. BEEP. SCREETCH. VROOM. Cars are so noisy. It’s ridiculous how loud they are. Cars are so loud that in some parts of the city at rush hour you can’t even talk on a cell phone on the side walk or have a conversation without shouting. Cars are the biggest contributors to noise pollution in the big cities. But there is one mode on transportation that’s as quiet as it is efficient; bicycles!
Imagine if the noise of the street (which always seems to find its way to your office even if you’re in the middle of the 30th floor) was reduced or eliminated! Peace and quiet at long last, or at least until the next time the phone rings.