Digital Lumens (DL) is honored to be awarded a Silver level designation as a Bicycle Friendly Business by the League of American Bicyclists. It’s further validation of what we’ve know all along – bikes are great for commuting and just getting around, and if you make it easy for people to ride their bikes, they will.
Our CEO, Tom Pincince, an avid cyclist, as well, has previously blogged on building a bike culture at DL, but I think that’s only part of the story. The number of people biking to work at DL (either the whole way on their own bikes or part way via Hubway, Boston’s bike-share system) has jumped dramatically over the last couple of years. There’s always been a hard-core contingent of daily cyclists, but the last two years, we’ve seen a marked increase in the ranks of bike commuters.
I think the key change has been can be attributed to *visibility* in the office infrastructure, office community, and the City of Boston.
Accommodations: In our old office in Boston’s North End, bike facilities were fairly basic, and people tucked their bikes out of the way, crammed into a stairwell. But when we moved to our new office in the Seaport District, we installed bike parking front and center. When you walk into our office, the first thing you see is the bike parking, filled with bikes. We started with slots for about 20 bikes, but within a year so many new people were riding that we had to almost double that.
Community: Making biking so visible transforms the practice from being a “fringe” thing that a few oddballs do, to something that’s more mainstream. People see their colleagues, in all shapes and sizes, from all over the Boston metro area, riding their bikes and they think that maybe they could do that, too. This leads to a network effect, built on top of a super-supportive culture where it’s easy to ask someone for advice on how to get started, where to ride, what sort of equipment is recommended and anything else they need to know. The cycling community is happy to share the joy of riding down the bike path on crisp fall day, tracking the rowing sculls on Charles River (and zipping past rush hour gridlock), or commiserate over bad drivers or cruddy weather.
Boston and beyond: Biking is becoming much more visible in Boston and the surrounding towns, with more and more bike lanes, paths and racks are being installed. Hubway is super-successful, with more stations being added all the time. These visible infrastructure improvements encourage more bikes on the roads. And more bikes leads to even more bikes – people see bikes gliding past them in the bike lanes and think “hey, maybe I could do that too…” More bikes on the roads also improves safety for everyone – motorists are less surprised to be sharing the roads with bikes, and peer pressure tends to make cyclists more mindful of their behavior in traffic. A visible bike culture is a successful bike culture.
I’m happy to work for a company that values its bike culture and even happier to belong to a community that is so welcoming and encouraging. Hopefully our success will help steer other companies down a similar path.
Keep on biking, and be visible!