Sustainable America Blog

Bikes make life better…

An “organizational bicycle consultancy” sounds so 21st century. While some countries like Denmark, with their amazing bike superhighway, have been hip to the benefits of bicycles for some time, Americans have been slow to give up their cars for the healthier option of pedaling to work. A lot of times the inertia to change ways is quite practical. Who wants to show up at work all sweaty when there’s nowhere to shower and change into professional attire?

Bikes Make Life Better, a two-year-old Silicon valley startup, is focused on helping companies become more bike-friendly. They have already consulted with some big names like Apple, Williams-Sonoma and Facebook, all of whom have gone on to win Bicycle Friendly Business awards from the League of American Bicyclists as a result.

Bikes Make Life Better can do everything from testing and sourcing the best bikes, to designing company-themed bikes, like the cool orange bikes with Firefox flames that they created for Mozilla. To implement and encourage biking among employees, they’ll organize corporate bike centers, biking challenges, special bike-centered events, and help to develop an overall transportation management plan.

All of this boils down to healthier, happier employees and (what businesses love to hear) a reduced bottom line.

As they claim on their website,

“Companies and universities with extensive bike programs save money and make money. Bike commuters are typically more healthy, more productive, more creative and less of a financial drain.”

At Facebook, where there was a small but dedicated biking cohort already in existence, the consulting process was aimed at increasing ridership among employees. As a result, they increased the number of showers for employees, installed bike racks inside the building and provided bike-specific parking. They also added an on-campus bikesharing program with a staffed repair station and a DIY repair center that holds classes and workshops.

It’s all part of a larger plan to get people used to biking. As Bikes Make Life Better co-founder Amy Harcourt recently explained to Co.Exist, “We know there are people who pick up a bike and ride it down to the courtyard to get lunch who probably haven’t been on a bike in years, but this is just super easy and friendly and simple. Over time, the more that employees use bikeshare to get around, the more they feel comfortable and think about getting a bike.”

Bicycling is good for your health and it’s good for the planet. Using less oil for transportation helps to make America more sustainable and more energy independent. With exciting innovations hitting the market, like the $9 bicycle made from cardboard and New York City’s communal bike sharing program, forward thinking entrepreneurs are helping to reduce our nation’s dependence on imported oil – one rider at a time.

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.


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