A little teamwork can go a long way. Our mission at the Health District of Northern Larimer County is to create a healthier community, which includes doing our part as employees to role model the benefits of bicycling for exercise, decreasing air pollution and traffic congestion, and enjoying time spent outdoors.
Although the Health District has always encouraged participation in local Bike to Work days and provided lockers, showers and bicycle racks to staff, it wasn’t until our employee-led wellness program discovered the National Bike Challenge, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, or LAB, that our workplace bicycling culture began to expand by leaps and bounds.
With the National Bike Challenge providing a tracking system and methods for motivating riders, we developed our own identity as “Team Health District,” formed a steering committee, sought donations for prizes, and came up with an internal system for incentivizing employees to ride.
Our system worked so well that Team Health District is celebrating a first-place victory in the 2014 National Bike Challenge, logging more miles and days than 200 other medium-sized workplaces in the U.S. with 100 to 499 employees.
Our 2014 team included 36 participating cyclists who rode a combined total of 15,108 miles during the five-month program that runs from May through September. In addition, while women are a minority in the cycling world, 86 percent of our team is female, and all 20 of our most active commuters this year were women.
Last year, when we came in first place in our category size in both of the city of Fort Collins’ “Bike to Work Wednesday” competitions, we won two bicycles that enabled us to create our very own bicycle share program. The bicycles, Bella and Beau, come with a helmet and lock and can be checked out by staff for errands, work commutes or fitness rides.
In January, we were thrilled to be awarded a silver-level Bicycle Friendly Business designation from LAB, joining seven other local businesses at this level in Fort Collins.
We’ve learned that creating a successful workplace bicycling culture requires incorporating fun, camaraderie and support. We motivate our team by offering group rides to popular nearby lunch spots, after-work social hours and educational “munch n’ learn” programs. We hold an annual Hawaiian shirt ride for staff and family members on the Poudre River Trail. We also provide the Fort Collins Cycling Club with volunteers and riders each year for its annual Spring Warm-up Ride.
The support we receive from Fort Collins Bikes, the Bicycle Ambassador Program, the Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Education Coalition allow us to continuously offer bicycle education seminars to staff including presentations on traffic safety, basic bike maintenance, tips for winter cycling and “women on a roll.”
We plan to help mentor and inspire other local businesses to become bicycle friendly too because we know that bicycling is an excellent way to increase the health, happiness and well-being of employees — and our community. Ride on!
Sue Hewitt coordinates evaluation and assessment at the Health District of Northern Larimer County and is the captain of “Team Health District.” Dee Colombini is the coordinator of the Health District’s Connections program and a League Cycling Instructor. She also serves on the Bicycle Advisory Committee and is active in the Safe Routes to School program.