You can envision it already. Bike share stations dotting your campus. People walking up to them, and with a few taps on their phones, making locks spring open. They get on the bikes and go – to work, to class, to dinner, maybe just to ride for the sake of riding.
It's a beautiful vision – but now you have to turn it into a reality. To do that, unless you're already at the top of your organization, you need to come to The Powers That Be and plead your case. You already know about the successful bike shares in major cities like New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.; you already know how today's technology has made bike shares more convenient – and more effective – than ever. Now you've got to spread that knowledge, with an emphasis on the value that bike shares create for universities, corporate campuses, hotels and apartment complexes.
Here's a handy guide to convincing a variety of bosses of the benefits they can realize from implementing a modern bike sharing system.
Most universities are constantly looking to grow, using tuition income to offset increasing costs. But space, especially on urban campuses, is quite limited; meanwhile, parking lots and garages are expensive, inefficient and unattractive. Bikes present an option that's friendlier to the environment, to campus aesthetics, and ultimately, to the bottom line.
Make your university administrators aware of these key points:
- Often, college students buy bikes when they move to campus, only to use them rarely. These bikes end up occupying valuable storage space or may be abandoned – encouraging bike thieves while creating aesthetic eyesores and inconveniences like this:
- Having a quality bike share demonstrates environmental consciousness and modernity, and shows that you care enough about your students, faculty and staff to offer them high-quality transportation options. Prospective students are increasingly looking for universities that offer bike sharing as an amenity because they're a sign of forward-thinking administrators.
The most innovative companies – especially those with expansive campuses, like Google and Intel – are increasingly turning to bike sharing as an amenity that provides added value to employees while generating value for the company, too. Corporations that provide bike sharing are seen as progressive and pro-employee; they demonstrate a commitment to corporate sustainability, employee wellness, employee happiness, and modernity.
Make sure your bosses know:
- Bikes provide a faster, cheaper, more economical way to get around corporate campuses than driving or walking. Time is money; save on transportation time, and more work gets done.
- The PR benefits can be huge. Citi Bike, the New York City bike share program, is being sponsored by Citibank in a $41 million branding deal that has been called "a bank marketer's jackpot.” In a two-month span after the program was implemented, polls yielded a 17-percentage-point increase in people who have a “favorable impression of Citi,” a 14-point increase in those who say Citi “is for people like me,” and a 12-point increase in those who agree that “Citi is a socially responsible company." Whether on a scale this big or on a smaller one, demonstrating an organizational commitment to bike sharing improves your brand's standing in the public eye.
- Employees love amenities that demonstrate their employers are thinking of their well-being and convenience; a reputation for happy employees leads to higher-quality job candidates and greater retention.
Great hotels are all about the amenities. Take a quick look at any hotel-booking website – they all have functions that allow prospective guests to sort hotels by the amenities they offer, and hotels are always looking for the latest and greatest amenities to gain an edge. Just last year, Kimpton Hotels rolled out bike shares at all their properties nationwide.
Here's what you can tell your hotel's managers and owners:
- Bike sharing is a unique amenity that stands out from the crowd; early adopters have a chance to get an edge on the competition.
- TripAdvisor's 2012 survey of travelers showed that 54 percent had canceled a hotel because a similar one nearby offered better amenities; the better your amenities, the more bookings and fewer cancellations you'll see.
- Unlike most other amenities, bike sharing can pay you back. Guests who would object to paying for the pool or gym are happy to pay for bike sharing – at a national average of $35 a day. Instead of forcing your guests find a nearby bike shop that offers rentals (often at a higher price and during limited hours), why not have them rent directly from you?
- Bikes help guests connect with their location and enjoy their stay – leading to better reviews, repeat business, and increased brand recognition.
While urban living and biking are a match made in heaven, urban living and bike storage are not. As anyone who's lived in an apartment will tell you, a relatively small space that's often many stories off the ground is not a good place to store or maintain a bicycle. Sure, you can hang it from the ceiling, but that doesn't work for everyone and can create its own set of problems. Bringing a bike share to your building saves a lot of trouble for residents who are casual bikers and can improve the value and perception of your property.
Tell your property manager:
- Biking is blowing up in popularity – in just an eight-year span from 2001 to 2009, ridership more than doubled, from 1.7 billion trips to 4 billion – and it's still growing.
- Bike sharing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to qualify for LEED credits.
- As with hotels, bike sharing doesn't have to be a free service. Residents are often willing to pay for bike sharing – it's cheaper and easier than owning and maintaining a bike, and far cheaper than a shuttle service.
- For urban dwellers who would otherwise have to deal with the hassles of hard-to-find parking, being able to get around without owning a car is a major convenience – one that'll make them think twice about moving.
In today’s increasingly urban lifestyle, cycling is often the fastest and most enjoyable way from point A to B. But it's the tangible business benefits that are leading bikes – as well as other shared resources – into a new renaissance.
Have you made an effective case for a bike share in your workplace or property? Let us know how in the comments. Or, if you'd like help making your case, contact Zagster's experts for more information on the costs and benefits of the latest and greatest in sustainable transportation.