Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bicycling Means Better Business

That's the title of an article at the Green Lane Project about the importance of bicycling to the business community, especially in attracting young employees. The article notes that Accenture recently moved it's Boston and Washington DC offices from the suburbs to more urban locations accessible by bike, walking, and transit.  Accenture moved from their Reston office in 2011.

FABB has not met with folks from the Fairfax Economic Development Authority and we should. The EDA website page on Transportation has no mention of bicycling. The photo below is from the Minneapolis EDA home page. Note the bike in the background. Minneapolis, a Gold level Bicycle Friendly Community, is not known for their mild winters. They have a 4% bicycle mode share as of 2009. The importance of biking in DC is also discussed in the article:
Photo: Minneapolis Economic
Development Authority
“Biking is definitely part of our strategy to attract and retain businesses in order to compete in a mobile world,” says Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak as we glide across the Mississippi river on a bike-and-pedestrian bridge—one of two that connect downtown to the University of Minnesota. “We want young talent to come here and stay. And good biking is one of the least expensive ways to send that message.”

“We moved from the suburbs to downtown Minneapolis to allow our employees to take advantage of the area’s many trails and to put the office in a more convenient location for commuting by pedal or foot,” explained Christine Fruechte, CEO of large advertising firm Colle + McVoy, in a newspaper op-ed. “Our employees are healthier, happier and more productive. We are attracting some of the best talents in the industry.”

David A. Wilson, who directs 1,600 employees at the Minneapolis office of the Accenture management consulting company, says good biking opportunities are important to the well-educated 25-35 year-olds he seeks to hire. “Five years ago, I don’t think business people were even thinking about bikes as a part of business. Today it’s definitely part of the discussion.” He notes that Accenture recently relocated their Boston and Washington, D.C. offices from suburbs to the city to offer employees better opportunities for biking, walking and transit.

The boom in biking is also creating opportunities in the real estate sector. Jair Lynch, founder and CEO of a DC real estate development and construction company, declares, “We don’t work in places that aren’t near bike lanes.” Even in the slow economy, $200 million in new apartments are currently under construction adjacent to the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis, a bike “freeway” cutting through the south side of the city.

Another benefit businesses see for locating in bike-friendly locations is a break on health insurance costs. QBP, a bike parts distributor in the Minneapolis area employing 600, offered a series of incentives for employees to commute by bike and discovered an unexpected bonus—a 4.4 percent reduction in health care costs, totaling $170,000 a year.

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