Leading by Example: Execs at Seattle technology firm encourage a healthier commute by getting on their bikes

Guest blogger Kris Barker is one of three co-founders of Express Metrix Asset Management Software, a technology company located in Seattle, WA.  Kris is an avid biker and rower, and is vice captain of San Juan 21 Fleet 1, an active small sailboat racing fleet.  When Kris isn’t at work, on his bike, or on the lake, he plays bass and guitar in a band, and sings in a community choral group that raises money for Northwest Harvest. 

L-R: Dawson Stoops, Kris Barker and Jeff Kelsey.

Express Metrix is a Seattle software company founded in 2000 by three dedicated outdoor types – two Washington natives (myself included) and an Alaska transplant.   Between us, we commute a combined total of 50 miles per day on our bikes, often in the driving Seattle rain.  Why do we do it?  Apart from the obvious benefits relating to good health and traffic avoidance, it’s the best way to build up a positive mindset for the stresses of the day ahead and release tension on the way home from work.

We feel so strongly about the benefits of biking that we have put it on our healthy lifestyle agenda for our workforce.  This includes reimbursing employees $500 if they purchase a bike, retrofitting our office space to include a shower room and lockers and, of course, leading by example. We have found that it’s not difficult to encourage workers to get out of their cars in favor of healthier commutes, and we are passionate about getting the word out to other employers that there are very easy ways to make it happen.  Here are just a few simple tips:

  • Do it yourself – show everyone that it can easily fit into the daily routine.
  • Provide facilities – somewhere to change, shower and store bikes and equipment.
  • Offer incentives – employee loans, equipment subsidies or discount agreements with local bike stores will all work.
  • Take a personal interest – talk about it at the water cooler, at lunch, or at informal meetings, and post information on your bulletin boards.
  • Be enthusiastic and supportive, but don’t evangelize – biking to work doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
  • Make it fun – hold friendly workplace competitions, meet up for coffee on the way to work, or get silly t-shirts printed; it’s a great building block for a strong work culture.

As a result of our efforts, around 20-25% of our employees bike to work regularly even during the cold winter months, with much higher participation during less inclement weather.  Not to mention half of our employees participated in Bike to Work Month!

I truly believe that supporting healthy ways to work makes the office environment a more vibrant place, and I would encourage anyone with a personal commitment to biking to find ways to promote it at work.  Talk to your colleagues, your executives, your HR staff – but most importantly, get on your bike and lead the charge!




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