CNT’s Enthusiasm During Bike to Work Week and Beyond
Chicago’s Bike to Work Week is now in full swing and tensions are running high as organizations across the city compete in the annual Bike Commuter Challenge. The challenge, which runs from June 9-15, is sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance, as a way to encourage Chicagoans to embrace transportation awareness and enjoy the city from a bike’s eye view.
CNT employees have demonstrated our commitment to environmentally sustainable transit by dominating the competition for the past eight years. Our top competitors this year in the division for Businesses and Non-Profit Organizations with between 100 and 499 employees are WBEZ and Old Town School of Folk Music. WBEZ placed first in 2009 and Old Town took the crown in 2010. CNT is a relative newcomer to this large division, and we are continuing our legacy of unparalleled bike riding amongst these larger competitors.
An intimidating 92 percent of CNT employees participated last year; WBEZ (second place) and Old Town (third place) could only convince 39 and 32 percent of their employees, respectively, to ride their bikes to work. In anticipation of the competition, Jerome McDonnell of WBEZ’s “Worldview” invited Sarah Dandelles of Old Town and Kathryn Eggers and Team Captain Andrew Kinaci of CNT into his studio on June 7 as part of an investigative mission to discover the secret behind CNT’s continuous success.
Eggers explained that, since CNT’s mission is promoting urban sustainability, staff members regularly commute via bike and public transportation. Bike to Work Week is just a chance for us to show off our alternative transportation skills. While WBEZ needs an organized competition to convince 39 percent of employees to break out their bikes, Eggers estimated that “we have close to 39 percent of our staff that bike to work on a regular beautiful summer week.”
When Bike to Work Week rolls around, our enthusiasm for biking only increases; so great is our excitement that announcements about the challenge are made months in advance. Positive reinforcement for biking is constant: internal competitions award staff with various incentive prizes for categories such as longest commute and most hours logged, and staff provide daily breakfast treats for bikers.
Inter-staff bike sharing, combined with loaner bikes from other staff members and the office Dahon folding bike, ensures that everyone has access to a ride. And those who are not able to take their entire commute on bike still ride partway, completing the rest of their trip on public transit.
I, personally, am happily participating in the challenge. Yesterday I rode from my home in Hyde Park to the CTA Green Line/Garfield station. I have been a supporter of sustainable commuting for more than 20 years, and I, as well as other CNT employees, embrace the opportunity provided by Bike to Work Week to set an example for other Chicago commuters.
Come Friday evening, we at CNT will hang up our helmets, lock up our bikes, and celebrate our ninth victory in style. Perhaps the folks at WBEZ and Old Town will stop by so that we can all relax together after a hard week of biking and promoting alternative transportation!
Does your company participate in Bike to Work Week? Do you normally bike to work? If not, what keeps you from doing so? If yes, what motivates you?