City-to-city summer bike challenge inspires team members to cleaner, cheaper commutes

By Krista Van Tassel
December 13th, 2013

Earlier this year, we told you about an internal contest we ran in our biking hubs at Wells Fargo: San Francisco, CA; Denver, CO; Charlotte, NC; Portland, OR; and the Twin Cities of St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN.  Our plan was to inspire our team members to try biking this summer in the hopes that it might “stick” and inspire them to bike year-round – no small feat for some of our regions like Denver or Minnesota affected by winter weather!

To kick off the challenge, we worked with Amy Harcourt, co-founder of Bikes Make Life Better, to deliver a special presentation for our team members focused on the basics of bike commuting. What’s more, Amy graciously agreed to offer Environmental Forum readers a series of posts that focused on topics like why bikes are important and selecting the right equipment to trial run guidance and expert advice on sharing the road. As a personal challenge, I also promised to bike to work myself – at least once a week during the initial challenge month of May.

Today, we are excited to share the results of our bike experiment and some great resources to help you create your own bike commute resolution in 2014. And, I’ll even share a few lessons learned from my own commute experience as a biking newbie in San Francisco.

Wells Fargo Bikers at Work

Members of the Wells Fargo Twin Cities Biking Team at our MN Campus

First, the results of our challenge…

All told, we had 112 participants in our challenge. And while we awarded points based on taking a bike trip (regardless of the distance), we did ask bike riders to estimate the distance of their commute each way so we could calculate our collective impact. Together, our teams biked a total of 4,993 trips this summer, which amounts to about 34,852 miles. Assuming the average fuel efficiency of a car is 24.6 mpg, our teams helped us save 1,416.75 gallons of gas, or the CO2 (carbon dioxide) equivalent of 12.6 metric tons. According to the EPA calculator our biking efforts helped take 2.6 vehicles off the road for a year.

Our Twin Cities team won the challenge by completing the most trips at 2,225, or almost half of our total. Given these great results, I think we all came out better for the challenge and our most hardcore bikers within the group are still commuting by pedal throughout the winter!

MN Team Member Biking to Work

One of our most dedicated bikers braving the Minnesota winter for his commute.

 

Now onto my personal experience…

As part of the bike to work challenge, I promised myself (and our Green Teams) that I would join them by biking to work in May. I made good on that promise and have a few scars to prove it!

I’m an avid weekend cyclist, but I was a little nervous to trade in my relaxed public transportation ride for a two-wheel outing before work. I worried about what I’d wear and how my hair would look, among other important things like the safety of my route and ensuring my bike equipment was ready for the city ride.

My first day out was a little intimidating even though I took a trial ride, per Amy’s suggestion, the Sunday before my Monday commute. My regular route is a relatively flat ride bordered with great bike lanes thanks to the work of the SF Bike Coalition. I felt comfortable on the highly visible green lanes, despite the traffic. I was even able to navigate up an infamous San Francisco cable car hill before parking my bike in our building and starting my day.

My energy level was way up that morning – likely the result of a little bit of adrenaline and pride from having successfully completed my first commute on a bike. I was also pleased with how my hair held up under the bike helmet (it wasn’t perfect, but the helmet did seem to protect it from the trademark SF summer fog and wind); and that I could pull off a skirt, flats and leggings while still getting to work by bike… again, all the important things about biking to work!

I headed home along the same general route, but ran into construction and a little bit of trouble. I hesitated riding through the construction zone, even though I saw many other confident bikers safely navigating the area. Using extreme caution, I decided to walk my bike, but unfortunately, it didn’t agree. About three steps in, I fumbled and yelped in pain when my bike pedal “bit” my leg!  Not to worry, I soldiered on and rode my bike again the next day. My dad always told me if you fall off the bike, you get back on… wise advice for a commute as well.

Now I’m healed and back on public transit for the shorter, cooler days of winter. But I learned a lot on my summer bike outings and will definitely get back on my bike as soon as spring rolls around.

Biking injury

Proof of my first bike to work incident. I quickly recovered and biked again the next day.

I hope many of you will join me in making 2014 the year of the bike! And if you need to brush up on your biking basics, please read through our posts from Bikes Make Life Better:

Any advice or first time bike commute stories you might want to share? Please tell us your biking highs (and lows) using the comments field below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tags:   employee   energy   transportation   volunteer   
Krista Van Tassel

Krista Van Tassel

As Community and Team Member Engagement manager for Wells Fargo’s Environmental Affairs Team, Krista supports the company’s 70+ Green Teams, recognizing and promoting environmental innovator best practices, and engaging and educating team members about their role in helping the company’s sustainability efforts. She also manages Wells Fargo’s Environmental Solutions for Communities’ $3 million annual nonprofit grant program focused on helping make long-term sustainable economic investments in local communities where its customers and 264,000 team members work and live. Prior to joining Wells Fargo in 2009, Krista worked in a variety of sustainability and marketing positions in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. Krista earned her MBA in International Business at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

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