Signs of a bicycling culture are obvious at Northern Brewer headquarters in Roseville. There’s a large bike hanger – used by employees to store bikes during the day – mounted in one corner of the company’s warehouse, with a bike repair station nearby.
But talk to the company’s employees to get a real understanding of how deep the biking culture really is: “The first week of September, I had three flats on my commute to and from work,” said Michelle Thomas, a fulfillment associate at the home-brewing retailer. “A co-worker noticed the morning of the first flat and said ‘You didn’t ride today, did you? You’re happy when you bike."
“Another co-worker – and fellow cyclist – gave me a spare tube without question,” she said. “The next flat, he made sure I knew how to patch a tube.”
"As the company has grown, so has its support of bicycle commuters," said Human Resources Director Autumn Amadou-Blegen.
"For instance, an employee committee meets to plan ways to promote bicycling and alternate forms of transportation. The company regularly participates in Bike Walk Week, Bike/Walk to Work Day and other bike events in the community."
In addition, Northern Brewer reimburses bicycle commuters up to $20 a month for bike-related purchases, allowed through the federal Bicycle Commuter Act.
“We didn’t initially set out to develop those programs, but they grew in response to behaviors our employees were already exhibiting,” Amadou-Blegen said.
Northern Brewer’s efforts are getting noticed. This fall, the company received a a Commuter Choice Award and was recognized for its support of bicycle commuters. Earlier, the company received a Bicycle Friendly Business designation from the League of American Bicyclists.
What’s next for the company? "Northern Brewer is now looking at ways to expand its support of alternate transportation options. Once data from a recent employee survey on commuting habits are analyzed, a benefit program for employees who take transit, for instance, could be introduced," Amadou-Blegen said.
Article Published: 02-12-2012