It’s no secret that traffic congestion is a problem in Seattle. If it feels like it has gotten worse lately, it’s not just you. A new study released last week by the Puget Sound Regional Council found that delays on regional freeways have gone up by more than 52% since 2010.
Seattle already has the fourth worst traffic in the nation, and with more and more new residents moving into the Puget Sound, leaders in the community and employers alike are working to find innovative commuting solutions.
Seattle Children’s Hospital has long been on the forefront of this movement, having provided bonuses to incentivize staff to leave their cars at home while commuting, as well as more recently serving as the first business sponsoring Seattle’s bike share system, Pronto Cycle Share. In addition to these ongoing initiatives, on March 19, Seattle Children’s will host the grand opening of Seattle Children’s Staff Bicycle Service Center, an on-site bike shop for employees with free maintenance and discounted cycling gear open three days per week, year-round.
Seattle Children’s is one of only a handful of companies in the nation that offer such a service for employees.
“Seattle Children’s is committed to making bike commuting easy for faculty and staff,” said Lisa Brandenburg, hospital president, who is a bike commuter. “Seattle Children’s Staff Bicycle Service Center is an example of the type of creative project that has made us a leader in reducing drive-alone commute trips, not just in our city but in the country.”
Though Seattle Children’s has offered on-site bike maintenance from mobile bike mechanics for years, the Bicycle Service Center expands this offering by bringing a comprehensive bike shop to campus, all under one roof. The full-service repair shop will offer the following:
- Free services
- Two tune-ups per year
- Safety checks
- Air and bike chain lubrication
- Free flat repairs
- 10 to 30% off all gear and parts
- 50% of all additional labor costs
By 2030, 10% of commutes on two wheels
Increasing the number of bike commuters isn’t just good for the health of Seattle Children’s workforce, it’s also essential to the future of the hospital.
As part of its expansion plan, Seattle Children’s made a commitment to its neighbors and the City of Seattle to reduce the percentage of staff driving alone to work to just 30% by 2030. The plan calls for 10% of the hospital-based workforce to commute by bike.
“Growing the number of employees commuting by bike not only reduces our environmental footprint and contributes to the health and wellness of our staff, but it also allows Seattle Children’s to increase our capacity and ability to provide world-class healthcare to every child in the region who needs us,” said Brandenburg.
Currently, more than 8% of Seattle Children’s main campus workforce commutes by bicycle. With the addition of the Bicycle Service Center, Seattle Children’s aims to support its current bike commuters and recruit those who may still be on the fence in order to reach the 10% goal outlined in the expansion plan.
In addition to the free services and discounts on gear and labor that the Bicycle Service Center will provide, it will also serve as the Company Bike Program’s new headquarters. Classes and demonstrations ranging from bike maintenance to rider safety will be offered, addressing some of the most frequently cited barriers for would-be bike commuters.
“Our objective is to create a stronger bike commuting culture where we encourage potential bike commuters by providing easy access to the support, tools and resources they need to feel comfortable,” said Jamie Cheney, director of Transportation at Seattle Children’s. “Seattle Children’s Staff Bicycle Service Center serves as a place where people can feel safe asking even the most basic questions about biking to work, and we’re confident it will spur more staff to add biking to their suite of commute options.”
Support of the community
As a leader in fostering an environment for employees that encourages alternative commuting, community leaders, including members of the City Council, have taken notice and support Seattle Children’s new Bicycle Service Center.
“This is a great day for all of Children’s employees interested in exploring or continuing a healthier, carbon-free lifestyle,” said Seattle City Councilmember,, who will attend the opening of the Bicycle Service Center on Thursday. “It’s also a great day for our neighborhoods, as Children’s takes another step toward reducing the number of vehicles traveling through our community. This bicycling service center gives hundreds of people the tools and resources to make biking not only a viable form of transportation but safe and enjoyable as well.”
Seattle City Councilmember, Sally Bagshaw, added, “As a regular cyclist in the City, I am proud to see Seattle Children’s stepping up in such a big way to encourage bicycle commuting by your employees. Riding a bike is a healthful and enjoyable way to get to work and I applaud Seattle Children’s for making this major investment in the health and safety of your staff and the patients you serve. Congratulations on your new Service Center and bike haven! What a great role model you are. Who’s next, Seattle?”