Bike to Work Day gets competitive spin

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Hundreds of local employees commute to work by bicycle, whether they ride downtown or to other locations.

Vicki McCann, marketing supervisor for the city of Colorado Springs Transit Services Division, hopes that number will swell to thousands on June 27, the 25th annual Colorado Bike to Work Day.

“An event like this can be fun and morale boosting for employees,” McCann said. “Programs like these can help attract and retain quality employees who are looking for companies with a fitness commitment. They can be an important factor in hiring and retaining workforce, and it helps us look like a more people-friendly city when we put some resources behind it.”

McCann heads a committee that is organizing the corporate challenge connected with this event. Registration opens Monday, April 16, for companies to sign up for friendly competition to see who can field the most riders on Bike to Work Day.

“We’re changing it up this year,” McCann said. “In the past, we have had categories by size of company — extra large, large, medium and small. This year, we are seeing if we can pair competitors” with organizations of similar size.

The city of Colorado Springs will compete against Colorado Springs Utilities, and Colorado Springs firefighters will try to outpace Colorado Springs police officers, she said.

Details are still being developed, but McCann said the committee is working with wellness coordinators and others to promote the program and help them recruit teams of employees to participate. They’re inviting companies to pair up with similar-sized firms that might enjoy head-to-head competition.

In previous years, entrants could stop at a few downtown locations for breakfast during the event. This year, there will be many more breakfast stop locations, and they will be spread out through the city. Employers can sign up to host breakfast stops, but they must be open to the public.

At the end of the event, which runs from 6-9 a.m. June 27, participant numbers will be tallied, and the winning organizations will get prizes.

“The idea is to get as many employees as possible to give it a shot,” said Karole Campbell of Madwoman Marketing, who is helping organize and promote the corporate challenge. “We hope to have 25 companies participate, but my goal is to get up to 50 companies and really blow the doors off.”

Some past participants, such as Penrose Hospital, have already indicated they’ll be riding again this year.

“We’ve participated for the past several years,” said Chauncey Carroll, a wellness specialist at Penrose Hospital Wellness Center. “We view it as investing in our employees’ health and wellness. We are taking care of others, and it all starts with self-care.”

Carroll said she bikes to work whenever she can.

“One of the first times I tried was on Bike to Work Day,” she said. “There are lots of people out; you’re celebrated when you get there, and there are fun things to do along the way. It helps people understand that they can bike to work and find the best route. I think it shows people who never knew it would be possible and makes it a lot easier to do the next time around.”

Carroll said she knows several employees who bike to work almost every day of the year.

“We have nice bike racks in the garage, and they’re always full,” she said.

YMCA volunteers and employees will be participating again as well.

“Any opportunity we can have to spark a thought that turns into an action for health behavior changes, we support it,” said Jordan Ciambrone, senior director of corporate relations for the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region. “The larger goal is figuring out how to work with companies to facilitate healthy behavior.”

In much of the United States, Bike to Work Day is celebrated in May. Because of Colorado’s mountain terrain and quirky spring weather, the state Legislature proclaimed June as Colorado Bike Month and the fourth Wednesday of June as Bike to Work Day.

Besides its main goal of encouraging more people to commute to work by bike, the program gives state and local promoters an opportunity to evaluate the impact of taking hundreds or thousands of vehicles off the road for a day.

Registration information and details about the location of breakfast stations will be announced soon, Ramey said. Employees will sign up through EventBrite, and a leader board on the city website, coloradosprings.gov, will track registrants.

Sponsors of the event include the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Springs Business Journal and KOAA News 5.

Editor’s note: The 9th paragraph has been updated to show the correct date, June 27.