Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

BTA toasts winners and all 11,000 participants of Bike Commute Challenge

Posted by on October 8th, 2010 at 9:43 am

BTA Bike Commute Challenge Party-1

You’ve got to have a lot of
bike parking at a Bike Commute
Challenge pary.
(Photos © J. Maus)

At a packed party in the Central Eastside last night, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance announced results and gave out awards for winners of their annual Bike Commute Challenge. The month-long event that took place in September pitted businesses against each other in a friendly competition to see who could log the most trips to work by bike. Companies and non-profits competed in categories based on number of employees and other factors.

Nearly 1,300 workplaces and 11,000 people participated in the event this year, logging over 1 million miles of bike commutes. The best part? Almost 2,500 participants identified themselves as new bike commuters.

BTA Bike Commute Challenge Party-3

Team Oregon Zoo!

While I was perusing the results, whoops and hollers came from the Oregon Zoo team that was standing nearby. The Zoo team was celebrating their second place finish in the Public Agencies with 100-499 employees category. In that category, the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability crushed the competition with 30% of employees participating. The Oregon Zoo came in second with 19.5% and the City’s Bureau of Environmental Services came in third. Somewhat surprisingly, PBOT came in fourth with just 18.4% of employees participating.

Zoo employee Linnea Nillson said they really “upped it” this year. The secret to their success, she said, was a strong team captain and a fun slate of encouragement events. They held a bike law class, a breakfast sponsored by Zoo management, an “Attack the Hill” ride where bike commuters met at Goose Hollow and rode up the hills through Washington Park together (the Zoo sits high atop Portland and most people take the MAX to the top), and a “Wild Goose Chase” ride where they left work and bombed down Highway 26 to the Goose Hollow Inn for refreshments.

As a result, the Oregon Zoo team had 10 new riders and 40 employees that actively logged trips.

BTA Bike Commute Challenge Party-5

Citybikes founder Tim Calvert with
friend Joan Fenton from the
Center for Philanthropy.

In the always competitive Bike Shop category, Ashland Cycle Sport — with 100% participation — took home the top prize for shops with 1-8 employees. Rounding out the top four were North Portland-based Cyclepath in second, South Salem Cycle Works in third, and Portland’s Clever Cycles in fourth. Bike Gallery dominated the 9-15 employee category taking home four of the top five spots. In the 15 or more employees category, Southeast Portland based Citybikes took home the honors with a 55.6% commute rate… a fact that made founder Tim Calvert very happy (see photo).

BTA Bike Commute Challenge Party-7

Ken Southerland pointing out
his company’s #1 finish over the BTA.

Another happy participant was Ken Southerland, an employee of local software company Sam Six. Southerland couldn’t wait to point out his company’s victory over the BTA (!) in the Business and Non-Profit with 5-24 employees category. Sam Six had a 99.1% commuting rate while the BTA had 95%.

For the second year in a row, the award for the commute with the highest mileage went to Chris Bell of ODOT in Salem. Bell — who commutes 130 miles round trip from Portland to Salem each day! — logged 1,881 miles in his 24 days of commuting.

Congrats to everyone that took part in the challenge this year! For a full rundown of the winners in all categories, read the BTA Bike Commute Challenge press release. Check out a few more snapshots from the event below…

BTA Bike Commute Challenge Party-4

Kacia Brockman (L) and Ben Murray from Energy Trust make nice with their arch rivals from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
BTA Bike Commute Challenge Party-9

To the victor go the spoils.
BTA Bike Commute Challenge Party-8

Robin Bogert (L) and friend enjoy the party.
BTA Bike Commute Challenge Party-11

BTA Program Director Stephanie Noll addresses the crowd.
BTA Bike Commute Challenge Party-6

Did we win? Did we win?

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • dan October 8, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Chris Bell is a bike commuting machine!

    Would love more detail on his commute: does he do it year round or only during the Bike Commute Challenge? How long does it take each way? What’s his route like?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Stig October 8, 2010 at 10:53 am

    This event is always great fun at my workplace. Many new riders this year including folks to ride out with, which has been awesome.

    Maybe the BTA can enhance the site a bit. Multiple rival teams, choose industries, have rider classifications for rates, distance, combined etc. I’ve found the competitive element really helps with motivation. Maybe workplace teams of the same employer can be linked together.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • beth h October 8, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Thanks for covering this event. Nice photo of Tim Calvert there! (though actually his companion in the photo is his wife/partner) JAN Fenton.

    One thing that made it easier for folks to participate was the VERY nice web site. Once you logged in it was easy to use, and to compare results between co-workers and between teams.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Memo October 8, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    @dan, check out the last year’s write-up: “Bell, who lives near Mt. Tabor in Southeast Portland, said he would leave home at 4:50 in the morning and that the journey takes him three hours (at an average of 18 miles per hour).”

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • West Cougar October 8, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    RE: Chris Bell, pretty sure the rules are such that mixing modes, bike and public transportation or car/van-pool counts fully as a bike commute.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Spiffy October 8, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I had fun taunting the other 2 employees here that did it with me since I stayed at the top of the list all month… c(: I think I missed only 1 day due to a morning flat and lazyness…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul Tay October 8, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Thumbs…UP. Takin’ notes.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • spare_wheel October 9, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    despite working at one of the largest employers in pdx i did not notice a single sign advertising the challenge. despite commuting on a daily basis year round for many years i have never signed up. it would also be nice if there was a way for people like me to auto-enroll each year (e.g. just put me down for my daily commute for the length of the challenge).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 10, 2010 at 11:16 am

    are the results posted on the BTA website somewhere? The BCC website has already rolled over to October and the September results are gone.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dan October 11, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    You keep saying “% of employee’s participating”, and I don’t think this is how it works. The commute rate is the percent of employee workdays that a bike was used for at least part of the commute. So everybody has to ride every day for 100%.

    Oh, and Chris? Gotta have someone else doing his laundry and stuff 😉

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dan October 11, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Hey BURR,



    Top Riders still not posted, but maybe they’ll get around to it.

    Last year they had a deal where team captains could download some fairly detailed results data – at least on their own team.

    100.0, 16, 16, 876

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Unit October 15, 2010 at 10:57 am

    I’m confused as to how it’s possible to do 130 miles r/t each day. 3 hours @ 18 mph = 54 miles, or 108 roundtrip, not 130. Even at 108 miles, that means one wakes up at 4am, rides hard 5-8am, works, rides hard 5-8 pm, eats quick dinner, in bed at 9, leaving barely 7 hours of sleep. No social or unwinding time. I guess I don’t see how even 108 miles is humanly possible on a sustained basis, let alone 130.

    Nevertheless, impressive riding by all.

    Recommended Thumb up 0