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.
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.
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).
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…