Fred Hutch wins BizCycle gold

New Cascade Bicycle Club certification rewards Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for best practices in support of creating, maintaining a bike-friendly workplace
Bicycle photo
Community Relations Manager Robbie Phillips on her daily commute to Fred Hutch. Photo by Dean Forbes

For being at the head of the class in supporting and promoting cycling, the Hutchinson Center is a gold-level recipient of Cascade Bicycle Club's new BizCycle certification.

Cascade recognized the first 20 BizCycle-certified businesses (21 actual worksites) Thursday, May 2 during its ninth annual Bike to Work Breakfast. In addition to seven gold-level winners, 11 businesses received silver awards and one company received bronze.

"I'm very excited to share this news with faculty and staff," said Facilities Operations Director Shelly DaRonche. "It's like winning the LEED award for bicycle commuting."

While the internationally recognized green building program honors facilities, Cascade's BizCycle certification exists to rate, recognize and reward businesses that are increasing levels of employee bike commuting through investments in infrastructure and other best practices. 

The credit-based BizCycle certification system:

  • Identifies areas for improvements
  • Helps build internal consensus and collaboration within an organization
  • Provides tangible proof of progress 
Photo with prize
Shelly DaRonche (left) and Robbie Phillips, both of Administration Photo by Laura Haroldson

Why Fred Hutch won

Out of a possible 50 credits, Fred Hutch won gold with 35 credits for bike-friendly practices that encourage ridership, even in the face of a location that can be "tricky for cyclists," said Robbie Phillips, Community Relations manager and longtime bike commuter.

"We're at the bottom of a steep hill for those coming from the east over Capitol Hill, and we have employees who must ride on streets that are in poor condition," Phillips said.

"With more than 2,600 employees Fred Hutch has achieved 7 percent ridership by being a supportive employer with perks such as financial incentives, lockers, showers and an on-site bike mechanic," said Stephanie Frans, Cascade Bicycle Club's commute programs manager.
"Another thing that makes Fred Hutch stand apart as a bike-friendly employer is that the organization is at the table talking to transportation planners and city officials about how to make bicycling safer and more compelling," Frans said. "That is highly commendable."

The club reports bicycling is a growing trend that is even becoming a factor in recruitment. "Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to lure away our top talent with bicycles. Bike-friendly New York City is also angling for Seattle's talent," Frans said. "But our BizCycle program is fighting back; it's helping Puget Sound businesses recruit and retain employees who ride."

Benefits of bicycling

In addition to being a trend sought by recruiters, bicycling has several "bottom-line" benefits:

  • Facilities gain direct savings in space not used for parking cars.
  • Bicyclists make 14 percent fewer health insurance claims.
  • A study from the Netherlands found regular cyclists (those who bike to work three or more times per week) have lower rates of absenteeism compared to noncyclists.
  • Most new bicycle commuters lose about 13 pounds during their first year on the bike; people who commute by car tend to gain weight, even if engaged in regular exercise.

Visit the Cascade Bicycle Club website for additional information and resources. 

Created in 1970, the club has a membership of more than 15,000 individuals and is the largest cycling organization in North America.

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