Intercity Transit’s Bicycle Commuter Contest

Event Date:

The Intercity Transit Bicycle Commuter Contest (BCC) occurs throughout the month of May, combining National Bike to Work Day events with a commuter contest unique to Olympia, Washington.

Event Location:

Bike commuters who live or work in Thurston County can participate in the contest. People from all across the county and surrounding counties have participated in the past. The Award Ceremony is held at the Olympia Farmers Market and the Wrencher's Ball is held at the Olympia Transit Center.

Sponsors:

Intercity Transit, the BCC event organizer since 2006, is the main sponsor of the event. Additional sponsors contribute to BCC by providing direct funding, prize items, discounts, and in-kind support. For example, the Olympia Coffee Roasting Company provides free coffee at the Wrencher's Ball event, while Sustainable South Sound, a non-profit group focusing on sustainability, donates coupon books for use as prizes for BCC participants. The BCC is also supported by a number of other sponsors, including the Capital Bicycling Club of Olympia, coffee shops, restaurants, and clothing stores, among others. For the 2011 events, the BCC has 50 sponsors and supporters who will donate direct funding, printing and advertising services, merchandise and gift certificates for prizes, or offer discount coupons to BCC participants. A complete list of sponsors is available at www.bccblog.com.

Event Summary:

Intercity Transit's Bicycle Commuter Contest (BCC) encourages, rewards, and recognizes Thurston County residents of all ages and abilities who try bicycling as a means of transportation. The goal of the event is to encourage residents to develop new and lasting commute habits that result in healthy transportation choices. According to BCC organizers, the contest enhances the quality of life in Thurston County by reducing traffic congestion and fossil fuel use, which improves air and water quality and promotes healthy lifestyles. BCC participants have prevented the emission of hundreds of thousands of pounds of CO2 and other pollutants over the years of the contest. The contest also encourages people to shop locally and increases parking supply, stimulating the "Green Economy" and engaging local businesses and organizations through the sponsorship program.

The BCC gathers information from cyclists about bicycling infrastructure and road repair needs, which is relayed to the appropriate jurisdiction. By providing this feedback, participants are able to actively influence infrastructure development as well as maintenance efforts in the community. The BCC also hosts a number of other events each year, including an Earth Day event, the Wrencher's Ball, and an Award Ceremony. The Wrencher's Ball is a large event where bike shops provide mechanics to perform free safety checks on participants' bicycles. The Ball provides bike commuters with a helpful service and also promotes local bike shops. After the conclusion of the contest, usually in June, there is an Award Ceremony to celebrate achievements, award prizes, and hold random prize drawings.

Background:

The BCC began in 1988 as a challenge between a few workplaces in Olympia, with only 30 people participating. Since then, the event has raised its level of participation to more than 1,500 registrants. Up to 60 workplace and school teams from throughout Thurston County and 40 to 50 sponsors and supporting businesses also participate in the event, making it a successful example of a Bike to Work challenge. In 2006, Intercity Transit began hosting the event and it has now become one of Intercity Transit's many programs for improving mobility and the quality of life in the community.

Also, Intercity Transit maintains a BCC blog, which provides updates about bicycling in the county, bicycling news, as well as new programs relating to bicycling (http://thurstonbcc.blogspot.com/).

Partners:

The main organizer of the event is Intercity Transit. The BCC has received in-kind support from the Washington State Department of Transportation for several years.

Turnout:

The BCC posted a record level of registrations in 2009 with 1,633 participants, while 2010 saw the greatest response rate to date, with 938 mileage logs returned.

Lessons Learned:

The basic design of the event has remained fairly consistent over the years, and is closely aligned with the League of American Bicyclists' Bike Month Guide. For the past few years, the program organizers have been tinkering with details regarding incentives and rewards, and targeting outreach and advertising efforts. The BCC has achieved a much higher level of stability and continuity since being adopted as a program by Intercity Transit.

Developing good consistent relationships with sponsors is fundamental to the success of the event. For communities large enough to be affected by Commute Trip Reduction legislation, or with large employers that have transportation coordination efforts, encouraging workplace teams to participate is very important. A very high percentage of BCC participants are on workplace teams.