How to Win the Bike to Work Challenge

To celebrate Bike to Work Day here in the Friendly City, we're organizing a friendly contest between workplaces. Each workplace has a potential Team, consisting of all the people who might travel to work at that workplace on Bike to Work Day. Some workplaces are small (the Hypothetical Diner), and some are large. If your workplace is large, you may want to choose just one subgroup to be your team: for example, JMU has thousands of employees, but less than 50 math professors, who all play well together. (For more on this strategy, see Pro Tips, below.)

Each Team needs at least one Team Captain. If you're a Team Captain, your job is to encourage your colleagues who are interested in biking to work, and help us keep track of how many succeed. We'll provide workshops and other resources to make your workplace as successful as possible. But remember, in order to win, everyone's trips on Bike to Work Day have to be logged on their Team Page. 

We suggest folks get in the habit of bicycle commuting during the days and weeks before Bike to Work Day. (Don't worry, it won't spoil your Novice status unless you want it to.) Do a test ride over the weekend. Get some route tips from a local bike shop or ask one of our volunteer bike mentors. Usually there are a few kinks to be worked out the first time someone commutes by bike, if they're new to it or haven't done it in a while. 

After Bike to Work Day, we'll announce who has the highest participation rate and who has the highest total miles bicycled. Huzzah!

Bonus Pro Tips & Frequently Asked Questions

Q: what does Pool size mean?
Usually, your Pool is the total number of people working at your workplace on Bike to Work Day -- all the people who could theoretically have biked to work there.  Often, your Pool of Potential Riders includes people you think will never ever bike to work. (You can accept this, or you can ask us for help finding ways around their excuses. We're pretty good at that.) If you want to exclude these people and include more likely prospects, y
ou are welcome to be creative in how you define your pool -- we just ask that there be some viable rationale. Gerrymandering must be reflected in the name of the team.

(A cute story: the 2010 Participation Trophy (non-fitness division) was won by Indian American Café Workers. Their team name excluded the café owners because the staff were reluctant to badger them into biking to work.
At the installation dinner, some of the staff seriously talked about how the café is like a family, and the owners were very supportive in finding a place to display the trophy.)

Q: Why do you care about the Pool size?
We like to calculate teams' Participation rate and Average Mileage, partly so we can award trophies fairly, partly so we can tell teams in future how much they've improved.

Q: How is the Average Mileage Trophy awarded? We divide each Team's total mileage by its Pool size. Highest score wins. We use the pool size rather than the Team size because dividing by Team size would create a perverse incentive for people who live near their workplace NOT to bike to work.

Q: Can we include our students as riders? We feel we're all part of a team, and that learning is our students' job. We totally respect your teamhood and your students' diligence, but regretfully announce that our official statistics can include only workers in the technical sense. Volunteer workers are probably fine, but not students or similar participants. Why not? Because past teams have included organizations such as yoga studios, where it becomes difficult to distinguish between students and customers and hence difficult to determine Pool Size. Even if we include only students who are required to attend daily, the participation rate would be unfairly skewed by state-funded buses, in at least some cases. What can we do instead? Bike Month in Harrisonburg does include Bike to School Day: perhaps that event could be used to organize greater friendly competition among schools?

Q: What if I'm not scheduled to work on Bike to Work Day? Lucky you! You have three options:
Option (1): Stay home. Be sure your Team Captain knows you're staying home -- this will help your team statistics.
Option (2): Bike to work anyhow! Give the outside wall of your workplace a high five, and then ride back. Let your Team Captain know you rode -- this will help your team statistics even more than Option (1).
Option (3): Bake muffins, or whatever your specialty, to bring to Bike to Work Day breakfast! For details, contact Carl Droms ( Afterwards, check your Team Page to make sure you were counted as 'Absent/Bus/Walked'.

Q: What if, instead of biking, I just walk to work? Or ride my skateboard? Or take the bus? Or carpool? Am I still part of Bike to Work Day?
Walking to work is great; we encourage bike commuters to watch for and respect pedestrians. When scoring Harrisonburg's Bike to Work Day contest, we count pedestrians, skaters, and bus riders as achieving Mileage Zero. (Scores for carpoolers get divided by the number of people in the car.) So by not driving (or not driving alone), you are definitely part of Bike to Work Day, and helping to make your workplace's team more competitive. In some years, we may even have enough sponsors to create a raffle prize specially for this category of commuter. Please make sure your Team Captain (or SubTeam Lieutenant) knows about your special transportation category!

Q: Why don't you count pedestrian or skateboard miles the exact same way you count bicyclist miles? After all, walking and skating are healthier and greener than riding some bike that was probably manufactured in China or Taiwan and then shipped across North America by truck.
A: That's a valid point. We score bike-riding higher not because it's superior, but to compensate for its initial hurdles.
    Our long-term goal is to broaden people's range of transportation choices. Now, while most folks already walk a little every day, the bike habit demands additional upkeep: tires must be kept inflated, luggage attached, lights remembered for after dark, etc. So tiny bike trips have the valuable secondary function of keeping riders prepared for longer trips -- the kind that might otherwise be driven by car.

Q: What about buggies?
So far, no one has entered a buggy in our contest, which is really too bad now that we think about it.
We would probably score buggies the same way we score bicycles. Horses obviously require far more routine dedication than bikes. We'd be delighted to award a special prize for buggies. Maybe a local feed store or farrier would be willing to offer one?

Q: [insert your brilliant and well-reasoned critique of our current set-up here]
You seem like an interesting and capable person, one who could help us make decisions and manage the consequent workload. To join us at our next meeting, please email

Subpages (1): The Hypothetical Diner