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Do You Work for a BFB?

"When we get the actual business to apply for it, they're doing the work of promoting cycling to their employees and we don't have to do it so much. And that's better for everyone."

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Few Boise businesses are more bicycle friendly than Boise Bicycle Project, which by definition is a rolling testament to the city's cycling community. But the local nonprofit can also lay claim to a rare title as well, recognized as Idaho's only Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Business.

The designation comes from the League of American Bicyclists, which recently revamped its BFB program. Criteria for the designation ranges from the tangible, like providing cash incentives for employees who commute by bike, to the more nebulous, such as hanging up fliers for local bicycle events.

"A real simple one for people is to have bike racks in front of your business, a bike pump and a toolkit somewhere in the shop, and then to promote bicycle events," said BBP Executive Director Jimmy Hallyburton.

Convincing businesses to participate is the first challenge. Current BFBs include Idaho Power and Kittelson & Associates. But the league ranks Idaho 36th out of the 50 states in bicycle friendliness--concentrated largely in Boise, with 13 BFBs and one BFU (bicycle friendly university).

"Business-minded employers see that part of it--if we encourage biking, our employees will be healthier, they'll be more productive and they'll be more active, and that's good for us," Hallyburton said.

He hopes government officials will, too. Though not a business, per se, the City of Boise is taking steps to receive Bicycle Friendly designation. And Hallyburton wants to see city leaders help spearhead a lengthy process to label Boise as a whole a Bicycle Friendly Community.

"We're trying to work together with the city to put together a bicycle advisory committee that meets permanently year-round that would help apply for this," he said.

Hallyburton's goal is to help Idaho cruise higher than 36th in the nation and, ultimately, take the top spot for having the most BFBs. To date, BBP has helped sign up 20 business since January, with plans for 30 more by late June.

It is difficult to quantify, however, what having a bicycle-friendly designation really means for a business. Hallyburton believes, for one, it's a signal to consumers or prospective employees--much like Think Boise First's local designation--to shop or work at a BFB. That outreach could, he said, help to get more people on bikes.

"When we get the actual business to apply for it, they're doing the work of promoting cycling to their employees and we don't have to do it so much," said Hallyburton. "And that's better for everyone."

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