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Why We Ride

The first time I stepped foot in Lake|Flato was when I interviewed this past March.  After an 8 hour whirlwind tour of the office and the city, I was impressed by the casual office environment and the amazing work on everyone’s computer, but most of all I was impressed by the bicycles. Lake|Flato not only supported cycling, but wanted to let everyone know it. For me, this was huge. Sustainability at Lake|Flato is not a fad or a marketing strategy, it’s who we are. Cycling is probably the greatest force for good in America today. Bicycle commuting can improve heath, lessen congestion, provide cleaner air, and promote safer and friendlier communities. Studies have shown that children who bike to school score better on tests and have an easier time focusing. (Goodyear, 2013) Adults who bike to work have a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes than adults who commute by car. (Gordon-Larsen, et al., 2009) In fact, of the 7 leading causes of death in America, 5 of them (the previous 4 diseases plus automotive accidents) can be significantly reduced by cycling. In the world of sustainable architecture, we often focus on the fact that 50% of all energy used in the United States is used in buildings, but another large portion of our energy, about 17%, is consumed by cars. Of all the car trips made in the United States, about 50% are less than three miles and almost 30% of all trips are less than 1 mile. (US Department of Transportation, 2009) If more people made these short trips by bike, the overall energy reduction would be huge. Many of these benefits are compounded as bicycle commuting becomes more mainstream. The more bicycles on the road, the safer the roads become due to fewer cars and more drivers used to sharing the road with cyclists. Fewer cars also mean less congestion which cuts down on energy and time wasted in traffic. Cyclists not only improve the world for themselves, but for drivers too. So, with all these social and environmental benefits, why aren’t there more cyclists?  A big reason is culture.  Because bicycle commuting is not yet very widespread, many people don’t recognize a bicycle as a legitimate alternative to a car. Bicycle commuting is often stigmatized as something that young, or poor, or athletic, or crazy people do while regular people just drive to work. Because of these misconceptions, the needs of cyclists are often not taken as seriously and more often than not, bicycle policies are written by those who drive. At Lake|Flato, we see cycling for what it is; a positive lifestyle choice that should be encouraged and rewarded. Over 25% of our employees regularly bike to work and those who do receive a $30 per month bonus. We also sponsor local cycling programs like B-Cycle, San Antonio’s new bike sharing program, and the Third Street Grackles, our charitable cycling team. Currently we’re working with the city of San Antonio to set up a car-share in front of the office so that employees can bike to work even if they have an offsite meeting. These efforts amount to a great start, but there is still work to be done to make cycling even more convenient and appealing. Lake|Flato’s culture of cycling is a major reason why many of us chose to work here and we’re committed to leading the industry in creating an ever more bicycle friendly work environment.
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