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DSM Is One of the Best Places for Cyclists

DSM is One of the Best Places for Cyclists

January 16, 2018

I’ve always been impressed with the Greater Des Moines (DSM) bicycle scene, and as a community we continue to make great progress.

A Convenient Option

Several local retailers and advocacy groups have continued to lead the charge for positive change and we’re glad to support the effort at Meredith Corporation.  The Meredith Trail provided an easy way for me to complete a lunch time loop on my bike and get to know the downtown area when I first started at Meredith in 2007.  The new B-Cycle station outside of Meredith and other stations around the metro make it easy and affordable for anyone to take a bike for a ride.  And, convenient bicycle parking at metro businesses makes it easy to find a space when you’re heading Downtown, over to Ingersoll or the East Village for lunch or an afternoon getaway.

Biking is a great source of physical activity and it’s something anyone can do at any age.  From parents with their children, to retirees, to recreational commuters, riders on RAGBRAI and triathletes, no matter what your current ability level it’s easy to grab a helmet and a bike and get started.

Changing the Biking Culture in DSM

Creating a corporate culture that supports and encourages employees to be physically active is a key to success. At Meredith, we’ve seen great results. A few years ago, we started providing a bicycle commuter subsidy which allows employees to be reimbursed up to $240 for bicycle commuting expenses each year.

As part of Bike Month in May, we host a commuter safety presentation led by Meredith cyclists to encourage other employees to try biking to work. The session covers choosing a route, having the right gear, how to stay safe and even make basic repairs.  Employees also partner with new riders to make sure everyone has a buddy if they would like someone to join them for a ride. We’ve seen an increase in cyclists since I started at Meredith, and the employee grassroots effort combined with Meredith leadership support has made all the difference.

Several other local businesses have launched similar programs and it’s easy for any business to get involved. I encourage companies to make physical activity a priority for their employees and to provide support through flexible employee schedules and accessible facilities including changing areas and safe bicycle parking.  

Meredith was recently recognized with a Gold-Level Bicycle Friendly Business Award from the League of American Bicyclists and named a Top 10 employer nationally by Bicycling Magazine for successfully supporting and encouraging employees to bike. You can check it out in the January/February 2018 issue

Beyond any recognition, it’s most rewarding to see the positive impact cycling has had on our workforce. It’s now common for employees to grab a gym bag and find a colleague or two to attend a lunch time spin class in our building or go for a ride on the local trails. 

I encourage readers to view biking not as another item on your ‘to do’ list, but rather as an opportunity to do something good for yourself.  Take a break, get some fresh air, clear your mind, grab a buddy. Use it as a chance to spend more quality time with your kids, catch up with an old friend, or as a fun activity to have a “rolling” meeting with your employees.

Someone once told me you’re never sorry you exercised after a workout. I find the same is true with a good bike ride.  Make 2018 the year you started biking more.  Grab a bike and a helmet and give it a try. And bring someone with you. You’ll be glad you did!

It's easy to get around Downtown DSM by car, bike, bus or on foot. Click for more information on trails and the BCycle program. 

Tim O'Neil

Tim O'Neil currently guides employee benefits and wellness at Meredith Corporation. In that capacity, O'Neil is charged with developing and integrating best-in-class health and financial wellness programs with progressive benefit plan design. Meredith has received national recognition and won numerous awards for their innovative approach to engaging employees and families.