By Guy Still

While you may not have heard of QBP, chances are you know its brands. Since 1981, Bloomington-based Quality Bicycle Products has been distributing bicycle parts to independent retailers around the country.

More recently, it has launched numerous well-known bicycle lines, including Surly, Salsa, All-City and Civia. One of the core values of the company is, “Every butt on a bike.” Through an innovative commuter bicycle program, the company is, quite literally, putting its money where its mouth is.

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You might expect a bicycle company to incentivize commuting on two wheels, but QBP goes the extra mile. On Bike to Work Day 2015, I rode down to QBP to meet with a few bicycle commuters and find out what sets the company’s commuter program apart.

Rachel Gitajn, a design engineer for All-City Cycles, joined the company less than two months ago and is already regularly riding into work. She is a big fan of the showers available to commuters.

One of the biggest obstacles for would-be bicycle commuters is the lack of facilities at work. Without showers and lockers, it can be a huge hassle to commute by bike and, therefore, much easier to just hop in the car. (I’ve previously had a 15-mile commute where I had to change in a bathroom stall and freshen up with wet wipes before punching in. It’s no fun.) Not only does QBP offer showers and lockers, but it also has a towel service for bicycle commuters.

In addition to shower facilities, there is ample indoor and outdoor parking for bicycles. The option to hang your bike in a warm building during the harsh winter months makes a huge difference for the year-round cyclist.

If a QBP commuter has an issue with his or her ride, the company offers an on-site repair facility, well-stocked with tools, available for employee use.

In 2014, QBP introduced a new program for bicycle commuters which deposits money into employee health savings accounts. Pedaling in six to 11 times per month nets $10, while commuters who ride even more frequently earn $15 per month.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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Last year, QBP employees logged more than 350,000 miles cycling. At its Bloomington headquarters, half of the nearly 500 employees commute by bicycle some time, while a quarter of employees do so regularly. All of those miles results in wear on components. Luckily for its employees, QBP offers yet another incentive which helps with the expense of bicycle upkeep.

Every day a QBP employee rides into work, he or she receives $3 deposited into a commuter credit account, which may then be used to purchase QBP products for personal use. Couple that with a generous employee discount and you’ve got a sure-fire way to motivate employees to ride in to work. In 2012, the company paid out $51,000 in incentives to bicycle commuters.

Fox Raven, a Quality Wheels Production associate, recently made the decision to go car-free. While he would likely make the 20-mile one-way commute without the aforementioned incentives, he calls the commuter credit an “added bonus.”

QBP also allows employees to donate commuter credit dollars to World Bicycle Relief, should they choose.

While all of these incentives are great for employees, they also make sense for the company.  From 2007-2011, the company realized a reduction in health care premiums of 4.4 percent while the average premium costs for companies skyrocketed by 24.6 percent during the same period.

Bicycle commuting also creates a culture of camaraderie and friendly competition among employees. QBP riders use to log cycling miles and create in-house competitions with a bike commuter league.  Not only do these rivalries encourage more riding and thus better health, but they also allow people from different departments to get to know one another, thereby increasing the sense of community within the company. One QBP employee got a sense of this family spirit even before she began working there.

Sarah Johnson, a top female bicycle commuter and QBP supply chain analyst, made the move to the company after learning about it while commuting to her previous job as an actuary. Beth Simon, from HR, sparked a conversation with Johnson after consistently seeing her during their morning commutes. With very few female commuters at that time, they began talking. After learning about QBP, Johnson applied the following day. Besides the great incentives for commuters, she also appreciates the company’s focus on bicycle advocacy.

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Whether motivated by money, improved health or a greater sense of community, the QBP Bicycle Commuter Program offers plenty of incentives to get more employees in the saddle.