Bike Commuting to Bellevue

A bike commute to BellevueLast Friday, I flew up to Seattle to meet with Expedia. The flight was of course offset with Expedia’s new TerraPass carbon offset.

Our results with Expedia have been amazing. We’ve sold over 1.5 million pounds of carbon in less than a week after launch. I decided to celebrate with a bicycle commute from downtown Seattle to Expedia’s office in Bellevue.

Seattle is an incredible city for cycling, handily beating out San Francisco or Silicon Valley for ease of commuting. While returning home, I thought about what made it different, and resolved to pass these notes on to other TerraPassers for feedback.

  1. Isolated bike paths. Seattle has a huge network of them, and the ample paths across the I-90 bridge made this commute possible. Kudos to the city for this.
  2. Information. My Expedia colleague pointed me to a great Google mashup site with bike routes to Expedia. A route that could have been a pain to navigate was easily scribbled down and even visually scanned for landmarks with Google Maps. When I was confused about the tunnel, I simply zoomed in for an instant flyover.
  3. Shower & towel service. Riding more than two miles? You’re going to break a sweat. Expedia thoughtfully put showers on every floor, with free towel service. You want to tell everyone you rode into work, not make them suffer through it.
  4. Bike Storage. Expedia has easy in-office storage, and is also working on a central bike parking area.
  5. Support from executives. The former CEO of Expedia was an avid cyclist and encouraged early adopters. Nothing like setting an example from the top.
  6. Support from colleagues. The bike commuters are good friends too — often kicking off on Fridays to take the long way home.
  7. Food. Biking makes you hungry. If you don’t have swank options like Expedia’s cafeteria, make sure you locate close to healthy food options.

There is of course always room for improvement. For example, Stanford has an innovative “bail out” option if you have to rush home in an emergency. And no formalized program was in place to encourage bike commuting. But the I’ll bet the employees that do bike commute feel better about work, are more energized and promote a better working environment. All of that turns into better retention that easily pays for the towel service.

The coolest thing? Having the generosity to share your bike commute program with a new business partner.

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tom

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  1. James - September 6, 2006

    Expedia should do a better job of integrating their TerraPass into a normal flight purchase. I ran through a mock flight purchase and found no option of choosing to offset the flight. However, there’s an annnouncement on the lower right of the homepage. But who looks there? Also, the TerraPass is set up as an added “activity” to do while you are in Las Vegas. It’s great to hear that you guys have had success, but this seems to be something that is set up to fail due to lack of enthusiasm on their part. Hope you can get Expedia to fix it!

  2. Tom - September 6, 2006

    Hi James:

    It should pop up after you select flights on the activities page. You are welcome to call if you are having issues.

    Also, a previous post detailed all the ways you can purchase through Expedia.

    The reason for the Las Vegas is that you haven’t input a city destination.

    We actually over a thousand of people ordering these, so while there is always room for improvement, it seems to be a good first step.

  3. Sarah - September 6, 2006

    More on point #1: I was recently in Boulder for the first time, and was blown away by its cycling infrastructure. In Vancouver we have a comprehensive network of designated bike routes that run along residential streets, but stopping for lights and traffic still takes precious time out of the average commute. In Boulder they have an entirely seperate road network for bikes with underpasses and overpasses so that little time is wasted on waiting for car traffic. And if you build it, they will use it according to the Boulder example. It was so uplifting to see people of all sorts cycling as a normal part of their daily lives.