Business Center

Lean Everyday Idea - Update to the Bicycle Commuter Benefit

#CommuterBenefits #innovation #EmployeeEngagement #CDOT #BiketoWork

By: The Office of Innovative Mobility Sydney Lund Process Improvement & Change Management Intern

May 15,2020

At the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), we are working to enhance the quality of life and the environment of the citizens of Colorado by creating an integrated transportation system that focuses on safely moving people and goods by offering convenient linkages among modal choices. The Office of Innovative Mobility is working on innovative technologies and projects to encourage the use of smart mobility options, whereas the Office of Process Improvement is working on creating a more lean organization while improving the way that we work. With Sydney Lund, CDOT’s Transportation Demand Management Intern sitting in both departments, updating the Bicycle Commuter Benefit helped accomplish the goals of both offices.

About the Bicycle Commuter Benefit

Even though CDOT builds roads, we also focus on creating an integrated transportation system that serves multiple different modal options, including biking. For the past decade, CDOT has been offering all full-time employees a Bicycle Commuter Benefit, which employees could apply to receive $20 per month for riding a certain amount of bike rides per month. The number of bike rides fluctuates per month, with more rides being required in the summer months and less being required in the winter months due to snow and ice.

David Bourget standing with his electric bike in the CDOT bike storage roomFeatured is David Bourget, an avid CDOT electric bike cyclist at the HQR1 location.

Process Improvement Needs for the Bicycle Commuter Benefit

When Sydney Lund started her internship at CDOT, she learned about the various different types of commuter benefits available to employees. After doing some research and talking with fellow CDOT’ers, she discovered that employees who have an EcoPass could not apply to the Bicycle Commuter Benefit and that there were 10 touch points required for employees to apply for the benefit each month. Employees were often filling out the forms incorrectly, which led to additional touch points and time required from the Business Office. Additionally, in 2018 and 2019 only 21% of the funds set aside from this benefit were utilized. Improving employee eligibility would allow for more employees to apply for the benefit, which would allow for more of the funds to be utilized.

Sydney mentioned, “I saw an improvement to the Bicycle Commuter Benefit as a way to work on a project that met the needs of both of my departments. By simplifying the application process and increasing the amount of employees eligible for the benefit, this project was able to improve business operations at CDOT while increasing commuting benefits, which could reduce employees' vehicle miles traveled.”

Lily Lizarraga standing with her bike outside of the CDOT HQR1 buildingFeatured is Lily Lizarraga, Office of Innovative Mobility Project Coordinator and bike enthusiast.

About the Process Improvements

In order to improve the process and gain Executive Leadership buy-in, Sydney highlighted all of the steps that employees and the Business Office needed to complete throughout the process. “By highlighting all of the required steps in the old process, we were able to make the business case as to why the application process needed to be improved upon,” said Sydney. Additionally, highlighting that only 21% of the benefit funding had been utilized the last two years helped make the case for opening the benefit up to employees who had an EcoPass.

When creating the new Bicycle Commuter Benefit application, the project team wanted to make sure that subject matter experts were involved, in order to make sure that the new application and updates to the benefit would include all of the required information and be user friendly.

There were two process improvements made to the benefit, including that employees can now apply for the Bicycle Commuter Benefit and receive an EcoPass at the same time. Additionally, a new Bicycle Commuter Benefit form was created. This form simplified the touch points from 10 to four. The new application streamlined the application process, which made the application easier for employees to fill out, thus saving time and money. “Another way that we saw would reduce the touch points required was to switch the application process from a monthly to a quarterly process, which eliminated eight extra applications per year,” said Sydney. With the applications moving to a quarterly system, employees receive $60 per quarter rather than $20 per month. The number of rides that employees need to take is still the same, yet grouped into three month periods. “Not only does this reduce the amount of applications and time spent on each application, but it allows for greater flexibility when employees ride to work; this still accomplishes the goal of getting employees to ride their bikes, but makes it much more flexible,” said Sydney.

Results and Lessons Learned

“Once the Bicycle Commuter Benefit was updated, we also wanted to make sure that it was well advertised to the employees, to accomplish the goal of receiving more applications,” said Sydney. The project team created a communications plan for this update, which included the creation of fliers, including this update into all-region and HQ emails, updating the Bicycle Commuter Benefit page of the Intranet, and adding information to the Employee News section of the Intranet.

The new Bicycle Commuter Benefit Application went live at the beginning of February 2020. In quarter one, $520 of the Bicycle Commuter Benefit was utilized. If all of the quarters receive the same number of submissions in 2020 as in quarter one, the improvement will garner more applicants than in 2017 and roughly the same amount in 2018 and 2019. However, since quarter one, which is from January to March, is typically the low season for biking due to weather, it is likely there will be an increase in the amount of Bicycle Commuter Benefit applications submitted over the course of 2020.

Sydney said that, “I really appreciated being able to be the project lead for this project, as it tied in process improvements into innovative mobility offerings via commuter benefits.” By “fixing what bugs you,” the project team was able to create a better customer experience that saves time and helps encourage biking as a commuting option.

CDOT employees can find the new Bicycle Commuter Benefit application on the Intranet, which is only accessible to CDOT employees.

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