The lowly bicycle commuter, windblown, his Hugo Boss suit branded with chain marks, has a benefactor. Riverside-based Fleetwood Enterprises, which makes RVs and manufactured housing, touts a bicycle commuter program that has about 12% of its 600-plus employees cycling to work an average of three times per week.
Some other L.A.-area firms offer showers and bike racks as incentives, but Fleetwood provides much more: loaner bikes, equipment such as helmets, reflective vests and headlamps, bike lockers, showers, a maintenance facility and a shuttle service for stranded cyclists. And it's company policy to forgive tardiness caused by cycling. "It's a fantastic program, the best I'm aware of," says Ryan Snyder of the Los Angeles Transportation Commission. "They've done just about everything you can do for a bicyclist."
The program started in 1989 after the Air Quality Management District ordered companies to try to increase occupancy rates of employee vehicles to 1.5 commuters per car. Fleetwood found that 21% of its workers were interested in bicycle commuting, and a successful program was born. "A few people cycle in from 16 miles," says Roberta Holden, Fleetwood's employee transportation coordinator.
"I can see the stars when I start out in the morning--something you just don't notice in a car," says senior program analyst Cliff Luchsinger, who cycles five miles to work and is president of the company's bike club, Mud, Sweat & Gears. "It's better than coffee."