Not everyone would consider a sanitation company a good fit for a bike friendly business. However, Gallegos Sanitation (GSI) became a bronze status Bike friendly business in December 2016, due, in part, to the efforts of its Sustainability Coordinator, Becca Walkinshaw. Becca has championed the BFB initiative but she also had many other teammates within GSI who jumped at the opportunity to show their support to the bike friendly community the company serves.
“GSI’s leadership team supports a biking culture because it directly impacts the health and safety of our employees, the health and safety of our employees directly affects our community. GSI strives to educate our employees on the importance of being healthy and safe- at home, at work and in the community.”
Getting the BFB designation in December was perfect timing for GSI’s new year’s resolution: “Walk the walk.” Start biking to work every day. Biking is not new to the employees at GSI. In Becca’s case, she loves it and has biked her whole life. But for the past several years, there have been barriers to biking consistently. When the idea of helping Gallegos become a Bike Friendly Business arose, it got Becca excited about biking again.
Since December, Becca has commuted by bike to work and has rediscovered her favorite part about cycling—having time to ‘zen out’ while biking, and getting to work mentally refreshed and energized. Her commute now takes about twenty minutes; and as the months go by that time is getting shorter!]
This is also something Becca is teaching her children. She wants them to consider biking a normal activity and wants them, and everyone, to think about biking before just jumping into a car. There is so much that can be reached by bike in Fort Collins; not to mention all the mental and physical benefits to cycling and being out in nature.
This commitment is important too, to show everyone in the company that biking is doable, even for a unique company with a rural setting, few customers at the location, and long hours in trucks. Gallegos employees represent a diverse demographic and not everyone is experienced in the cycling culture. However, there is a strong company pride and desire to be recognized for their efforts and contributions in the community.
Gallegos employees want the public to see that they care and are improving where possible. Becca had to get creative to show how this business fits into the League of American Bicyclists structure, and the most important way was to translate their high standard of safety to biking.
Becca collaborated with GSI Safety Manager, Tom Clock, to make certain that Gallegos drivers knew the rules of the road for cyclists and motorists. As a company, they respect the biking culture and want to share the road with everyone safely. To that end, Gallegos Operations Managers are trained as Bike Friendly Drivers, through the city’s class series. In addition, Tom became certified as a Bike Friendly Driver educator which means he trains their drivers via the program materials.
Gallegos’s designation as a bronze Bike Friendly Business is still new so there is a strong effort to be visible as a cyclist and biking commuter. Becca noticed that employees have begun having more conversations about biking and talk to each other about how far they ride, and what other activities are available to them; and look to more experienced cyclists as guides or mentors. She loves this change and works to normalize the biking culture in hopes that this will help reverse perceived barriers to biking.
“We really, as a company, respect the [biking] culture. We want to share the road with bikes and regularly communicate this with our drivers, too. So, we’re really trying hard with bike awareness and worked to truly understand what bike safety means and [can] pass it on. This is a top priority: sharing the road and sharing information; understanding how to coexist with bikes.”