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Wheatsville Bike to Work Benefits

by Cecelia Wild Pony, Packaged Clerk, S. Lamar

When I chose to move to Austin in 2006, one of the major reasons was that I would not have to buy a car. I was a poor college student, and one thing I figured would save me lots of money was riding a bike everywhere. I was right.

Although I did buy a car in the years since, my first choice for commute is always by bike. Parking is convenient, fuel is cheap (and eco-friendly!), maintenance is easy and I never have to wait for everyone to be ready before I can leave the party. My initial commute to the Guadalupe store was pretty easy, a mile or so, and now my commute to the Lamar store is a bit lengthier, just about twelve miles round trip, but Wheatsville and it’s Bike to Work Benefit have always made making the choice to ride the easy one.

Our Bike to Work Benefit was launched two years ago by our dedicated HR Director, Beth Ley. The way that it works is each month, you fill out a slip stating that you rode to work either four times or a total of eight miles (whichever comes first) and then $20 is put into your “bike bank”, which you may use for any bike related items you purchase in that year. I have used it to buy bikes, gloves, u-locks, lights, tubes-just about everything, and it feels really great to know that I am investing in my fitness and safety each time I ride my bike to work.

My personal commute is from the Tarrytown area of Austin, from around 29th and MoPac. I try to utilize bike and pedestrian lanes when possible, so I take the back neighborhoods hugging MoPac to the river and then the hike and bike trail under the highway. This gives me the scenic route through Zilker (dedicated bike lanes!) and hooks me straight into the South Lamar lane for the long ride up the hill.
Once I get to work, I’m sweatier than I used to be when I rode to Guadalupe, but no worries, we have the convenience of an employee shower! In our office space, there are two showers dedicated specifically to employees who bike to work, and I can say from personal experience they are GLORIOUS. There is nothing quite like a shower after a long bike ride to get you ready for your day at work.

While Wheatsville has provided this consideration to staff, we also have plenty of amenities for cyclist shoppers as well. There is bike parking in the front and back of the store, as well as a repair station for putting air in your tires, fixing a flat, adjusting brakes or derailleurs. Parking in the front is covered by our awning to protect your bike, and we are adding additional parking to accommodate bikes with trailers attached.

When I moved to Austin, I was a hesitant and inexperienced cyclist. Now, having lived in a city and worked for a employer that is so encouraging and adaptable to cyclists, I can proudly say that I am a strong and knowledgeable commuter on two wheels. Thanks, Wheatsville!