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WMG Recognized for Leadership in Alternative Transportation

Release Date:

May 1, 2015
Media Contact: Lisa Shipek 520-396-3266 x2 or lisa@watershedmg.org

Watershed Management Group Recognized for Leadership in Alternative Transportation with Bicycle Friendly Business Award

Watershed Management Group (WMG) was awarded Bicycle Friendly Business status by the League of American Cyclists on Earth Day. The award recognizes WMG for their leadership and innovation in promoting bicycling for their staff and visitors to their headquarters, the Living Lab & Learning Center, in central Tucson. WMG was the only Arizona employer recognized in this year’s awards.

As bicycle commute rates in Tucson continue to rise slowly, WMG is proving that alternative transportation can be easy and fun, and this small non-profit organization is setting an example for businesses throughout the region. WMG’s application to the League of American Cyclists excelled in all four categories: Education, Encouragement, Engineering, and Evaluation & Planning—earning the Tucson-based non-profit a gold level rating.

WMG has created a model workplace for encouraging bicycle commuting. With an outdoor shower, an in-house bike tune-up service, financial support for alternative commute modes, and a loaner bike on site for those days when staff have to drive but want to ride to a meeting or lunch, WMG has achieved nearly 100% participation in their alternative transportation benefits program.

It cannot be overstated how innovative WMG’s Alternative Transportation Benefit Package is for employees—it goes above and beyond. Full time staff receive up to $400 annually to help pay for bicycle equipment and repairs, and part-time staff receive up to $200. In addition, staff who want to get started biking can apply for a one-time benefit of $100 to help them purchase a bike or commuting gear.

WMG is promoting more than just bicycling too; each staff member receives a SunGo card that is automatically recharged by WMG. This means WMG employees can ride Tucson city buses and the streetcar at no personal cost—for personal and work-related travel. As a non-profit, WMG does not qualify for the tax breaks enjoyed by for-profit companies who offer benefits to employees who bike or ride the bus to work. Still, they have made it priority.
Lisa Shipek, WMG’s Executive Director says, “WMG walks the talk. Through our programs, we help Tucson create green streets through rainwater harvesting and beautiful street-side landscapes. At the same time, our staff are reducing air pollution, water pollution, and greenhouse gases by riding our bikes, city bus, and streetcar. WMG offers these benefits because our small investment makes a big impact on our community’s health and vitality. Just imagine if all Tucson businesses offered the same benefits—we’d see a dramatic increase in public transportation and biking.”

Never ones to shy away from a friendly competition, WMG staff also showed their enthusiasm for cycling by participating in the Tucson Bike Fest Workplace Commuter Challenge during the month of April. WMG won by a wide margin, with more than double the number of bike trips of the second-place business. WMG staff recorded 448 bike trips—that’s more than 15 trips per day in the competition!