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Biking to the boardroom: Cleveland's first Bike Friendly Business

Marc Lefkowitz  |  05/21/13 @ 2:00pm  |  Posted in Transportation choices

From the 49th floor of Key Tower, pedestrians look like ants and the Appalachians form a rolling backdrop to city, lake and the east suburbs.

Bikes to work<br />Austin McGuan and staff at Squire Sanders bike to work at Key Tower (pictured).<br />

In the boardroom of Squire Sanders, three of the law firm’s bike committee explain how their days start out there in Seven Hills, Westlake and Tremont with a bike ride.

Associates Austin McGuan and Pete Morrison and graphic designer Erik Keller say biking makes sense for them, most days, perhaps offering a rebuttal to the typecast lawyer in power suit and luxury sedan.

“Once you have the whole process of how to pack things up and get your ride down, it’s easy,” says Keller. “I’m up at 6:30 and on the bike by seven.”

Biking is more than projecting an image of caring about the environment, says McGuan. Squire Sanders client list includes Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) and civic groups investing in Cleveland’s talent attraction effort.

“People who sell the city by focusing on livability and great local neighborhoods (biking) goes together,” says Morrison, a Tremont resident and seasonal biker. “I like to think being bicycle friendly is another arrow in the quiver.”

From leading by example—McGuan has logged hundreds of miles since the National Bike Challenge began in May—to purchasing memberships at The Bike Rack, DCA’s downtown bike parking spot, Squire Sanders this spring earned a League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly Business designation, the first in Northeast Ohio.

The bike committee is winning over converts. The trio go out of their way to encourage staff to try biking.

“The first question I usually get is, ‘aren’t you all sweaty?’ says Keller. “I tell them that usually I wear recreational gear and the heat of day hasn’t hit yet. You don’t have to be one of those intense cyclists on the road. You don’t need a $1,600 bike.”

Showers and lockers are options at the Bike Rack, located at E. 2nd, and for members like Morrison at the Marriott at Key Tower’s gym.

Through the firm’s green team, they conveyed a need for better, code-compliant bike parking in the Tower’s garage. Building management promptly responded, McGuan says, replacing an old “wheel bender” 4-bike rack in a dark corner with a new, U-shape 12-bike rack in a well-lit spot near the main entryway to the building. The rack is full with bikes most days, he adds.

Cyclists at the firm range from former Growhio staffer and local food advocate Gwen Forte, who is in her Twenties, to more “senior” members of their staff. Rounding out the firm’s bike committee is Mitch Thompson, who bikes in from Shaker Heights, Forte, who bikes in regularly from Detroit-Shoreway, Ahmed Abonamah, who bikes from Tremont, Rick Garcia an IT manager who bikes from Fairview Park and Paula Tilisky, facilities manager.

Within the firm, they try to attract new riders by organizing social rides like “Bike to Lunch” or charity events like Ride United (Squire Sanders had 15 riders participating in the June United Way event). In addition, they schedule speakers like BikeCleveland’s director and Cleveland’s bike planner to address their larger green team.

“We want to encourage as many people to ride as possible,” McGuan says. “Raise awareness of cycling, and give a little more space for this in people’s lives.”

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Cyclist 1.0
4 years ago

So, now that Northeast Ohio has its first Bike Friendly Community (City of Cleveland) and its first Bike Friendly Business (Squire Sanders), which college or university will be the first to receive a Bike Friendly University designation?

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