Saris Joins Bike to Work Month Celebrations
It’s May and employees at bicycle accessory manufacturer, Saris, are getting into the National Bike Month spirit. Twenty-seventeen is the 61st year the League of American Bicyclists have earmarked the month of May to encourage more cycling, specifically to work. As a company of cyclists, Saris strongly believes in the power of the bicycle as a catalyst for change, and there’s no better month to “try it by bike” than May.
For Saris, advocacy starts with their employees by encouraging their workforce of 150 plus to arrive by bike – even in harsh Wisconsin winters. Saris does this through a commuter incentive program that tracks and encourages bike commuting. Every day Saris workers log their rides to and from work and earn points for their miles, which in turn earn them rewards such as cash for new bike gear, branded commuter backpacks, trail passes and more.
This commuter program is only the tip of the iceberg for Saris’ advocacy programs in their hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. During both May and June, Saris is an active contributor to events that encourage their “try it by bike” mantra. One such event is the Brat Fest Memorial Bike Ride, a new addition to the Madison Bike Month line-up. A charity ride like the Memorial Ride provides an opportunity for the city of Madison, and partner organizations, to encourage all types and levels of bicyclists to hop on the saddle in support of a local organization: Badger Honor Flight.
The opportunity to combine bratwursts and bikes doesn’t end there, as the official kick-off to The World’s Largest Brat Fest features a bicycle component. Six years ago Saris added a cycling twist to the Take Your Brat to Work Day, a massive fundraising effort for local charities wherein Madisonians pick up bratwursts by the hundreds on an early Friday morning. This cyclist-centric version has since been dubbed Bike Your Brat to Work Day. Bicyclists simply bike through the brat-thru, and Saris will buy the first 100 riders their first brat starting at 6am.
Saris’ headline event makes an appearance in June for Madison’s Bike to Work Week. In 2012, Saris employees dreamed up a creation so unique that its presence alone would encourage more butts on bikes. The result was the bratcake: a warm, fluffy pancake wrapped around a hot-off-the-grill bratwurst and topped with syrup. Since its birth the bratcake has become a Wisconsin Bike to Work Week tradition in Madison and will return between 7-9 am the morning of Wednesday, June 7th.
In addition to local events to encourage more trips by bike, Saris has also played a role in the growth of Madison as a destination for bicyclists. Eight years ago, in 2009, Saris took Madison business leaders to Europe to showcase their famous bicycle friendly infrastructure.This excursion was before the birth of the now named Green Lane Project, and since the trip overseas almost a decade ago both Madison and the USA have implemented massive improvements for cyclists.
Today the culture of bike commuting in the city of 230,000 plus is on the rise. One need not look further than the 2016 Platinum Award for the city to see that Madison is making news for their focus on the bike. This culture of cycling is spilling over into neighboring suburbs with Fitchburg, Middleton, Monona, and Sun Prairie also receiving accolades. After numerous listings as a top cycling city, leaders from across the nation are looking to cities such as Madison for ideas on how to engage cyclists.
Saris is also active in bike advocacy at the national level. They’re a long-time supporter of PeopleForBikes, an active partner in Vision Zero and work with brand advocates across the United States to help support bicycling initiatives.
“Each year we dedicate over $100,000 to encourage people to simply get on their bike and ride,” said Marketing Director, Heather Fortune. “Our goal is to make bicycling fun, easy and accessible, so that people who don’t typically ride will have a reason to ‘try by bike’ once or twice. We believe that the bike is a vessel for good, that more people on bikes will lead to healthier and more enjoyable communities. From business leaders to local advocates, it takes those passionate about the bicycle to implement change. Brats are just another way to help keep the momentum going.”
As for the local craving for a brat wrapped in a pancake, the love for the bratcakes has steadily grown over the years and transformed into a confluence of cyclists. In their first year Saris Cycling Group handed out just over 200 bratcakes, the following iteration around 380 while last year they broke the World Record for most bratcakes handed out in one morning, a whopping 912!
Bratcakes is a nearly 100% human powered event as employees from Saris load-up bike racks, extended bicycles, trailers and cargo bikes for the nearly 15-mile round trip venture with everything needed for a fully functioning commuter station that allows for made-from-scratch pancakes, including water coolers, grills, cooking utensils, ingredients and more.
For those interested in attending bratcakes, the event will take place on Wednesday, June 7th from 7am – 9am, or until the bratcakes run out. Bratcakes will be served along the Capital City Bike Path between the Monona Terrace and Broom Street. Saris Cycling Group is partnering with local businesses, including Bavaria Haus for the bratwursts, Marigold Kitchen and True Coffee Roasters for the coffee and The Cargo Bike Shoppe for the extended bicycles and cargo bikes.