Cut through congestion with ‘office bikes’

David Botzis (left) and Scott Russell of Dixon Hughes Goodman wait at a light outside of the accounting firm’s office at East Bay and Chapel streets while riding “office bikes” to a lunch meeting at Taco Boy.

Accounting firm partner David Botzis admitted he used to be reluctant to leave the office for lunch in increasingly congested streets of downtown Charleston because it took too much time.

“Most places to eat were too far away to walk or too difficult to find parking,” recalls Botzi, who works at Dixon Hughes Goodman office on the corner of East Bay and Chapel streets.

But his sentiment has changed since April.

Botzi now just checks out one the four “office bikes” that the firm purchased last spring and takes off, even in professional attire. And he uses the bikes not only for lunch but to meet clients or other work-related errands outside of the office.

Botzi’s not alone. Fellow partner Tricia Wilson says the bikes are popular and that most of the 80-person staff have used them.

“We may invest in some more,” says Wilson. “Now, I can’t imagine being downtown and not having a bike.”

Wilson adds the decision to get the bikes was part of an effort to make the firm “more green,” which including ridding its kitchen of disposable plastic and paper utensils and cups.

And while the bikes have help raise awareness among staffers about sustainability and corporate responsibility, the fact of the matter is that having bikes available for short trips downtown is simply practical, convenient and efficient.

Wilson says she thinks all offices on the peninsula should have loaner bikes, particularly as it continues to grow and subsequently traffic and parking gets more congested.

Kurt Cavanaugh, executive director of Charleston Moves, says the Charleston peninsula is ideal for traveling by bike because it is relatively compact and “pancake flat.”

“You can leisurely bike its length in 20 minutes and parking is a breeze,” says Cavanaugh, who expects biking to get even more enticing after the city’s downtown bike plan is finalized and simple improvements are made.

“The more people riding bikes for transportation in downtown Charleston, the better,” says Cavanaugh.

Daniel Russell-Einhorn, owner of Affordabike on the corner of King and Cannon streets, says he has sold bikes to People Matter for a similar use as Dixon Hughes and gets similar inquiries from businesses, including hotels for use by guests, frequently.

Among the hotels with bicycles available to guests are The Vendue and Zero George.

Russell-Einhorn says he is seeing a shift in people’s willingness not only to spend money on bicycles but an interest to add items, such as baskets, racks and panniers, to them for carrying items.

As public entities drag along with bike share programs, Russell-Einhorn has been toying with the idea of private bike shares that utilize bike applications and GPS technologies.

But it really is simpler than that.

All any business needs to do is buy a few bikes, new or used, some locks and helmets, put them in a secure area and start riding.