Community Stories

Employees Enjoy Opportunity to be Active at Work

In December 2021, the City of Stillwater was recognized as Minnesota’s newest Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. The City’s Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community Award reflects years of hard work to make Stillwater an attractive biking destination for residents and visitors alike.

In keeping with the City’s strong commitment to bicycling and employee wellness, Stillwater has partnered with Living Healthy Washington County to support biking in the workplace. Donna Robole, the City of Stillwater’s Chief Human Resources Officer, shared that the partnership was a great fit as the City is always looking for opportunities to promote employee wellness. In a recent employee interest survey, City employees expressed support for building a bike-friendly work environment and identified physical activity in the workplace as a high priority.

In March 2022, the City of Stillwater used Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) funding to purchase four bicycles for employee use. The City worked to ensure the bikes would be ready for use by spring thaw. Ms. Robole helped coordinate the efforts to develop and present an employee bicycling policy to Stillwater City Council. After the policy passed, the City offered training for City employees on proper bicycle use, covering topics from how to shift bicycle gears to how to pump a bike tire. The training also served as a kick-off to encourage employees to participate in bike-friendly activities during the workday.

The City purchased bike helmets, air pumps, and a bike fix-it starter kit so that employees would have what they need to safely enjoy biking during the work day. The bikes are stored in a common, secure area for any of the City’s 102 employees to access during breaks.

This summer, employees enjoyed riding the bikes, especially after the State’s record heatwave subsided. Some riders were one-time users, and many were repeat customers. Michael Eng, City employee from the Building Inspection Department shared, “I was able to take a bike out for a ride this summer. It was great to get out in Stillwater’s local trails and get some exercise during the work day. I will continue to use the bikes when the weather is nice in the future.”

Ms. Robole shared that this partnership was so valuable because “the grant funds provide an opportunity to deliver healthy living programming in addition to, and without having to compete against, other needs within a regular city budget.” Starting in Spring 2023, the City is looking to expand employee access to the bikes to before and after work hours.