Mountain Equipment Co-op’s commitment to facilitating sustainable transportation for its employees goes far beyond bike racks and change rooms.

In 2005, the outdoor gear retailer expanded its employee loan program from computers to bicycles and boats. The expansion was designed to both encourage staff to learn more about MEC products and to support their paddle- and pedal-powered downtime, says Abbie Hodgson, MEC’s manager of compensation and benefits in Vancouver.

“Our environment is very centred around self-propelled activity,” she says. “…Bikes are looped right into that.”

Read: My Take: Help employees embrace pedal power

Permanent part-time and full-time employees are eligible for the interest-free $3,000 loan if they’ve been with the company for at least a year and their most recent performance review was satisfactory. After an employee’s direct manager approves a loan request, it’s up to the human resources team to give final approval.

MEC, which has 2,282 employees across the country, has approved 17 bike loans to date this year, with the average loan totalling $1,985.

June7_2016_Poll_Bikes_MEC

“…We actually acknowledge that employees may want to try a bike that we don’t carry,” Hodgson says. “So we do actually approve bike purchases from any location. It does not need to be a MEC product.”

Read: Mountain Equipment Co-op doesn’t mind the expense of its paramedical benefits

Employees can either submit a receipt for a bicycle they’ve already bought or a quote for a bike they have their eye on. After purchasing their wheels, the employee has two years to pay back the loan, and can apply for another loan 30 days after clearing a bike or boat debt.

MEC staffers can also participate in cycling field courses. In each store, Hodgson says, employees often “arrange for there to be a get-together to learn about either bike mechanics or learn about riding bikes, and [then] get out together.

“So it could be road cycling or a mountain biking meet up, depending again on the store location and proximity to trails or whatever it may be.”

Photo by Patrick Humer.

Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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