BizVoice July/August 2014 - page 52

BizVoice/Indiana Chamber – July/August 2014
At first glance, architecture and cycling may not
seem to go hand in hand. However, Bill Browne,
founding principal/president of RATIO Architects,
Inc. in Indianapolis, has rolled his enthusiasm for
the sport into a personal benefit and one for the
Central Indiana biking community.
Browne, who rides an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 miles per year,
takes extended treks on weekends and powers through 6 a.m. spin
classes during the week, which he credits for kick-starting his
workdays and keeping him in shape through the winter.
“I ride mostly by myself or with friends in a group ride (on the
weekends),” he relays. “I used to compete in duathlons when I was a
little younger, but haven’t gotten into a super high level of
competitiveness. I just do it for health and enjoyment primarily now. I
think I’ve gotten the competitive edge out of my system.”
A resident of Indianapolis’ north side, Browne now embarks on
journeys to local destinations like Fort Harrison State Park and cities
like Pendleton, Lebanon and Greencastle. While Indiana boasts its
own brand of beauty, it likely doesn’t compare to some of Browne’s
previous excursions through scenic vistas like the Blue Ridge Parkway
(Virginia and North Carolina), which he describes as “spectacular.”
“I’m working on riding in segments across the U.S. from west to
east,” he adds. “I’m complete from western Colorado to the Atlantic
Ocean. We’re (Browne teams with other cycling enthusiasts) riding
from Missoula (Montana) to the Pacific Ocean this summer. That will
leave me just a segment between Missoula and western Colorado to
wrap up the transcontinental distance. We go to beautiful places, and
have done all the major passes in the Rockies, and went up Mt. Evans,
which is the highest paved road in the U.S. at over 14,000 feet.”
Healthy RATIO
“We try to encourage fitness and wellness in the firm,” Browne points
out. “We participate with the Bike Indy map and help sponsor that effort.”
The Indiana Sports Corp’s Corporate Challenge now features
cycling, and RATIO supports a team for that event in addition to
competing in the overall challenge.
“This year will be our first to field a team for the Tour de Cure,
which is a ride at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (to benefit the
American Diabetes Association),” he adds.
Furthermore, RATIO purchased a bicycle and branded it with the
firm’s name and logo as part of its bicycle share program for staff.
“That’s available for anyone at the firm to use. We have a number
of people who ride in with some frequency,” Browne says.
He contends that as the make-up of RATIO and other businesses
evolve, so will employees’ proclivity to want to bike to work.
“(As we get younger staff) who don’t want a car and want to ride
a bicycle, all of these things continue to increase; that will fuel value of
having more bike-friendly infrastructure in the city.”
Knight in cycling armor
Browne’s efforts to build and participate in its advisory board
have also helped pave the way for the Marian University cycling teams,
which boast 26 national championships and are consistently among the
nation’s top programs.
“From the beginning, (Browne) was the guy that helped me think
through the advisory board and single-handedly helped us design
PowerBooster (the school’s indoor cycling training business, which
helps fund the team) at its first location,” praises Dean Peterson, head
cycling coach at Marian University. “(Browne’s) a connector, and he
creates community flow. That flow has created some tremendous
outcomes and the long-term sustainable efforts we have going on here.”
Browne explains he based the concept on the Champions Club –
an advisory board for USA Cycling composed of business leaders with
a passion for the sport.
“(Peterson) was a teacher of my son’s for a number of years, and
he got me tuned into what Marian was doing,” he recalls. “I felt it was
important that our community recognized the value that Marian’s team
has (in promoting our) amateur sports initiative. We wanted to help
grow the program and hopefully become a model for other universities
to follow. To the credit of lots of people involved, we’ve been able to
grow the board and the team (which will have over 60 riders next year).”
‘Cultural’ shift
Browne stresses the importance of safety as a critical ingredient in
the growth of recreational and commuter cycling.
“I think awareness is increasing, but it can’t increase enough,” he
contends. “When you have fatalities, it’s evident there’s a body of people
who don’t really like to share the road at all and don’t appreciate
there’s an opportunity to slow down for literally three seconds and get
past the cyclist in a safe manner.”
He commends Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s push to add bike
lanes and believes Central Indiana is becoming more bike friendly.
“What (Central Indiana Community Foundation President/CEO)
Brian Payne and the Glick family have done with the Cultural Trail has
been a tremendous asset for our community, and all of the greenways
are quite wonderful,” Browne states. “As those keep getting connected
to each other, the network will develop across the state and we can
have a system where you can ride virtually any direction.”
Bill Browne, RATIO Architects, at
Passion Provides Personal, Community Boost
Bill Browne started cycling seriously in high school – and now he navigates
scenic vistas like the mountains of Colorado.
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