WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published August 20, 2012, 10:28 PM

University of Minnesota Crookston Brings Unique Incentives to Riding Your Bicycle Around Campus

Classes start next Tuesday and the University of Minnesota-Crookston campus is trying something new to get students and faculty to bike to class.

By: Stacie Van Dyke, WDAZ

Classes start next Tuesday and the University of Minnesota-Crookston campus is trying something new to get students and faculty to bike to class.

A 6-thousand dollar machine tracks bikers' progress and there are some other perks to the system.

Eric Castle, a faculty member at U of M bikes to work every day, all year.

Castle: "The previous three years I've had to drive half a dozen times and every other day I rode my bike,"

Now he has another reason to brave the elements

"There's a little antenna coming down and you hear a beep, and you're stuck. It got you.You're zapped."

The campus installed a ZAP commuter bike system, taking the idea from its sister campus in the Twin Cities. Users attach a small micro-chip to the front spoke of their bike. When they are within 15 feet of the solar-powered zap machine near the football field on campus, they hear a beep and know they've been checked in for the day."

Ben Sullivan, Minnesota Green Core: "Ride bike by this unit called a zap and it beeps and brings it back to a database."

The database tracks calories burned, gallons of gas saved and gives incentives to bikers.

Sullivan: "Gift cards from the bookstore, the city itself."

After eight rides per month students and faculty are entered for prizes. If they ride 50 times within the year they get a 75-dollar cash rebate. The zap machine itself is funded by partly by grants, a four dollar student green fee and the city to promote travel to local businesses from the university.

Dan Svedarsky, Center for Sustainability Director: "It's a cooperative project with the city called 'communiversity trail', so it's a way to physically connect activities between campus and communities."

Castle: "It helps me to get motivated to keep doing it. i think 'Oh i might not get my beep today'"

15 people have already registered for the program which doesn't officially launch until September first.

In Minneapolis the program has expanded from campus. Zap U of M has been renamed Zap Twin Cities and multiple machines are used all over the cities.

Organizers at U of M Crookston are hoping the program will expand to the city of Crookston in the same way.

Tags: