Inspires Kids to Ride to School
Boltage (formerly Freiker) is a non-profit organization that uses incentives and innovative technology to encourage children to ride and walk to school. Kids earn prizes based on the number of days they ride or walk. The ZAP, a solar-powered, eco-friendly radio frequency ID (RFID) tag reader registers RFID tags attached to the kids’ backpacks or helmets. The ZAP counts the number of times a child rides or walks to school, and then wirelessly uploads the data to the Boltage website so children can see how close they are to earning a prize. Further, the ZAP automatically measures participation every day, rain or shine. Prizes are determined by the participating school.
To date, Boltage has been implemented at six schools in the Boulder Valley, Saint Vrain Valley, Denver Public Schools, and Calhan School Districts in Colorado – Crest View Elementary, Foothill Elementary, Casey Middle, Burlington Elementary, Munroe Elementary, and Calhan School – as well as 31 other schools nationwide. The ZAP located at Crest View Elementary in Boulder has been in place since 2005. Since its installation, the number of bicycle trips has doubled from 10,000 to 20,000 per year. On any given day, 25% of the students may ride their bikes to school. Ned Levine, Crest View’s principal, raves about the program: “Our bike racks are overflowing. Everybody here loves the program and the extra encouragement it provides to students to bike to school.”
As of January 2008, Boltage has received approximately $16,000 in federal SRTS funds from the Boulder Valley School District for the 2006-08 school years. Starting in 2010, the Calhan School received SRTS funding to implement the Boltage program at their school. The majority of funding for Boltage has come from monetary and in-kind donations and sponsorships from individuals and businesses. As of the 2010-11 school year, Boltage expanded and now supports a total of 35 schools nationwide. Boltage also hopes to build additional functions into its technology before the next school year, including the ability to calculate calories burned, emissions saved, and other indicators of success.
The Bikes Belong Foundation awarded Boltage a Paul David Clark Best Practices Grant to help it expand.