The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is going high-tech with their vaunted Safe Routes to School program. In an effort to motivate kids to bike and walk to school, they’ve purchased a product that uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to automatically track school travel trips.
PBOT has won a $35,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation that they intend to use for bike parking and for the purchase of a The Hub, a software package from Saris Cycling Group*. Gabe Graff, who manages PBOT’s Safe Routes program, says they plan to implement The Hub at four of the 80 schools that receive the program.
“We’re interested in giving schools, parents, and volunteers a really easy way to incentivize biking or walking to school,” says Graff.
The Saris Hub system records the number of trips students take and keeps track of their total miles traveled. The idea is to use the data to create friendly competitions and challenges among students and schools. The ongoing rankings can be tracked online and kids compete to see who can log the most trips. Once the system is in place, school staff can award prizes to top finishers all with an eye toward encouraging more walking and biking.
The system works via a card carried by each student (it can be attached to a helmet) that’s scanned into the system as they park their bike or walk into school. All the data is compiled on a Saris-hosted website, which removes the burden of keeping track of trips away from teachers and school administrators.
Graff says PBOT hopes to launch the program this month after a meeting and training session with interested schools. If you’re interested in getting one these systems at your school email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to get involved.
Below is a video from Saris that shares more about the program:
*Total cost to implement The Hub at these four schools is $8,400. The rest of the grant money will go toward bike parking.