U of M ZAP Program

What Is the U of M ZAP Program?

The ZAP bike commuter program is a non-profit biking incentive program and a part of ZAP Twin Cities. Student participants receive gift cards and employees earn health insurance premium reductions just for riding their bikes! The coolest part is that once you are signed up, you don't have to record your biking data - the equipment does that for you. PTS uses Dero ZAP RFID hardware and software - an automated bike commuting recognition system pioneered at the University of Minnesota.

Where Do I Get Started?

  1. Get your bike(s) tagged at the University Bike Center (see location) or watch for our mobile "ZAP Zone" tent to pop up around campus. A tag will be attached to the front wheel of your bike and you will be given a web address to register yourself. You must visit the bike center during normal business hours.
  2. Bike to campus past at least one ZAP reader. There are approximately 20 readers on campus (See a map of RFID reader locations), so you shouldn't have to go out of your way.
  3. Students can win cool stuff and employees can earn Wellness rewards. You can also form teams for competition and track your miles, CO2 saved and calories burned on your personal ZAP web page.
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Why Should I Participate?

For Students: Students who complete at least 12 rides in a month will be entered in that month's drawing for one of 200 gift cards to local businesses! Past prizes have included $10 gift cards to Espresso Royale, Mapps Coffee and Tea, Seward Co-op, Birchwood Cafe, Loring Pasta Bar and more! 

For Faculty and Staff: PTS and the University Wellbeing Program have teamed up to offer any UPlan medical program member an incentive to bike to work. Bicycle commuters may earn up to 200 points in the U's Wellbeing Points Bank Program to reduce his or her UPlan Medical Program rates. Riders must complete 25, 50 or 100 rides before the August 31 deadline. See more details.  On Sept. 1, the ride count starts from 0 again for the next program year.

Team Competitions

ZAP has a series of seasonal competitions open to any team of at least two people. Teams are split into divisions based on group size. Division 1 includes groups of 2-5 people, division 2 includes groups of 6-10 people, and division 3 includes groups of over 11 people. Each team can earn a total of 1 point per day of the competition, with each member earning a possible fraction of that point (A member of a 2 person team can earn .5 points per day, a member of a 4 person team can earn .25 points per day, and so on). The team with the highest score at the end of the competition period wins! 

To join a team, all you have to do is email biking@umn.edu with a team name and members. Once you become part of a team, you will be able to see the current team standings under your personal calendar. 

Prizes vary per competition, but the overall first, second, and third place teams of each competition will receive certificates and their team names on a plaque that will be placed on a Gold, Silver, or Bronze bicycle rack trophy for all to see! Good luck and happy riding! 

How Does It Work?

A small tag attached to two front wheel spokes is recognized by strategically placed ZAP readers installed in rings around downtown Minneapolis, downtown Saint Paul and the University of Minnesota.

Riders passing within 5-15 feet of the reader will hear a beep, indicating they have been "zapped." Trip data is uploaded to the web, making it accessible to the cyclist and the administrators of the program.

To get zapped (your ride logged), look where the antenna is pointing to identify the "sweet spot" of the ZAP zone. This is typically 5-15 feet out from the reader on the street side of the reader (NOT on the sidewalk side of the reader). Readers are not designed to read across an entire street. When a rider is zapped, the machine will "beep" and a green light will flash.You need only one ZAP per day to get roundtrip ride credit.

  • If a rider is right beneath the reader, chances are he/she will NOT be zapped.
  • Riders may occasionally get zapped on the opposite side of the street (consider that a bonus zap!).

Why Bicycles?

Studies have shown that bicyclists are healthier and more productive employees, and cycling is less costly to the cyclist, his/her employer and the city.

Over the past 15 years, the University and the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul have spent millions of dollars on bicycle infrastructure to provide some of the nation's best and safest bicycle networks. Currently, about 10% of people bike to campus. That number could be substantially increased because 40 percent of commuters are within five miles of campus - well within the sweet spot for bicycle use.

The time is right to shift bike transportation into high gear and begin to reward bike commuters. The ZAP program makes this possible.

Learn More!

Watch a short news story about this innovative program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I got zapped today but it's not showing up on my calendar. 

A. It can take up to an hour for the zap to be reflected on your calendar. If it's been longer than that amount of time, please email biking@umn.edu to troubleshoot.

Q. I have more than one bike. Can I have more than one tag?

A. Yes!  Just email biking@umn.edu with your new tag number to get it registered.

Q. My tag fell off. 

A. You'll need to get a new one attached. Head to the Bike Center or to Varsity Bike in Dinkytown for a new tag. 

Q. It's been a significant amount of time since I signed up. Do I need to re-register?

A. No, you never have to re-register for ZAP. 

Q. I've reached my 50 rides, but my Wellness Points Bank doesn't reflect this. 

A. We run about one report per month to find the eligible riders and send that data to Wellness.

Once it reaches their system, it can take another 6-8 weeks to show up in your points bank. It is a long process, but rest assured that you will get your rewards! 

Q. I've been entered in the drawing multiple times but I haven't won yet.

A. Keep it up! The drawings are random, but the odds are in your favor if you are repeatedly entered. 

Q. I've got more questions!

A. Email PTS at biking@umn.edu.

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