No Greenwashing Here: How RFID Helps the Environment (Part 2)

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 @ 12:53 PM

Tags: RFID, Bike sharing, Green Transportation

Encouraging Healthy, Green Modes of Transportation with RFID

Sitting in traffic for hours can be a very unpleasant experience for those of us who commute to work or school each day.  Commuting – especially by car – has led to the growth of cities and the expansion of suburbs.  But it also has a downside.  Commuting has led to significant increases in traffic congestion and has become a major factor contributing to air pollution.

Green BicyclePublic transportation, car-pooling and telecommuting are great alternatives to adding to highway gridlock and air pollution.  You could also ride your bike.  There are a lot of reasons to commute by bike.  Maybe you want to get some exercise so you can have that high-calorie dinner. Maybe you want to show classmates in your sustainable energy class that you care about your carbon foot print. Or maybe because you think it’s just plain fun.

What ever the reason, if biking is an option, you may find these RFID-enabled solutions that encourage riding as a healthy, green mode of transportation to be interesting.

Incentive Programs

Dero Zap is an RFID-enabled system manufactured by Dero Bike Racks and powered by ThingMagic embedded RFID readers.  This system is part of an incentive program that encourages workers to utilize biking as a healthy mode of transportation. Through RFID, Dero Zap "counts" commuters as they bike onto a campus or property, providing companies with an automated, low-maintenance means of tracking which employees ride to work, and how often.  Dero sees Zap appealing to health insurance companies as another way to encourage members to live healthier, thereby lowering health care costs.

A similar solution for schools is offered by Boltage and includes a solar powered, Wi-Fi enabled RFID reader that reads tags attached to kids’ backpacks.  After kids pass by the reader installed at their school, the system uploads its information to a program website where participants can view their trip details and schools can manage the distribution of awards as part of a health conscious incentive program.

Boltage - whose mission statement is “to make walking and biking to school a way of life” – shares these motivating statistics:

Over 322,000 round trips

Over 32,000 gallons of gas saved

Over 15 million calories burned

Over 637,000 pounds of CO2 saved

Over 363,000 kid powered miles

Over 14 times around the earth

In addition to these innovative uses of UHF RFID to promote a healthy, low-emission life style, several bike sharing programs have been launched around the world, leveraging low frequency RFID for bike access and various other rider services.

Bike Sharing Programs

B-cycle is a bike-sharing system founded on the belief that “bicycles should be a vehicle for positive health and environmental change and an important part of a community’s transportation ecosystem.”  B-Cycle programs have been launched in several US cities including Chicago, where it is offered as a green alternative to cars for short commutes and errands and in Denver, where if offers riders an alternative to public transportation in support of the city’s Greenprint Climate Action Plan, Strategic Transportation Plan and Living Streets Initiative.  The B-cycle system and bikes are equipped with passive low frequency RFID readers and tags to manage bike access and user account billing.

Similar to B-cycle, public bike services that use RFID to manage bike access and payments are available around the world.  Public Bike System (PBS) offers pedaling around Montreal.  Stockholm City Bikes is keeping up with the pack in Sweden. Bicing is rolling in Barcelona. And, many cities and towns in France including  Paris, La Rochelle, Strasbourg, Lyon, Rennes, Bordeaux, Aix-en-Provence, Grenoble - Métro-Vélo, and Toulouse offer climate friendly bicycle transportation aimed at reducing pollution, roadway noise, and traffic congestion.

Let us know if you’ve used an RFID-enabled bike share or if your town or work place offers a bicycle riding incentive program and what your experience has been. 

(Photo Credit: Zazzle)

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