The Freiker Movement

3363476549_8e2887f293.jpgPhoto: Freiker.com 

Most mainstream news outlets have paltry coverage of the Livable Streets movement, and we devote a lot of space on Streetsblog criticizing them, but one local station did a cool story today about a Freiker program at a school in Los Altos. From ABC7News.com:

Almond Elementary School is going green — launching a program called
"Freiker" which means "frequent biker," it’s designed to get kids
moving.

"It’s exercise, fun," said Dale Simms, 2nd grader Almond Elementary.

"They get active. They use kid-power to get to school in the mornings,
instead of an automobile," said Jon Simms, parent, Freiker program
organizer.

Parent Jon Simms got Freiker started after learning
about this program already operating at almost a dozen schools in three
other states. This is the first in California. Frieker began in
Colorado in 2004 and has since logged over 150,000 kid-powered miles.
So aside from exercise and being environmentally-friendly, what else is
getting these kids jumping, even giving the little students a lift?

"I just want to get checked," said Andy Harrison, kindergartner, Almond Elementary.

"The person who has the most points gets a prize," said Ben Parker, 2nd grader, Almond Elementary.

The program rewards kids who cycle the most and there’s a "Freikometer" to keep track. From the Freiker website:

The Freikometer is a
solar-powered computer that reads
an
RFID
tag taped to riders’ helmets. Each
day, a Freiker rides past the Freikometer, and a buzzer sounds
to indicate the ride has been logged. The Freikometer
wirelessly uploads the rider data to this website daily, and
the child or parent can log on to our website to see the
number of rides accumulated. The Freikometer does the
counting, and the prizes provide the motivation.

If you’re a regular Cyclelicio.us reader like me, you may have read their post about it a few weeks ago. Let’s hope the Freiker movement catches on at more Bay Area schools. Rewarding cyclists by creating incentives to ride sounds like some ‘Freikonomics’ I can get into.

  • >Let’s hope the Freiker movement catches on at more Bay Area schools.

    Indeed, that would be nice to see. I’ve noticed a big reduction in traffic this first day of Spring Break. Although I ride by two schools, I noticed a definite lack of traffic throughout my route from the panhandle to the Presidio in San Francisco.

    I don’t think this is because people are out of town for the break, which could factor in some of the lack of traffic but has more to do with people not driving their kids to school in cars. Why? Because a week ago was Caesar Chavez day and SFUSD schools were closed. Banks weren’t closed, most businesses were open and the streets were clear of a majority of the traffic I usually encounter on my bike in the morning.

    Can you imagine the impact on traffic in the city if all the schools in San Francisco had bike racks and riding programs?

  • I’m the parent sponsor for the Freiker @ Almond project. If you would like more info on how to start Freiker at a school in your community, you can contact me at Jon_Simms@alumni.UCR.edu. Results are pretty stunning – cycling is up about 60% from a sample taken the week before the program started. The kids have logged about 1,500 freiker round trips in 3 weeks – that’s right about 100 trips per day. If you estimate the average child commutes 3/4 of a mile to school (just a guess – my son is 3 block form school and travels 1/2 mile each way) then these kids have logged 2,250 miles on foot or by bike in 3 weeks. That’s like traveling from San Francisco to Chicago, IL without burning a drop of gasoline. Most of all, they are having fun doing it. It is also a program that resonates with the local merchants in the community which makes it much easier to raise funding even in this gloomy economy…

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