Win prizes and help the environment with the ZAP program

Student+Dominic+Verna-Ketel+riding+his+newly+tagged+bike+past+a+ZAP+station+near+McNary+Hall+on+Nov.+10%2C+2022.+According+to+Dominic%2C+%E2%80%98It+took+less+than+five+minutes+for+them+to+put+the+tag+on.%E2%80%99

Alex Ozeran, OMN Photographer

Student Dominic Verna-Ketel riding his newly tagged bike past a ZAP station near McNary Hall on Nov. 10, 2022. According to Dominic, ‘It took less than five minutes for them to put the tag on.’

“I enjoy biking because it not only has great utility in getting me around, but it lets me experience my surroundings in a way that a car can’t,” said third-year student, Erik Jacobsen. “On my way to school from Philomath, you can smell the blackberries that grow next to Reservoir Road and there is a patch of Oak Creek Path that smells like spearmint in the mornings.”

Like many other students on campus, Jacobsen rides to school and travels to class on his bike. He not only enjoys biking as a way to exercise and commute but enjoys participating in the Oregon State University ZAP program as well. 

The ZAP program started in 2018 but has recently been growing in popularity amongst OSU students and staff. The program allows people to track their biking trips on campus while winning prizes and competing in team challenges. 

Any OSU student or staff employee can participate in ZAP. The program is free and all you have to do is bring your bike to Adventure Leadership Institute at the Dixon Recreation Center, Transportation Services in the Western Building, or the Corvallis Bicycle Collective at 707 NW 11th St. The ZAP staff will put a “ZAP tag” on your bike and after that, you just register online and create a user profile at zap.oregonstate.edu

A ZAP Bike tag applied to the front wheel of a student’s bike on OSU campus on Nov. 10, 2022. The ZAP tag tracks how often you bike to and around campus, using specially installed checkpoints that register the tags as you ride past them. (Alex Ozeran, OMN Photographer)

The “ZAP tags” will be zapped once every day you ride past one of the ZAP stations located on campus. These ZAPs will be tracked and you can view your total ride count by logging into your user profile. Although you can only get one ZAP per day, the ZAP stations will still scan your bike ride. The number of ZAPs you have could lead you to win challenges or monthly prize drawings. 

“If you collect 10 ZAPs, or more a month, you’re automatically entered into the prize drawing for that month,” said Sustainable Transportation Coordinator Sara Hamilton. “The prizes rotate each month.”

Some of the prizes include bike lights, water bottle holders and waterproof helmet covers. If someone doesn’t want a certain prize, they can receive a $10 gift card to a bike shop instead. 

Prizes can also be won by teams participating in team challenges. Currently, the ZAP program offers two challenges, one in October and the other in May. The team with the most ZAPs wins first prize, followed by second and third-place prizes. 

By competing in ZAP challenges, you’re offered an opportunity to meet like-minded people who share the same love for biking as Jacobsen does. 

“I hope that they’ll feel connected,” Hamilton said. “There’s a huge community of students and employees who bike a lot. They commute by bike almost every day of the year, even in the rain. There’s a lot of pride in that and so finding each other [can make you feel] a part of a group of people who are sharing the same experience. I want students to feel encouraged when they ride past the ZAP station for the beep and know that we recognize what they’re doing and that it matters.” 

Student Dominic Verna-Ketel posing in front of the Adventure Leadership Institute bike shop on Nov. 10, 2022. The bike shop is one of the locations where you can get a ZAP tag attached to your bike. (Alex Ozeran, OMN Photographer)

Jacobsen also recognizes how biking is impactful for things greater than prizes or challenges. He explains how he’s gotten healthier by riding his bike around and expresses how important biking is for the environment. 

“Though I’ve gained a bump in motivation to get out there and ride, it’s more about what ZAP has helped me to lose,” Jacobsen said. “Since starting with ZAP, I’ve avoided emitting 1,153 pounds of CO2 from driving to school and I didn’t need the 59 gallons of gasoline it would have taken me to drive the 1,664 miles to and from campus.”

Jacobsen won third place in the 2022 Fall Bike Challenge with his team and everyone won Showers Pass helmet covers. 

“Our team is made up of faculty, professors and students, so placing felt like a whole-OSU collaboration,” he said. “We recently lost four team members, so if anyone rides often and would like to give being on a team a try, they should email me at [email protected]” 

Jacobsen emphasized that a perk of the job is the “cool shirts” they get to wear. 

Since starting with ZAP, I’ve avoided emitting 1,153 pounds of CO2 from driving to school and I didn’t need the 59 gallons of gasoline it would have taken me to drive the 1,664 miles to and from campus.”

— Erik Jacobsen, third-year student

Another ZAP participant, Zuzana Vejlupkova is a Senior FRA II in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology and has been a part of ZAP since 2018. She enjoys how biking lets her get to campus on her own schedule while taking in her surroundings through exercise. She also says free bike parking is a plus, too. She’s won a few challenges and received prizes like bike mini-pumps, rain booties, waterproof seat covers and insulated coffee/tea mugs. 

“Our team (Krebs Cycles) has won five ZAP challenges in a row,” Vejlupkova exclaimed. “What a great team effort and spirit. Together, we have saved many gallons of gasoline and celebrated the victories!” 

Student Dominic Verna-Ketel displaying the ZAP Bike home screen on Nov. 10, 2022. From this page, you can register your bike tag or log into your account. (Alex Ozeran, OMN Photographer)

Vejlupkova said she’s gained camaraderie, team building, and friendly rivalry experiences through the program. Both she and Jacobsen plan on continuing to participate in ZAP. They recommend the program to anyone who enjoys biking. 

“[ZAP] started with a ton of energy and was building and building and we put it on pause during the initial part of the COVID-19 response,” Hamilton said. “So now we’re in a period of rebuilding, and it’s so exciting to watch people discover it and then share it with their friends. It starts to take on a life of its own. It’s really fun.”