Thigpen, Calvin (2019) Barcodes, Virtual Money, and Golden Wheels: The Influence of Davis, CA Schools’ Bicycling Encouragement Programs. Case Studies on Transport Policy 7 (2), 414 - 422
Efforts to encourage bicycling to school can achieve numerous societal benefits, including improved childhood health, reduced traffic congestion, and even long-term effects such as increased bicycling skill and attitudes. Most of the literature on children bicycling to school focuses on the influence of infrastructure interventions, yet relatively few studies have robustly evaluated the influence of encouragement efforts. This study seeks to examine the effects of three encouragement efforts undertaken at primary and secondary schools in Davis, California: the Active4.me scanning program, the Monkey Money incentive system, and the national Bike-to-School Day celebration. I use a binomial regression to statistically analyze bicycle rack count data and Safe Routes to School classroom tallies collected by city employees and local volunteers. After accounting for the schools’ physical environment and characteristics, as well as the influence of weather and the natural environment, I find that all three of the encouragement efforts increase levels of bicycling to school. I conclude by suggesting that these encouragement programs have the potential for lasting influence by providing children with the skills and confidence to bicycle later in life. I also note the value of further state support for the parent volunteers who operate these encouragement programs, in order to allow the spread of similar encouragement programs across a variety of cities, including disadvantaged communities.
Keywords: bicycling, school travel, encouragement, incentives, bike to school day