Zap Twin Cities: Encouraging and Rewarding Commuting By Bike in Minneapolis & St. Paul

Zap Twin Cities is looking for St. Paul, Minneapolis and University of Minnesota commuters to get "Zapped".   The program was first implemented in 2012 by the University of Minnesota in January, then by Commuter Connection for Minneapolis in August and by St. Paul Smart Trips for St. Paul in September.  The goal of the program is to promote and increase bike commuting in the Twin Cities Metro area.  It provides incentives and rewards for those that already commute by bike and encourages others to start commuting by this method.  This is a completely free program and trip counts are automatically uploaded.  Participation in Zap Twin Cities will save you money on gas and parking, provide eligibility for great prizes and is a fun way to improve your health.

Image Credit:  Joe Bielawa
Image Credit:  Joe Bielawa
Registering and getting tagged is easy.  A small RFID tag is installed in the spokes of your front wheel and then you just register online.  There are several locations to get tagged.  University of Minnesota students and staff can get tagged at the U of M Bike Center during normal business hours or at a mobile "Zap Zone" tent to pop up around campus this spring.  In Minneapolis you can bring your bike or front wheel to Commuter Connection located at the US Bank Plaza-Skyway 220 S. 6th St. Suite 230.  Commuter Connection will also have a booth at the Minneapolis Farmers Market and at events around Minneapolis throughout the spring and summer to get cyclists tagged and registered.  Minneapolis commuters can also get tagged at the Freewheel Midtown Bike Center on the Midtown Greenway or at Varsity Bike and Transit.  St. Paul commuters can bring their bike or front wheel to St. Paul Smart Trips located in the Alliance Bank Center at 55 E. 5th St. Suite 202.  Call ahead at 651-224-8555, ext. 23 or 24 and they will make sure they are in to tag your bike and get you registered when you stop by.

Zap stations are strategically located around Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota Campus and in St. Paul.  As a cyclist passes by these Zap stations an audible beep and a flash of light will indicate that the ride has been registered.

Minneapolis has 12 Zap readers (orange) and the University of Minnesota has 19 (yellow).

St. Paul
St. Paul has 7 Zap readers (blue) around the downtown area.

Image Credit:  Joe Bielawa
Image Credit:  Joe Bielawa
To get zapped, a cyclist simply has to look where the Zap station antenna is pointing and pass by within 5 to 15 feet of the "Zap Zone", not on the sidewalk side or directly below the unit as indicated in the picture below.  The audible sound and light will indicate a successful Zap.  Riders only need to be zapped once per day to receive a round trip ride credit.

The online web app keeps track of all of your Zap ride statistics so manually recording them is not necessary.  Log in at the Zap Twin Cities homepage to access how many trips you have logged in a given time period,  mileage totals, CO2 you have saved, gallons of gas saved, calories you have burned and if you are a member of a team you can see how yours compares to others.

Zap Twin Cities rewards have been supported by local bike shops that donate prizes and the program will expand this year to include gift certificates to restaurants, movie theaters, and tickets to sporting events.  After logging ten rides cyclists automatically receive a prize.  Each month that a participant in the Zap Twin Cities program registers eight rides they are automatically entered into a drawing for valuable prizes.  Prizes are different every month, so get tagged, registered and start getting Zapped.  University of Minnesota students and staff that are UPlan Medical Program-covered participants can bike their way to health care savings by earning points for their Wellness Points Bank when they have 50 trips recorded as part of the Bicycle Commuter Program.

Employers that would like to implement Zap Twin Cities as part of their own health and wellness program can contact the Commuter Connection and they will help get you started.  

Stay up to date on the Zap Twin Cities program by liking them on Facebook or following on Twitter (@ZapTwinCities). 

This program is a cooperative project of Commuter Connection, St. Paul Smart Trips, the University of Minnesota and Dero Bike Rack Company.


  1. I wish my town of Rockford, IL had something like this..


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