Doss Elementary in Austin, Texas, kicked off their Boltage Program on October 11, 2011. Boltage is a Kid Commute program using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology and sociology to influence a behavior change: more kids walking and biking to school. Doss was the 5th Boltage program implemented in Austin area schools in the last year and a half. It is also one of only five Boltage programs in the state of Texas and one of the forty active Boltage schools in the US and Canada. In Austin, Patsy Summer Elementary, Brentwood Elementary, Bryker Wood Elementary, and Martin have all sustained their programs since their Boltage launches.
Doss Elementary is unique in that the City of Austin anticipated a large number of kids riding their bikes to school with Boltage coming in, so the City put in curb cuts in the sidewalks, bike lanes, a new crosswalk, “No Parking” signage in bike lanes, and also provided additional crossing guards BEFORE the program launched! This private/public partnership with the city ensures greater success with the program, and Doss has benefited from this “Build it and they will come” approach. Today, over 550 kids who previously were driven to school are riding and walking instead. Doss now has become the best success example for the rest of the country with just under 10,000 trips completed, 14,501 miles ridden, and 622,985 calories burned since the end of October 2011!
Over 100 students biked to school for the Boltage Kick-off. Local advocacy organizations were on hand to teach the students Bike Safety. BikeTexas, Austin Cycling Association, the City of Austin, Safe Kids Program, and the Department of Health and Human Services Safe Routes program managers all came together with Bicycle Sport Shop and Trek Bicycles to make all five of these programs a huge success. Helmets were checked for improved fit, and replacements provided if necessary. The students then proceeded to a Bike Rodeo course to practiced their riding skills. There were smiling faces everywhere as kids rode through various courses, designed with an emphasis on safety, skills, and fun.
Doss principal Janna Griffin was handed a challenge this year with a school already 300 students over capacity, limited parking, and heavy traffic surrounding the school. This program has made a significant improvement in traffic flow around the school. Statistics show traffic accidents and fatalities decrease as walking and cycling transportation increase. Principal Griffin said, “I can’t thank the Boltage program enough for making such a difference for the children, their families, the community, and the schools. Parents are lingering around the schools, and there is just a positive energy surrounding these kids as they ride to school!” Teachers are reporting that their Boltage kids come to school alert and ready to learn. Besides the obvious benefits like reduction in traffic, gasoline savings, reduction in the carbon footprint, and healthier and more active kids, we’ve found Boltage just makes kids happy!
For information on this effective program, contact Leslie@biketexas.org.