Getting students to wear bike helmets and follow the rules of the road often seems to be an elusive goal. At Stanford, the goal could increasingly be within reach, as hundreds of students and staff rise to the challenge of encouraging and practicing bike safety.
Stanford’s third annual Bike Safety Dorm Challenge spurred friendly competition among 21 undergraduate residences from Sept. 18 to Dec. 14. A record 951 Stanford undergraduates pledged to bike safely, up from just over 650 students who pledged when the challenge launched in 2010.
As an incentive, Stanford’s Parking & Transportation Services (P&TS) offered two grand prizes—a free charter bus trip to Lake Tahoe for each of the two winning dorms. Roble surpassed other dorms by attaining the highest number of participants, with 196 Roble students pledging to bike safely. Casa Zapata, Burbank and Muwekma-tah-ruk tied for first when each dorm reached 100 percent participation. Casa Zapata was the lucky winner of a three-way-tie prize drawing, clinching one of the two trips to Tahoe.
Deputy Allen James, Department of Public Safety, and Ariadne Delon Scott, P&TS bicycle program coordinator, kicked off the competition by hosting a training session on bike safety for the Resident Assistants (RAs), which was arranged by the Office of Residential Education in the fall. For Lynsey Motell, an RA with Casa Zapata, personal experience influenced her dorm’s decision to participate.
“I had a bad bike accident freshman year that landed me in the hospital,” Montell said. “As a result, we took a survey at the beginning of the year and found out that most of our residents would wear helmets but didn't, because they didn't have one. So I got more information about the bike helmet subsidy, and we ended up getting everyone who wanted one a new helmet for free with matching Casa Zapata stickers on them. It was really great to see, especially the freshmen, challenging each other and other residents to make the pledge and wear their helmets!”
The FROSH Bike Helmet Subsidy Program enables students to contribute $5 each for a helmet and the remaining $15 is subsidized by sponsoring departments: P&TS, Public Safety, Risk Management and Residential Education. The Campus Bike Shop also provides logistical support for the program. The subsidy program has grown to 10 participating dorms in 2012, up from seven participating freshman dorms at its inception in 2011.
Given the affordability of bike helmets, Tony Pratkanis, a resident of Roble, considers wearing a helmet almost a “no brainer.”
“I wear a helmet when biking, skating and riding a scooter because of the simple risk mitigation analysis of doing so,” Pratkanis said. “The cost of wearing a helmet is very low, but the amount of risk it eliminates is extreme in terms of mitigating potentially life-long debilitation. The choice is pretty clear: Wear a helmet!”
Sponsored by P&TS, the annual challenge promotes bike safety by encouraging undergraduate students to pledge to follow the rules of the road and to wear a bike helmet for every ride, even short trips. The dorm with the highest percentage of participants and the dorm with the highest number of entries each win a charter bus to Lake Tahoe. Student bike champions conducted spot checks throughout the challenge and awarded free gift cards to helmet wearers to thank them for being role models for bike safety.
Brodie Hamilton, director of Parking & Transportation Services, cites RAs rallying students in their dorms coupled with friendly dorm competition, real-time participation tracking, and the incentive of winning a trip to Lake Tahoe as helping to build momentum for the annual challenge.
“It’s encouraging to see that the Bike Safety Dorm Challenge increased participation for the third year in a row, enhancing bike safety among even more students at Stanford,” Hamilton said.
Number of participants: 951
Dorms posting 100%: three-way tie between Burbank, Casa Zapata and Muwekma-tah-ruk
Winning dorms: Casa Zapata won the three-way tie for 100% participation; Roble won the highest number of entries with 196 participants
Pledges: 15% of undergraduate students
Participation: 27% of undergraduate dorms (21 dorms out of 78)
Visit the dorm standings page for full results.
Brodie Hamilton, Parking & Transportation Services: (650) 723-5815, email@example.com.
Parking and Transportation Services is a department of Land, Buildings & Real Estate
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