Stanford University faculty and staff who walk or bike to work will now not only feel good about helping the environment, but they'll receive cold, hard cash for doing so.
The newest cash incentive offered by the university is an offshoot of "Walk 'N Talk," a wellness effort meant to encourage employees to hold meetings while walking around campus.
Though "Walk 'N Talk" was originally focused on health rather than traffic, it was expanded to reward Stanford faculty and staff who bike or walk at least a mile to campus.
Participating walkers or bikers use a smartphone application called "My Beats," developed by the team of Stanford creators. Users hit a start/stop bottom and using GPS, the app verifies the distance traveled and that the trip started or ended on campus.
Participants receive 10 credits for the first mile of walking or biking and three credits for every additional mile, up to a maximum of 25 credits every morning and evening on normal workdays. Drivers who arrive or depart during off-peak hours earn 10 credits.
Credits can be gambled in an online game of chance that pays out in cash, ranging from $2 to $50 prizes. Or, participants can skip the gambling and exchange credits for a "modest amount of cash." They also receive extra credits if they get friends to participate.
"Now we can leverage the commute aspect of the program with health benefits by reinforcing the behavior of those who already bike or walk to campus and get some drivers to switch to walking or biking," Stanford Provost John Etchemendy said in a press release.
"Walk 'N Talk" is a final component of Capri (Congestion and Parking Relief Incentive), a program launched last April that rewards commuters who avoid driving during the heavily congested 8 to 9 a.m. and 5 to 6 p.m. workday slots. Both programs were led by Balaji Prabhakar, lead investigator and professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford.
Prabhakar hopes to double Capri's current participation to about 5,000 people, according to a press release.
Plans for future expansion also include a parking aspect, which will credit drivers who park at less used lots and is to be launched later this year.
In search of the carless commute (Nov. 16, 2012)