In what will be a regular feature here, every Friday we'll take a look at a new idea, usually (but not always) related to life in American cities. That will give you the weekend to chew on it and, of course, comment below. You can tell me how great these ideas are or how great they're not.
Last week, I wrote about a system for keeping track of kids who walk and bike to school. It's called Boltage, and consists of a computer chip that is placed in a kid's backpack or bike helmet. It keeps track of how many miles the child has logged to and from school, how much greenhouse gas has been saved, and how many calories the kid has burned.
This is part of an entire package to get kids energized about moving more. The basic idea is to develop lifelong habits that will stem the alarming increase in obesity among this generation of children, but it also has great implications for our cities. A city that is good to bike in is, by definition, fun, safe and interesting to live in as well. I called for someone to step forward and pilot the system at a school or two in Madison.
So, here's what I didn't know.
After publishing that post, I heard from my friend Sarah Reiter at Saris Cycling Group. This local company is a worldwide leader in bicycle parking and car bike carrying systems. But it turns out that Saris is also developing a system similar to Boltage.
It's called The Hub, and will be available for schools and companies that want to track, measure, and monitor active transportation behaviors. This program will be available in the spring, though Saris is currently piloting it at ShopBop, and will install it in a couple of schools later this month. The Hub has all the benefits of Boltage, but at a price point closer to $1,000, compared to around $5,000 for that system. And The Hub will be made right here in Madison.
So, this is the best of a lot of worlds. Kids get an exciting way to keep track of their daily walking and biking commutes, which will improve their health and just maybe create lifelong healthy habits. Parents get a way to keep track of where their kids are at, making them more likely to allow them to walk or bike to school. Cities get the long-term benefits of more biking, which means less congestion, less pollution and the more pleasant physical spaces that are required when people pay close attention to the details of urban design while walking or riding their bikes. And, now, it turns out that local jobs will be created right here in Madison to make The Hub system.
Ok, discuss. And have a good weekend.