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U of M Zap! Program

What is the Zap! Program? | Where Do I Get Started? |Why Should I Participate? | How Does It Work? | Why Bicycles? | Frequently Asked Questions |


What Is the U of M Zap! Program?

The Zap! bike commuter program is a non-profit biking incentive program and a part of ZAP Twin Cities. Users get free prizes and health benefits just for riding their bikes! The coolest part is that once you are signed up, you don't have to record your biking data - the equipment does that for you. We use Dero ZAP RFID hardware and software - an automated bike commuting recognition system pioneered at the University of Minnesota.


Where Do I Get Started?
  1. Get your bike(s) tagged at the University Bike Center (see location) or watch for our mobile "ZAP Zone" tent to pop up around campus. A tag will be attached to the front wheel of your bike and you will be given a web address to register yourself. You must visit the bike center during normal business hours.
  2. Bike to campus past at least one ZAP reader. There are approximately 20 readers on campus (See map of RFID reader locations), so you shouldn't have to go out of your way.
  3. Students can win cool stuff and employees can earn Wellness rewards. You can also form teams for competition and track your miles, CO2 saved and calories burned on your personal Zap! web page.


picture of the RFID readerpicture of the RFID tag


Why Should I Participate?

For Students: Students who complete at least 12 rides in a month will be entered in that month's drawing for free prizes! Past prizes have included $10 gift cards to Espresso Royale, Mapps Coffee and Tea, Seward Co-op, Birchwood Cafe, Loring Pasta Bar, Chilly Billy's, and more! 

For Faculty and Staff: PTS and the University Wellness Program have teamed up to offer any UPlan medical program member an incentive to bike to work. Bicycle commuters may earn 75 points in the U's 2013 Wellness Points Bank Program to reduce his or her UPlan Medical Program rates in 2014. Riders must complete 50 rides before the August 31, 2013 deadline. See more details.  On Sept. 1, the ride count starts from 0 again for the next program year. 

For Everyone: 

ZAP has partnered up with local businesses to offer ZAP users a chance at free prizes four times a week! To participate, simply get Zapped at the specific reader of the day to be entered into a drawing for the prize. You can win multiple times, but biking past a reader multiple times in one day will not enter you into the drawing multiple times. 



ZAP Reader 


Mondays Mapps Coffee & Tea Any reader on the West Bank campus 1 Coffee Drink
Tuesdays Stadium Village Dairy Queen Oak St. (by the Bike Center)  1 Blizzard
Wednesdays Flamenco Organic Coffee Co. Como Avenue 1 Lb Coffee
Thursdays Stadium Village Orange Julius Harvard St. (by the Aquatic Center) 1 Smoothie
Fridays Chilly Billy's  15th Ave  1 Frozen Yogurt

Additionally, cyclists may be eligible for prize drawings and challenges through the region-wide ZAP Twin Cities program.

Team Competitions

Zap! has a series of seasonal competitions open to any team of at least two people. Teams are split into divisions based on group size. Division 1 includes groups of 2-5 people, division 2 includes groups of 6-10 people, and division 3 includes groups of over 11 people. Each team can earn a total of 1 point per day of the competition, with each member earning a possible division of that point (A member of a 2 person team can earn .5 points per day, a member of a 4 person team can earn .25 points per day, and so on). The team with the highest score at the end of the competition period wins! 

To join a team, all you have to do is email with a team name and members. Once you become part of a team, you will be able to see the current team standings under your personal calendar. 

Prizes vary per competition, but the overall first, second, and third place teams of each competition will receive certificates and their team names on a plaque that will be placed on a Gold, Silver, or Bronze bicycle rack trophy for all to see! Good luck and happy riding! 


How Does It Work?

drawing of how zap works

A small tag attached to two front wheel spokes is recognized by strategically placed ZAP readers installed in rings around downtown Minneapolis, downtown Saint Paul and the University of Minnesota.

Riders passing within 30 feet of the reader will hear a beep, indicating they have been "zapped." Trip data is uploaded to the web, making it accessible to the cyclist and the administrators of the program.

To get zapped (your ride logged), look where the antenna is pointing to identify the "sweet spot" of the Zap! zone. This is typically 5-15 feet out from the reader on the street side of the reader (NOT on the sidewalk side of the reader). Readers are not designed to read across an entire street. When a rider is zapped, the machine will "beep" and a green light will flash.You need only one Zap per day to get roundtrip ride credit.


Why Bicycles?

Studies have shown that bicyclists are healthier and more productive employees, and cycling is less costly to the cyclist, his/her employer and the city.

Over the past 15 years the University, along with the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul have spent millins of dollars on bicycle infrastructure, giving us some of the nation's best and safest bicycle networks. Currently about 10% of people bike to campus. We believe that number could be substantially increased because 40% of commuters are within 5 miles of campus - well within the sweet spot for bicycle use.

The time is right to shift bike transportation into high gear and begin to reward bike commuters. The ZAP program makes this possible.

Learn More!
Watch a short news story about this innovative program.



Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I got zapped today but it's not showing up on my calendar. 

A. It can take up to an hour for the zap to be reflected on your calendar. If it's been longer than that amount of time, please email to troubleshoot.

Q. I have more than one bike. Can I have more than one tag?

A. Yes!  Just email with your new tag number to get it registered.

Q. My tag fell off. 

A. You'll need to get a new one attached. Head to the Bike Center or to Varsity Bike in Dinkytown for a new tag. 

Q. It's been a significant amount of time since I signed up. Do I need to re-register?

A. No, you never have to re-register for ZAP. 

Q. I've reached my 50 rides, but my Wellness Points Bank doesn't reflect this. 

A. We run about one report per month to find the eligible riders and send that data to Wellness.

Once it reaches their system, it can take another 6-8 weeks to show up in your points bank. It is a long process, but rest assured that you will get your rewards! 

Q. I've been entered in the drawing multiple times but I haven't won yet.

A. Keep it up! The drawings are random, but the odds are in your favor if you are repeatedly entered. 

Q. I've got more questions!

A. Email PTS at




Haven't registered your tag yet? Click below to register.



To login to your current account, click here. 


bike challenge graphic

Nice Ride Logo

The Zap program is pleased to announce the Nice Ride Challenge!

Get zapped at least EIGHT times at any reader between Wednesday, October 18 and Monday, November 4 and you will be automatically entered to win a prize sponsored by Nice Ride MN!

Grand Prize: A free annual membership

(10) Runners-up: 
Nice Ride t-shirt

For more information about Nice Ride, including rates and locations, visit