Biking by the rules can be a challenge for many students, faculty and community members alike – but by rewarding good behavior, the UC Davis Police Department (UCDPD) hopes to change that.
The Bike Right Recognition Program (BRRP), created through a partnership of University Dining Services and the UCDPD, is set to commence its second year by the middle of this month. First implemented in April of this year, the idea for the BRRP came to Chief Annette Spicuzza of the UCDPD while she witnessed a bicyclist come to a complete stop at a stop sign.
“Why don’t we reward these [bicyclists] for doing the right thing?” she said.
That dream became reality late last spring, as the UCDPD presented the BRRP to the community for the first time. Patrol officers would wait at high traffic spots on campus, such as the MU and the Silo roundabout, and hand out coupons. The coupons will be redeemable at any of the Silo eateries or the Starbucks at the ARC for $7.
“It’s worthwhile,” Spicuzza said. “You can get a whole meal … [that] makes it a hearty coupon.”
More than 300 coupons were redeemed last year, according to James Boushka, marketing director for University Dining Services by Sodexo. Chief Spicuzza recalls the BRRP coupon campaign being considered the most successful ever with a nearly perfect rate of redemption.
“The goal of the program is to reward and reinforce safe biking habits,” Boushka said. “I believe [it] has had a positive impact and will continue to be a positive enforcer.”
Officer Ralph Nuño, a UCDPD patrol officer whose sole duty is bike and pedestrian safety, agrees about the influence the BRRP has had on the community. Not only has it increased bike safety and changed the attitude of some cyclists, but the program has also helped change the students’ perspective on police officers, according to Nuño.
“It changes the negative view people have of the police,” Nuño said. “With us, it’s usually an unpleasant situation but the BRRP shows we’re not just there to punish. Through [the program], we can reward and educate too.”
In order to be eligible for a “Biking Right” coupon, cyclists must avoid unsafe and illegal biking habits. Among these are: covering both ears with headphones, not yielding to pedestrians, not using hand signals when turning and failing to stop at stop signs.
Bicyclists who won’t take this seriously are unable to see the danger, according to Nuño. But with anywhere between 15,000 and 20,000 bicyclists moving across the UCD campus on the average day, the danger is there.
“We’re on a learning curve … every year there’s an influx of new students and the BRRP educates [them] in bike safety … it’s going to become easier and easier as the years go on and as the BRRP improves and expands,” Nuño said.
Compared with its initial run last school year, the BRRP has expanded, according to Chief Spicuzza. This year the partnership between the UCDPD and University Dining Services hopes to print an estimated 1,000 coupons, with the approximately $7,000 cost being split amongst the two of them.
The coupons are not good through summer and must be redeemed at latest by June 30, 2010.
Chief Spicuzza believes that the BRRP offers an opportunity for bikers to do the right thing, but she admits that that doesn’t guarantee success.
“You can get a citation or you can get a coupon,” she said. “You pick the one you want.”
KYLE SPORLEDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.