Friday, January 12, 2007

Bike "Incentive" Program

As most of you probably know, OHSU offers its employees and students an incentive for riding a bike to the campus: every 35th time riding to campus you will be rewarded for your green behavior with a $50 check for those WITHOUT a Tri-met pass, and a $25 check for those WITH a Tri-met pass. In theory this program reduces the already strained parking and bus system on the hill.

The problem is that I have found this program to be inept, so much so that it may not be much of an incentive at all. It seems that every completed card I submit there are problems, such as the check taking over three months to arrive, the check never arriving at all, the check being sent to an old address, receiving $25 when I should have received $50, and a negative attitude from the OHSU transportation department when I inquire about these problems. So to determine how profuse these problems are, I would like to hear from you so I can make recommendations at the next student council meeting.

e-mail me ( or post to this blog about any rants or raves you may have about the OHSU Bike Incentive Program. I really want to hear from you!

In all two-legged regards,



Anonymous said...

I've been using the commuter program for the past 18 months approximately and initially praised OHSU for its implementation. However, you're spot on in a lot of your observations about the lack of organization around such an incentive. I've come across many of the same issues and have waited several months for the reward myself, often involving several phone calls and follow-up to the point where I feel I'm doing someone else's job for them.
50$ is some sort of incentive, but not enough to fill the bike stands or secure storage rooms and I would think the university would see greater participation if the incentive was 60-75$/card and was able to remind potential bike commuter that Terwilliger hill is no longer an obstacle with tram operations as they are now.

Anonymous said...

I had the exact experience with the bike incentive program. Missing checks didn't bothered me as much as the negative attitude of the transportation department. So, I sorta accepted the fact that the program is nothing more than a poster child that doesn't live up to the expectations. What's more paradoxical about the whole bike incentive program is they encourage every one to bike up the hill. Yet, at the same time they keep walling off all the free showers that are accessible to bikers with no good reason. So, I guess they expect the bikers to either pay for the showers or to stink up all their colleagues. Where is the incentive??


BC said...

Funny, I was just about to start writing emails about my last card, since my next card is going to fill this week and I still haven't seen the prior reward.

People around here should know enough about behavior to know the importance of TIMING in coupling REWARDS to the BEHAVIORS you are trying to encourage...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing this up. It's been bothering me for a long time.

This has been exactly my experience as well. The negative attitude is the worst. I think I can honestly say that the OHSU transportation office has (with the exception of a couple individuals) some of the worst customer service I've seen anywhere.

I also do not appreciate waiting in line behind cars in the rain, breathing their exhaust while they ask questions about parking.

Due to the above plus late checks and minimal rewards, I have given up getting my card punched. I still bike, but there isn't enough incentive to participate in the program even when I'm biking anyway.

Kristin said...

The first time I filled out a card I was reimbursed within two weeks. I thought, "This is great! Next August I'm going to forego buying a TriMet pass and get $50!" I have yet to see that $50 from the commuter card I submitted in September 2006. In their defense, I did get a check in a somewhat timely manner for $25. So I called them (no response)...So I emailed them and politely told them about their error. Attitude. Buuut, they said they would issue me another check for $25. October: no check. November: no check. I called again in December: They sent the check to an address I haven't lived in 2 years, even though my info had been updated with OHSU. January: no check.

I agree with bc in that timing is absolutely essential when pairing an action with a reward.

Perhaps there are problems within the infrastructure of the incentive program which is causing the severe delay. If this is the case, then it would behoove the program to notify the public of their situation so that everyone is on the same page.

Anonymous said...

Part of the bike incentive program must entail a safe and secure place to leave a bike when you arrive at work. Our offices recently moved down to the new CHH building whereas there are two "secure" storage bike lockers on P1 and P2...however these "secure" lockers are not secure whatsoever (you can simply walk in without a key card). Having your card punched is great, having an extra 50$ every six weeks or so is fine too, but having your bike stolen due to a maintenance problem is hardly acceptable. For the program to work effectively, all these pieces need to be in place...higher incentive, effective people who are willing to support the program in terms of customer service, and follow through by the university to maintain and advocate the program's benefits. Portland is extremely bike friendly and the environment should be catered to, not deterred.

Anonymous said...

My main issue is with the time it takes to receive the incentive in the mail- I once filled up two punch cards before receiving the incentive for a previous card. I haven't had any problems in my interactions with the parking/transportation staff though.

Regarding waiting in line behind cars for a card punch, they recently opened up a lane solely for bikes so that isn't an issue anymore.

I agree with other comments that $50 for 35 punches isn't my main motivation for my biking in work and if they really want to encourage people to bike, they should offer a little more. That said, it's better than nothing.