How turning travel into a game increases walking and cycling

A new report into an experiment to increase active travel has explained how making it a game in one London borough increased the number of people walking and cycling.

Website The Conversation has published an article about gamification in Hounslow in 2019, where people were offered points, badges, prizes or spots on a leaderboard in exchange for participating in specific, non game-related activities.

People behind the Beat the Street game wanted to see whether it could encourage people to travel actively. Residents and visitors to Hounslow could earn points by tapping a card on physical boxes placed throughout the borough. Players were given 10 points each time they touched two boxes consecutively with a card, indicating they had actively travelled between them. “Obvious cheaters” were removed from the game.

Over the course of the game, 28,219 people took part (9.6% of the population of Hounslow). Collectively, they travelled 96,849 miles.

A study of participants’ travel habits suggests the proportion of people who reported being physically inactive (defined as taking part in fewer than 30 minutes of activity per week) decreased from 25% pre-game to 18% post-game. And the proportion of participants who reported meeting the World Health Organisation’s target of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week increased from 62% pre-game to 75% post-game.

“In light of this, gamification can be used to create an environment where behaviours such as walking, cycling or wheeling to school or work are viewed more positively than car use,” the authors write. “The mass appeal of community-level competitions like these, which reward active travel with points, badges and a higher position on a leader board, may be more effective in shifting the social norms of the communities in which they take place.”

You can read the full article here.

(Picture – Yay Images)

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