Researchers used a game to cut car use in London. Here’s what happened

Lecturers have provide you with a sport to encourage folks to ditch their automobiles and embrace energetic journey. Right here, they focus on their findings following a trial in Hounslow, London

In England, solely 37 per cent of adults aged 16 or over journey actively (stroll, cycle or scoot to get from place to position) no less than twice a month. We have to discover thrilling methods to encourage extra folks to journey actively for the sake of inhabitants and planetary well being.

Energetic journey can assist scale back congestion, air air pollution and local weather change. Nevertheless, within the UK – as in lots of nations internationally – travelling by automotive stays the dominant social norm.

Our research exhibits that gamification – providing factors, badges, prizes or spots on a leaderboard in trade for taking part in particular, non game-related actions – can encourage folks to journey actively to highschool or work.

To check this, we arrange a gamification initiative known as Beat the Street to see whether or not it may encourage folks within the London borough of Hounslow to journey actively.

Throughout our sport, which ran from 18 September to 30 October 2019, residents and guests in Hounslow may earn factors by tapping a card on bodily bins positioned all through the borough. Gamers got ten factors every time they touched two bins consecutively with a card, indicating that they had actively travelled between them. And sure, we made certain to take away any apparent cheaters from the sport.

On the finish of the six-week sport, the very best scoring people and groups (faculties, group teams and workplaces) had been rewarded with prizes, corresponding to vouchers for sports activities gear, craft supplies or books.

Active travel

The sport boosted energetic journey, and has been rolled out to Swindon, Burnley and past. Picture: Franco Ruarte

We investigated the affect of this sport on energetic journey by when folks performed, evaluating how energetic folks stated they had been earlier than and after the sport, and utilizing a site visitors digicam to search for a discount in motorised autos travelling alongside a often congested native highway.

Over the course of the sport, 28,219 folks took half (9.6 per cent of the inhabitants of Hounslow). Collectively, they travelled 96,849 miles. In whole, contributors recorded 638,697 faucets on the 161 ‘beat bins’ located all through the borough. Over half of all these faucets had been made between 8am and 9am, and 3pm and 4pm, that are typical intervals of journey between dwelling and faculty or work.

To look extra carefully at particular bodily exercise outcomes, we requested 346 adults to finish a bodily exercise questionnaire earlier than and after participating within the sport.

We have to discover thrilling methods to encourage extra folks to journey actively

These outcomes confirmed that the proportion of contributors who reported being bodily inactive (outlined as participating in fewer than half-hour of exercise per week) decreased from 25 per cent pre-game to 18 per cent post-game. And the proportion of contributors who reported assembly the World Well being Group’s goal of 150 minutes of average depth exercise every week elevated from 62 per cent pre-game to 75 per cent post-game.

Subsequent, to supply an goal measure of behaviour change achieved by means of the sport, we noticed native site visitors by means of a monitoring digicam. We assessed the variety of autos travelling in each instructions alongside the often-congested Cambridge Highway, between 7am and 9.30am, and between 2pm and 4.30pm.

Active travel

An instance of a beat field, which contributors tapped with a card. Picture: Beat the Avenue

The info we collected confirmed that between the week earlier than and the week following Beat the Avenue, 1,199 fewer automobiles (a 53 per cent discount) and 130 fewer vans (additionally a 53 per cent discount) travelled alongside Cambridge Highway between 7am and 9.30am, and 705 fewer automobiles (a 34 per cent discount) and 36 fewer vans (a 20 per cent discount) travelled alongside the highway between 2pm and 4.30pm.

These findings counsel that turning a complete space of a city or metropolis into an interactive sport may very well be a promising strategy to nudge folks into travelling by foot, bicycle or wheelchair.


One of many main points confronted when trying to maneuver folks away from utilizing automobiles and in the direction of sustainable transport choices is the truth that automobiles point out a excessive social standing, making many reluctant to eliminate them.

One other drawback is the ingrained nature of automotive use for brief journeys, the place many individuals instinctively select to drive for comfort or simply as a behavior. Because of this many prompt methods to lower automotive utilization, like rising taxes on gas or congestion, aren’t often supported by policymakers, who might worry backlash from interfering with many individuals’s most popular lifestyle.

In mild of this, gamification can be utilized to create an atmosphere the place behaviours corresponding to strolling, biking or wheeling to highschool or work are seen extra positively than automotive use. The mass enchantment of community-level competitions like these, which reward energetic journey with factors, badges and the next place on a frontrunner board, could also be more practical in shifting the social norms of the communities during which they happen.
The Conversation

Marc Harris is a senior researcher in sociology and the philosophy of sport at Cardiff Metropolitan College. Diane Crone is a professor in train and well being at Cardiff Metropolitan College. 

This text is republished from The Conversation below a Artistic Commons license. Learn the original article.

Principal picture: Krzysztof Kowalik