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200,000 car journeys cut in Renfrewshire, thanks to behaviour change campaign

200,000 car journeys cut in Renfrewshire, thanks to behaviour change campaign

Renfrewshire Council’s Not Far? Leave the Car campaign encourages local people to record their journeys on the BetterPoints app and rewards them for any that are active or otherwise sustainable.

Participants earn a ‘BetterPoint’ for each minute of walking, wheeling or cycling – up to 60 a day – and can collect 15 points for up to four public transport journeys a day. These points can be exchanged for Renfrewshire Gift Cards which can be spent at more than 100 local businesses, used at participating local cafes, or donated to the ACCORD and St Vincent’s Hospices.

More than 300,000 sustainable journeys were recorded between March 2022 and April 2023. Of these, approximately 238,000 – over 70 per cent – replaced a journey that would otherwise have been made by someone in a car on their own.

This equates to saving approximately 79 tonnes of CO2 emissions and is a big boost to the council’s campaign to be net zero by 2030.

Councillor Michelle Campbell, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, said:

‘This campaign has been hugely successful in supporting people to leave the car at home … a great step forward as we aim to reduce our carbon emissions’.

As well as a reduction in polluting car journeys, the figures suggest a huge shift in behaviour among car drivers.

One participant, Susan, cut her annual mileage by 68 per cent:

‘Last year, I did 8,000 miles in my car’, she told us. ‘This year it will be around 2,500 miles instead.’

Another, Stephen, got rid of his car altogether:

‘The app helped motivate me to start using my bike more. I have sold my car and now only use my bike and public transport.

‘I think I have now made the leap and changed my behaviours for good’, he said.

‘The fact that I no longer have the car has opened my eyes to how easy it is to still get through my week without it but to also have the added benefit of saving money, getting healthy, being a role model to my sons and helping the environment. I don’t see me reverting anytime soon.’

In fact, three quarters of participants polled at the end of the reporting period said they were more likely to walk or cycle in future.

‘Leaving the car at home for short journeys and stepping out of that convenience is so important as we try to encourage people to live healthier lifestyles and make smarter choices’, said Councillor Campbell.

Jack Windle, behaviour change team lead at BetterPoints said:

‘I’m delighted by these results from Renfrewshire, which are typical of the campaigns we run with local authorities.

‘They show just how effective willing local councils can be at changing behaviour when given the right tools.’

Not Far? Leave the Car has been funded by the Scottish Government’s Smarter Choices, Smarter Places fund.