On Friday, we were delighted to accept the Business Environment Award from veteran broadcaster Chris Tarrant, for our work with Reading Borough Council. This comes just weeks after it scooped the Healthy Streets Award for modal shift.
The annual Pride of Reading Awards celebrate 'the exceptional people who make Reading a unique place to live and work'. Reading Borough Council's BikeSmart programme, with funding from the European H2020 Empower initiative, commissioned BetterPoints to encourage and help people to cycle more.
The programme used the BetterPoints Behaviour Change Management System to provide incentives and encouragement through the BetterPoints smartphone app. Participants earned points when they cycled, which they could redeem against vouchers for high street shops or donate to charity.
"I felt excited to see more people cycling and I made the effort to go out for additional bike rides for points, which has definitely had a positive impact on my fitness," said one participant.
"I cycle more often than taking the bus with BikeSmart, and it has also influenced me not to buy a car," said another.
It's a "very good initiative," said a third. "The app is excellent and I replaced a few car journeys."
As well as providing encouragement, the programme teamed up with Avanti Cycling to deliver more than 60 cycle skills workshops across the town, to help people feel more confident about cycling.
Between February and August 2017, more than 600 people actively took part and made 30,000 cycle journeys. Together, they cycled 331,762 miles, equivalent to 13 times around the planet.
Reportedly, nearly 7,000 of those journeys replaced a car journey, which will have saved around nine tonnes of CO2 emissions.
418 of the participants responded to our end-of-programme survey. Of those, 271 - 65% - told us BikeSmart had encouraged them to change their travel behaviour.
"We're over the moon," said Kerri French, BetterPoints' Programme Engagement Manager for Thames Valley.
"Bikesmart has been a really fantastic project for Reading and it is great to see so many people on their bikes.
"It got people changing their behaviour, out of their cars, onto the roads and onto their bicycles feeling confident about their cycling as well.
"The project helped us reach some really hard to reach groups and people were able to earn the points and spend them on themselves or donate them to local charities, which is really unique about the scheme."
Karen Robertson, of Avanti Cycling, said, "the fantastic thing about this project was it got people who might not want to go on their bikes and gave them the confidence to do that two to five mile journey that they would usually do in their car.
"It would be great for Reading to keep that going.”
The Business Environment was sponsored by the Reading-based planning and design consultancy, Barton Willmore, to reward companies 'who are seriously considering and acting upon reducing their impact' on the environment.
Photo: Left to right: Kim Cohen, Barton Willmore; Anne Lancaster, BetterPoints; Kerri French, BetterPoints; Chris Tarrant; Karen Robertson, Avanti Cycling.