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Have you heard? Transport planning’s best-kept secret is winning the public over to local infrastructure plans

Have you heard? Transport planning’s best-kept secret is winning the public over to local infrastructure plans

Local authorities are discovering the power of BetterPoints behaviour change technology to motivate citizens and bring them onside with their ambitious transport plans.

A lot of radical change is happening in active and sustainable transport in the UK right now. But, while some towns are leading the way, others are already abandoning their new, greener systems in response to pressure. Why? Because they missed a vital ingredient in their planning: people. 

Infrastructures are built for people. Without people, they are useless – and a massive waste of public money. Local authorities are finding their transport infrastructure plans are likely to lose traction and fail if they don’t get the public fully on their side at the outset.  

Until recently, such large-scale engagement was very tricky and costly to achieve, which meant it was often sidelined. Behaviour change company BetterPoints has changed that, using its bespoke technology to make it much simpler and cheaper – and, therefore, viable.

BetterPoints campaigns work by delivering incentives, rewards and targeted communications through the BetterPoints smartphone app. Complex algorithms determine, track and measure transport mode and use; dashboards then present data reports and visualisations to the client for analysis and modelling.

While traditional campaigns and properly-enforced penalties can go some way to encouraging people to adapt to new plans, they are a one-size-fits-all approach: they do little to change attitudes or foster support, and they rarely generate the lasting engagement and loyalty needed for those plans to be fully sustainable. By contrast, BetterPoints campaigns reach masses of individuals directly, and generate buy-in by encouraging people to experience the network for themselves, by giving them a fun and fulfilling experience, and by putting them at the heart of the planning process as a valued part of it.

Over two six-month Bella Mossa campaigns in Bologna, Italy, 1.9 million active/sustainable journeys were recorded by 22,000 people, offsetting an estimated 1.4 million kg of CO2 emissions. 63% of participants said it motivated them to use their cars less. Successful campaigns have run in other parts of the world, too, such as Joinville in Brazil, Wroclaw in Poland and Auckland in New Zealand.

In the UK, BetterPoints has been a well-kept secret. But local authorities here, too, are starting to realise the potential. Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council use BetterPoints to geo-fence their emergency pop-up lanes and encourage use of the network. Ebbsfleet and Brighton and Hove are using it to encourage active and healthy travel, as are Glasgow, Arbroath and Falkirk in Scotland.