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Challenge yourself to cycle and walk for rewards this winter

Challenge yourself to walk and cycle more this winter

13 October 2022
[ Zoom ]
photo of a hand holding a smartphone displaying the Innovation Valley Rewards app

As winter approaches, everyone aged over 13 who lives, works or studies in Wokingham borough has even more time to rack up points and win prizes for walking, cycling or using public transport.


The My Journey Wokingham Challenge, run by Wokingham Borough Council in partnership with the Innovation Valley Rewards smartphone app, has been extended from its original closing date on 31 October until 31 March next year at the earliest.


The news comes as the borough finishes celebrating another highly successful Cycle September challenge, organised by Love to Ride Wokingham, and gears up for the group’s Winter Wheelers initiative in the run-up to Christmas. The former saw a local resident win the top prize of a new electric bike worth £2,499, which was provided by Love to Ride.


All these schemes are supported by the council to encourage as many people as possible to enjoy cycling, from total beginners to seasoned riders, as well as other types of active and sustainable travel.


A fun, high-tech game to get people moving


The free Innovation Valley Rewards app uses the tracker in people's phones to detect how far they've travelled and by which mode, then awards points called ValleyCoins as well as virtual “medals” for using greener methods.


ValleyCoins can be redeemed for vouchers with high street retailers, including supermarkets, or donated to a preferred charity. Users can also earn ValleyTickets when using public transport to enter weekly and monthly prize draws for “pots” of ValleyCoins worth anything from £2.50 to £100, and there are special promotions to mark initiatives like this year’s Car Free Day on 22 September.

The app logs time spent travelling actively, the number of calories burned and the weight of carbon emissions saved while offering personalised suggestions on increasing sustainable travel.


Since the My Journey challenge launched on 1 March, users have travelled 148,276 miles sustainably including 134,432 miles by running, cycling or walking. This is equivalent to more than 76 return journeys from Land's End to John O'Groats, resulting in about 13.4 million calories burned - about 17,000 Cornish pasties’ worth - and up to 32,243 kg of carbon saved.


Users have given positive feedback, with many saying they drive less and enjoy more time outside with their families while getting fitter and, in some cases, losing weight walking 10,000 or more steps a day.


Innovation Valley Rewards is available through both the Apple App and Google Play stores, and the council is encouraging its use as part of its efforts to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, tackle the climate emergency and make it easier to live healthily.


Saddling up to set local records


Meanwhile, some 368 riders from 42 workplaces in Wokingham borough took part in this year's Cycle September, racking up a total of 46,259 miles - the equivalent of travelling from London to New York and back more than six times, potentially saving 2,800 kg of carbon.


This also beat last year's total of 42,558 miles, and about 700 prizes were on offer through various draws including cycling goodies, a dream holiday and the electric bike.


A total of 2,506 residents across 108 employers are now taking part in Love to Ride throughout the year and have travelled just shy of two million miles, or about 80 laps of the Equator, while saving up to 129,486 kg of carbon dioxide.


From 1 December until Christmas Day this year, Love to Ride and My Journey will again team up to promote Winter Wheelers, a virtual "Advent calendar" with prizes available for daily rides. More details will be announced nearer the time.


Now is the time to get involved


Cllr Paul Fishwick, executive member for active travel, transport and highways, said: “Cycle September was as popular as ever, with riders cycling further than before, but there are still loads of opportunities to get active and be rewarded for the rest of this year and beyond.


“Residents can get started straight away on Innovation Valley Rewards, which is easy to set up and also recognises walking or taking the train or bus. Once it's installed, you don't have to remember to do anything except head out of the door and start earning points.


“Looking further ahead, Winter Wheelers will offer a great opportunity to keep your spirits up as the nights get longer, and there'll plenty of cold weather riding advice available from our My Journey team so you can stay safe and warm.


“We’re working on every front to make sustainable travel more attractive, which is why we aren’t just telling people to get out there more often. We’re also creating more opportunities to do by providing the infrastructure they need to do this.”


Making it safer and easier to leave the car at home


The council is developing its local cycling and walking infrastructure plan, which will outline new cycleways, junction improvements, crossings and other schemes subject to Government funding and public consultation, and continues to work with bus operators to save services as they grapple with the ongoing financial challenges caused by the coronavirus outbreak.


The council has also declared a climate emergency and pledged to take all possible steps to make Wokingham borough a net-zero carbon producer by 2030.


Innovation Valley Rewards is developed by BetterPoints, a company which helps communities reduce their reliance on cars, and the My Journey Wokingham challenge is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as part of a scheme to improve the borough's air quality.

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