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Ditch the car, get healthy and win prizes this summer

Ditch the car, get healthy and win prizes this summer

14 June 2022

Residents, workers and students across Wokingham borough have burned 3.2 million calories, the same amount found in more than 12,500 jam doughnuts, by using an innovative new smartphone app that rewards users for leaving their cars at home.

They have logged almost 65,000 miles travelling actively or using public transport as part of the My Journey Wokingham Challenge, hosted on the free Innovation Valley Rewards app with support from Wokingham Borough Council – and with summer just around the corner, even more people are urged to enjoy the benefits.


Users can record their trips on the app to earn ValleyCoins, which can be redeemed for shopping vouchers at a wide range of retailers or donated to charity. They can also earn ValleyTickets to enter weekly and monthly prize draws for “pots” of ValleyCoins totalling more than £100.


Going the distance for health and the environment


Since the challenge launched three months ago, more than 400 people have signed up and walked, cycled, scooted or taken the bus or train for a total of 63,945 miles – the equivalent of more than two trips around the Equator, and just over a quarter of the way to the Moon.


They’ve logged nearly 33,000 active or sustainable journeys, potentially avoiding almost 15,500kg of carbon dioxide emissions, with about 19,500 of the total miles logged on foot while just over 14,000 were cycled and 813 miles were run. People also rode 6,731 miles on buses and 22,271 miles by train.

Several fantastic prizes have also been awarded including a six-month subscription to the Brompton bike hire service. This was won by a resident of the borough although anyone aged over 14 who works or studies locally can take part.


The My Journey Wokingham Challenge will offer more great prizes over the summer including special rewards to tie in with Clean Air Day, a national campaign encouraging everyone to leave the car at home, this Thursday (16 June).


Users are invited to make a “clean air pledge”, promising a range of actions from walking or cycling more to avoiding home delivery services, not idling their car engines or supporting tree planting, in exchange for ValleyCoins. They can also invite others to get involved.


The My Journey Wokingham team is also working with the organisers of the Wokingham Bikeathon, a fun event with routes of 15, 25 or 35 miles which takes place on 26 June, to offer rewards like cycling gift vouchers, bike lights, water bottles and more.


New rewards, challenges and prizes are being added all the time, and with the recent opening of the Elizabeth line stop at Twyford, users should keep their eyes peeled in the coming weeks.


There’s still plenty of time to join in


The challenge, which runs until 31 October, is part of the council’s ongoing efforts to encourage healthier, sustainable forms of travel, which will reduce congestion on the borough’s roads, improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions.


It will help the authority, which declared a climate emergency in 2019, to meet its commitment to play as full a role as possible in aiming to make the borough a net zero carbon emitter by 2030.


Cllr Paul Fishwick, the council’s new executive member for active travel, transport and highways, said: “We’re delighted that the My Journey Wokingham challenge has proven so popular in its first three months and would love more people to take part.

“It’s a friendly online community where people’s achievements inspire others to follow suit, and it helps people to easily build healthier and more environmentally friendly travel habits into their daily lives.”


Cllr Clive Jones, the council’s new leader, said: “Reducing the number of trips on our roads is a key priority because it will reduce congestion and, more importantly, reduce air pollution and carbon emissions while promoting travel methods that improve both physical and mental health enormously.”


Easy to download and get started


Innovation Valley Rewards can automatically record and categorise journeys using various methods including a device’s sensors, and tracking can be switched on and off at any time. It automatically works out travel method based on speed, location, route and other journey information.


It tells users how long they spent travelling actively compared with NHS guidelines and calculates both the number of calories burned and the weight of carbon emissions potentially saved. It offers advice and encourages users to share success stories and feedback as they build healthier lives.


It’s developed by BetterPoints, which works with other organisations to help people reduce their reliance on cars, while the My Journey Wokingham challenge is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as part of a scheme to improve air quality.


The app can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store or the Google Play store and anyone registering with a Wokingham borough postcode is automatically invited to the local challenge, which can be found in the “challenges” tab at the bottom of the screen.

All figures correct as of week commencing 13 June 2022.

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