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Children get 'paid' to cycle to school in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre

Illustration picture shows a child on a bike on the first day of school. (BELGA PHOTO DIRK WAEM)
07:58 16/09/2021

The Brussels municipality of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre has struck on a new idea to encourage young school children to use their bicycles: they will be "paid" to do so.

Students in the sixth year of primary education in the commune’s schools are being rewarded with local virtual currency to use their bike to go to school.

Practically, students receive a chip that they hang on their bike. Their arrival and departure are recorded by a terminal installed at the entrance of the school. Each departure and arrival awards them a "Buck" which is equivalent to €0.20.

These "Bucks" can be used in the shops of the municipality to buy, for example, a ticket to the cinema in Stockel, entrance to the swimming pool or an ice cream.

The municipality has a dozen partners already cooperating in the system and hopes to attract more in the future. As well as the cinema and the swimming pool, there is already a bakery, a butcher, a bookstore and a sports club accepting the “Bucks”.

Some have questioned whether rewarding children for using their bicycle is really necessary but Alexandre Pirson, the councillor responsible for mobility in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, believes using the carrot, rather than the stick, will lead to a more positive outcome.

"We are in a society in which we punish a lot,” he said. “You take out your rubbish on the wrong day, you get a fine, you drive too fast, you get a fine. But very few times do we receive a reward.

"But a reward energises people unlike a sanction that paralyses them. And so, thinking about this, we discussed how to encourage positive mobility behaviours with an incentive. Rewards through gamification are more and more in vogue among young people, especially via smartphone games, so we have opted for this local virtual currency."

At the moment, the project only operates at the sixth primary level in the eight municipal schools. Eventually, the project could be extended to other years and could be extended to reward those who come on foot or by scooter and to those who use public transport.

 

Written by Nick Amies

Comments

vanessahughes18

What a FANTASTIC idea!!! We certainly need more carrot and stick initiatives.

Sep 17, 2021 10:33