Interesting fact

Positive incentive schemes can support people to replace their (short distance) car trips with cycling.

Why people do and do not cycle

Although scientific evidence is scarce, there are indications that health is the single most important reason for travellers to use active modes, i.e. cycling or walking. Several popular apps are now also using health as an incentive to promote cycling.  On the other hand, bad weather and travel time are the most important barriers for cycling. Therefore, cycling incentives should be personalized and geared to individuals and trips for which the bike is a good alternative in this respect. As precipitation, cold temperatures and windy conditions are known to have a negative influence on cycling, they should be given extra weight in incentives that encourage cycling.

Where are cycling incentive schemes being implemented

Within the EMPOWER community, cycling incentive schemes have been implemented in several cities such as Antwerpen, BudapestEnschede, Gothenburg, Milan, Newcastle, Odense and Reading.

Type of incentive schemes to promote cycling

Information campaigns within neighborhoods are effective to encourage active transport. Cycling performance, expressed in cycling kilometers, burnt calories or saved CO2, can be directly measured by smartphone tracking sensors or by self-reporting in apps or social media. There are numerous apps that use this information for implementing rewarding or feedback schemes to promote cycling. Feedback on cycling performance is often done using comparisons with others, for example in the form of leaderboards. However, these schemes are mostly attractive to people that already cycle and score well in the comparisons. For car users, rewards are probably more effective to initiate behavior change.

Target groups

Incentive schemes are most effective when they target commuters (with commute distances below approximately 20 kilometers). However, they can be and are used for other city trips as well. With the introduction of numerous public bike schemes, cycling also becomes more important as access and egress mode for public transport. There are some indications that this may be at the expense of walking. Therefore, it is advised to consider walking and cycling simultaneously and stimulate walking for the shortest trips as this is still the most sustainable mode.