App turning your steps into shopping vouchers

How many Sheffielders walk every day? Most of us, according to transport experts when they ask the travel survey question: “Have you walked for a few minutes today?” rather than the textbook: “How did you get here?”
Walkers crossing Abbeydale RoadWalkers crossing Abbeydale Road
Walkers crossing Abbeydale Road

Virtually every car journey involves a walk of a few minutes or more too, and even more bus or tram journeys. Some analysts working Sheffield’s streets in the past say most local public transport users get near the 10,000 steps a day that was once recommended to significantly reduce risk of heart disease, cancer, depression and more.

But deeper recent studies show you get significant benefits for all those things with just 4,000 steps a day, which surely takes in virtually all bus and tram trips, and a great many journeys involving a car too. People who run and cycle places tend to know all this, but not so many walkers and bus travellers.

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This week the new free BetterPoints Sheffield scheme to turn your steps, cycle rides, bus trips, wheelchair journeys and more into shopping vouchers or donations to local charities has launched in Sheffield, aiming to encourage residents across the city to choose ‘active travel’ to get around whenever possible.

Walkers at TotleyWalkers at Totley
Walkers at Totley

BetterPoints has already been doing just that at the University of Sheffield for four years, with 27 per cent of their staff now choosing to walk or cycle the whole journey to work, and is now open to the rest of the city too.

BetterPoints Sheffield manager, Jack Windle, explained how the scheme works: “Green and healthy trips earn BetterPoints, which can be exchanged for Sheffield City Centre Gift Cards, spent at participating local businesses, or donated to local charities including the Children’s Hospital Charity and S6 Foodbank. Regular drivers can use the app to help them switch any shorter trips that can be made by other means.”

To join, download the free BetterPoints app, and then use it to record journeys made on foot, by bike, in a wheelchair, or by bus, tram or train. All the trips you record earn BetterPoints, which can then be exchanged for Sheffield City Centre Gift Cards, donations to local charities, or spent at a growing list of participating local businesses.

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Options for users so far include over 80 city centre shops, cafes and restaurants, including Atkinson’s, Boots (The Moor), Decathlon, Cubanas, China Red restaurant and the Crucible Theatre.

Prof Steve Haake walking near Bents GreenProf Steve Haake walking near Bents Green
Prof Steve Haake walking near Bents Green

Everyone who signs up before Monday October 30 can also pick a prize draw to enter: win a £100 Sheffield City Centre Gift Card or a £2,000 electric bike.

Jack Windle of BetterPoints said: “We know people who walk, cycle or take public transport to work are happier and healthier, but what we also know is that those people pass and visit local shops, cafes and other businesses to spend their money locally.”

The scheme was supported by all parties represented at the recent transport committee meeting, including transport chair, councillor Ben Miskell who said: “We’re so pleased to be rolling out the BetterPoints app across Sheffield, following the success the University of Sheffield has seen so far.

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“We want to offer people in Sheffield a genuine choice about how they travel around the city and it is fantastic to be able to give people even more incentives to walk, cycle or use public transport wherever possible.”

Councillor Ben Miskell on Division StreetCouncillor Ben Miskell on Division Street
Councillor Ben Miskell on Division Street

James Merryclough has seen how the scheme has helped the University over recent years and sees it as a reward for staff who make sustainable and healthy choices of travel, as well as encouraging staff and students to switch transport for some of their shorter trips.

He said: “Through the scheme, thousands of extra journeys have been made in these ways, taking cars off the road, reducing congestion and emissions, while helping to make users healthier.”

More information, and to download the free app: