Walking or cycling to school brings in virtual pocket money
Children that are going to school on foot or by bicycle receive a virtual penny as a reward. The principle is already in use in Bonheiden, Peer, Schelle, and Koksijde, and Izegem will follow soon. Each trip to school brings in 10 cents. In Schelle, eight local retailers have subscribed to the system of virtual coins to encourage school children not to come to school by car.
Those who are coming on foot or by bike get a key ring with a chip to attach to their school bag or bike. Once they arrive at school, the chip is scanned, and the virtual coins are collected. They can save the money or spend it in one of the participating shops via smartphone or bank card.
The concept seems to be a success since five municipalities already introduced it. According to the initiator, 24 schools are involved, or 3.150 children, pedestrians, and cyclists. At least 30 other schools are possibly interested as well.
The system called Buck-e is developed by The Studio, a subsidiary of Belfius, and based on the blockchain technology. The communities pay for the costs. One scanner and the necessary chips cost 3.000 to 4.000 euros. They also pay a yearly contribution to use the apps, and the money for the children, of course.
According to those involved, the price is worth it. In Bonheiden, in the Antwerp province, the first community where Buck-e was introduced, the number of walking and cycling school children went up from 10 to 64%.
Bonheiden even won the Belfius Smart Belgium Award 2017 for it in the category of municipalities with less than 30.000 inhabitants, precisely because the children of the community succeeded in convincing their parents not to drop them at school by car.
“Children now have more daily exercise, and car traffic in the surroundings of the school has decreased significantly,” explains Geert Rottiers (CD&V), Alderman for Mobility in Schelle.
“It also has a positive effect on safety and air quality,” he continues. Local traders also gain from it, but sustainable mobility is the main goal. “We hope that children push their parents not to bring them to school by car anymore,” Rottiers concludes.