Re:route: The app that rewards Londoners for walking to work
If you could earn points to spend at the cinema, or in your local Marks & Spencer store, if you opted to walk to work rather than take the train, would you?
That's the carrot that Transport for London and Recyclebank is planning to dangle in front of you with a new app, called re:route, launching shortly in the App Store.
The idea is to reward people for walking around London.
The scheme, backed by the Mayor of London, is tied into an iPhone app (Android and other platforms are on the way). Using the phone's GPS signal allows the app to track your movement - and make sure you don't cheat - when you press the go button.
At launch, every journey you make will earn your five points and the people behind the app believe that walking to work every day should earn you about £250 across the year if you stick with it.
So far the Recyclebank has a multitude of companies signed up to give rewards including Marks & Spencer, Champneys, Classic British Hotels, Haven Holidays, Cineworld and Jojo Maman Bebe.
To increase the urge to walk rather than get the Tube, Recyclebank plans to motivate people in different ways and eventually let you earn more points for walking further.
"Travel in London will be difficult during the Olympics, and with this app we could potentially reward people for avoiding hot spots," Rob Crumbie, marketing director for Recyclebank, told Pocket-lint - walking us through the app before its official release. "We are planning on motivating people in different ways."
Recyclebank is already operating a similar "carrot" reward scheme with local councils in the UK. In the same way, Blue Recycle bins fitted with chips reward homes that recycle more with vouchers.
Following the successful trials in places including Windsor and Maidenhead, TfL turned to the company to see if it could create a similar incentive to get people out of their cars and off the already overcrowded London Underground and walking instead.
"There are 109 journeys on which it is quicker to walk than take the Underground," adds Crumbie. "Those journey's will be plugged above other alternatives."
But the app, which you can connect to via Facebook, isn't just about encouraging you to walk rather than taking the Tube, but also a way of helping you get around the capital quickly.
Using TfL live data - trains at first, but buses are promised - the app can tell you the quickest routes available, the time it will take and - more importantly - if there are any delays on the route you are planning on taking.
A quick play of the app and it all looks very simple to use and easy to manage your journeys. Those planning on taking the same journey over and over can set favourites for quicker access and at the end of the journey you are told the points you earned, calories burnt, miles covered.
Those stats can then be shared with friends and in future versions there will be group challenges and leaderboards so you can see how you measure up against them.
Once you've collected enough points you'll be able to cash them in, and as an incentive you'll get 75 points just for joining the scheme. As an example, 30 points gets you a free muffin at Java&Co or two medium extra-value meals at McDonalds. Save up to 300 points and you'll get a two nights for the price of one at Classic British Hotels. The rewards aren't to be sniffed at.
The app currently services Greater London, but there are already plans to expand the coverage further.
"London first, but New York is also interested in how the app goes," Crumbie tells us.
Will you be walking in future? Let us know what you think of the app in the comments below.