Children in Peterborough will be incentivised to walk or cycle to school with the promise of collecting a badge from September if new active travel plans are approved. 

The £12,000 scheme, which is initially planned for eight primary schools, involves children recording how they’ve gotten to school each day on an online tracker, with badges awarded to those who do so sustainably at least once a week for a month.

The badge will be a “game-changer”, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority’s (CPCA) new active travel lead Yo Higton said at a meeting where the scheme was discussed. 

“When you’re walking to school with a badge on your bag, you’re the one who travelled actively and parents will see other children and ask why they’ve got their badges and it’s a real kind of pester power scenario,” she said. 

The scheme, called the Living Streets WOW programme, is planned to replace the Bike It scheme run by active travel charity Sustrans, which has been running for a decade in Peterborough and also encourages children to walk or cycle to school. 

It even had a similar strategy: attaching a “golden lock” to a different bike or scooter in a school’s bike shed each day, with its owner winning a prize. 

But CPCA says that the new scheme “offers a fresh approach in Peterborough, targeting schools which have traffic and parking concerns”. 

In an initial one-year trial of the scheme, it’s set to be implemented in four schools that have ‘Schools Streets’ schemes in place – where the roads outside schools are closed at pick-up and drop-off times – and four that don’t.

The Living Streets walking charity will also collect data on how effective the programme is in Peterborough, which will also be available to the CPCA. 

Broadly, the charity says that WOW schools – so called because children use WOW trackers – see a 30 per cent reduction in car journeys taken to the school gate and a 23 per cent increase in walking rates.

The WOW tracker, accessible by interactive whiteboards, computers and iPads, has icons instead of children’s names, Living Streets says, although classrooms can display name tags if they wish. 

The scheme was approved by CPCA’s transport committee this week but must be approved by its board before it can be fully implemented.