Poll: Council spends £60k on electronic tags on Norwich lampposts to get people walking and cycling - is it money well spent?

A new scheme will see technology installed on lamp-posts in parts of Norwich so people can log how f

A new scheme will see technology installed on lamp-posts in parts of Norwich so people can log how far they have walked or cycled. - Credit: Submitted - Intelligent Health

Electronic tags are to be fitted to Norwich lampposts so people can log how far they are walking or cycling - as part of a £228,000 attempt to get people to get out of their cars.

The unusual tactic to encourage fitness has been funded through money Norwich City Council got from the Department of Health.

Some 15,000 people are expected to take part in the interactive challenge, competing against each other to win prizes for walking or cycling the most.

Special cards will be made available at GP surgeries and in libraries. Every time somebody with a card passes one of 35 devices installed on lampposts in Crome and Heartsease, information will be logged.

City council leaders, who have enlisted IT company Intelligent Health to run the challenge this summer, hope schools and businesses will check online to see who can walk the furthest and most regularly.

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Prizes are likely to be given to those who walk and cycle the furthest, but details of how that would work have yet to be decided.

The idea is that it will show people that they do not need to use cars to get about and convince them to swap the steering wheel to pounding the pavements or taking to two wheels on bicycles.

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Intelligent Health has already run similar schemes elsewhere, including at Caversham in Berkshire, where a primary school won £6,000 in library books for its pupils topping the table.

The scheme is part of the city council's Walk To project. City Hall was one of five authorities to make successful bids for a share of a £1.2m government pot.

In November, it was announced that the council had secured £228,000 from the Department of Health and the interactive walking challenge will use up £60,000 of that grant.

Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, said: 'This is yet another example of how the council, with its partners, has managed to unlock extra funding to invest in the health and wellbeing of Norwich citizens.'

The rest of the money will be used for a number of other projects to run over the next two years.

The other projects include: • Active Norfolk putting on a programme of health walks targeted at the most inactive people in the city.

The aim is to get 500 people out and about by walking through the city's parks and open spaces as a safe and

pleasant environment to encourage walking.

• Liftshare working with local businesses so staff are aware of alternative transport through 'personal travel plans'. Companies will be provided with options for using buses, cycles and walking, with factors such as calories used, cost and emissions highlighted. The target is to reach 2,400 people.

• A project co-ordinator will be given a budget to make sure the city benefits from national walking initiatives while championing the financial and environmental benefits of walking.

The Department for Transport announced last summer that a Cycle City Ambition grant would be awarded to Norwich City Council.

The cash, made up of £3.7m from government and £1.8m of local money, will be used to upgrade cycling routes across Norwich, including an eight-mile route through the city centre, known as the pink pedalway, which will connect Heartsease with the University of East Anglia

Ms Arthur said of the Walk To scheme: 'This project will sit alongside our cycling project to help reduce health inequalities, encourage people to shift to sustainable forms of transport and so reduce carbon emissions, traffic noise and congestion and make sure that our new cycling infrastructure is not to the detriment of pedestrians.'

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