South of Scotland MSP, Colin Smyth has used a Parliamentary debate on walking and cycling to heap praise on the hugely successful ‘Beat The Street’ scheme which has taken place in towns across Dumfries and Galloway.
‘Beat the Street’, which was delivered on behalf of Dumfries and Galloway Council to promote healthy living and an active lifestyle, is a game where participants walk, run or cycle between landmarks across the town.
So far the game has ran in Dalbeattie, Annan, Stranraer and most recently Dumfries and has attracted 17,000 participants across the region. The participation rate of nearly 40% of the population in Annan remains the highest percentage that have played anywhere in the world.
The game involves using a special card which participants can scan at various check points across the town. The card will track the number of check points you reach and count how many the person has visited and the number of miles you have covered.
Colin Smyth told Parliament, “When I chaired Dumfries and Galloway Council’s economy, environment and infrastructure committee, I had the privilege of being involved in a fantastic initiative called beat the street, which prompted a significant increase in cycling and walking in towns across the region.
For members who are unfamiliar with it, the scheme operates as a game. Participants collect points on a card or fob by walking, cycling or running across the town, swiping their card or fob when they reach scanners, which are usually attached to lampposts. Points are counted on a leader board and there are cash prizes available for the winning teams, which often represent community groups. It is an inclusive and community-focused initiative that is targeted at people of all ages and all levels of fitness, and the levels of participation are exceptional.
In 2016, beat the street came to Stranraer, and nearly 4,000 residents—39 per cent of the population—took part. Of those, 80 per cent said later that they had continued with the changes that they made. The proportion of adults reporting frequent active travel increased from 57 per cent before beat the street to 62 per cent six months later, and the number reporting no active travel decreased from 16 per cent to just 2 per cent.
The figures were similar in other towns. In Dalbeattie, more than 1,625 people—a third of the population—took part. In Annan, 3,285 players took part; that amounts to nearly 40 per cent of the population, which is the highest percentage anywhere in the world. In the past few months, the scheme has been rolled out in my home town of Dumfries, where nearly 8,000 people have signed up for 83 teams. That is a clear example of the benefits of creative and locally led interventions. I whole-heartedly commend the scheme, and I hope that it will be rolled out in other communities as a result of the increase in active travel funding”.
Speaking after the debate Colin Smyth added, “Beat the Street was a huge success in Dumfries and Galloway and increased the number of people in our region participating in walking running and cycling. The impact of basic physical activity on both mental and physical health is significant. The statistics speak for themselves with a huge number of people across the region taking part and I hope the Government will support the scheme being rolled out to other towns and villages so we can build on this success”.
To watch the full debate please see: https://www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/debate-the-promotion-of-active-travel-in-scotland-october-31-2017