Laura - Ditch the Car Star winner

Laura Ditch the Car Star winner on a walkOur Choose How You Move in Warwick District challenge, in partnership with BetterPoints, rewards people for choosing sustainable travel when out and about in the district - whether by bus, bike, rail or foot. As part of the challenge, users are regularly chosen as 'Ditch the Car Star' winners, where the challenge has motivated them to travel sustainably and as a result, drastically reduce their travel by car.

Laura was featured as one of the winners in October 2021 as she quite literally ditched the car completely by giving it away! Below is an extract from her interview with BetterPoints.

Before joining the Choose How You Move Warwick challenge, what were your levels of activity and travel habits like?

I have cycled a lot in recent years, including on a fund-raising ride in Colombia in February last year, but I rarely walked and always had a car. I would use the car for shopping, visiting friends, and going places where access by public transport was more difficult.

I live in Leamington, and I would cycle to work in Warwick every day. However, when lockdown came I had to work from home and I have remained there since, so even my short daily cycle has stopped. I certainly wasn’t doing anything like the level of activity I used to enjoy.

How has using the BetterPoints app helped? What is it you like about it?

I love the simplicity of the app, and that you get points for even the shortest walk. I have enjoyed donating my points to plant trees for the National Trust, which is a real ‘feel good’ choice.

It has encouraged me to walk more, and to find more reasons to get back out on my bike.

It has been too easy during the pandemic to find that I haven’t left the house for a couple of days; being nudged by the app has helped stop that habit from getting any worse!

How has the BetterPoints app changed your activity and travel habits?

Laura Ditch the Car Star winner with a Christmas tree on her bikeI decided to give my car away to my brother and work out how to do almost all my travel without it. I did manage to bring my Christmas tree home on my bike last December, and I fetched a 10-litre pot of paint from Coventry last weekend by bike and train. It almost got home in one piece, just a small spillage!

Recently I needed to get to a school reunion, so I used a local Car Club. I joined it for times like this, the very rare occasion when a car is your only option. But it works well, not only because I am not paying the huge costs of running a car, but because I am driving the latest ‘eco-friendly’ model.

I now make the time to go for walks. Whilst I do love the ability to get places fast on my bike, it’s often better to walk because you get the chance to chat with people as you pass in the street and stop to look more closely at your surroundings.

What benefits have you noticed as a result?

I haven’t lost weight because I haven’t been putting in the extra distances, but what is far more important is the improvement in mental health. Last winter I got very low with the ongoing lockdowns and inability to meet people, combined with the isolation of working from home.

The only way of managing that is to get out into fresh air and see people out and about. Even a ‘hello’ and shared smile with a stranger means a big change in mood.

I have also discovered wonderful places to walk, right on our doorstep, which I love to share with family and friends.