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Traffic Snake Game Águeda - Innovation as a Stimulus for Soft Mobility

The Traffic Snake Game has been piloted in àgueda, encouraging the use of cycling and walking among children as a way of improving the city. Marina Ascensão reports on the impact the pilot has had.

At the end of the school year, and as a corollary of the activities related to the celebration of the Week of Environment and Sustainability in the last month of June, 180 children from 4 school institutions participated in the digital version of the Traffic Snake Game.

This project has been implemented in Portugal, in its traditional version, since 2014, having undergone a digital upgrade through TRACE and the Municipality of Águeda. Using GPS technology, the Traffic Snake Boxes tracked the routes and means of transport used by the participating students.

The Traffic Snake Game involves the whole school community, building awareness not only with students and teachers, but also school staff and, especially, parents and educators for the means of soft mobility as a real alternative to travelling day-to-day short distances.

The colour of the Snake and the possibility of placing stickers of vivid shades makes this interactive game very attractive for younger age groups. The possibility of being rewarded collectively for the choices made by each of the participants stimulates the emergence of a team spirit, creating positive group synergies in which the goals are achieved thanks to the joint effort of the students involved. It is thus evident that this game is an incentive to the development of the ideals of participatory citizenship.

The online version allows the development of the same activity using the interactive whiteboard in the classroom as an interface, this way the information is immediately entered.

The TRACE version of the game reduces the time needed to plot journeys, allowing the definition of routes and means of transport of the participants with the use of a GPS device, and automatically adding this information to the profile of the corresponding class. These data are made available to the teachers, and are used as awareness tools for sustainability, providing data to assess behaviour in relation to the mobility of the group involved.

Information about the project was distributed among parents and educators from the classes and schools involved, in order to authorise the participation of their children. All students were enthusiastic to partake in the project, the number of authorisations received was around 65% of the total, however.

The Municipality of Águeda took advantage of the space provided by the game, a gamification of reality, to highlight the importance of sustainable mobility for the quality of life of the inhabitants of the municipality. The history of the city of Águeda, as well as its traditions connected to the two-wheel industry is very strong. However, the bicycle has gradually been seen by younger generations as a means of transport used by people with no alternative, associating it with economic need and building, in this way, a pejorative connotation in the collective imagination. An exception to this should be made for its use in leisure activities.

Interventions with participating classes have also been made to change these perceptions, so that the bicycle is valued as a valid and desirable means of transport for short distances.

In the scope of the game, the association ”Os Pioneiros” promoted making the journey between the institution and school on foot. This journey, which is usually made by bus, allowed us to take approximately 40 children between the ages of 6 and 11 years, as well as the users of after-school care, on an adventure of discovery in their own village. This was done under the vigilant eye of monitors and assistants, as well as municipal staff, and a small brigade from the police force ”Safe School” of Águeda, that ensured the security of this joyful walk. The children and supporting staff involved offered a very positive evaluation. It was possible to locate the more problematic points in the walk, to improve the route, to recognise existing difficulties, in the perspective of continuing to perform these actions, not only to help our planet, but also to assist the health and well-being of each one of the participants.

There is still lot of work to do in this matter, yet the message brake trough: walking is easy, biking is fun and everyone wins when we use active mobility!