A couple of months ago there was a contest between various universities to see which school could get the most people to record bike commutes in a given month. Now the city of Austin is about to offer a second such competition. The idea is that you get a bunch of people together to form a team, log your bike commutes, errands, etc. and get points for each trip. Whichever team has the most points will earn the "Austin Commuter Challenge" trophy. Details here: http://www.austincommuterchallenge.com/
My question is: Do such promotions work? Do they motivate anyone?
I bike commute almost every day but I don't want to take the time to form a team, compete against people I don't know and take the time to enter all my rides in on a regular basis, all for the dream of winning a trophy. I already commute so this contest is not changing my behavior and hence my participation in it provides no added environmental benefit. Furthermore, if I don't want to participate and all I would have to do is record rides I already take, how likely is it to motivate someone who uses drives to ditch the perceived convenience of a car and ride the bike? Maybe if they were already really interested. Maybe if they were already planning to ride in once the mornings are warmer (as they will be in May, the month of the contest).
Call me a skeptic. I'd rather they just give out beverages downtown to morning commuters, hold some special event, or give out commuter t-shirts. But if they are going to do a contest, who wants to compete for a trophy? How about a ride and bbq at Lance's house? Or a new bike? But a trophy.
I would like to be excited about this event. For some reason I am worked up enough about it to post this message. Am I missing something?