Business/Commerce

Portland: SmartTrips

In 2002, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) created an individualized marketing program to reduce drive-alone trips and increase walking, bicycling, transit, and carpool trips in targeted areas. Portland modeled its program after those found in Australia and Europe. After two pilot programs in 2003 and 2004, Portland added activities and extended its outreach to eight months. Every year, the Transportation Options Division of the PBOT selects an area with about 20,000 households. Areas are chosen based on land use patterns, transit availability, bike and walking infrastructure, and investments, such as light rail service. In late March, each household in a SmartTrips area receives a newsletter with a calendar of organized walks, bike clinics, and bicycle rides. The newsletter highlights SmartTrips programs, including the Ten Toe Express Walking Campaign, Portland By Cycle Campaign, Senior Strolls, and Women on Bikes. The newsletter also includes a notice about the SmartTrips Order Form that residents will soon receive to order maps, brochures, tips, and event schedules for walking, bicycling, transit, carpool, car sharing, and driving.

Order forms are sent in weekly waves of 2,500 households. Employees typically deliver the materials and incentives within a week of receiving an order. Three weeks after receiving the first order form, employees send households a reminder postcard with the order-form website and a phone number to request an order form by mail. Residents receive their requested materials in a tote bag with a personalized luggage tag. Every delivery includes a thank-you letter, SmartTrips events calendar, and a walking map. Residents can order walking materials such as a free pedometer donated by Kaiser Permanente and a schedule of walking tours; bicycling materials such as a bike map, guides with tips and rules of the road, and a personalized bicycle-trip-planning request postcard; and transit materials, such as a transit guide for seniors and the disabled, and a personalized transit tracker card with ID numbers of two nearby bus stops so the resident can get real-time bus-arrival data. Brochures about car sharing, carpooling, and safety guidelines for older drivers are also available for order. Every package comes with an incentive, either a SmartTrips umbrella, bandana, bike map, or T-shirt.

On May 1, residents receive a second newsletter reminding them to order materials and listing events and activities. Everyone who orders materials or attends an event gets newsletters in July, September, and November. All SmartTrips area residents receive SmartTrips messages at least seven times through mailers, media coverage, and outreach events.

Residents in the 2010 SmartTrips Green Line program reduced drive-alone trips by 18% and increased environmentally friendly modes by 30%. Approximately 25% of those in the target area, or 8,200 SmartTrips Green Line households, ordered materials or participated in at least one of 95 Transportation Options events. As with past programs, Portland evaluated its success using survey data collected before and after the SmartTrips program. A data-collection firm conducted panelstyle, pre- and post-program phone surveys of six hundred residents living in the SmartTrips Green Line target area.

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.