Create a SmartTrips Program

A SmartTrips program is a direct, individualized marketing program that encourages neighborhood residents to switch from car-based transportation to transit, biking, and walking. Programs use various approaches, such as direct mailings, email and website outreach, text messages, blogs, social media, bike delivery of materials, and free events to educate and encourage residents to change their travel behavior.

  • Use an established planning process to create the SmartTrips outreach program. Social marketing guidance created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that a program include:
    • Problem description
    • Formative research
    • Strategy development
    • Intervention design
    • Evaluation
    • Implementation
  • Schedule at least six months to plan the program and five months to run it. St. Paul’s Smart Trips Neighborhoods recommends planning in the fall for a May–November program; a five-month program better engages residents through more events, newsletters, and emails, and encourages them to walk and cycle in cold weather
  • Use software tools to help track and organize program elements, such as ConstantContact, MailChimp, EventBrite, Woofoo, Qualtrics, and SurveyMonkey
  • Partner with:
    • Advocacy organizations for in-kind support
    • Public-health agencies for program planning and evaluation
    •  Community groups for outreach assistance
    • Businesses in planning events and activities
  • Allow participants to customize their information packets and travel-behavior goals within trackable parameters (e.g., which mode and how many trips per week)
  • Make program events and materials accessible, including providing materials to those who use screen-reading or screen- enlargement software
  • Create a neighborhood-wide goal with a reward to encourage peer pressure to meet it
  • Document the program:
    • Encourage staff to photograph outreach efforts and events
    • Encourage participants to contribute their perspectives
  • Evaluate the program, including effectiveness of outreach materials. Portland and St. Paul have published reports detailing survey methodology and results
  • Encourages walking and an active lifestyle
  • Reduces car dependency
  • Program funding (In Portland, OR, a typical 20,000-household program costs $570,000.)
  • Obtaining or outsourcing needed technical skills and software tools
Where to Use It
  • Neighborhoods with amenities and demographics that suggest the potential for behavior change, such as areas with street connectivity, sidewalks, bike-friendly streets, good bus service, trails, shops, and parks as well as high car ownership
  • Neighborhoods with interested and motivated community organizations
Professional Consensus
  • The Psychology of Sustainable Behavior provides guidance for sustainable-behavior campaigns based on studies from academic, peer-reviewed journals

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