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PBOT’s ‘SmartTrips’ program results in fewer drive-alone trips in East Portland

Posted by on December 28th, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Detail from SmartTrips Green Line mailer.

The Transportation Options Division of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), has released the final report on its SmartTrips Green Line target area.

The SmartTrips program (in its eighth year) aims to educate Portlanders about their travel options with a goal to encourage more biking, walking, and transit trips. The latest target area was along the Green Line MAX corridor in East Portland, on both sides of I-205 from NE Sandy Blvd in the north to south of SE Foster Road and between NE 72nd Ave and NE 122nd Ave. About 8,200 households in the target area (about 25 percent of total households) took part in the program and PBOT spent $213,270 to carry it out.

Approximate target area.

SmartTrips Green Line began with a “before” survey in September 2009 and ran through October 2010. PBOT’s final report shows that residents in the target area reduced their drive-alone trips by 18.4 percent and increased their “environmentally-friendly modes” (biking, walking, transit and carpooling) by 30.4 percent.

To encourage participation, Options staff got out into the neighborhood by tabling at events, leading bike rides and walking tours (95 events were held over the course of one year), passing out free maps and much more. There is also a large direct mail component that allows people to custom order a number of items and have them personally delivered. 189 local businesses also joined forces with PBOT to promote transportation options to their employees and customers.

Personalized bike trip plan anyone?

PBOT estimates the program helped save over 48 million Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) in 2010, which is equivalent to shifting over two trips per week, per person in the target area from driving alone to a more environmentally-friendly mode.

Here are some other interesting tidbits from the report:

During the SmartTrips program…

  • PBOT’s annual bicycle counts showed a 9.5% increase in the number of cyclists at 17 locations in east Portland
  • Carpooling nearly doubled in the target area.
  • Transit use increased nearly 15%.
  • Approximately 75% of survey respondents said safety concerns did not limit the amount they walk, bike, or take transit. This suggests that other factors are limiting their transportation choices or they are not interested.

And here’s a stat from the program that shows one of the major intangible benefits of the work Options does:

About 900 unsolicited positive comments by area residents showed that the program not only garnered the desired mode-shift changes but fostered a positive attitude toward the work that the City of Portland is doing to make their communities a better place to live.

Learn more about SmartTrips Green Line on PBOT’s website and download the final report here (PDF).

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12 Comments
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    bArbaroo December 28, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    I love SmartTrips. Way to go PBOT guys and gals!

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    Patrick December 28, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Sounds like that was $200,000 well spent! Some nice advance work with the green line opening.

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    Jordan December 28, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Way to go Options crew! These people are always working hard to come up with great new ideas and it sounds like it paid off. Right on!

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  • kiel Johnson
    kiel Johnson December 28, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    This is great news! Someday I hope they have enough resources to focus on more than one neighborhood at once.
    Goes to show that getting people to use “environmentally friendly” modes of transport isn’t just about painting new bike lanes.

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    CaptainKarma December 28, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    awesome. they came to my house with a free pedometer, reflective wristband thingie, etc.
    I hate to tell them, I’d have ridden all over regardless!! But it was nice and I do my best to pass on the zeitgeist out here in inner outer SE.

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    Ted Buehler December 29, 2010 at 1:26 am

    Transportation Options is one of the true wonders of the city’s efforts to promote bicycling.

    It’s evangelical.

    Because, to get people riding bikes, you really need to make sure they have the information they need, and have a one-on-one interaction with someone else to learn the specific things they’ll need to know.

    Without one-on-one interaction, their first ride will probably be Hell. And there might not be a second one.

    With one-on-one, they’ll get good suggestions specifically tailored to their age, ability, goals, etc., and saunter off some Sunday and have the time of their life.

    Without Transportation Options and their massive outreach, I really don’t think we’d have seen the massive increases in bicycling in Portland.

    I wrote a piece on this a year ago for the BikeTemple blog — http://biketemple.blogspot.com/2010/03/bicycle-evangelism.html FWIW

    Ted Buehler

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    Spiffy December 29, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I had no idea about this program but during it I converted from a car to using a bike and transit… I went from 99% car to 99% transit/bike… I rarely drive anymore… after the MAX station opened on Holgate five blocks from my house it took me only a few months to give it a try for my daily commute and instantly start loving it… then when the good weather came in I took my bike on it and biked home from work every day… I love that so much that I bought a new bike from the local Bike Gallery…

    so I was the perfect model for their program, but I was never even it… I did it all on my own simply because of the “if you build it they will come” process…

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    Lenny Anderson December 29, 2010 at 8:40 am

    PBOT’s Options Division should be the center of the transportation bureau’s work in the 21st century…and its budget should reflect this. Smart Trips, Sunday Parkways…they are the future. Sam needs to give them more resources!

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    Alex Reed December 29, 2010 at 9:02 am

    I participated in a similar program targeted at new residents (i.e. people who moved) in other neighborhoods. They dropped off maps and some delicious swag for me, which didn’t have the impact of a personal interaction but was still nice.

    I’d rather have more cycletracks personally, but I understand that (a) infrastructure is really expensive and (b) we need both infrastructure and outreach.

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    John Landolfe December 29, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Great news and a job well done. My nitpickiness compels me to note the rather huge factor that the Green Line was launched at the same time (which the report doesn’t shy from but this summary leaves out). The PBOT team did a great job but I don’t think the outreach arm would want to take full credit for what was definitely an effort of outreach AND infrastructure. So Kudos to all. PBOT & TriMet.

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    Kt December 29, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Wow, that’s awesome. We can all learn from Options’ actions.

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    SE Cyclist December 29, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Sorry to rain on the parade, but it appears the sample size was too small and too few households were surveyed before and after the effort. At least that’s the way I read the Appendix and the Report. I fear the statistics are meaningless and the conclusions are based on wishes rather than facts. There are far too many factors besides the Smart Trips program that were not considered, but which could have accounted for the statistically insignificant change in trips. Oh, well.

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