November 4, 2011 Portland


SmartTrips Portland is an individual marketing project that reduces drive alone trips among a targeted population each year by providing information and programming aimed at increasing awareness of walking, biking, transit and carpool options. 

What is it?

SmartTrips is a comprehensive approach to reduce drive-alone trips and increase biking, walking and public transit in targeted geographic areas of the city. It incorporates an innovative and highly effective individualized marketing methodology, which hand-delivers packets of information to residents who wish to learn more about all their transportation options including transit, walking, bicycling, carpooling, car sharing and combining trips. Key components feature biking and walking maps and organized activities which get people out in their neighborhoods or places of employment to shop, work, and discover how many trips they can easily, conveniently and safely make without using a car.

How does it work?

In late March, each household in a SmartTrips area receives a newsletter with a calendar of nearby walks, 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 articles also describe other transportation projects and programs such as Safe Routes to School, an area streetscape project, and how to use the transit agency’s services.

The first newsletter also includes a notice about the SmartTrips Order Form that residents may use to get information and incentives about walking, bicycling, transit, carpooling and more. The Options Division sends order forms in waves to approximately 2,500 households each week. The three members of the Options delivery staff process and deliver the materials and incentives within a two-week period—and usually within one week of receiving an order. Three weeks after the order form is sent, Options mails a reminder postcard with the web order form address and a phone number for requesting an order form by mail.

The speed, efficiency and professional materials included in the program are central to making the program a success. A packet delivered six weeks after it’s ordered is too late. A bicycle delivery person hand-delivers each packet or leaves it on the porch or another conspicuous spot. Residents receive their requested materials in a handy vinyl tote bag with an attached paper luggage tag with their name and address. A thank-you letter, SmartTrips Calendar of events, and area walking map are included in every delivery bag.

Residents can order a variety of maps, brochures, tips and event schedules for every mode of transportation: walking, bicycling, transit, carpool, car sharing and driving. ?With each order one incentive may be chosen: a SmartTrips umbrella, Bandana Bicycle Map, or Transportation Options T-shirt.

In May all area residents receive a second newsletter with the web address and phone number and more events and activities, reminding them to order materials. Everyone who orders materials or attends one or more of the walks and rides get the final three newsletters every two months: July 1, September 1, and mid-November.

SmartTrips Events and Activities

Ten Toe Express Walks - To help people get started and meet other folks to walk with, the Options Division organizes four to six guided walks each month from May to September in the SmartTrips area.  Some are short; some are long; all highlight great places to walk within area neighborhoods. About 25-50 walkers attend each walk.

Senior Strolls - In a similar vein to Ten Toe Express Walks, Senior Strolls help seniors become active and comfortable with walking as a transportation option.  The strolls provide an opportunity for seniors to learn a bit of history about different neighborhoods and offer the benefit of meeting other seniors to walk with. The slower paced strolls, which start and end on TriMet routes, are offered weekly May through October. 

Portland By Cycle Rides and Classes - Portland By Cycle includes a series of evening rides and classes May through September. The rides are designed for new cyclists and those who haven’t been on a bike in years. Fifteen to 75 participants tour various parts of the SmartTrips area and learn the best ways to get around by bike. A safety briefing opens the ride program, and safety tips are offered along the ride by trained volunteer and staff ride leaders.
Options works with individuals and organizations to offer eight free classes that provide more specific information on bicycling. Topics include shopping by bicycle, introduction to bike commuting, bicycle touring, riding in the rain, and basic bike maintenance.

Women on Bikes - Women on Bikes is a series of clinics, conversations and rides.  Topics of the clinics and conversations include bike selection, gear for bike and cyclist, bike handling skills, basic bike maintenance, the city’s bikeway network, cyclists’ rights and responsibilities, how to ride with children, how to shop by bike, and advocacy.   Rides are scheduled to practice skills, try different routes, meet other women to ride with, and demonstrate the ease of commuting by bike.

Events/OptionsMobile - The OptionsMobile, a Honda Insight hybrid vehicle, is scheduled in as many outreach events in the SmartTrips area as staff can accommodate with either volunteers (Ambassadors) and/or staff. At events, the Options staff distributes all SmartTrips materials, schedules and safety information, and offers personal assistance to those with questions and concerns.

CO2 reduction

Each year the project reduces drive alone trips by 8-12%, in 2008 that translated to 19 million pounds of Co2 saved. 

Next steps

The City of Portland is reaching out to residents within ½ mile of the new “Green Line” light rail in project in East Portland in 2010.  The SmartTrips Green Line project will reach 30,000 households.