SmartTrips Southeast - Success in Community Based Social Marketing
"Thanks for encouraging me to walk, ride a bike, save water. I've been thinking about what I can personally do and this should get me started. Wow, what a great program!"
"Great program. I love my city. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
In a repeat of past years, Transportation Options has been showered with comments just like these from SmartTrips Southeast participants. Seeing neighbors and residents taking real action, being active in the community and walking, biking, taking transit and more, is what SmartTrips programs are all about.
By using community-based social marketing principles, Transportation Options has been able to shift behaviors in significant ways. Participants in the 2007 SmartTrips Southeast program reduced drive alone trips by 9.4%. Additionally, 75% of Ten Toe Express walking program participants surveyed said they walk more now than before and 40% say they have replaced at least one driving trip with a walking trip.
With repeated messages, practical information, opportunities to practice new skills, and support from Options staff and Ambassadors, residents are empowered and motivated to make positive, healthy changes - changes that are good for them, good for the city and easier on the environment.
"The whole program is great, I started walking three years ago and I have lost over 87 pounds. It's been great going on all the Ten Toe walks and seeing different areas and learning about them. Next year I hope to try some of the bike trips also."
Safety, along with encouragement, is a critical component of our programs. SmartTrips programs such as Portland By Cycle and Women on Bikes offer both fun, social activities and hands-on educational classes and clinics with a focus on safety.
"While there was a certain "safety in numbers" riding with the group, riding by myself has proven to be far easier than expected. As long as I follow safe bike habits - reinforced by your pre-ride talks - I feel cars know my intentions and have had no trouble co-existing with them on my rides."
Just What is Social Marketing?
Simply put, social marketing is concerned with the "sale" of ideas, attitudes and behaviors. The concept of social marketing was born as a discipline in the 1970's when social researchers recognized that the techniques companies use to sell products to consumers could be adapted and used to influence attitudes and behaviors that benefit the individual and society as a whole.
"Community-based social marketing is pragmatic" according to researcher and practitioner Doug McKenzie-Mohr. McKenzie-Mohr identifies four main precepts of community-based social marketing:
The health field was one of the first to use this approach, shifting from the top-down public service announcement to programs that focus more on the needs of the individual.
Options first employed the techniques of social marketing in 2002, with a pilot project in the Hillsdale area of SW Portland. The project, called TravelSmart, was conducted by the firm Socialdata , with the goal of reducing drive alone auto trips.
Six years later, Options continues to build and improve our programs, under the SmartTrips umbrella, using basic social marketing techniques. Over the years we've been able to achieve a drive alone trip reduction rate of 8% on average.
In the next newsletter we will identify some of the social marketing techniques Options uses in our SmartTrips programs to encourage more walking, bicycling and transit in the community.
Why People Don't Ride a Bicycle (And How to Help Them Start) Part II
In the Netherlands, 29% of all trips are made by bicycle, and bicycling makes up 40% of all trips under 3 miles.
In Portland, based on survey and focus group findings;
What can be done to reach the 60% of the population interested in riding and address their concerns?
Our research shows there is no "silver bullet" for getting more people to ride more often for transportation, but it does point to a few issues on which we can work more diligently to address.
We found that 80% or more of survey respondents report pleasure and exercise as the highest motivator to bicycle. This tells us that much of our audience equates bicycling with a high quality of life, especially for health and well-being. Transportation Options has recognized this and uses it as our basis in promoting bicycling as a fun and healthy activity that all ages can enjoy.
When asked about the barriers to bicycling, the practical issues and safety rose to the top of the list for the interested but concerned crowd. The practical issues were varied and included; weather, time, distance, passengers and packages. Pressed further, respondents most often reported time, or "too slow", as a significant reason not to ride.
While there may be some truth to the perception that bicycling is "too slow" for some trip distances, we know that for most trips under 5 miles, bicycling to your destination can be faster than driving.
Improved and continued education on the relative ease and speed of bicycling for short distances can help dispell this common misconception and encourage more people to try bicycling for short trips.
Interestingly, 35% of non-bicyclists reported that their main barrier to bicycling was "no bike". The Community Cycling Center runs programs to address this barrier and provide refurbished bicycles and bike safety training to low-income residents. Transportation Options has not significantly addressed this however and will look for more ways to address this often cited barrier in coming years.
Safety, and the perception of safety, encompassed the second highest barrier to bicycling for respondents. Ingeneral, the public perceives bicycling as having a fairly high risk for crashes compared to pedestrians and car drivers. In fact, the actual risk of bicycle crashes has sharply declined over the last decade as the number of bicyclist in Portland have sharply increased.
Still, the number one safety concern for both bicyclists and non-bicyclists is fear of getting hit by a car. The related concerns of "too many cars", and "cars going too fast" also ranked high.
When pressed further, both bicyclists and non-bicyclists agreed that more bicycle improvements would motivate them to ride and ride more. Overhwelmingly, respondents agreed that more improvements, more financial support, and politicians paying more attention to bicycling issues are a good idea, and they favor future measures to improve bicycling in Portland.
Metro is Updating Regional Travel Options Plan
Metro’s Regional Travel Options Program works with public agencies and non-profit organizations across the region to promote and support alternatives to driving alone.
Metro's regional program coordinates the Drive Less/Save More campaign, conducts outreach to employers and commuters, provides ride-sharing services, develops biking and walking maps, and distributes federal grant funds to regional and local projects that reduce drive-alone car trips. The program’s activities are guided by the 5-year strategic plan currently being updated to establish program priorities for 2008 to 2013.
A draft of the plan will be available for review in January 2008 and will be forwarded to the Metro Council in March or April 2008 for consideration. Watch for our next Options Newsletter for a summary of highlights from the 5-year plan.
For more information about the plan, email Pam Peck, project manager with Metro, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204