Program offers tips and tools for those finding their way around a new neighborhood
(July 23, 2014) After 12 years of moving around the city to target specific neighborhoods, Portland’s residential SmartTrips program is taking a new approach for 2014. SmartTrips, a program of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Active Transportation Division, is focusing on people who have recently moved.
Recent movers include new Portland residents - relocating from another city, state or country - and those who have recently changed residences within Portland. The thinking goes, when people move they must develop new patterns for everyday trips - shopping, library, school - and may be more open to making changes in how they get around.
Welcome SmartTrips sent out its first mailing to about 9000 residents on May 6 followed by a reminder postcard, a newsletter and an order form within a few weeks. Residents can order, either online or by mail, a variety of tools and resources for getting around Portland. Available resources include bike and walk maps, a digital pedometer, transit maps, information on carshare, schedules of guided walks and bike rides, travel safety tips and more. Water conservation tools and information are also offered.
To date, SmartTrips has received about 1500 orders for materials from new residents. Customized packets are delivered by bicycle to residents’ door steps within two weeks, and orders have come in from all reaches of the Portland area including Marine Drive, 184th Avenue in east Portland and the Multnomah/Washington County line on the west side. Three staff members typically ride 20-25 miles per day but have ridden as much as 40 miles on one delivery pulling trailers full of customized packages for new residents.
Funding for the SmartTrips program comes mostly from a Metro Regional Travel Options grant. These grants fund “projects to reduce the number of people driving alone, improve air quality and address community health issues.” Metro’s Regional Travel Options group is also focusing on new movers this year.
Over the ten years in existence, Portland’s Residential SmartTrips program has been able to effect an average 9 percent shift away from drive alone trips to more active modes – biking, walking, transit, etc.