Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Rideshare to Conduct Individualized Marketing Campaign in Grant and NEN

Last summer as part of the "Drive Less Save More" project, ODOT piloted "individualized marketing" programming in Ashland, Corvallis, and Portland.

This year, Salem is one of the three cities, and the local partners, City of Salem and Cherriots Rideshare, will focus on the close-in, streetcar-era neighborhoods of Grant and NEN during the summer.

From Ashland's November
Transportation Commission Meeting*
About the project the City of Corvallis wrote:
The “Drive Less Save More: South Town” program aims to encourage south Corvallis residents to use transportation options such as bicycling, walking, taking transit and carpooling, that encourage an active lifestyle. The program will run from July through September of 2014 and is an opt-in program that will focus on the positives of non-driving. It is funded by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and is a joint effort by the City of Corvallis Transportation Options Program, Cascades West Rideshare and ODOT.

ODOT selected Corvallis as one of three locations in the state to test an “Individualized Marketing” (IM) program for the Drive Less Save More campaign. Residents of households in a specific geographic area are targeted with information and events that encourage the use of transportation options. The selection of south Corvallis as the test site in Corvallis was based upon the natural boundaries of the Willamette River on the east, the railroad on the west and the Marys River on the north.

A pre-campaign survey on how south Corvallis residents traveled on a specific day in June was returned by over 300 South Town residents. South Town folks that choose to participate through either an online registration or returning a printed mailer will be sent free resource tools that will inform and encourage participants to use transportation options. A post-program survey in September will help determine what impact the program has had on the transportation habits of these residents.

The information kits provided to registrants will include travel tools, including the City/County Bicycle Guide, a South Town Go Guide, safety brochures on walking and bicycling, local and regional transit schedules and ride sharing information. Free gear such as umbrellas, bicycle lights or water bottles is also provided to participants. A number of special Drive Less Save More events that are intended to encourage active transportation will be held in South Town each month.
The Grant and NEN (Englewood) neighborhoods make a lot of sense for Salem: There are complete streetcar-era street grids, the distance to downtown is not very large, and they are among the neighborhoods where Salem is best set up for lower-car, even car-free, living.

It's hard to be very upset
about people biking downtown on the sidewalk:
Where would you want your kids biking downtown?
At the same time, the City has not yet made much investment in making the connections to major employment centers, like downtown, very comfortable for kids and people new to bicycling. And in an especially unsettling and tragic cluster, drivers have struck and killed several people on foot in this area recently.

Priorities in Red: Church, Winter, Union, 24th/23rd
(maps from bike chapter of the Transportation System Plan)

Quiet Streets/Bike Boulevards in Dashed Green
So there will be a tension in the project: On the one hand, by going out and contacting people directly, the project will find new people who are "interested" in biking; but these will also likely be people "interested and concerned," and even in this gridded neighborhood many of them may not find the streets and infrastructure inviting enough to sustain regular biking.

At the same time, perhaps a side effect of the campaign may be to raise visibility for the deficit and to enhance advocacy efforts.

Planning for Salem's campaign is still in progress, so there's not a great deal of specific to report. When they get cranked up, look for more.

* It is very interesting to compare Ashland's robust Traffic Commission agenda to the dinky role we carve out for our Citizen's Advisory Traffic Commission. Their charter says the Ashland Commission "advises the City Council on transportation related issues specifically as they relate to safety, planning, funding and advocacy for bicycles, transit, parking, pedestrian and all other modes of transportation."

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