Smart Trips Summit-U is a pilot program which used direct individualized marketing techniques to get people out of their cars and choosing sustainable alternatives such as transit, biking and walking. The program utilized direct mailings, bike delivery of materials (Smart Trips Kits) and free events to engage interested households and provide them with the information they need to make changes in how they get around. Throughout the summer of 2008, the program targeted the approximately 7,100 households in the Summit-University (Summit-U) neighborhood of St. Paul with the goal of changing their travel behavior.
Approximately 8.6% of households either ordered a Smart Trips Kit or participated in one of 15 neighborhood events. Kits contained packets full of customized information on walking, biking, carpooling and transit, and were delivered to households by bike. Walking packets included, among other things, a pedometer for counting steps and tracking cards to monitor progress. The biking packets had many helpful resources including the Twin Cities Bike Map and a reflective leg band. Other resources included a reusable shopping bag, neighborhood coupon book, transit schedules, recycling info, carpooling forms and more.
All bike rides, guided walks and classes were free to attend and were open to the general public, as well as program participants. Specific events included a bike ride of historic architecture, walks led by local elected officials and classes on bike commuting and basic bike mechanics.
The results from a before and after phone survey of Summit-U residents and residents of a control neighborhood showed a net increase in biking and walking trips in Summit-U of 33%. Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) decreased in the neighborhood by 20%, however, when compared with the control neighborhood, no VMT reductions can be directly attributed to the Smart Trips Summit-U program. This phenomenon is likely due to the spike in gas prices that occurred during the program period. The strength of the program in these circumstances is that while the general population drove less in the summer of 2008, Summit-U residents actually shifted their driving trips to walking and biking, while those not exposed to the program did not.