July CBN article photo
By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options

OSU Cascades is gearing up for the 2016-2017 school year by implementing a robust education and outreach program encouraging students to walk, bike, carpool or ride the bus to school. The soon to be launched “Individualized Marketing” program, a partnership between OSU Cascades, Commute Options and Alta Planning + Design, is an exciting opportunity to establish a campus culture that embraces transportation options.

Derek Hofbauer, Senior Transportation Demand Specialist at Alta Planning + Design will be overseeing the project. “The goal of this program is to reduce the number of drive-alone trips to and from campus. The exciting thing is that we have a huge opportunity to influence commuting behavior because this is a brand new campus. We’ve worked in other campus settings that are already well established and changing behaviors is more challenging. Here, we have an opportunity to start with a clean slate to help students choose transportation options from the get go.”

Rather than relying on mass marketing and broadcast messaging, Individualized Marketing programs focus on delivering customized experiences to facilitate behavior change. Students can select the specific information that they want. For instance, if a student that lives in Redmond is interested in how they can reduce their drive-alone trips to school, the program can provide information on how to find a carpool share or how to ride the bus to campus. For students that live close to campus and are interested in walking or biking, they’ll get information about the best biking routes from Bend’s west side.

The program will target 1,150 students, faculty and staff and will include customized surveys, information packets, campus outreach, and events such as bike commuting workshops, walking tours, and transit and carpool-focused events. The program also takes a positive, community-based approach. “We don’t tell people to get rid of their car. Instead, we encourage ​them to start with small changes, like ​​riding their bike for short trips or carpool​ing ​when they can. It’s more about reinforcing positive behavior instead of telling people they have to do something,” says Hofbauer.

Southern Oregon University in Ashland and Portland Community College Southeast both had very successful individualized marketing programs on campus. In Ashland, 70% of participants indicated that the program helped them walk more and 58% indicated the program helped them bicycle more. In Portland, 40% of participants said they are driving alone less often compared to when they first signed up for the program.

Jeff Monson, Executive Director for Commute Options, is excited for this program. “We’ll be hiring a OSU Cascades student as a Transportation Ambassador to help other students learn about how they can walk, bike, carpool or ride the bus. Commute Options commends OSU Cascades for being a proactive partner in our community with regards to transportation options.”

Celebrating 25 years of Commute Options! Promoting choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit www.commuteoptions.org

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com.