By Brian Shaw, CAPP

With the better weather that comes along with spring, so does the opportunity to host outdoor sustainability themed events. May will see the annual bike-to-work day in the Bay Area of California. Having been involved in motivating, managing, and monitoring commuting travel behavior for more than 20 years, I wonder if any of these events really help change commute behavior?

I’ll suggest that one-day events like bike-to-work day or dump-the-pump likely help motivate some folks to try alternatives to driving alone. However, what I have yet to see is if any of these awareness efforts achieve any lasting, long-term mode shift. Perhaps as part of these events, a follow-up effort should be included to see if there is a lasting benefit.

As you may be planning your next marketing/awareness campaign, consider including a survey to ascertain the effectiveness and effect of the effort. Perhaps changing your marketing approach may be warranted. Hosting a monthly group ride to help new bike commuters may be a better investment than a once-a-year awareness event. Announcing a bike commuter of the month may provide motivation to bike versus a single annual event. Thoughts?

Brian Shaw, CAPP, is executive director of parking and transportation at Stanford University and co-chair of IPI’s Sustainability Committee.