Four Dayton, Ohio-area organizations have joined forces to promote the use of alternative modes of transportation instead of driving cars.
The campaign, called "Drive Less Live More," is a collaborative effort of Five Rivers MetroParks, Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA), the Miami Conservancy District and the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission.
The campaign includes public events, contests and an informational Website promoting local public transit, biking, ridesharing and walking as ways to avoid frequent short car trips. "You’ve heard of mindless eating, but I think we all do mindless driving, and we grab your keys without even thinking about it," said Brenda Gibson, public relations manager for the Miami Conservancy District. "We’re trying to get people to think, ‘Do I need to take my car for this?’"
Because traffic congestion is not yet a huge problem for the area, "we wanted to come at it from a different angle," said Gibson, deciding instead to promote the environmental, personal health and cost benefits of alternative transportation.
Along with flood protection, Miami Conservancy District’s missions include water preservation, water quality and maintaining 34 miles of recreation trails along the nearby river. Five Rivers MetroParks also owns recreation trails in the area, Gibson explains, "and these two agencies want to promote the idea of people using the recreation trails not just for recreation, but for transportation."
RTA and the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission complete the consortium of sponsor organizations, providing public transit and coordinating the local rideshare program, respectively.
The campaign was launched on Earth Day, April 22, with a Regional Issues Forum that drew 170 attendees. Drive Less Live More also held a 12-mile River Ride on May 5, which drew more than 80 bicyclists to the recreational trails.
The "One Less Trip" contest asks participants to substitute one car trip per week for four weeks with alternative transportation, and "Explore Dayton with the RTA" offers citizens the opportunity to visit local destinations by bus and fill out a passport in exchange for prizes, while also increasing its ridership. The grand prize is a trip to Mackinac Island in Michigan, where there are no cars, Gibson said.
Publicity efforts for Drive Less Live More include the Website (www.drivelesslivemore.org), providing trail and transit maps, a commute calculator and trip planning tools to help visitors find ways to reduce the amount of time spent in a car. In addition, registered users receive e-mail updates, and posters have been circulated to local businesses to help get the word out.
Partnering with media and business sponsors in Dayton allowed the campaign access to radio and television publicity. "It’s creating that awareness first before you can change the behavior," says Gibson.
The campaign finishes June 15, and Gibson says the group of organizations only sees it growing in future years. "There’s been strong interest so far," she says. "We’re going to finish this year’s campaign and then have a series of debriefing meetings and figure out what worked and what we’d like to change for next year."