The Central Okanagan Regional District board agreed to allocate existing funds from the Regional Air Quality Program to launch a Neighbourhood Trip Planning pilot project.
Over $32,000 in unused funding will be utilized to help develop and test the pilot project, which is designed to reduce single occupancy vehicles and boost levels of active transportation.
Regional air quality coordinator Kate Bergen said that the city was looking for new ways to engage residents in active transportation.
“We have programs like Bike to Work Week and Car Free Day that have worked really well to get people interested in cycling, walking and transit,” said Bergen.
“But to go further, we really needed to change our focus from just a broad community event where you can pick up some information to a more targeted approach.”
That targeted approach is community-based social marketing.
Bergen said the process involves surveying communities and finding out what is holding residents back from cycling, walking or using public transit.
She explained that the goal of the project is to find solutions that help individuals overcome any barriers that are holding them back from trying an alternative means of transportation.
“The car is convenient; almost everyone has one. But what we found is that people who were thinking of cycling had such amazing experiences (once they tried it).
“There are so many rewards that people have told us about. We’re really hoping that kind of message can be brought to other people.”
According to Bergen, the Neighbourhood Trip Planning project was inspired by “really successful programs” in Washington State and Portland.
The early stages of the project will involve the development of the project. Bergen is hoping that the program will be launched by April, 2012.
“The launch is going to be a mail out to residents and from there they will be able to respond through the website or the mail.”
The pilot project will be focused in Kelowna; however, it is intended that eventually the program will be available throughout all areas of the Central Okanagan.