Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Future of Ridesharing?

The most recent issue of TDM Review predicted that “the emergence of “real-time ride matching apps” for smart phones may be the tipping point that brings ride matching to the masses.”

One of these is AvegoTM Shared Transport ( It offers real-time search capability right from your cell phone. The app lets private cars and vans become part of the public transportation network by allowing drivers to offer their vacant seats to riders. A driver with vacant seats can be matched with riders in need of a ride along the same route at the same time. The cost of the trip can even be fairly calculated and charged to the rider.

Carticipate ( is another iPhone app with ride matching capabilities. But it is the first rideshare application on a location-aware mobile platform. iPhone users tell the app where they’re headed and Carticipate can pinpoint their location via iPhone’s built-in GPS and locate other Carticipate registered drivers or riders along the way. Carticipate works with Facebook, too.

Pretty soon there will likely be dozens of rideshare and trip planning apps like Avego and Carticipate. And with smart phone use predicted to grow, perhaps one day sharing a ride may become as commonplace as driving alone.

Of course, it's worth noting that Smart Trips currently offers ridematching on its website at

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tell Me About It

Smart Trips recently held its first post-Commuter Challenge celebration event. This one was at the University of Tennessee to award the Green Spirit Award ‘Log” for most enthusiastic participation. Delicious Tomato Head pizza and Magpies cupcakes were enjoyed by all.

As usually happens at Smart Trips events, we get feedback on a variety of transportation topics – bus service glitches, long-awaited greenways, bike-lane markings and trolley schedules. I’m glad our participants feel comfortable sharing their transportation difficulties.

It would be great to learn about these concerns as they occur, so that they could be addressed in as timely a fashion as possible and since this might save someone else from encountering the same thing.

To that end, Smart Trips participants are encouraged to let us know about travel problems they run into while riding the bus, bicycling around town or carpooling as soon as they can. Please feel free to contact us at any time with your ideas, questions and concerns. You can share with us via our blog comments, or on facebook at, via Twitter @knoxsmarttrips, or email to

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

If It Was Easy

This afternoon a friend said something both mundane and profound. We were discussing our diets – hers is really healthy; mine, not so much – and she said, “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.” And I realized that that sentiment could apply to a lot of things.

If it was easy, everyone would eat healthy, be fit, and participate in Smart Trips. Truth is, sometimes, the very things that are best for us, and the world around us, are not the easiest things to do.

That’s just one reason Smart Trips strives to make green commuting as simple and pleasant as possible, from providing services such as our ride matching database and bicycle mentors to regularly offering participants gift cards and other prizes.

So as the weather turns colder and you contemplate whether to try clean commuting or keep on doing what you’re doing, remember, no one ever said it was going to be easy. But it sure can be rewarding – and in more ways than one.

More information about Smart Trips is available at

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Contests and Luncheons and Prizes, Oh My

Smart Trips’ first ever Social Media contest is underway and will run through Friday, October 22. Each morning on Smart Trips’ Twitter (@knoxsmarttrips) and Facebook ( pages a trivia question will appear. In the afternoon, the answer to the question will be tweeted and posted. To be eligible to win a $25 gift card to Tomato Head contestants should email the list of answers to Smart Trips, on Friday afternoon after the last answer appears. The prizewinner will be selected by random drawing from amongst entries with the correct answers.

Our Commuter Challenge 2010 Awards Luncheon was held Friday, October 15 at KAT’s new transit station. The top prize of a $500 gift certificate to hhgregg was awarded to Deborah Cherry, TVA. Winners on-hand to collect their Panasonic Blu-Ray players were Ken Crowley of Mast General Store, Christopher Smith with TVA, and Lorie Smith with Knox County. Winners present to collect Magellan GPS devices included, David Grant of ORNL, Bruce McCall of Roush Music, Gerry Moll, and Susanne Tarovella with Smee & Busby Architects.

Business prizes were also provided at the luncheon. The delicious meal was provided by The Parlor Catering Company.

Turns out the luncheon was also a Smart Trip as most arrived on foot, by bus or bicycle. Even the prizes were delivered by bike. Thanks so much to everyone who helped make our luncheon and the Commuter Challenge successful.

More information about the Challenge and the Smart Trips program is available at

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Commuter Challenge Results Announced

Smart Trips’ 2010 Commuter Challenge surpassed expectations with participants removing nearly half a million pounds of CO2 emissions from the air and overall participation topping 10%. Also, during the Challenge, bicycle commuting grew by 9% and transit use increased by 12%.

The winner of the overall Challenge and the category of 1 to 25 employees is Elizabeth Eason Architecture with 80% of its employees making at least 5 green commutes during the Challenge.

Other category winners are: Knox County Government in the 3,000 plus employees group with 2% participation; TVA in the 1,000 to 2,999 employees group with 2.5% participation; Kimberly Clark in the 500 to 999 employees group with 2.3% participation; Traveler’s Insurance in the 100 to 499 employees group with 3.1% participation; and Mast General Store in the 26 to 99 employees group with an impressive 27% participation rate.

Prizewinners include: Deborah Cherry, TVA; Lorrie Price, Y12; Susanne Tarovella, Smee & Busby Architects; Susan Henderson, Kimberly Clark; Rob Barker, ORNL; David Grant, ORNL; Elizabeth Ferguson, UT; Diana Hun, ORNL; Gerry Moll; Linda Wallace, Knox County; Bruce Mcall; Beverly Boyd; Lorie Smith, Knox County; Rene Jordan, Knox County Library; David Evola; Christoper Smith, ORNL; Ken Crowley, Mast General Store; Kevin Chan, ORNL; Tom Hooper, Traveler’s Insurance; Cher Bosch; and Pat Watson, Kimberly Clark.

Business and individual winners of prizes provided by hhgregg, Magpies Bakery, Smart Trips and Tomato Head will be recognized at a luncheon Friday, October 13 at Knoxville Station, KAT’s new transit facility on Church Avenue.

More information about the Challenge and the Smart Trips program is available at

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Much Ado About Smart Trips

Tomorrow marks the end of our 2010 Commuter Challenge. Be sure to log your September commutes by noon, Friday October 8 to be eligible for prizes. See where your company ranks in the employer standings at

On Saturday, October 2, Smart Trips and KAT will team up to host a stop on the KnoxVenture Race to benefit Big Brothers, Big Sisters of East Tennessee. The stop will be at the new Knoxville Transit Station. For more information about the race go to,

Also on Oct 2nd, the 10th anniversary Neighborhood Bike Ride will kick off at 10 a.m. Details available here,

Finally, congratulations to the Knoxville Regional Bicycle Program! At 11 a.m. on Tuesday, October 5, Mayor Haslam will accept Knoxville's Bicycle Friendly Community award at a ceremony along the Third Creek Greenway in Tyson Park. Everyone is invited to attend! For more information about the award and what it means for Knoxville read the press release,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Eason Architecture Leads Commuter Challenge

With only 8 days remaining in Smart Trips 2010 Commuter Challenge, Elizabeth Eason Architecture leads the overall competition and its group of 1 to 25 employees with 80 percent of the firm’s employees choosing green alternatives such as bicycling, walking, carpooling and taking transit to commute to work.

Other category leaders include Knox County Government in the 3,000 plus employees group; TVA in the 1,000 to 2,999 employees group; Kimberly Clark in the 500 to 999 employees group; 21st Mortgage and Travelers Insurance are currently tied in the 100 to 499 employees group; and the Metropolitan Planning Commission in the 26 to 99 employees group.

Those participating in the Challenge have removed more than 300,000 pounds of CO2 from the air so far – nearly 86,000 pounds in August alone.

The latest results show that there was significant growth in bicycle trips during the month of August at ORNL, TVA, the City of Knoxville, SAIC, the Knoxville News Sentinel, Knox County CAC and Maryville College. And transit use was up at some locations by as much as 300%!

ORNL had a gain of 2 percentage points in their overall standings. SAIC, UT and TVA had 1 percent gains. Way to go for it!

The company with the highest overall participation level will win a tasty Tomato Head pizza and Magpies cupcake party. Category winners will be recognized with certificates and Magpies cupcake parties.

Individuals who have made at least one green commute each week during the Challenge, 22 days or more, will have the opportunity to win Magellan GPS devices, Panasonic Blu-Ray Players and a $500 gift certificate to hhgregg courtesy of Smart Trips and hhgregg.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

So hop on the bus, Gus

Two articles in the August 16 edition of Passenger Transport magazine ( specifically address the benefits of public transportation.

The first focuses on health benefits and summarizes a survey conducted on behalf of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) which found that living near quality transit improves health and can even extend lifespan! The full report entitled, Evaluating Public Transportation Health Benefits, is available at

The second takes a look at the financial benefits of choosing transit and refers to APTA’s Transit Savings Report, released monthly, which indicates that individuals, on average, save $9,381 annually and $782 monthly by choosing transit over driving alone.

What are some other benefits of riding the bus?

 US reliance on foreign oil could be cut by more than 40% if just one in ten Americans used public transportation regularly.

 The National Safety Council estimates that riding the bus is more than 170 times safer than automobile travel.

 For every passenger mile traveled, public transportation is twice as fuel
efficient as private automobiles.

 Fully one quarter of those 75 and over do not drive; public transportation
is a lifeline for older adults.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thank you, thank you and thank you!

It’s time we here at Smart Trips took a few moments to thank our loyal participants and all the newcomers who have joined us so far this year. Thank you!

We’d also like to thank the more than 500 folks who turned out to participate in our first annual Clean Commute Day. (However, this number may go up because participants have 30 days to log their commutes. Final numbers won’t be in until September 21st.)

And while we’re at it, there are probably some mornings – especially in the winter - when you'd rather not bike to work, wait on the bus or pick up a carpool rider; and yet you do it anyway! Because of this we’d like to express our gratitude to our region's unsung environmental heroes. We appreciate them and so does the environment.

Give yourselves a round of applause, just not while you’re behind the wheel or holding onto the handlebars, please!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Importance of Being a Logger

Sometimes folks will tell us that they always take the bus or bicycle to work but that they don’t log their trips. Reasons vary, but usually we hear some variation of, “I don’t do it for a gift card, I do it for the environment.”

On the one hand, we’re thrilled that they’re doing something besides driving alone to work. On the other, those logged commutes are the only way we have of tracking how many people are participating in Smart Trips on any given day, what mode of transportation participants are using and where they’re going to and from.

The information is important for more than just the distribution of gift cards. The data collected may be used in grant applications or as a tool for helping to make decisions about allocating transportation resources. The logs also help determine how much pollution has been removed from the region’s air and how many vehicles have been removed from the roadways.

So the next time you’re going to make a clean commute, yes, do it for the environment. Then, please take a moment to log your trip. Do it for the gift card. And thank you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What Would You Do for an iPod touch?

Smart Trips is a truly fantastic program. It helps improve air quality and the health of area residents, eases traffic congestion and rewards participants who take part. C’mon, what’s not to like?

The problem is that Smart Trips is on a limited budget and we know we’re not reaching as many people as we could be, maybe even people who are already taking alternatives to driving alone. So what do we do? Offer incentives? Check. Hold contests and promotions? You betcha’. Bribe folks? Hey, wait a minute! But honestly, the reality is that we catch more flies, and by that we mean commuters, with honey.

With our What Would You Do for an iPod touch? contest, Smart Trips is offering up some mighty tasty honey in exchange for help drawing more commuters to the cause. On November 15th, we’ll be giving away an iPod touch to the Smart Tripper who can refer the most new registrants to Smart Trips during the months of September and October.

Read more about contest rules and eligibility, on our website at And GOOD LUCK!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Your Mission – Should You Choose to Accept It

Every so often here at Smart Trips we’ll get an email or phone call asking how one can log their commutes in a hybrid, or on a motorcycle -- and probably coming soon – electric vehicles. The short answer is, well, you can’t. It’s not as simple as you might think.

Don’t get us wrong, we understand the reason for the confusion. Motorcycles can get good gas mileage, but most don’t produce fewer emissions. (Some actually are as polluting as SUVs!) Hybrids produce fewer emissions and get better gas mileage; electric vehicles will produce no emissions (at least from the tailpipe, but consider how much pollution was emitted during the electricity generation). All three types of vehicles still take up space on the road and in parking garages. And after all, Smart Trips’ mission is to improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion.

What to do? Well, carpooling is an option regardless of the type of automobile you drive. And carpooling in a hybrid or electric vehicle will ease traffic congestion and reduce even more emissions! Rather be on two wheels? Give bicycling a try. Or think about this: one bus removes the equivalent of about 40 vehicles from the highway.

And please know that however you choose to help the environment, Smart Trips applauds your efforts.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

American Idle

I have a confession to make. I buy fast food and use the drive thru. And, now for the worst part, please don't hate me - in the past I have let the engine idle while in line. Unfortunately, I am not alone.

Thirty-one states have passed anti-idling laws, Tennessee is not among them. It seems that anti-idling measures can lead to some pretty heated debate. No one denies that an idling, gasoline-powered engine spews out harmful pollutants, or that idling causes wear and tear on a vehicle.

No, the matter of contention seems to be whether it is better for the life of a vehicle to be stopped and restarted x amount of times versus idling for x amount of time. What about the lives of the residents of a community? Or the health of a local economy? Don't these trump possibly having to replace a starter? Speaking of which, every source I have turned to states emphatically that stopping and restarting the engine, does no more, and probably does less damage than idling.

But even if that weren't the case, is the quality of human life really less important than a car part? Or have we become so enamored of convenience that nothing else really matters? I'm afraid to hear the answer to that.

So the next time I have to have my particular poison, I'll be parking and walking inside to get it. And who knows, maybe after a few times, I won't feel like stopping at all.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Eat Your Broccoli, Don't Drive Alone

The concept seems simple enough - encourage folks to choose an alternative to driving alone. Why? Because air pollution is bad for people and in our region air pollution is higher than it ought to be. Keep in mind that there is money to be saved and prizes to be had by making this choice. It seems odd that people aren't beating down our doors every day clamoring to join Smart Trips. I mean, we're talking about FREE stuff.

Could it be that we so hate anything that is supposedly good for us that even FREE gift cards cannot entice us to change our ways. Is driving alone one of life's last guilty pleasures? How many commuters are out there who recycle and buy local foods and use cloth shopping bags but still hop into a car, alone, for their daily commute?

So, after pondering this for several months, here's what we've come up with. Could you commit to ONE day of alternative transportation? Just one day. Friday, August 20th, 2010 will be Knoxville's first ever Clean Commute Day. Our goal is to have 10,000 or more people commuting to work by bicyle, carpool, the bus or on foot on that day. Amazingly, if we reach our goal more than 200,000 pounds of pollution can be reduced from the air on that one day, something that normally takes about 2 months in our area. To participate just complete our quick survey here:

And we're hoping that if you try it just once, that just like broccoli, you'll realize it's not that bad.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Downtown Knoxville Goes Car-free by 2011

I'm not sure why the City doesn't have this on their website yet, but I'm sure it will be posted soon.

For release April 1, 2010

Knoxville – It’s official. Downtown Knoxville will soon be a car free zone. Officials with Smart Trips announced today that Knoxville will become car free as of April 1, 2011. “We’re beyond thrilled,” said Kelley Segars, Senior Transportation Planner and developer of the Knoxville region’s Smart Trips program. “It’s unbelievable!”

The new designation calls for Downtown Knoxville to go car free in stages initially reducing the use of automobiles by 50 percent over the next 6 months before reaching the goal of zero by April 1, 2011.

Car free commuters will still be able to use currently available green alternatives such as taking the bus, walking or bicycling to work or becoming a telecommuter as options for getting to work. A combination of driving to a park and ride lot and taking the bus or trolley into the downtown area will also still be another available option.

Those with questions about how the new designation may affect them should go to Smart Trips facebook page at

April fools!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Lily Segars telecommutes, and occasionally bike-pools with her mom. She's been