CategoryMarketing

Do people really know the cost of driving?

Billboard over the Kennedy Expressway advertising Metra and that it’s “easy come, easy go”.

Updated 11:50 AM: I was mistaken about the vote timing: the Metra board will vote on the fare increase plan on November 11, 2011, not October 14, 2011.

I’m having a wonderful time reading the minutes from Metra’s September 2011 board meeting. This is when Metra staff made their first fare increase proposals. They made a second proposal at the October board meeting – this is available for public comment. These minutes are not yet available.

Here’s Lynnette Ciavarella, Senior Division Director Capital and Strategic Planning, talking about how Metra is cheaper than driving, in the same discussion she had with the board about how Metra fares have not been keeping up with inflation:

She [Lynnette Ciavarella] concluded that it is well known that commuter rail fares are much lower compared to the cost of driving downtown everyday. In previous meetings, staff has used a Drive Less/ Live More calculator. Staff has modified this calculation to be much more conservative. The drive cost now is calculated at traveling 22 days per month, averaging 25 mpg, at $3.95 per gallon, and an average cost of parking downtown at $18.00. The Metra fares no longer include a parking component, so under this approach, a Metra customer living 20-25 miles from downtown under the estimated proposed fare scenario could potential save over $5,000 per year.

I disagree that it’s well known that taking the train to work downtown is cheaper than driving. It does not advertise this; I don’t believe any Chicago transit agency publicizes this fact.

Metra has cryptic messages on its billboards: “Easy come, easy go” and “The way to really fly” neither describe what Metra is and where it goes nor the benefits of using it. These billboards are often placed on train viaducts over the highway so people driving in traffic jams can see them.

The message they should be sending is right there in the meeting minutes: “Take Metra downtown instead of driving and save $5,000 each year”. Complement that text with a link to a new website that helps interested drivers find a station near their home and a schedule; sign them up for a local parking lot wait list or tell them how to ride their bike to the station on a good route and lock up properly when they arrive.

The Drive Less Live More website, operated by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), has a maps page that links users to CTA station maps, a PDF of an RTA system map, a broken link to a Metra system map, and links only to an Illinois bike map, not the Chicago bike map. This doesn’t make it easy to switch to transit! The Metra homepage does have a “station finder”.

Study: American Public Transportation Association (APTA), March 2011 –  $11,889 annually in Chicago.

Board meeting minutes

Policy thought of the day, August 8, 2011

Chicago’s bronze-level bicycle friendly community sign is posted inside the Chicago Department of Transportation’s office at 30 N LaSalle Street. 

West Town Bikes
Alex Wilson was telling me that he can reach more people if he had the same money that now goes to infrastructure. He added, “There should be an education component alongside any infrastructure change.”

—-
Chicago, IL got Silver in 2005.
Boulder, Davis, Portland have Platinum.
Naperville, Schaumburg, Urbana bronze
Full list of communities: http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bicyclefriendlyamerica/communities/pdfs/bfc_master_list_spring_2011_revised5.pdf

Bicycle friendliness
What makes a hood or biz bike friendly?

Measures of effectiveness
Last time I talked about data collection that you would use to evaluate projects.

LAB uses the 5 Es to measure the bike friendliness of universities, cities, and states.
“Education, enforcement, engineering, evaluation, encouragement”

Communities:
http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bicyclefriendlyamerica/communities/bfc_five-Es.php

Schools:
http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bicyclefriendlyamerica/bicyclefriendlyuniversity/bfu_five_e_s.php

Madison, WI application

Cache of 5 Es webpage: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:UhGg_iiDcJkJ:www.bikeleague.org/programs/bicyclefriendlyamerica/communities/bfc_five-Es.php+league+of+american+bicyclists+enforcement&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari&source=www.google.com

What is a bike friendly community?
-bike parking – enough
-marked bike lanes and signs
-laws and enforcement
-community events that surround cycling
-people that bike
-bike shops
-old ladies biking
-children biking
-people who aren’t afraid to bike
-low mortality rate
-weather

When you are making projects, think of how they can fit into these categories. Form a descriptive narrative around these categories. When you communicate to politicians and planners, this will help form your common understanding of the project, its intent, and the impact it will have the community.

Read more policy insights from Steven Vance. 

Cap contest over – We have a winner

Jennifer Davis of Chicago won the cycling cap contest by coming up with a good slogan, making it into the top 10, and being randomly selected.

Her slogan: “See a whole new world everyday – go by bike.”

It reminds me of the signs in Portland, Oregon, that say “Go by train,” “Go by streetcar,” and “Go by cab.”

See the rest of the slogans.

Why do you bike?

Answering this question may help you come up with a slogan for my contest, in which you’ll win a cycling cap from Kozie Prery. You have until Monday at midnight to submit your ideas (read the rules first)!

“Save gas and lose the ass. Go by bike!” Photo by Serge Lubomudrov.

I haven’t counted all the entries, but at quick glance it looks like I have about 12 entries. That’s a lot more than the two I had for the New Belgium Urban Assault Ride contest!

Life at the speed of rail

Brandon Souba and I entered a design competition held by the Van Alen Institute.

The winners were announced publicly today and guess what, we were one of the 10 finalists! Here’re the other winners and their work.

Chicago photographer Drew Bly was instrumental in this as he provided the wonderful film portraits of people around which we created profiles of potential high-speed train passengers.

Mariane

Each person has a different transportation need and the profile describes how high-speed rail will fulfill that need. This is the purpose of the competition:

Life at the Speed of Rail seeks the visions of the architectural design community, planners, graphic designers, artists—anyone who wants to contribute to the discussion surrounding high-speed rail.

Life at the Speed of Rail calls for participants to produce projects and scenarios that engage high-speed rail at all scales — architectural, metropolitan, regional, national. Participants may decide to tackle one or more of these scales and produce projects that reimagine the high-speed train itself, the section of the railway line, the design of crossings and intersections, the form and program of railway terminals, the graphic identity of the high-speed rail network, and so on.

A selection of entries will form the foundation of an image library — a resource for print and online media seeking better ways of illustrating and analyzing infrastructure needs.

View our entire project in a slideshow.

Oscar

Erica

Jordan

Juliette

Daniel


Design a promotional message

If you were asked to design a poster, postcard, flyer, or what have you, to promote bicycling, what would you create?

A photo of my sister riding a bicycle in Chicago alongside the text, “I want to get in shape, waste less time, and save money.” Similar to Mikael’s “The bike, think about it.”

No one asked me to design the poster above. Mikael Colville-Anderson of Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic (who I met in January 2011) is constantly reimagining car advertisements and plastering cheeky messages on photos. I created this to expand my creativity, use computer software I rarely try out, as well as promote one of the answers to a lot of problems, be they personal, environmental, or social.

I don’t think there’re enough positive messages about bicycling being spread in media or in our media-filled physical environment – we see the opposite. If you watched the Super Bowl commercials on Sunday (or online today), you’d have seen Audi’s “Green Police” arresting people for not recycling or for driving something other than their “clean diesel” car. Audi advertised the same “clean diesel” car in a different commercial that suggested bicycling was difficult and degrading, and probably only done while it’s raining.

To promote bicycling as the cure to what ails us, Mikael designed this poster of a patch kit and the text, “The bicycle. Fixing broken cities. You’re welcome.”

Mikael and I posing for a shot next to hand and foot rail for cyclists after riding our bikes around Copenhagen after sipping some beer and eating expensive, but tasty, hamburgers.

Promoting bicycling doesn’t always need a narrative message, though. This poster for the great people of San Francisco identifies each neighborhood by a kind of bicycle. The funniest one is the exercise (stationary) bike for Castro. Think about the neighborhoods in your city – which one would a fixie represent and which one would get the cargo bike?

One of my favorite messages is apparently quite old: Put some fun between your legs.

Bike To Work Days have a positive correlation with cycling rate

Today is Winter Bike To Work Day in Chicago at Federal Plaza. If the results below are true, we should hold this event weekly during the winter! Held on January 20th to celebrate the coldest temperature on record, in 1985.

I was looking for research on why more people don’t ride bikes, or why they don’t ride bikes more often. I started my search on Professor John Pucher’s website at Rutgers University and found this about Bike To Work Days and other promotional events.

There is some evidence that BWDs increase bicycling beyond the event. The number of “first time riders” has increased in many programs: in Seattle, from 845 new commuters in 2004 to 2474 in 2008; in Portland, from 433 in 2002 to 2869 in 2008 (LAB, 2008). In San Francisco in 2008, bicycle counts at a central point were 100% higher on BWD and 25.4% higher several weeks later; bicycle share was 48.3% before BWD, 64.1% on BWD, and 51.8% afterwards (LAB, 2008). In Victoria, Australia, 27% of first time riders on BWD were still bicycling to work 5 months later (Rose and Marfurt, 2007).

Read it on page 8 of this PDF. I thank John for distributing all of his work for free online so that those without expensive journal subscriptions (or those who lost it by graduating college) can read the latest in bicycle research.

Here’s me surveying an attendee at the 2009 Bike To Work Day Rally in Chicago’s Daley Plaza. The results of the surveys taken each year by the Chicago Department of Transportation are not published.

Verifying LEED certification and eco-friendly features

Read more commentary on LEED certification.

If a building claims it has environmentally friendly features (is that the same as eco-friendly?) but hasn’t applied for and received LEED certification, should we still call it “green”?

I’m talking specifically about Emerald, a two-tower (mid-height) condominium development on Green Street in Chicago’s Greektown/West Loop neighborhood. I watched its construction from beginning to end because I passed it daily on my commute to work.

The development’s sales website claims that because it sits on Green Street, it’s “naturally eco-friendly.” The website says the building has “bamboo flooring, low-VOC paint and beautiful fabrics made from recycled fiber. Even our marketing materials utilize recycled paper manufactured with windpower and printed with soy inks.”

These scaffold panels are advertising office space in a new tower that has since been built on this site. The one on the right reads “Reflect the social conscience of your organization.” Photo by Payton Chung.

Additionally, it has a 4-pipe HVAC system versus an “inferior” 2-pipe system, and high efficiency windows.

But I looked in the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Certified Project Directory and didn’t find a project named “Emerald.” Let’s assume my search and the results are correct and Emerald does NOT have LEED certification. Are the claims on the website accurate? How can we trust that the paint truly has less volatile organic compounds?

If it was LEED certified would we trust it more then?

The building advertised in the photo above, 300 N LaSalle, received two certifications: Silver in Commercial Interior, and Gold in Core & Shell. The advertisement’s claims have some verification, but how trustworthy? My photo.

I’m not a LEED AP (Accredited Professional), but I understand that LEED certification requires thorough documentation. After a review of your application and submittals (essentially an audit), the USGBC makes its determination. I don’t believe anyone representing the USGBC inspects the building.

We then have to question why the Emerald developers didn’t seek LEED certification. Or did they?

Wal-Mart moves in, in a big way

Every Chicagoan should know by now that Wal-Mart, who currently only has a single store in the city limits, plans to open about thirty new stores (the City Council approved the construction of a Supercenter in the Pullman community area on the far south side*). Wal-Mart announced they want to open “dozens of new stores” in the next five years in various sizes ranging from 8,000 square feet (think Walgreens) to 20,000 square feet (think Apple Store Michigan Avenue) to the typical 200,000 square feet Supercenter.

This is big news for Chicagoans, and residents of New York City (there are no Wal-Marts in NYC). Not only will they be able to buy Coca-Cola for 20 cents a can, they won’t be able to shop at existing stores – because many of them will close. For now, the Chicago Tribune is keeping tabs on the developing story.

People in Chicago protest a new Wal-Mart. Disclaimer: This photo is from 2005, before the first Chicago Wal-Mart opened in 2006. However, in 2010, prior to the City Council vote, there were rallies protesting and showing support for new Wal-Mart stores. Photo by Andrey Smagin.

While they report on the recorded impacts of incoming Wal-Mart stores on new markets, I hope they answer the questions surrounding the confusion over the alleged negotiations between Wal-Mart executives and Chicago labor unions (representing construction and service employees). The unions say they got Wal-Mart to agree to a minimum wage of $8.75 while Wal-Mart says it’s just a matter of internal policy to adjust wages for the market.

Wal-Mart has funded a possibly influential campaign to get Chicagoans to support their new proposed new stores. Part of the campaign included ads on buses and putting signs and t-shirts on youths in the street, saying “Jobs or else.” If you want a Wal-Mart in Chicago, the company urges you to contact your alderman. Photo by Ira of Being Totally Sweet in Chicago.

So what are those impacts?

Wal-Mart can afford to be bold, and its impact is readily seen. Median sales decrease 40 percent at similar high-volume stores when a Wal-Mart enters the market, 17 percent at supermarkets and about 6 percent at drugstores, according to a study published in June 2009 by researchers at multiple universities and led by the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.

Drugstores like Deerfield-based [Illinois] Walgreens are the least impacted, according to the study, and are generally able to stay afloat by increasing their assortment size.

Supermarkets, the study found, can survive by doing their best to differentiate themselves from Wal-Mart, rather than attempting to compete.

Ideas about marketing and additional discussion of impacts is written on page two of the article. This light investigation from the Tribune comes after a recently released study from the University of Illinois at Chicago (my alma mater). Here’s the synopsis from that study about the sole Chicago Wal-Mart in the Austin (west side) neighborhood:

The study found that stores near Wal-Mart were more likely to go out of business, eliminating the equivalent of about 300 full-time jobs — about as many as Wal-Mart initially added to the area.

Read the full press release on the UIC News site or download the study (PDF).

*UPDATE: Where is the Pullman community area? It’s northwest of Lake Calumet and home to the former Pullman Palace Car Company’s factory and company town (see detailed street map of the Pullman community area). There are four commuter rail stations on the Metra Electric line within walking distance of the new shopping center. The development, called Pullman Park, will be located at 111th Street and the Bishop Ford Expressway (I-94). It includes shopping, a school, and housing, among other uses. The CTA #111/111th Street bus will run near Pullman Park.

Response to “Stick To Your Strengths”

Response to “Stick To Your Strengths” on Creo Quality’s blog. Creo Quality assists life sciences organizations in, among other areas, product development.

Have you bought a candy bar recently? Let’s just look at Reese’s as an example. It used to be you had one choice: Reese’s peanut butter cups. Now they have several variations of peanut butter cups. They also have several other choices.

And what about soft drinks? How many varieties of Mountain Dew are there?

Why have these brands done this? They offer so many choices and seem to be straying from their strengths. It confuses me.

…Companies should stick to their strengths. Companies should have focus. Companies should try to deliver their products / services better than anyone else. Quit diluting your brand.

I think the answer is quite simple: Companies want to grow. Make more money. So one route is to make new products, and then see if it works. A “strength” wasn’t known as such until it was designed, introduced, marketed, and evaluated.

The McDonald’s Big Mac wasn’t always the most popular burger (or “strongest” sales leader) – it didn’t come out out 1967 and the first McDonald’s opened in 1940 (the corporation started 1955). Would you consider adding coffee or McCafé diluting the brand? McDonald’s is trying out new products. For all we know, Starbucks’ popularity could decline and coffee will be recognized as the fast food company’s second strength, behind cheap hamburgers.

I think brand dilution arises when companies don’t fully test their products before their release, or they don’t follow good marketing strategies. The brand isn’t diluted because they introduced new products. The failure of New Coke could have been averted if Coca Cola either A) paid closer attention to the results of the focus groups, or B) released New Coke as an additional product in the lineup. But Coca Cola has so many other “strengths” because it decided to stray from its main product line.

A different Coca Cola product tells an extremely different story: Fanta, the fruit-flavored soft drink. It was invented to deal with sales complications because of World War II and Nazi Germany. You can buy Fanta now in tens of flavors in almost 200 countries.

My advice: Companies should innovate and evaluate. The act of selling curly fries won’t weaken your good name.

There’s a connection to cities in all of this. Cities can’t always “stick to their strengths.” This year, Chicago lost two major conventions to Las Vegas and Orlando. Hosting conventions is still a strength of Chicago, Illinois, but it’s even more so true of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Orlando, Florida. If the Chicago tourism, special events, and marketing arms decided to stick with conventions, it may have never attempted a bid for the summer Olympics. Smaller cities who decide to increase incoming, regional tourism might create a restaurant district centered around their passenger train station. Detroit stuck with the automobile and look at it now.

© 2017 Steven Can Plan

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑