Live More, Commute LessLive More, Commute Less

Apr
23

Why Bike to Work?

By Miriam Foster, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation

For employees who have a fairly short commute and a bike, the question is why aren’t you biking to work?

Many commuters believe there are insurmountable logistical issues that might prevent them from getting started.  Fortunately, many of these concerns are common misconceptions about commuting by bike.    Over the past decade, there have been vast improvements to the cycling infrastructure across Virginia to make bicycling easier and safer.

Most people think that biking to work is only for those that have very short commutes.  However, even those with longer commutes can bike in conjunction with taking a bus or Metro.  Moreover, biking to work may make you happier.  According to a study conducted by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, people that bike or walk to work are much more satisfied with their commute than those that use any other transportation mode.

You don’t have to bike every day.  It may be too hot, raining, or snowing or maybe you just don’t feel like it.  But even biking a few times a month can improve your mood and your physical health.

If you haven’t tried biking to work, Bike to Work Week (May 13-17) is a great time to give it a try.  Biketoworkva.org has lots of resources, tips, and information on bike events.  Here are a few tips for biking to work.

Bike to Work 101: Tips for Two-Wheel Commuting:

  • Yes, you can ride on the sidewalk – but be aware that you must yield the right of way to pedestrians and use an audible signal, like a bell, when you’re ready to pass.  When you’re biking on the roads, either use the dedicated bike paths or take the lane, which means riding in the middle of the road with traffic.  You can also use bike trails.  Visit the State Bicycle Map to learn more about trails located near you. 
  • Wear a helmet.  While there is no statewide law mandating helmet use when biking, wearing one reduces the risk of severe brain injury in half.  Worried about helmet hair?  Try using dry shampoo to get a just-washed look when arriving to work.
  • Learn hand signaling before biking on the road.  It’s important to let drivers know when you’re stopping or turning.  Go to Sharing the Road in Virginia for a cyclist hand signals guide. 
  • Bike to a bus stop.  If your commute is too far or too complicated, try biking to a bus stop, and taking the bus.  Many buses have bike racks so you can secure you bike and ride the bus. Check with the transit provider near you to find out if they have bike racks available and to learn their specific bike rules.   
  • Keep cool by riding an electric bicycle or ebike.  These bikes have an electric motor that provides a rider assist when pedaling.  Most ebikes can go up to 15 mph and require far less effort to use.
  • Find a bike buddy.  Riding with a friend or coworker can make the trip more enjoyable.  Ask people in your office or use one of the resources on biketoworkva.org to find a bike buddy.
  • Don’t have a bike.  Try a bike share service like Capital Bikeshare.
  • Get equipped to enjoy yourself during your commute.  Choose a bike you’ll enjoy riding.  Make sure it’s the right size and style, and that the seat is comfortable for you.  You might want to install a bike basket to hold your bag, lunch, and other belongings, too.  The staff at your local bike shop can help.
  • During Virginia’s Bike to Work Week, May 13-17, try biking to work and change your normal commuting routine.  It’s healthy, economical and it’s more fun than sitting in traffic.  Learn more about biking to work at biketoworkva.org.  Your commute might start just becoming your favorite part of the day. 
Apr
23

Ford’s Theatre Takes Us on a Wild and Wonderful Romp “Into the Woods”

By Sara Dudley Brown, Theatre Editor

Reprinted with permission from The Zebra Press, Alexandria, VA

 

The cast of Ford’s Theatre production of “Into the Woods”. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Come for Stephen Sondheim’s sublime lyrics and tunes, but stay for James Lapine’s thought-provoking set of fairy tales, hilariously sung and often wackily acted by an uber-talented and diverse cast! In addition, though, there are also moments of heart-achingly beautiful singing. 

Sondheim and Lapine discovered that if those beloved characters and tales were presented in a new way, and if dark components were added to the mix, the new “old” fairy tales would appeal to both adults and children

Stirringly directed by Peter Flynn and brilliantly choreographed by Michael Bobbitt, the actors/singers must have been asked to explore their own strengths and feelings in order to give us their best work! Rachael Zampelli as the Witch simply blew me away! Erin Driscoll as Cinderella plays her with just enough cheekiness to give Cinderella some pizazz, but her beautiful soprano on “No One is Alone” in the second act will melt your heart. 

Surprises include the adorable Tiziano D’Affuso as a lively, spunky Milky White (the cow) and Christopher Mueller, who plays Cinderella’s Prince as if he were in a melodrama, with a hilarious little hop and turn before each exit. And Little Red Riding Hood (Jade Jones) is simply wonderful.  Soprano Quynh-My Luu as Rapunzel does a magnificent job of wailing. The Baker and his Wife, played by Evan Casey and Awa Sal Secka, bring a reality to these roles.  

David Budries, the Sound Designer makes sure every single word of Sondheim’s difficult lyrics are heard, understood and appreciated! The projections are tastefully done, but graphic enough to thrill.   And William Yanesh’s strong, rich-sounding eight-piece pit orchestra never overpowers the singers. 

All in all, this “Into the Woods” is a must see!  And you’ll really thank me when you hear Cinderella’s Prince, when called out on his need to stray from the marital bed, proclaim what I think is the best Sondheim line of all time, “I was raised to be charming, not sincere!” Boom! I rest my case.

Performance and Ticket Information: “Into the Woods” runs now through May 22, 2019 and is recommended for ages 12 and older. Running time is 2 hours 40 minutes including one intermission. Tickets may be purchased at www.fords.org or by calling 202-347-4833. 

Sara Dudley Brown is the Theatre Editor for The Zebra Newspaper in Alexandria, Va. She graduated from Rollins College with a degree in vocal music, but her most enduring love always has been and still is professional musical theatre.

 

Apr
23

Slug It Safely!

Slugging is a phenomenon known to northern Virginia commuters and those in just a small handful of U.S. cities.  In this form of ridesharing, commuters line up at well-established locations where orderly “slug lines” are formed.  Essentially, perfect strangers pull up in their personal vehicles and announce their destination to waiting passengers known as “sluggers.”  Sluggers next in line going to that same destination jump in, and off they go.  No monies play a role in the process.  

All parties gain in the relationship, whether that means taking advantage of cost sharing or a shorter commute time via the benefit of HOV or Express Lanes.  These special lanes are available toll-free to vehicles traveling with the required number of occupants and typically have far less congestion than conventional highway lanes. 

Just as there is with any form of group interaction there are sets of rules and proper etiquette which provide for a harmonious and courteous experience for all commuters involved.  Below are suggested rules and etiquette that apply to slugging:

Rules and Etiquette for Slugging

  • Unless initiated by the driver, there is no conversation other than a “thank you” upon drop off. 
  • The slug who is first in line gets to choose the front or back seat. 
  • No money, gifts, etc. are offered or requested. 
  • The line does not leave a woman standing alone.     
  • Drivers should keep a clean car and keep the radio at a moderate level. 
  • A slug does not ask to change the radio station or adjust the heat or air conditioning. 
  • Sluggers and drivers have the right to forfeit if either feels unsafe
    or uncomfortable about each other.
  • Drivers must pick up passengers in line, not those walking in the parking lot on their way to the line.  
  • Drivers must go to the pre-established fixed destination point, unless it is made clear before passengers get into the vehicle.
  • Drivers and passengers should practice good personal hygiene and
    avoid heavy use of perfumes or colognes.  
  • No eating, drinking, smoking.

If slugging isn’t your style, explore more traditional ridesharing options like carpooling and vanpooling. Using a desktop or mobile device, finding compatible ridesharing partners is free and easy with Commuter Connections. Their database contains thousands of area commuters to help identify potential carpool partners who live and work near each other, who have similar schedules. Commuter Connections even offers several financial and other types of incentives to commuters who form or join a new carpool or vanpool.  

To look for a carpool or vanpool visit www.commuterconnections.org, and for more information on slugging please visit www.slug-lines.com.  

Apr
23

Metro Matters: All On Track Mixed Use, Transit Oriented Development Following Silver Line Stations

The positive economic impact of the opening of the first phase of the Silver Line in 2014 continues in Tysons and is rapidly rolling west along the Phase 2 alignment in Reston and Herndon, according to recent reports.

The three new metro stations in this area – Reston Town Center, Herndon and Innovation Center – along with the existing  Wiehle-Reston East Station are attracting new commercial and residential development, all part of the goal to attract high-density projects where people can work, live and play.

The latest news for the Wiehle-Reston East area  is the announcement that Google has signed a lease to occupy 90,000 square feet in Comstock Holding Cos. Inc.’s 1900 Reston Metro Plaza building. That’s more than one-quarter of the space available in that building. The Washington Business Journal reports that a sought-after Cleveland Clinic spinoff Centerline Biomedical is looking at the Tysons area to house a new technology facility for its research and development staff, which is on the forefront of using breakthroughs in
vascular surgery. 

Bisnow recently listed 8 new projects planned near the Phase 2 stations:

Near Reston Town Center Station

Reston Gateway: Boston Properties announced plans for almost five million square feet of mixed use development between Reston Town Center and the rail station. The site is directly across Sunset Hills Road from the north pavilion. The development includes 1.8 million square feet office, 2,010 residential units, a hotel and retail.

RTC West: JBG Smith is planning a 22-story apartment building with 283 units, a 20-story condominium building with 293 units, an eight-story office building, a seven story loft-like office building around the existing development, including the popular Cooper’s Hawk at Sunset Hills Road and Town Center Parkway.

Brookfield Properties has plans for its 36-acre site north of the Reston Town Center Station that include 1,500 residential units, 1.5 million square feet of office space and 250,000 square feet of retail space, including a Wegman’s. Brookfield anticipates completion of the project in 2026.

Near Herndon Station

Metro Square: Stanley Martin Homes’ Metro Square at the corner of Herndon Parkway and Van Buren Street is nearly sold out of the 64 condos finished or under construction.

Woodland Park East: Tishman Speyer, Pinkard Group and NVR are planning 1.6 million square feet of mixed use, including office, retail and housing units, including apartments and townhouses. Construction has begun on the development located south of the Dulles Toll Road and west of
Monroe Street.

555 Herndon Parkway: Penzance has plans for a mixed used development at 555 Herndon Parkway, adjacent to the north pavilion that calls for a mix of uses in 10-, 23- and 24-story towers.

Lerner Cos. has submitted a proposal to the Town of Herndon for a large mixed-used development at the north pavilion. Details have not yet been publicized.

Near Innovation Center Station 

Innovation South: Being built directly south of the rail station by Rocks Engineering and Penzance,  plans call for more than  1,000 residential units, hotel and retail and office space at The Landing.

The Hub: In Loudoun County, The Hub, by Open-Reebes, is approved for 3.5 million square feet of office, more than 1,200 housing units, retail, hotel space and entertainment facilities.

Waterside: Also in Loudoun County and north of the Hub, the 335 acres upon which Chantilly Crushed Stone sits has been approved for nearly 2,600 homes, two hotels, and 500,000 square feet of retail space.

CIT: On the Loudoun/Fairfax line is the Center for Innovative Technology building and campus, a 24-acre facility recently put up for sale by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Pomeroy Cos. has two projects planned on 40 acres at Sunrise Valley Drive and Frying Pan Road. Aurora Station at Dulles will include 1,000-plus housing units and commercial space, while Pomeroy and CRC Cos. will have another 1,114 units and space for an elementary school.

Protective Sealant Application Underway on Silver Line

Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project crews have resumed spraying a protective sealant called Silane on precast concrete wall panels to help prevent future damage from road spray and salt at some of the Phase 2 Metrorail stations.

Sealant application is 98 percent complete at Herndon Station and will begin soon at Reston Town Center Station. Spraying is also planned at the Ashburn and Loudoun Gateway stations. 

Working when weather permits, crews appear to passers-by as if they might be exterminators. Indeed, they are not. The chemical they are applying is  a protectant that has been approved as a solution to a problem with the concrete panels first reported in spring 2017 related to air entrainment and improper ratios of the water to cement mix in the concrete. This issue did not create safety concerns, but did raise concerns about the panels’ long-term durability.

In fall of 2018, crews for Capital Rail Constructors (CRC), the project’s lead contractor for the Silver Line rail extension, had replaced precast concrete panels that had been deemed inadequate. Inspections determined that the
concrete problems originated in a sub-contractor’s manufacturing process.

The Airports Authority and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which will take over the project when it’s completed, and the contractor agreed to additional mitigation — which is the application of the protective coating periodically over the coming years. These coatings will be funded by the contractor and the frequency of future coatings will be determined by WMATA, which is expected to monitor the durability over the 100-year life of the project. 

CRC suspended spraying at the Innovation Center Station in February because of weather after completing about 75% of that work at Innovation Center Station.  Innovation work has not progressed because of dynamic testing in that area and will resume as dynamic testing permits.

Warmer, drier weather should allow the process to move forward at a faster pace, according to John Kearney, the rail project’s construction manager.

According to Airports Authority rail team, crews have completed power washing panels at all stations in preparation for spraying. None of the flawed panels were installed at the Dulles Airport Station.

Rail project officials said they are happy to see the sealant application moving ahead, noting that unusually heavy rains and snows of the winter months slowed the work, which requires up to 48 hours of dry weather for the process to be completed.

Apr
23

Celebrate Fairfax! Festival

Northern Virginia’s largest community-wide event, the 38th annual Celebrate Fairfax! Festival, is set to take place June 7-9, 2019 on the grounds of the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia.  The Celebrate Fairfax! Festival features 25 acres of amazing concerts, family programs, exhibits, thrilling carnival rides and nightly fireworks. Among the festival’s highlights are more than 120 performances on seven stages, with an exceptional line-up of national, regional and local artists, including three main attractions:

2019 Headline Entertainment Schedule for the Bud Light Main Stage:

Friday, June 7th at 8:00 p.m.  

Better Than Ezra

The ever so talented trio of Kevin Griffin, Tom Drummond, and Travis McNabb are the creative minds that make up the group, Better Than Ezra. The band’s smash hits in the 90’s, such as “Good” and “Desperately Wanting.” ingrained the band into the memories of a generation. Better Than Ezra is deeply aware of their past and they are looking to continue creating wonderful music that resonates with veteran fans as well as
new fans. 

Saturday, June 8th at 8:00pm 

Smash Mouth

Smashmouth photographed in San Jose, CA June 14, 2010©Jay Blakesberg.

Smash Mouth is a band name recognized across all generations, with parents rocking alongside their kids to hits such as “All Star,” “I’m A Believer,” and “Then The Morning Comes.” Having got their start in the late 90’s, Steve Harwell, Paul DeLisle, Greg Camp, Mike “Hippy” Klooster, and Randy Cooke’s, rise to stardom only took a couple of years, although they have since been filling their time with entertaining U.S. Troops overseas. After taking a small break from creating music, Smash Mouth is ready to take off with a new album set to release in the summer of 2019. 

Sunday, June 9th at 11:00am 

The Sunday Brew

The 3rd annual Sunday Brew will feature 12 local and regional breweries, each with up to 4 types of craft beer on tap. This program will also include two stages of non-stop entertainment, and beer-focused activities. All festival attendees are welcome to enjoy the music and activities; however, only those attendees that purchased the Sunday Brew ticket will be able to taste the craft brews. Tickets are limited.

In addition to the outstanding entertainment schedule, Celebrate Fairfax! Festival includes much more – such as the popular Silent Disco, Fairfax County Karaoke Championship, Fairfax County DockDogs Competition, PSISTORM Cup VIII esports Arena, Taste of Virginia Wine Bar, Virginia Tourism LoveArtwork, Celebrate Fairfax 5k Race, Transportation Station, Robotics Pavilion, INOVA Children’s Hospital Avenue, Sunday Brew – plus expanded VIP experiences with front of stage viewing for headliner shows. There will be more than 60 carnival rides, games, and attractions, and 30 food vendors with enough variety to please anyone. 

General admission is available for all performances; shows are free with daily tickets to the event. Super Early Bird tickets went  on sale April 1st at
www.celebratefairfax.com and May 1st at all Northern Virginia Wegmans locations. 

Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501(c) 3 organization commissioned in 1982 by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.  Its mission, “The Celebration of Fairfax County and Its Communities,” is met through the production of the Celebrate Fairfax! Festival, and Fall for Fairfax KidsFest.  

For more information call  (703) 324-3247 or visit the website, www.celebratefairfax.com.