Live More, Commute LessLive More, Commute Less

Oct
28

Travel Tips – From Those Who Know

The objective? Make your holiday travels as Live More as possible. The process – not so easy. So  we have relied on some great advice from those who have been monitoring and commenting on the many ways/means you can make your holiday travels easier. The basic rule of thumb: PLAN AHEAD – CHECK OFTEN – ADJUST AS NEEDED.

Let’s take these on one by one…PLAN AHEAD! Dude, if you’re booking a tic the day before Turkey Day, expect delays, frustration, and possibly missing mom’s great turkey dinner. PLAN AHEAD. Thanksgiving  week and weekend are BY FAR the most travelled days of the year, be it by PLANE, TRAIN, AUTOMOBILE, BOAT, BIKE, OR ON FOOT(which all you slackers/or well fit, who didn’t plan ahead are probably doing together). As such, simple advice follows from the gurus who know much, much more than I. (Maybe we can zipride to Toledo together on the 24th).

CHECK OFTEN! Ok, you have a couple days vaca off from school and you know that leading up to vaca, those days, will be HECTIC!! Work deadlines, final exams, mom’s b-day (nah – you’d do that on Turkey Day), the “whatever” of traveling depending on how, where and how far you are traveling. Guy/Gal, you HAVE TO pay attention to what is going on outside of the 5-mile perimeter of your life. Global warming aside, this is the coming of the winter months.

Sure, you live in FLA/SoCAL but you know what? You’re going to Minni—-! Did you forget that? Maybe you’re not, but ya gotta fly through Minni—-! These sportsteam betting sites will probably give better odds that you will win than your flight will be on time. Think ‘bout it?

Simply put – check the weather (constantly, particularly if driving because holidays at truck stops are not a highlight), check your flights (constantly, because spending holidays in airports is only a slight step up from truck stops), and be adaptive. Which brings me to…ADJUST AS NEEDED!

This is actually where the fun starts, believe it or not (except with those small, tired, children that REALLY want to see grandma). There are things you can, and cannot, control – air traffic, the weather, road traffic, stressed out fam, and your frantic emotions – on occasion. There are some things you can control, such as the two previous items mentioned – PLAN AHEAD and CHECK OFTEN.

If you succeed with these first two tasks – numero tres comes easy. You have PLAN B!! Weather and traffic issues are probably numero uno during this time of year. There are many apps to help you monitor these situations, take full advantage. All airlines have online information on flight departure and arrival delays – not flawless, but it can help to avoid unneeded time at the terminal. Road conditions can be monitored through most states via dialing 511. There are also smartphone apps that you can download through simple searches. Amtrak has real time data on all their lines as well.

Lastly, you need the “bail plan.” If things go south, well…maybe you should, too! – nothing like warm weather in the winter time – think about it! Then again, a nice staycation with the fam ain’t so bad either.

Live More! Travel More!

Oct
28

Put the Pedal to the Pavement

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board recently approved a number of pedestrian (ped) and bicycle improvements throughout the greater Washington region.  These projects, many of which may be in Maryland and the District of Columbia, are incredibly important to all of us who strive to create a multi-modal system of transportation in the greater DC region.

Although @livemore generally highlights the progress and projects that are directly in our “backyard,” it is also important for all our residents and employees to be cognizant of the progress (or lack thereof) of programs and projects outside the immediate Dulles region.

If we are serious about building a multi-modal transportation network – one that includes buses, rail, HOV, Express Lanes, highways, telework (IT infrastructure), bikes and pedestrians, then we really need to prioritize, synchronize and analyze what the options are – and what is actually happening to make this all work.  And frankly, the first five modes mentioned above garner the most attention – the last three, not so much.

So, we @livemore want to make our readers aware of some of the projects that are being funded in the next fiscal round of the Metropolitan Transportation region’s funding cycle, and see if there aren’t a few ideas that maybe we all think should be moving closer to the top.  Not just the top five modes mentioned above, but all of the possible modes (and even technologies/modes we might not be thinking of right now) deserve our attention.  In this edition, we look at the bicycle/pedestrian funding.  In coming editions we will explore all of the other modal funded programs and we will highlight some “out of the box” ideas that we (our transportation leaders) and you (our readers) bring to our attention.

The transportation planning and implementation process isn’t an easy endeavor. It takes years for most projects to come to the planning phase, much less to fruition. However, the public should voice their opinions and priorities – we @livemore want to hear them and will certainly move those forward to our regional leaders and readers.  Please contact the editor@livemore.us and let us know what you think.

Fiscal Year 2016 Bicycle/Pedestrian Funding Successes!

On July 22, the Transportation Planning Board approved funding for 16 projects.  These projects were approved on the basis to improve “pedestrian and bike access and support transit-oriented development throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.”  Nine of these projects – totaling $420,000 – are funded under the TPB’s FY 2016 budget.  According to the TBP, these projects have been prioritized in the budgetary process because they “address challenges of integrating land-use and transportation planning at the community level.”

KUDOS to the TPB for their efforts and commitment to making our greater Washington, D.C. region a better connected, integrated, and multi-modal community.

Live More Commute Less, as the saying goes.

 

FY 2016 Transportation/Land-Use Connections (TLC) Projects

Arlington County — Low Stress Bicycle Network Mapping ($45,000)
Planning to increase bicycle use among the “interested, but concerned” user group.

District of Columbia — K Street / Water Street Bikeway and Pedestrian Connectivity Enhancements ($60,000) Address connectivity issues in Georgetown between the Capital Crescent and Rock Creek Trails.

College Park — Citywide Bicycle Boulevards ($30,000)
Create a plan to design bicycle boulevards along neighborhood streets.

Fairfax County — Parking Demand and Trip Generation in Multifamily Developments ($60,000)
Improve parking policies in consideration of current and future demand from multifamily developments.

Fairfax County — Vienna Metrorail Station Area Bicycle Improvements ($45,000) Prioritize and design improved on-road bicycle facilities along streets that access the Vienna Metrorail Station.

Gaithersburg — Improving Access to Transit ($30,000)
Improve first and last mile connections to the city’s three major transit stations.

Prince George’s County — Central Avenue Connector Trail 30% Design ($80.000)
Design the first segments of the proposed Central Avenue Connector Trail, linking the Capitol Heights, Addison Rd, Morgan Blvd, and Largo Town Center Metrorail Stations.

Prince William County — Safety and Connectivity in a Planned Community ($30,000)
Plan for the Dale Blvd and Minnieville Rd node and other connectors along the Dale Blvd corridor.

Takoma Park — Parking Takoma Park ($40,000)
Revise existing parking policies and programs in consideration of current and future demand.

FY 2016 Transportation Alternatives Projects for Maryland

College Park — Hollywood Road Sidewalks ($36,000) Install 1,200 feet of sidewalk improvements along Hollywood Rd, including near a neigh- borhood school.

Frederick County — Mount St. Mary’s-Emmitsburg Multi-Use Path ($128,839)
Establish a multi-use path between Mount St. Mary’s and the downtown area of Emmitsburg.

Frederick County — East Lincoln Ave Sidewalks ($46,000) Install 1,800 feet of sidewalk improvements along Lincoln Ave to improve access to area schools.

Montgomery County — North Branch Hiker-Biker Trail ($2,000,000)
Construct a trail connection between Rock Creek Trail and North Branch Trail.

Montgomery County — MD 355-Clarksburg Shared- Use Path ($523,416)
Create a link in the existing trail network along MD 355 between Little Bennett Regional Park Trail and the Frederick Rd Bike Path.

Rockville — Falls Road East Shared-Use Path ($99,703) Install missing sidewalk segment between Dunster Rd and Kimblewick Rd along the east side of Falls Rd.

Takoma Park — Lincoln Ave Sidewalks ($132,028) Installation of 1,900 feet of sidewalk improvements along Lincoln Ave between Elm Ave and Jackson Ave, involving five neighborhood schools.

Oct
28

Freedom of choice: Virginia is bringing American values to transportation

By Thomas Fairchild

Is there anything more fundamental to the definition of being an American than freedom? Yet for the vast majority of Americans, large chunks of our day are dictated to us by having only one viable option for transportation: driving.

Like eating and sleeping, transportation is a reality of life. Whether for work, shopping, medical appointments or school, all of us must transport ourselves in order to survive. How we travel to these necessary destinations should be a matter of choice. Yet when we build our cities and roadways eisenhower-quotewithout considering options other than cars, our choice for transportation has narrowed to choosing between GM, Ford, Toyota, VW or whatever you want, as long as it’s a motor vehicle! That’s like offering a choice for dinner between McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Five Guys or whatever you want, as long as it’s a hamburger. Such a “choice” doesn’t feel like freedom!

Fortunately, times are changing across Northern Virginia. Transportation options are being expanded with new initiatives and strategic plans. A great example is VDOT’s current proposal to decongest car traffic on the I-66 corridor, which includes enhancements for transit, as well as new bike and pedestrian connections (For more information see transform66.org.) And the Fairfax Board of Supervisors recently passed a strategic plan offering a vision of transportation choice across the county with “comprehensive bike and pedestrian initiatives, bus and paratransit, road and intersection improvements and expansion of Metrorail and VRE.” The same plan also commits Fairfax County to “focus planning and development activities around the creation of mixed-use communities served by multi-modal transportation options” (For more information see FairfaxCounty.gov/success.)

Hurray! Choice is good for all. I encourage everyone to become engaged with these and similar initiatives across Northern Virginia as community involvement is crucial to planning successful new developments and creating viable transportation options. Working together, we will foster transportation freedom of choice across our region.

As we plan for the future, let’s not forget that for millions of young, lower income, elderly and disabled Northern Virginians, automobiling is simply not an option. Without viable alternatives these Americans lose their independence, becoming dependent on others for their basic daily needs. For these persons, transportation choice is a lifeline of hope.

I want to thank the @livemore editors for giving my City Version 3 colleagues and me the opportunity to discuss transportation options and mixed use development in periodic articles. Our backgrounds at City v3 range from starting bikeshare systems, to implementing mixed use transit-oriented development, to creating technology tools that assist users in navigating multiple transportation options. We look forward to engaging @livemore readers on these topics and more!

 

Tom Fairchild, is Principal at City Version 3, LLC – a Fairfax County-based company that promotes and assists localities and businesses to create transit oriented development options.  You can follow Cityv3 @CityVersion3 & check them out at Cityv3.com.

Oct
28

A Primer on the Dulles Area Transportation Association

What does DATA do?  Sure, you know DATA tries to save you time and money by encouraging you to leave your single occupant vehicle in the driveway and rideshare, take transit, telework or even bike or walk to work.  Very simply, Live More Commute Less®!

But in the event you don’t know how DATA tries to accomplish this…the key is events!  From transportation fairs and bike rodeos to block parties and community days, DATA has planned or participated in more than a dozen events since the beginning of June, reaching literally thousands of commuters looking for a “better way to work.”

Kelly Woodward, Director of Sales and Marketing, of Dulles Area Transportation Association.

Kelly Woodward, Director of Sales and Marketing, of Dulles Area Transportation Association.

Some of DATA’s events – particularly those designed to acquaint businesses with the advantages of alternative commuting choices – are seminars on serious topics conducted in a business environment.  In June, DATA’s Employer Council convened at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport Hotel for a presentation on the new Telework!VA initiative, which gives businesses up to $50,000 in state tax credits and free technical assistance to begin or expand a formal telework program.  The Employer Council is a group of human resources professionals, facilities managers, and other executives interested in encouraging smarter employee commuting choices as a means of improving employee satisfaction, improving productivity and ensuring continuity of business while reducing congestion on area roads.  DATA cooperated with Sully District Supervisor Michael Frey in mid-summer to present a working lunch – the Supervisor’s Transportation Summit – promoting vanpooling throughout the Westfields International Corporate Center in Fairfax.  Joe Stainsby of Virginia’s Vanpool Alliance gave almost 20 property managers and employer contacts the lowdown on why vanpooling is a smart strategy for both individual employers and the business park as a whole.

DATA also held a transportation fair at The Aerospace Corporation, participated in the Fairfax County Transportation Expo at the Fairfax County Government Center and passed out transportation literature and answered residents’ questions at the recent Reston Association’s Open House.

But many of DATA’s activities are better described as “fun events with a message.”  To kick off its annual Live More Commuter Challenge, DATA held its 2015 Live More Block Party at the Reston Town Center.  Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William County transportation agencies participated, as did the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, vanpool providers vRide and Enterprise Rideshare, the Fairfax Connector, Commuter Connections, Clean Air Partners, Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project and more.

As a public-private partnership, DATA also involved member Center for Vein Restoration, which conducted ultrasound health screenings on site.

So much for the message!  But what helped attract visitors to the event was the addition of the Kona Hawaiian Shave Ice truck, serving up the chilly treat to more than 100 attendees.

Cricket, the stiltwalking juggler, and fabulous face painter Arla, who’s decorated children attending events at the White House, helped create a party atmosphere.  DATA invited attendees to play their Dice Drop game to win logoed prizes.  Good information was disseminated…and a good time was had by all!

In October, DATA will hold “Van-pire Diaries,” a Halloween-themed event at a busy park ‘n’ ride lot, with its partner agency PRTC in Prince William County.  The “ghoul” of this event – which will be staffed by outreach staff in costume – will be to gather contact information from commuters interested in forming vanpools from this Prince William County location to employment sites in the 355-square mile DATA service area.  Through a grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, DATA will be able to offer considerable incentives to qualifying groups.  There’ll also be cookies, cider, and mini Trick-or-Treat bags (with information on the “Van Do Attitude” program) to enhance the experience.

DATA also brought its Dice Drop – a Plinko-like game where the sum of the dice determines the prize – to NRO All-American Family Fun Day, the Back 2 School Bash at Reston’s South Lakes High School, the Taste of Westfields, and Herndon Community Day.

As DATA’s Live More Commute Less® initiative continues to try effecting behavior change by focusing on the positive benefits of leaving that single occupant vehicle in the driveway, it’s clearly important to educate.  But sometimes, by making the “medium” as compelling as the message, learning can also be fun!

Oct
28

Holiday Facts and Realities

The holidays –couched by some as “the most wonderful time of the year” -can, in fact, not be so wonderful if you’re totally stressed about travelling and getting gifts or cards to loved ones across the states, or around the world.  As such, @livemore believes that the more information you have, the better you can prepare yourself for the holiday “onslaught.”  Below, we give you some facts, figures and important dates that should help you frame your plans for the holidays in a more prepared manner.  That said – happy holidays from the @livemore fam!

Numbers Please!

The number of peeps travelling during this period of time – Turkey Day to the New Year – is the most of any time of year.  The concentration of travel varies significantly, with Thanksgiving week being the most clustered, and the weeks between Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year, a bit more spread out.  As an associated article points out – PLAN AHEAD – CHECK OFTEN – ADJUST AS NEEDED.

So, who is taking a road/air/train trip this coming holiday season?  The numbers from last year (when gas prices were slightly higher than mid-October prices) bear witness to what to expect.  Here we go – use these numbers and information to better plan your travel and holiday plans.

 

46.3 million Americans expect to take a trip during Thanksgiving Holiday;

89 percent of travelers (41.3 million) will travel by automobile;

3.55 million Americans taking to the skies during Thanksgiving Holiday;

The average distance traveled during the 2014 Thanksgiving Holiday was 549 miles roundtrip – and Americans will spend an average of $573 during the holiday weekend;

Travelers allocated approximately 31 percent of their budgets to fuel transportation. In 2014 that would equate to about $178, so take that into consideration when making transportation choices for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Today’s (October 15, 2015) national average price of gas is $2.29; last year at this time it was $2.85 per gallon.

The Rest of the Holidays (Turkey Day to New Yearís Day)

This time of year is hectic, to say the least, but travel plans and preparations for the holidays can be planned and anticipated.  Here are a few facts and tips to help you be better prepared.

 

In 2014 AAA projected that 98.6 million people planned to journey 50 miles or more from home, a 4 percent increase over 2013.  With the economy stable and gas prices presumably lower, this figure will probably be the same, or higher for 2015.

Most of the travelers, 89.5 million, travelled by car, while 5.7 million went by air, AAA says, based on its annual holiday survey. The rest (3.4 million) went by train.  Approximate breakout – 90.7% by car; 5.75% by air; 3.4% by train.

Americans spent an estimated $83 billion on holiday travel in 2014, according to a 2014 survey from Hotwire. $66 billion of this spending came from Christmas alone, and holiday-travel spending as a whole was estimated to be up $11 billion from 2013.  Expect similar or higher figures for 2015

Every year, the US Postal Service (USPS) plays an integral role in making everyone’s lives more enjoyable during the holiday season.  Last year the USPS made a concerted effort to get the word out that “This is our season!”  USPS provided a lot of useful information on how many packages they move, and dates for which you should be prepared to ship your cards and gifts.  Here is the breakdown and schedule for 2015.

 

Busiest Mailing/ Delivery Days

Busiest mailing day for cards, letters and packages: Tuesday, December 15

Busiest delivery day for cards and letters: Thursday, December 17

Busiest delivery day for packages: Friday, December 18

 

Mail-By Dates for Domestic Mail

December 15, Standard Post

December 20, First-Class Mail

December 20, Priority Mail

December 23, Priority Mail Express

 

USPS Facts & Figures from 2014

The Postal Service is projecting 15.5 billion cards, letters and packages will be delivered from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. The increase from last year is due to the increase in advertising mail and package volume;

12.7 billion cards, letters and packages will be delivered between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. (Holiday volume between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve for 2013 was 14.7 billion pieces; 2012 was 15.2 billion pieces; and 2011 was 16.5 billion pieces.)

On average, the Postal Service processes 523 million pieces of mail every day. During the holiday season, that volume increases to 553 million pieces of mail daily. The increase from last year is due to the increase in advertising mail and package volume (545 million in 2013; 560 million in 2012).

The Postal Service expects to process about 640 million pieces of mail on December 15. The increase from last year is due to the increase in advertising mail and package volume (607 million in 2013; 658 million in 2012).

The Postal Service is projecting 470 million packages will be delivered this holiday season, a 12% increase over last year’s volume of 420 million. (2013 was 420 million packages; a 12% increase over 2012 volume of 383 million.)

About 3 million customers will skip the trip to the Post Office this year and use Click-N-Ship to mail packages — 10 percent more than last year.

Beginning December 3, the National Operations Center will be staffed around the clock, seven days a week, to monitor and coordinate mail transportation nationwide.