Live More, Commute LessLive More, Commute Less

Feb
26

Dulles Matters: New International Routes from Dulles in 2018

By Rob Yingling

Good news for travelers looking for a long-distance getaway: Cathay Pacific will offer nonstop flights four times per week from Dulles International Airport to Hong Kong beginning September 16. The airline’s new Airbus A350-1000 will enable the 7,085-nautical-mile route to become the longest flight serving either Dulles or Hong Kong. The service was announced in December, and reservations are available at cathaypacific.com.

Globetrotting also just got easier to Dulles’s most popular foreign destination: London. Primera Air, a low-fare European carrier, announced new service from Dulles beginning in August. Five weekly flights will whisk passengers to London Stansted Airport, located just northeast of the city and connected by express train service. A new Airbus A321neo will operate on the route, fitted with a total of 198 seats – 16 in premium economy and 182 in the main cabin. Introductory fares are as low as $199 each way at primeraair.com.

A new seasonal route previously announced from Dulles to Edinburgh, Scotland, on United Airlines will begin daily service on May 23 using Boeing 757 aircraft.

Dulles is the region’s premier international airport – serving 57 nonstop destinations outside the U.S. on 33 different airlines. In 2017, the airport handled more than 7.8 million passengers – a new record.

Feb
26

Continuity and Contingency Planning for Your Business

You are working on a major proposal for your firm, an opportunity to possibly make or break the budget for the next fiscal year.  It is due by close of business tomorrow.  You’ll need every minute to make this a winner.

In the frantic scramble to put the pieces of the proposal puzzle together, you overhear some of your co-workers discussing the weather.  You finally ask “What’s up?”  A co-worker responds, “What the weathermen predicted to be a passing snowstorm a day or so ago, is now being deemed – A BLIZZARD!”  “What?” you ask.  “Yup, upwards of 18 to 20 inches coming in tonight, paralyzing the region’s road and transit networks,” the co-worker says.  A sinking feeling sets in and you realize that it looks like you’re sleeping in the office the next day or so.

But it doesn’t have to be that way if you and your company have a continuity of operations plan in place.  Such plans are developed to preserve business operations during natural or man-made events that may prevent workers from getting into the office for a day or more.

Surprisingly few businesses have examined such plans or adopted policies for implementing contingency/continuity plans…even when the prospect of short or long term shutdowns or slowdowns can mean significant lost revenue and productivity.

DATA staff can assist you and your business in developing contingency plans, and have been doing so since the major disruptions that occurred during 9/11 and the subsequent sniper episode.  Rising tensions with North Korea don’t help either, but interest has waned considerably since these previous events – until the next Snowmaggedon arrives or a surprise shutdown of Metro occurs again.  Without adequate preparation and contingency planning, many businesses struggled to get employees to work and thus lost important productivity.

Although contingency/continuity plans are individualized for each particular business, most of these plans include some core elements.

Telework

Having employees who can work from home in the event of a natural or man-made emergency (like the recent Metro shutdown) is like your company’s electronic insurance policy.  No way to get to work…no problem!  Your employees can still fill orders, complete important projects (like our snowbound friend above) and even teleconference.  In addition, Global Workplace Analytics reports industry leaders like Dow Chemical, Best Buy and British Telecom find their teleworkers are 35-40% more productive, while a Stanford University study found teleworkers are 50% less likely to quit than employees who work strictly in the office.  Consider that statistic when it can cost you $10,000-$30,000 to replace a valuable employee!

And most teleworkers still spend more than 50% of their time in the office, so concerns about supervision, collaboration and team-building are unfounded.  Right now, the Telework!VA program offers free technical assistance to companies interested in starting or expanding a formal telework program…including helping you decide which jobs are suitable for teleworking, what kind of equipment and security you need, how to supervise your teleworkers and more.  There’s additional information on the many benefits of teleworking
at www.teleworkva.org.

 

Transit Information

With the opening of the Silver Line, many locations that were unserved by public transportation are now connected to the system.  Now you can take Metro from your home in Largo to your office in Tysons Corner.  But your employees may not realize how easy and economical it can be to leave their single occupant vehicle in the driveway and take transit to work.  Fairfax County now offers the Plu$50 Program through which your employees can qualify for a $50 SmarTrip card to try transit if you institute the simple-to-administer SmartBenefits program.  And even though a major weather event can curtail transit service, it’s usually more reliable than trying to drive alone.

Ridesharing

When your employees share a ride to work – either in a cost-effective vanpool or a convenient carpool – you’re doing a lot more than helping reduce congestion on area roads and improve the environment.  With shared driving responsibilities, you’ll probably find your employees are late less often and arrive in a better frame of mind from not having to battle traffic each and every day.  In addition, you may be able to turn in some of those expensive parking spaces you’ve been leasing from the business next door or reduce the cost of the valet parking you currently provide!

And if one of the carpoolers has a four-wheel drive vehicle, ridesharing can become a pre-existing means of getting essential employees to work in an emergency.

Biking or Walking

Dust off your old two-wheeler or investigate Capital Bikeshare; biking to work is easier than you think! Reston alone boasts over 15 Bikeshare docking stations, strategically placed at many employment locations.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association provides classes, seminars and events at a reasonable cost for cyclists of every skill and commitment level.  County websites can help you plan a safe route to work or to a transit terminus.  And with affordable and convenient Capital Bikeshare, you don’t even have to own a bike to take advantage of this efficient, environmentally conscious commuting option.

Or try hoofing it.  Walking a few days a week could replace the expensive gym membership you’re not using.  Think a mile walk to the nearest Metro stop is too time-consuming?  It can add as little as 15 minutes in beautiful spring weather to
your commute!

Technology

Consider CarFreeAtoZ, Moovit, Uber and Lyft, Commuter Connections CarpoolNow, and other alternatives.

How can DATA help keep you in business?  Making your sure your employees are aware and familiar with these types of technologies can keep your business going, particularly in short term interruptions of transportation services.  DATA staff can provide insights on all of these services and conduct training, if necessary, on how to use the applications and technologies.

DATA’s experts will work with you to develop a continuity of business plan that suits your organization and your workforce.  There’s no charge for the consultation and no obligation.  We’ll probably start with a simple survey that tells us how your employees are currently commuting.  We’ll spend some time learning about your business…are you interested in green initiatives, do you like to conduct contests to motivate your employees, are your employees tech-savvy or more likely to respond to the traditional approaches?

Then we’ll suggest the best way for you to keep doing business when you can’t conduct business as usual.  Call DATA at 703.817.1307 and get connected to Kelly Woodward or Sarah McGowan.  We even have bi-lingual assistance available!

Think you don’t have time to talk to us?  Well, what would you rather lose?  A few minutes or a few thousand dollars?

Feb
26

Historic Garden Week in Virginia Celebrates 85 Years – April 21-28

Photo by Louise Kraft.

For the past 85 years residences and public gardens throughout Virginia open their doors to the public to celebrate Garden Week. “Virginia is especially beautiful during Historic Garden Week,” notes Nina Mustard, President of the Garden Club of Virginia, the sponsoring organization of the country’s oldest statewide house and garden tour. For one week in April, nearly 25,000 visitors tour beautiful homes and gardens across Virginia and enjoy all the Commonwealth has to offer. The 2018 event encompasses 29 tours organized and hosted by 47 member clubs.

Nearly 250 private homes, gardens and historical sites will be open especially for Historic Garden Week. Every year the properties opened and the tours offered are different, making each year a unique experience.

A beloved spring tradition, Historic Garden Week in Virginia gained important recognition when the Garden Club of Virginia reported the results of its first economic impact study of this successful fundraiser. “The Garden Club of Virginia was able to provide reliable figures estimating the cumulative impact over almost fifty years to be over $425 million,” states Mustard.

“It’s the largest ongoing volunteer effort in Virginia that promotes so many of its communities, both large and small,” says Stephie Broadwater, State Chairman of Historic Garden Week. “We felt that an economic impact study would help validate that work.”

The inspiration for Historic Garden Week dates to 1927 when a flower show organized by Garden Club of Virginia volunteers raised $7,000 to save trees planted by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. The first tours took place two years later, and proceeds from tours have continued to fund the restoration and preservation of the Commonwealth’s significant historic public gardens ever since. “Historic Garden Week has raised millions of dollars to keep Virginia beautiful,” notes Lynn McCashin, GCV Executive Director. “The grounds of Virginia’s most cherished landmarks including Mount Vernon and Stratford Hall have been restored with tour proceeds. As the Garden Club of Virginia approaches her Centennial in 2020, we are also supporting Virginia State Parks with a portion of
HGW proceeds.”

“It’s hard to conceive of the scope of Historic Garden Week, so we like to share some surprising numbers,” Karen Cauthen Ellsworth, State HGW Director and Editor of the Guidebook (a 240-page publication produced annually in support of Historic Garden Week) adds. “In addition to the amazing interiors and gardens on display, Garden Club of Virginia volunteers will design over 2,000 spectacular floral arrangements to decorate rooms open to the public. Most of the plant materials will come from their very own gardens.”

The 2018 marketing materials will feature the Kwanzan cherry blossom and a historic Gloucester property on the water. “The Kwanzan cherry is the star of the Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. and such a lovely symbol of the beginning of springtime,” explains Ellsworth. She emphasizes, “Historic Garden Week would not be possible without the hard work of our 3,300 Garden Club of Virginia members across the Commonwealth.”

The Garden Club of Virginia celebrates the beauty of the land, conserves the gifts of nature and challenges future generations to build on this heritage. The 3,300-member organization presents educational programs and makes awards to encourage community conservation and beautification projects. Most notably, the Garden Club of Virginia is recognized for its Historic Garden Week, a statewide tour of gardens and homes. Tour proceeds fund the restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historic gardens, landscapes and state parks. 

Dec
28

METRO Skating

Glide your way through winter car free!

In need of some outdoor exercise that doesn’t require driving your car to the location?  Why not try taking METRO to one of these six outdoor ice skating rinks conveniently located near a variety of METRO stations.  Hours of operation and fees vary from site to site, particularly during some warm, or extremely cold weather situations.  Best to call in advance.  So, get off the couch, grab your blades and jump on a METRO train to the nearest rink and have some great winter fun!

National Gallery of Art Ice Rink (Blue/Orange Lines Smithsonian Mall Exit, or Yellow/Green Lines Archives 7th Street Exit)

The 2017–2018 ice-skating season begins November 18 and continues through March 11, weather permitting. Experience ice-skating in the Sculpture Garden while surrounded by large-scale sculptures by contemporary artists, including Louise Bourgeois, Sol LeWitt, Tony Smith, Roy Lichtenstein, Roxy Paine, and others.  Rental skates are available for a fee.

Hours

Monday–Thursday:
10 a.m.–9 p.m.

Friday: 10 a.m.–11p.m.

Saturday: 11 a.m.–11 p.m.

Sunday: 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

Please note the ice rink will be closed when it rains or when the temperature dips below 20°F. For the current status, please call (202) 216-9397.  Admission fee required.  The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden is located on the National Mall at 7th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, is bounded by Constitution Avenue and Madison Drive and by 7th and 9th Streets NW.  During the evening, when the Gallery and Sculpture Garden are closed to the public, access to the ice rink is restricted to the entrances at Constitution Avenue near 7th Street and Madison Drive near 9th Street.

Canal Park Ice Rink (Green Line Navy Yard/Ballpark New Jersey Ave. Exit; Circulator Bus as well)

Canal Park is a stunning public park on the site of the historic Washington Canal in the heart of DC’s Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. With its dancing fountains in summer, vibrant ice rink in winter, and LEED Gold-certified water reuse systems, Canal Park is a sustainable and green neighborhood gathering place, and a destination for the entire city.

Canal Park is located in the vibrant Capitol Riverfront neighborhood at 2nd & M St. SE, one block from the Navy Yard/Ballpark Metro (New Jersey Ave. Exit).  Street address is: 202 M Street, SE Washington, DC 20003.  Fee for admission.

Hours

Monday & Tuesday:
12pm-10pm
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday: 12pm-10pm
Saturday: 10am-11pm
Sunday: 10am-10pm

Pentagon Row Ice Rink (Blue and Yellow Line Pentagon City Exit)

The plaza at Pentagon Row underwent major renovations to create a year-round experience for guests, and now boasts an ice rink that is 50% larger with an outdoor dual-sided stone fireplace for lounging during skating breaks. Pentagon Row’s 6,840 square foot ice rink is now the largest outdoor rink in Northern Virginia, and the second largest in the state.

Located at Pentagon Row Fashion Mall at 1201 Joyce Street, Arlington, VA.
Phone: 703-418-6666.  Fee
for admission.

Hours

Sunday: 10am – 7pm or 10pm*

Monday:  Noon – 10pm

Tuesday:  Noon – 10pm

Wednesday:  Noon – 10pm

Thursday:  Noon – 7pm or 10pm*

Friday:  Noon – 11pm

Saturday:  10am – 11pm

*If there are Ice Rentals the rink will close at 7pm and re open at 9pm

Tysons Corner Ice Rink (Silver Line Tysons Corner Exit)

Glide your way into Winter on the beautiful Tyson’s Corner Center Ice Rink! Open daily, with extended holiday hours,  it offers not only public skating, but learn-to-skate lessons, birthday parties, weekly cartoon skates and Saturday Night Rock ‘n Skate.  Just over 6,000 square feet, the rink is also perfect for private parties and corporate outings.  The Skate Shop (2nd floor, next to Lord & Taylor) has over 500 pairs of skates in stock, from Toddler size 8 to a Men’s size 14, with figure, hockey and double-bladed skates available.

The Tysons Corner Center Ice Rink is located on the plaza between Lord & Taylor and Hyatt Regency. The Skate Shop is located inside, 2nd floor next to Lord & Taylor. Address for the Tysons Corner Center Ice Rink; 1961 Chain Bridge Rd., McLean, VA 22102.  Phone: 703-356-1240.  Fee for admission.

Hours

Monday-Tuesday: 3pm-7pm
Wednesday-Thursday: 3pm-9pm
Friday: 1pm-11pm
Saturday: 11am-11pm
Sunday: 11am-7pm

Reston Town Center Ice Rink (Silver Line Whiele Avenue/Reston Exit)

Reston Town Center Ice Skating Pavilion is open seasonally from early November-mid-March, offering public skating every day and extended hours for all Holidays. The skate shop is stocked with over 500 pairs of skates ranging from size 8 toddler through men’s size 13, in both Figure and Hockey styles. For the beginner skaters, try the double bladed, flat edge skates to walk across the ice until you’re ready to glide into a single bladed skate, available in size Youth 8-13.

Located in the heart of Reston Town Center at 1818 Discovery Street, Reston, VA.  Phone: 703-709-6300.  Fee for admission.

Hours

Monday: 11am – 7pm

Tuesday: 11am – 7pm

Wednesday: 11am – 10pm

Thursday: 11am – 10pm

Friday: 11am – 11pm

Saturday: 11am – 11pm

Sunday: 11am – 7pm

Rockville Town Square Ice Rink (Red Line Rockville Exit)

The ice rink at Rockville Town Square is the largest outdoor ice skating rink between Baltimore and Washington DC.  It is the largest in all of Montgomery County.  The rink is 7,200 square feet.  This year, Rockville Town Square has partnered with the City of Rockville, Tri-State Ice Management, and VisArts to engage local artist, Emily Eisinger, to create artwork on our rink. The colorful, abstract artwork spans the length of the rink.

Located in the heart of Rockville, MD at the Rockville Town Square. 131 Gibbs Street, Rockville, MD. Phone: 301-545-1999.  Fee for admission.

Hours

Monday: Thursday: Noon – 10 pm

Friday: Noon – 11pm

Saturday: 10am – 11pm

Sunday: 10am -10pm

Extended hours on Holidays

Dec
28

Winter Driving Tips

Commuters, Carpoolers, and Vanpoolers Should Focus on Your Safety

Adapted from the National Highway Traffic Safety  Administration 

When the chilly temperatures of winter set in, will your vehicle be ready for the cold? We live in a part of the country that experiences inclement weather, such as heavy rain, snow and ice.  And we have a large number of carpoolers and vanpoolers in our region.  Inclement weather can have a paralyzing effect on your daily commute. Are you prepared to drive in those conditions? Planning and preventative maintenance are important year-round—but especially when it comes to winter driving.

BEFORE YOU GO 

Get Your Car Serviced – No one wants their car to break down in any season, but especially not in cold, icy or snowy winter weather. Start the season off right by ensuring your vehicle is in optimal condition.

Know Your Car – Every vehicle handles differently; this is particularly true when driving on wet, icy, or snowy roads. Take time now to learn how your vehicle handles under winter weather driving conditions.

Before driving your vehicle, clean snow, ice or dirt from the windows, the forward sensors, headlights, tail lights, backup camera and other sensors around the vehicle.

For electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, minimize the drain on the battery. If the vehicle has a thermal heating pack for the battery, plug your vehicle in whenever it’s not in use. Pre-heat the passenger compartment before you unplug your vehicle in
the morning.

VEHICLE SAFETY CHECKLIST  

Stock Your Vehicle

Carry items in your vehicle to handle common winter driving-related tasks, such as cleaning off your windshield, as well as any supplies you might need in an emergency. Keep the following in
your vehicle:

Snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper; abrasive
material such as sand or kitty litter, in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow;jumper cables, flashlight, and warning devices such as flares and emergency markers;blankets for protection from the cold; and a cell phone with charger, water, food, and any necessary medicine (for longer trips or when driving in lightly populated areas).

Plan Your Travel and Route 

Keep yourself and others safe by planning ahead before you venture out into bad weather. Check the weather, road conditions, and traffic. Don’t rush! Allow plenty of time to get to your destination safely. Plan to leave early if necessary. Familiarize yourself with directions and maps before you go, even if you use a GPS system, and let others know your route and anticipated arrival time.

ON THE ROAD

Keep your gas tank close to full, even with a hybrid-electric vehicle. If you get stuck in a traffic jam or in snow, you might need more fuel than you anticipated to get home or to keep warm. If road conditions are hazardous, avoid driving if possible. Wait until road and weather conditions improve before venturing out in your vehicle.

On longer trips, plan enough time to stop to stretch, get something to eat, return calls or text messages, and change drivers or rest if you feel drowsy.

Avoid Risky Driving Behaviors 

Do not text or engage in any activities that may distract you while driving. Obey all posted speed limits, but drive even slower if necessary for weather conditions.

Driving in Winter Conditions 

Drive slowly. It’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface. On the road, increase your following distance enough so that you’ll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you. Know whether your vehicle has an antilock brake system and learn how to use it properly. Antilock brake systems prevent your wheels from locking up during braking. If you have antilock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure to the brake pedal. If you don’t have antilock brakes, you may need to pump your brakes if you feel your wheels starting to lock up.

Navigating Around Snow Plows

Don’t crowd a snow plow or travel beside it. Snow plows travel slowly, make wide turns, stop often, overlap lanes, and exit the road frequently. The road behind an active snow plow is safer to drive on. If you find yourself behind a snow plow, stay behind it or use caution when passing. When you are driving behind a snow plow, don’t follow or stop too closely.  A snow plow operator’s field-of-vision is limited; if you can’t see the mirrors, the driver can’t see you. Also, materials used to de-ice the road could hit your vehicle. Snow plows can throw up a cloud of snow that can reduce your visibility to zero in less time than you can react. Never drive into a snow cloud – it can conceal vehicles or hazards.

What To Do in a Winter Emergency 

If you are stopped or stalled in wintry weather, follow these safety rules: Stay with your car and don’t over exert yourself. Put bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep the interior dome light turned on. To avoid asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning. don’t run your car for long periods of time with the windows up or in an enclosed space. If you must run your vehicle, clear the exhaust pipe of any snow and run it only sporadically — just long enough to stay warm.