James Davenport Transportion (Past, Present and Future)

1Jun/20Off

Hospital Workers Catch a Ride in DC

 

We are living in some crazy times. Before the Covid-19 Pandemic, along with other TDM Outreach Coordinators, I was promoting ride-sharing through incentives and marketing to help reduce congestion on our clogged roads. We encouraged drivers to consider ridesharing (Carpools, Vanpools, Buses, etc.) over driving alone because it can save drivers’ time and money as well as help make their daily commute a little more enjoyable….or less stressful.

Then Coronavirus hit the DC region, as well as the entire country, and the message became quite a bit different. With the safe distancing precautions in place, we couldn’t promote ride-sharing anymore. So the focus has been on telework and many companies are pursuing telework out of necessity.

From a transportation perspective, things would appear to be alright right now. Gas prices are low and congestion on our roads is somewhat manageable. Well, that may not be the case for everyone.

There are many who still have to go to work away from their homes and access to transportation may be more problematic during these times. These essential workers are the grocery store stockers, baggers and cashiers; delivery drivers; maintenance workers and janitors; trash collectors, etc. There are many such hardworking and dedicated individuals who are doing their jobs far from the safety of their home and with little recognition.

Which leads me to the tireless medical professionals. They can’t telework and care for patients at a hospital or a clinic. The new transportation situation is a challenges to them as well, especially those who work the night shifts and may not have regular access to a car. What is being done for them?

I must commend the District Government for transforming a transportation service that had been shut-down due to Covid-19 and operated somewhat similarly to Uber or Lyft. Now this service is provided exclusively for hospital workers at Howard University Hospital and United Medical Center. I pulled some information on this service from the District Department of For-Hire Vehicles (DPHV) website.

The cost per ride is $3, and service runs between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. To use the service, hospital workers must download the D.C. Neighborhood Connect app. The app, powered by the ride-share company Via, directs users to a location where they are picked up by one of 11 vans in the system. To maintain social distancing only three passengers are allowed on each vehicle.

The service aims to fill a gap in public transportation options after dark. While public transit during the evening and overnight hours was somewhat problematic before, it is almost nonexistent now. This is due to the fact that Metro and local bus systems have significantly scaled back service during the coronavirus pandemic.

Another beneficial aspect behind this service is that it has been expanded to take passengers anywhere in the District as well as to places in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. DPHV administers the program in partnership with Via and taxi operator Transco and it will remain in place throughout the coronavirus pandemic

So these are times which some may consider rather dark and depressing because we are fighting a pervasive and dangerous virus and many may have lost friends, family members and others important to them. But when we do see gestures of good will on our TVs, computers or experience it first-hand, this may invariably brighten our day.

But I bet you didn’t expect to see good will from a transportation perspective. Well, it can come from all corners and from where you least expect it.

So everybody, please be safe and considerate of others. Together, we can get through this.

Hospital Riders Catch a Ride in DC.

 

26Mar/20Off

Why do I miss Biking-to-Work?

Given the current situation, you would expect me to write something about telework, right? Don’t I promote TDM to employers along the I-66 corridor, during construction on I-66 outside the beltway, as a major part of my job?

Yes, I do, however, I won’t be talking about that today. Besides, I’ve written enough about telework, and Veronica did a great job covering that subject last week in Making Telework Work. (Btw: don’t hesitate contacting me at 571-402-4313 if you have any questions about the Transform 66 telework subsidies. J )

No, I want to reminisce about jaunts on my bike as we are being encouraged to stay inside and practice social distancing if you do go out. I am referring more specifically to riding my bike on my commute to work. I saw MWCOG Commuter Connection’s latest  promotion of Bike-to-Work day which is scheduled for May 15, 2020. It made me realize how much I miss biking to work.

Strange I would be thinking about that since very few people are going to their office or place of work right now. Well, Bike-to-Work 2020 is less than two months away and I’m recalling the days I rode into work and participated in some of the early Bike to Work events in the mid ‘90s. (Oops! I inadvertently told you how long I have been living and working in the D.C. metro area.)

I know Bike-to-Work 2020 may be postponed, but since I haven’t ridden my bike to work in a long time, it got me thinking how much I miss it.

I won’t go into why I don’t ride to work currently, but when I worked downtown, I used to ride to work from Arlington, VA, during the summer months, though not every day. Yes, many of you hardcore bike-to-work commuters would scoff at riding only a few days a week, but I really enjoyed doing it when I felt it was right for me. During the day I felt refreshed and invigorated. It helped that I had access to a shower, of course. I would not have done it without one in consideration of my office mates. JJ

In a small way I thought I was doing my part to help sustain our environment while I was saving money on either gas, wear and tear on my car, or not having to pay metro fare. The thing I missed the most is the feeling of accomplishment. None of us like to admit it, but we do have days when we feel like we didn’t accomplish very much. Well, when I rode my bike into work, I felt like I accomplished something right away. It gave me a boost taking on the various challenges that the workday would throw at me.

I found my ride into work to be somewhat therapeutic, especially when my excursion led me along the Potomac River on a bright sunny morning. I don’t think you can do this anymore, but one of my routes took me through Ft. Myer and the Arlington Cemetery. I looked at it as my way of paying respect to those who fought for our country, and in many cases paid a dear price for our freedom. My route would also take me by the Jefferson Memorial, and sometimes past the Great Awakening at Haines Point when I felt frisky enough to ride a few extra miles. Sad to say, the Great Awakening is no longer there.

When I first started riding to work, I would cross the Memorial Bridge and ride past many of the tourist attractions we are familiar with including the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting pool. In fact, it was there that I remember hearing one of the most bizarre comments from a tourist I had ever heard. She said, “This is where Forest Gump was.” Sigh. Not quite how I envisioned why someone should remember the Lincoln Memorial.

As I rode along the Mall to the office, I saw the Washington Monument, the White House, the Capital, and, of course, I would sometimes take a jaunt to the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms when they were in bloom. These are landmarks that most people see only a few times in their lifetime, if at all. I was seeing them up-close and personal all the time on my regular rides into work.

Flash-forward to today when experts are encouraging us not to go to our place of work, or anywhere at all, unless absolutely necessary. Well, there is no reason you can’t get out on your bike and go for a quick spin during the day, making sure you get your appropriate allotment of work hours in for the day, of course. You can bike alone or with a few friends. This is especially important when your gym may be inaccessible. If you don’t like to bike, go out and jog for a mile or two, or go out for a brisk walk. Just get outside and get some fresh air!

I had to admit I was feeling like I was in some sort of a funk over the past few days. But I got out on my bike this past Sunday, and it felt like I was alive and free for a couple of hours. It was great just to get some fresh air and not hear the constant barrage of bad news about the Coronavirus! Please check out what the CDC recommends regarding outdoor exercise during the coronavirus.

So, my recommendation to you is get some fresh air and consider signing up for Bike-to-Work day. Could be a good first step! Even if they do postpone or cancel the event, simply signing-up is a sign of commitment to biking and/or getting some exercise. Who knows, you may see me at one of the Pit Stops. But first I must figure out the best route to get to VDOT in Fairfax, VA, from my home in Arlington. In the meantime, stay safe everyone.

 

Why do I miss Biking-to-Work?