May 18 is Bike to Work Day
Mark Your Calendar: Join 11,000+ commuters around the region on Friday, May 18 for Bike to Work Day 2012. This free event, organized by Commuter Connections, Washington Area Bicyclist Association and regional partners, including Montgomery County, is for both new and experienced bicycle commuters throughout the Washington metropolitan region.
First Step: Click the 'Register Now' button at http://www.biketoworkmetrodc.org to indicate which of the 58 regional pit stops you will attend so you can receive your free Bike to Work Day T-Shirt*, food, drinks, and a chance at winning bicycles or other great raffle prizes at that location. (*Hurry! T-Shirt supplies are limited to the first 11,000 registrants).
Pit Stops: Montgomery County will be home to 13 of the pit stops:
Plan Your Route: Ride in one of the many Bike to Work Day convoys planned around the region. Or, use Montgomery County's bikeway map viewer website to plan your own solo route.
Social Media: Follow the action on Twitter and Facebook.
Employers: Here are some tips from Bike to Work Day organizers for turning your workplace into a bicycle friendly environment.
More: Click here for more details about Montgomery County's celebration of Bike to Work Day.
Pool Rewards Expands to Include Vanpools
Great Option: Commuter Connections expanded its Pool Rewards program last week to include vanpooling. Originally designed to encourage current drive alone commuters to try carpooling, the expanded program's inclusion of vanpooling gives drive alone commuters another great ridesharing option. Vanpooling is particularly popular and economical for long distance commuting.
$200 Subsidy: If you drive alone to work and get a minimum total of seven people together (including yourself) who wish to form a new vanpool, you may qualify for a $200 monthly Pool Rewards subsidy for your new vanpool. Vans are available to accommodate between seven and 15 passengers.
Eligibility: Participants must not have commuted via carpool, vanpool, transit, bicycle, or walking more than four days in the 30 days prior to submitting a Pool Rewards for Vanpools application. Full eligibility details and program requirements are explained on Commuter Connection's website.
Effective: "We applaud the expansion of Pool Rewards to include vanpools," said Montgomery County Commuter Services Section chief Sandra Brecher. "Vanpooling has proven its effectiveness as a high-occupancy commute option ever since it caught on during the gas crises of the 1970s. It is especially good for people with commutes of more than 20 miles each way - and if you can use the HOV lanes you'll save both time and money!"
Save Money: Ridesharing has long been an economical way for commuters to cut their costs by saving gas and reducing vehicle wear and tear. The Pool Rewards program turbo-charges those savings by paying new poolers a direct subsidy. In addition, employers that provide vanpooling employees with a tax-free subsidy of up to $125 each month (or the ability to enjoy up to $125 in monthly vanpool expenses on a pre-tax basis) can help commuters save even more. And they may be eligible for a State tax credit as well!
Downcounty Bikeshare Program Kick(stand)-Started!
State Funding: Montgomery County's Department of Transportation has received a $1,008,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Transportation for a proposed downcounty bikeshare program. In addition, the Maryland legislature approved a bill that will provide a $250,000 bond to the bikeshare program. The grant and bond will help pay for a portion of the construction and equipment costs for 50 bikeshare docking stations and 350 bikes.
Private Pledges: Montgomery County has also received $252,000 in private sector funding commitments toward the cost of bikesharing stations in the downcounty.
Successful Model: The program will serve areas surrounding the Metrorail Red Line in Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Medical Center, Takoma Park and Silver Spring, expanding transit options for 360,000 residents. It would build on the success of the Capital Bikeshare program in Washington D.C. and Arlington (which logged more than 1.5 million bike trips in its first 18 months).
Close to Metro: The downcounty system is expected to expand the reach of Metrorail and other transit; provide low-cost transportation options in the most urbanized and congested portion of Montgomery County; help get people out of their cars for short trips; and produce environmental benefits while enhancing economic activity.
Upcounty Links: Last year, Montgomery County received funding for 20 bikeshare stations and 200 bikes in the Rockville and Shady Grove/Life Sciences Center area through a Federal Transit Administration Job Access Reverse Commute Grant to serve low income reverse commuters and job trainees. The Rockville/Shady Grove/Life Sciences Center and downcounty bikeshare programs together will foster bikeshare/transit connections for residents and employees traveling between downcounty and upcounty, and improve access to Metrorail, MARC and MTA bus services.
How it Works: Bikesharing provides short-term bicycle rentals at self-service, automated, solar-powered docking stations sited at publicly accessible locations. Bikes may be picked up at one location and returned to another, creating a system that allows for one-way trips. Bikeshare is considered ideal for short trips of less than five miles. Trips under 30 minutes are included in the membership fee, while longer trips are charged based on their duration.
Annual Costs: An estimated $500,000 in annual operating and maintenance costs will be needed for the program, a portion of which will be offset by membership fees and private sector sponsorships. The total cost for the downcounty system stations and bikes is estimated at $2.15 million.
Two FREE Telework Webinars Remain
Montgomery County's April 25 webinar on the advantages of telework brought industry professionals together with employers for an engaging program. Mark your calendar and register for the next two unique sessions, set for May 31 and June 21, respectively.
The webinars will give you:
- Tips on making the business case for telework
- Return-on-investment case studies
- Guidance on developing policies
- Technology and communications basics
- Help with assessing costs and savings
Expert Guidance: You'll be expertly guided from start-up through implementation and evaluation, and hear from leading employers about their successes with telework.
Return-on-investment (ROI): These free webinars will help you understand the benefits and take practical steps toward developing a successful program. And you may be eligible for free professional telework consulting services for your worksite - attend the webinar or contact us to learn more!
Register Today: Sessions will go from 10:30 am - Noon. RSVP by clicking the links below to receive logon and password information.
Answers: Email Commuter Services if you have questions.
Germantown MARC Commuters: Make your trip to work easier by riding the Germantown MARC shuttle (Ride On Route 94) during peak commuting times between the Kingsview Park-and-Ride Lot, located at Clopper Road (Maryland Route 117) and Kingsview Village Avenue, and the Germantown MARC station. Get details on times and fares here, visit www.rideonbus.com, or call 311 weekdays 7am-5pm.
Cut Your Bus Waiting Time with Ride On Real Time: Know for sure if you have time for that cup of coffee before your bus arrives! Get real-time information on bus arrivals using the Internet, texting, a smart phone or mobile applications (apps) for iPhones or Android phones with www.RideOnRealTime.com or by texting your bus stop ID number to firstname.lastname@example.org to quickly receive a text message indicating when the next arriving bus is coming. Check out "how-to" video tutorials on the County's YouTube site. (Go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov, click on YouTube under Montgomery On Demand, and then search for Ride On.) Visit www.RideOnBus.com for more info on transit options.
My Green Montgomery.org: Have you ever been unsure about where to go to find all of the incentives, information and programs to help you green your lifestyle and save money? Now there is one website for Montgomery County residents to get all this information: MyGreenMontgomery.org! Access resources available to you and find out how to save money, decrease your impact on the environment and start your Green Plan! Visit MyGreenMontgomery.org on Facebook, watch our May episode of My Green Montgomery TV and catch future episodes on County Cable 6. Check out our blog about Bike To Work Day.
Veirs Mill Road BRT:
An informational open house on the possibility of rapid transit bus service along Veirs Mill Road (MD 586), between the Wheaton and Rockville Metro stations, will be held May 23, 4:30-8pm at the Holiday Park Multi-service Senior Center, 3950 Ferrara Drive in Wheaton. Montgomery County Department of Transportation, Maryland State Highway Administration and Maryland Transit Administration representatives will be there to answer questions.
Reach-a-Ride: The Transportation Planning Board's Reach-a-Ride website (www.reacharide.org) and toll-free call center (1-855-732-2427), launched in December 2011, facilitates access to a broad range of specialized transportation services, from ramp- or lift-equipped taxis for mobility device users to door-through-door escort services for people with significant physical or cognitive limitations. Users can search the database online or with the help of a call center rep to find providers that offer the service they need.