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.”
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!