Jurisdictions that work with businesses and organizations on transportation options can bring vibrancy and prosperity to communities.
This time of the year in Hollywood, award ceremonies happen almost every night. But in Arlington today, the only place to be was at the Arlington Transportation Partners (ATP) 2014 Champions Breakfast Ceremony.
“Government can’t do it alone. This really is a partnership with the business community, and you’re work makes an enormous difference every day,” said Dennis Leach, Arlington, Virginia’s transportation director, at Artisphere to a packed house of representatives from the more than 120 businesses and organizations rewarded for providing exceptional transportation options to their employees, residents, and tenants.
Chris Hamilton of Arlington County and Lois DeMeester of ATP and DS&MG.
“ATP works with 800 companies per year, and the best are here,” added Chris Hamilton, bureau chief for Arlington County Commuter Services. “You are leveraging the small ATP staff and getting all your employees, residents, and hotel guests to use all these transportation options. You are making Arlington competitive with the rest of the world.”
Hamilton said Arlington stays vibrant because other people want to replicate its transit-oriented development. He said the Champions at the ceremony tend to use transit about double the amount of people in other Arlington buildings, and they tend to have about one-third of the drive-alone rate.
Champions receive their certificates.
“We’ve added tens of thousands of people in Arlington and we’re not seeing that our arterial roads are any busier than they were 20 years ago,” Hamilton added. “That’s that extra boost from you all in the room – working in your buildings handing out Metro cards, offering transit benefits, providing Capital Bikeshare memberships.”
Matthew Christopher, property manager at Park Georgetown, said his apartment building was recognized by ATP this year because its location by the Custis Trail made it sensible to convert a storage unit into a bike-parking room in the building. He said residents who were storing bikes in their apartments, which aren’t necessarily huge to begin with, are really happy to have the added parking space.
The Champions are awarded each year at different levels, including bronze, silver, and gold. Platinum recipients represent the cream of the crop. This year’s batch includes:
- Boeing: Had an ART bus route designed for employees, and adopted two ART bus stops.
- Consumer Electronics Association: Offers employees a mortgage-assistance program for those that live within five miles of work.
- The Convention Store: Offers “every kind of commuter benefit possible,” according to Wendy Duren, ATP’s program manager.
- George Mason University’s Arlington campus: Involved with the Association for Commuter Transportation to learn from other universities across the country, and also purchased a Capital Bikeshare station to place at its front doors.
- National Rural Electric Cooperative Association: Actively promotes a “bike to work week” for employees.
- National Science Foundation: Offers a carsharing subsidy and invites ATP to educate its employees about transportation options.
- SRA International: Was designated as “bike-friendly” by the League of American Bicyclists.
Angie Fox, president and CEO of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. She said Crystal City has worked to use its wealth of transportation options – including a major airport that can be accessed by foot – as a key selling point.
“You can’t market something you don’t have, but we have accessibility,” Fox said. She noted that the community’s focus is on active lifestyles with weekly 5K runs, street hockey, and regular bicycle races in a parking garage, plus art installations to transform its Metro tunnel and the Crystal City Underground into welcoming public spaces.
Fox added, “There are only five of us who work at the Crystal City BID, so we live and die by our partners like BikeArlington, WalkArlington, and ATP.”
Paul Goddin, urban-affairs and transportation research reporter at Mobility Lab, contributed to this article.
Photos by Paul Mackie of Mobility Lab and Mike Smith of GreenSmith Public Relations.