Guest blog by Brandan Stuckey, Bethesda Transportation Solutions
I’m not sure how we entered a space where the same few platitudes are thrown about, seemingly every other sentence. Counting how many times you see words like normalize, robust, engage, or deliverables, used in our corporate lexicon can lead to the most intense interoffice game of bingo this side of Cordell Ave. Words, are powerful. Words have meaning. Words have impact. And there’s nothing more impactful than hearing vibrancy in the context of downtown. Vibrancy is often used when speaking of outdoor spaces. However, its usage must become more than the latest platitude; Vibrancy has to become a call to action. For instance, Bethesda Urban Partnership answered the call to help by creating the Streetery, a broad collaborative effort to sustain businesses during the pandemic. That’s Vibrancy.
Because of the coalition building we’ve seen in our area, the work of the Chamber, Bethesda has remained as vibrant as ever. Through all the challenges we’ve faced during the pandemic, the ecosystem has seen a few bends, but no breaks. The mark of a thriving vibrant ecosystem is a fully functioning transit system. Bethesda Transportation Solutions (BTS) have been working with local businesses to adopt a more transit friendly lifestyle. However, COVID has presented a particular obstacle to the overall movement of people in and out of Bethesda. According to the Capital COVID Snapshot: Safe Return to Work report, “nearly 50% of employers indicated a high level of concern about public transit safety.” The report goes on to say “People REALLY miss seeing each other, collaborating, interacting. The longer this continues, the more challenged our culture will be, let alone the economic challenges.”
The hope is we find more ingenious was to stay connected in these disconnected times. BTS has seen employers take advantage of regional partners like WABA’s virtual bike classes to add vibrancy to their employees telework schedules. Take note of the foot traffic coming in and out of Bethesda. Seeing the sheer volume of Streetery eateries being patronized are the subtle bread crumbs that’s needed to lead us to vibrancy. Don’t dismiss the impact of our neighbors turning to bikes, scooters and skateboards to get around. That’s vibrancy. Whether you come for work, the arts, the food, the stores, there’s always an experience to be had. If we want to continue our support for our downtown businesses, let’s continue to support our transit options. We must commit to building a better commute for a better Bethesda. Vibrancy is the key.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you want to discuss ideas on adding vibrancy to your company transportation plan or to downtown Bethesda – BStuckey@bethesda.org.
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