THE "SLOW SEASON:" What our Advocacy Staff Do in Winter

Though spring is officially here, it sure didn't feel like it until recently.  (Many Vermonters walk and bike through the winter, but more often than not in spite of the cold weather, not because of it.)  For many folks, it really isn't until April or even May that walking and biking take center stage once again. 

Here at Local Motion, though, winter doesn't mean we take a break from (at least working on) walking and biking.  While not all of us keep pedaling all winter long, everyone on our advocacy and education staff has been hard at work on projects that will make it easier and safer to bike and walk now that warmer weather is finally upon us.  
 
 
MC.jpegMary Catherine Graziano, our Education Manager and Volunteer Coordinator, spends a good part of the winter-lining up the 40 or so Bike Smart school and camp bike skills trainings that will take place this year. 

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A few brave and hardy schools borrow our bikes and equipment in late March, rolling the dice that the weather will cooperate.  (That bet didn't pan out this year...) But long before our Bike Smart trailers hit the road, Mary Catherine and her crew are hard at work making sure all systems are go for the summer.  Here is a sampling of what they have been up to:
  • A total overhaul of the Bike Smart fleet.  On one of those unseasonably warm days in February, Mary Catherine's crew pulled out all 85 bikes from our two trailers, gave them all a top-to-bottom inspection, and entered them into our fleet management database.  They then gave every bike a full tuneup so they go into a season of hard riding in good shape.
  • Doubling our Bike Smart capacity.  
    bike_smart.jpgOver the winter, Mary Catherine began planning for adding two more cargo trailers to our fleet this year.  If all goes according to plan, we will have four trailers on the road by September, which will allow us to reach 12,000+ kids every year with in-depth bike skills training.

Katelin.jpgKatelin Brewer-Colie, our Walk-Bike Technical Assistance Manager, actually gets more work done with communities this time of year than in the summer.  (We're pretty sure that this is because, come summer, no one wants to plan for better streets and roads for biking and walking -- they just want to be outside!)  A few of the highlights from her winter's work:
  • Adoption of the Lyndon Walk-Bike Safety Action Plan.  Katelin helped a committee of community members in Lyndon put the finishing touches on a focused, practical list of bike & walk improvement projects that the selectboard has adopted and the town and village are already beginning to implement.  
  • Richmond Creative Placemaking Temporary Sidewalk Pop-Up Demonstration.  Katelin spent part of her winter working with the Town of Richmond to design a pop-up event consisting of temporary sidewalks, crosswalks and curb extensions on Bridge St. for a week-long run this spring. The purpose of this event is to demonstrate how they can make walking downtown safer and easier through relatively minor street infrastructure changes. The town will be using our Pop Up Demonstration trailer! If you are interested in a pop-up bike lane, sidewalk or curb bump outs, email her at katelin@localmotion.org.

 

becca.jpgBecca Jordan, our Community Engagement Coordinator, has been reveling in the power of our NationBuilder online community organizing system.  She has spent much of the winter learning how to use NationBuilder to support local groups and advocates.  We've got a lot of exciting collaborative projects in the works with groups like these:
  • Walk Bike Addison.  Becca is working with a crew of volunteers from Addison County who have launched a county-wide walk & bike advisory council under the Addison County Regional Planning Commission.  (Check out their workplan here.)  With her help, they are building a stand alone website for their group using Local Motion's NationBuilder platform, which means they get to take advantage of all our organizing tools -- without having to do it all from scratch.

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  • Friends of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.  Becca is advising FLVRT as they migrate to their own NationBuilder platform, which will make it easier for this all-volunteer group to tackle fundraising, trail crew management, event publicity, and more.  They are excited to take the leap with Local Motion's help!

Jason_Van_Driesche.jpgJason Van Driesche, our Deputy Director (and now acting Executive Director) has been keeping busy stirring the pot to improve biking and walking.  His role is to keep an eye out for opportunities to shape major projects or community initiatives with potential for big improvements for biking and walking.  A couple of the projects that are on track for completion this year include:

  • Williston Road bike lanes. 
    williston_road_bike_lane_detail.jpg Jason has confirmed with VTrans that the rebuild of 
    Route 2, from just west of Earl's Cyclery in South Burlington to just east of Taft's Corners in Williston is definitely happening this year! Starting in June or July, the road will be completely torn up and rebuilt, and when done, will have 5- to 6-foot bike lanes almost the entire length of the project.  This is a result of about three years of quiet advocacy with VTrans to ensure that the agency take full advantage of the rebuild to improve conditions for biking. 

  • Shelburne_Committee.jpegShelburne village walk safety improvements.  Jason has been working all winter with a newly formed "village pedestrian safety committee" in Shelburne that came together out of concern about speeding and distracted driving on village streets.  With Local Motion's help, the group has identified a short list of projects that can be implemented this summer, including narrowing travel lanes, adding more crosswalks, and conducting several pop-up demonstration projects to evaluate other strategies.  They have garnered strong support from town leaders, who have allocated $10,000 to support their work.

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