Donate Today!

 

 

Trail Finder

Bike Rentals

Bike Recycle Vermont

Volunteer

btn_ride_ferry_over

Major Sponsors

Flynn Center

Our membership program is underwritten by

Find us on Facebook

 

twitter_follow_bird_us-c

 

Media Coverage

Welcome to Local Motion's media file -- your source for local news stories on walking, biking, and active lifestyles. Have an article to add? Send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Thank you!

Cyclists give comments on biking on Vermont roads

WPTZ.com News Channel 5

Robyn Eastabrook

May 13th, 2015

http://www.wptz.com/news/cyclists-give-comments-on-biking-on-vermont-roads/32991592

 

BURLINGTON, Vt. —VTrans officials want to see how Vermont state highways can be improved for bicyclists.

 

 

Click here to watch the video.

 

They are in the first phase of the project, which includes public meetings and a WikiMap where cyclists can show where they ride and what roads they would like to ride on.

 

More than 2,000 people have submitted feedback through the WikiMap.

 

Other organizations, including Local Motion, have been involved in this plan.

 

"The exciting thing about this project is when it gets finally through to fruition it will really help put limited investment in the place where it is going to benefit the largest amount of cyclists," said Emily Boedecker, executive director of Local Motion.

 

The deadline for comments is May 15. For more information visit the VTrans website.

 

 

EarthTalk’s Lauren Owens visits Burlington, Vermont, the first city in the US to use 100 percent renewable non-fossil-fuel electricity

February 10, 2015

EarthTalk

Lauren Owens

http://earthtalk.org/destination-burlington/ 

 

EarthTalk’s Lauren Owens visits Burlington, Vermont, the first city in the US to use 100 percent renewable non-fossil-fuel electricity. Highlights of this video include stops at Shelburne Farms, Hotel Vermont, Local Motion and Burlington Electric…

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZuRj5hpqpQ

 

History Space: The power and beauty of Richmond's Gillett Pond

MARTHA TURNER WITH BOB LOW

January 2, 2015

Burliongton Free Press

RICHMOND – Gillett Pond in the southeast corner of Richmond is known today as a tranquil outdoor recreation spot and wildlife habitat. At the beginning of the 20th century, however, it was a key piece in an ambitious project to bring electricity to Richmond village. This is the story of Gillett Pond's evolving place in Richmond's history.

The history of Gillett Pond began long before the pond itself came into existence. Some 15,000 years ago, the Winooski River valley was cut off by glaciers near Jonesville. Water traveling down the ancient Winooski River was diverted in a southwesterly direction towards what is now Huntington, creating a "cut" that would later become the pond "basin." The diverted waters flowed through the Huntington Lower Village area and out through Hinesburg Hollow into what is now Lake Champlain. When the ice receded, left behind was a wetlands area of interconnected pools in a high, narrow valley that drains into the Huntington River just above Huntington Gorge.

1CLEDERICHMOND.JPG

New Year’s skate on Gillett Pond in Richmond, circa 2000. (Photo: Photo by Bob Low)

 

Settlers from Massachusetts

The pond takes its name from the Gillett family. Asa Gillett moved from Massachusetts to Huntington around 1790 and settled in the southern (Huntington) end of the Gillett Pony. In 1812 he bought a substantial amount of Richmond land extending from the north end of the valley. He sold this property in 1825 to his eldest son Asa, Jr., who built a home on what is now Wes White Hill Road.

There may have been a beaver pond or other natural body of water near the north end of the valley when the Gilletts began developing their land, but Gillett Pond as we know it today dates back to the construction of a man-made dam at the valley's outlet. Dams such as this were vital to 19th-century Richmond's economy. The impounded water could be channeled past mill wheels, providing power to grind grain, saw logs or pound woolen cloth to clean and soften the fibers.

By the 1820s, several such mills were in operation on the banks of the Winooski and Huntington rivers, as well as other smaller streams in Richmond. No record has been found of exactly when the first dam was constructed at Gillett Pond, but an 1857 map of Richmond shows a sizeable water body labeled "Gillett's Pond" in the pond's present-day location. By 1869 a sawmill had been built just below the pond's outlet.

The pond's greatest days as an energy reservoir came later, however. Around 1900, a group of local investors conceived a plan to build a hydroelectric power plant to bring the village of Richmond its first-ever source of electricity. The plant itself would be located in a large woodwork/grist mill/cider mill facility that had recently closed at Huntington Gorge. Gillett Pond would serve as a backup water source whenever water was running low on the Huntington River.

In 1902, these investors began acquiring land and water rights around Gillett Pond, which they immediately deeded to the newly chartered Richmond Light and Power Company. At the location of the previously existing dam, they added a cap with a gate in its outlet, substantially raising the water level in Gillett Pond.

1CSECONARYRICHMOND.JPG

Richmond Light and Power Co. hydroelectric plant at Huntington Gorge, circa 1905. (Photo: Courtesy of Ed Neuert)

 

Electricity for Richmond

The project's six investors/officers had no prior experience in the electrical business, nor did two of the five workmen they employed. The job they faced in bringing Richmond into the age of electricity was considerable. In addition to installing machinery in the old mill, rebuilding the mill pond at the Gorge and constructing an enlarged, gated dam at Gillett Pond, they had to set up utility poles and string transmission lines across three miles of hilly terrain. One of the more experienced workmen, Eric Britain, later recalled that "There was much interior wiring to be done in Richmond Village," including "setting transformers, running service wires, and hanging meters as we went along." By the summer of 1903 they were ready to go, and for the first time the people of Richmond Village could light their homes with electricity — typically 16- or 32-watt carbon filament bulbs, at a rate of 10 cents per kilowatt hour according to Britain.

Keeping the generating plant running day and night was a challenge as well. The company could afford only one worker at a time to staff the plant. In times of low water on the Huntington River, this worker would have to hike a half mile up a 350-foot vertical ascent from the plant to the Gillett Pond dam, estimate how much to open the gate, then hurry back down to the untended plant before the added water could reach the mill pond. If he had guessed incorrectly, another hurried uphill trip would be necessary.

A covered bridge was constructed to allow the workers to cross the river and climb the steep slope to the Gillett Pond dam. It also allowed cows to be brought to and from pastures in the upper fields of Wes White Hill. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the generation of electrical power at this site lasted only a few years. The generating plant was shut down in 1910, bringing Richmond's era of water-powered industry to a close.

AUTUMN.JPG

Richmond’s Gillett Pond surrounded by the colors of autumn. (Photo: Photo by Bob Low)

 

Scenic natural area

For Gillett Pond, the closure of the hydroelectric plant made way for a deepening appreciation of the area's scenic beauty. This was confirmed in 1934 when the National Park Service proposed the Green Mountain Parkway, a National Park highway that would run along the spine of the Green Mountains. As mapped, the section north of Appalachian Gap would generally follow the road from Lower Huntington to Richmond, but the narrow National Park corridor was widened at the Richmond/Huntington border to include Gillett Pond and the hills around it. Though Vermont voters defeated the Parkway proposal in 1936, the fact that the National Park Service included Gillett Pond in its proposed plan attests to the pond's significance as a scenic natural area.

The dam at the pond's outlet was abandoned after the power plant closed and at times during the mid-twentieth century, the pond reverted to a marshy wetland area. Thanks to the resident beaver population, however, breaches in the dam were often plugged sufficiently to raise the water level again. Nearby residents fished for northern pike in the shallow water and harvested ice for their ice houses during the winter. In 1955, the pond and much of the adjacent land was purchased by the Mount Mansfield Girl Scout Council. Since that time, generations of scouts have camped, gone swimming and conducted nature studies at Gillett Pond.

Gillett Pond is still widely known throughout the region as an important natural resource and site for year-round recreational opportunities. People come here for canoeing, cross-country skiing, skating, ice-fishing, winter walking and even ice-sailing. The pond's remoteness, especially the northeasterly extension, provides exceptional and undisturbed wildlife habitat. In addition to beavers, river otters make their home at the pond, while mink, fishers, raccoons and foxes prowl the hills and shoreline. More than 130 species of birds have been identified here over the past 30 years, making the Gillett Pond area one of the most diverse bird-viewing spots in the state.

Over the years, Gillett Pond has evolved from being part of a farming economy, to a component in Richmond's first hydroelectric system, to a recreational retreat valued for its tremendous biological diversity. These changes in turn reflect the changing culture of the town itself. Owing its existence in equal parts to topography, human ingenuity and natural ecosystems, Gillett Pond bears witness to the profound interconnection of landscape and history.

3. PostcardPondDamWithDock-300.jpg

Several longtime Richmond residents have identified this postcard image as an early to mid-20th century photo of the Gillett Pond dam. (Photo: Courtesy of Brad Elliot)

 

Preservation project begins

On Dec. 1, the Richmond Land Trust, on behalf of the Friends of Gillett Pond, entered into an agreement with the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, the pond's current owner, to acquire the pond, adjacent land and rights to the dam, which created the current pond. The Richmond Land Trust hopes to raise money to renovate the dam, thus assuring the safety and well-being of Gillett Pond for generations to come. For more information about the Gillett Pond preservation project, please go to the Friends of Gillett Pond website: http://bit.ly/1wtIXTw

 

A wintry walk on the Colchester causeway

Molly Walsh, Free Press Staff Writer

January 3, 2015

Burlington Free Press

http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/local/2015/01/03/walking-island-line-colchester-causeway-get/21231515/COLCHESTER – A winter walk has a way of calming the soul as it stretches the legs. And if it's close to home, that's an added bonus.

 

For an invigorating outing just a few miles from Burlington, take a stroll on a causeway leading out over Lake Champlain from Colchester.

 

Make this walk on the Island Line a lengthy excursion of 7.5 miles, the distance out and back, or make it much shorter. Just turn around and double back to shore. Expect great views all along the way.

 

To read about the history of the causeway and look at a map of the trail, go towww.localmotion.org

 Park at the small lot on Mills Point Road and cross the street to access the trail.

 

Bundle up as you walk on the first quarter-mile, protected stretch because as the trail leaves the woods and pushes out onto the lake, the winter winds like to pick up and blow. On a recent afternoon, even the dogs trotting alongside their owners were

wearing sweaters.

 

 

IMG_4881.JPGBuy Photo

Ice forms next to the white marble blocks along the Colchester causeway. (Photo: MOLLY WALSH/Free Press)

 If the weather feels a bit wild on the causeway, that's part of the allure. Waves slap against the huge chunks of marble that were hauled in more than a century ago to support the former rail bed. The sweeping expanse of Lake Champlain stretches out on either side of the path, creating the feeling of walking on water.

 

Right now the ice is forming in broken squares and sheets of white and gray. When the sun comes out, it glitters on the hard surface. Scrubby trees poke up on either side of the trail and bend in the howling winds.

The mountains rise in the distance on either side of the path, adding to the drama.

It's intriguing to imagine trains hurtling over what is now a ten-foot-wide recreation path. It took hundreds of workers to build the rail bed in 1899 for the Rutland-Canadian Railroad, which enabled the company to compete for business between the Great Lakes and Southern New England.

 

The project was one of the premiere feats of engineering in its day, said Brian Costello, co-founder of Local Motion, the Burlington nonprofit that promotes safe walking, cycling and other people-powered transportation.

 

The railway was built up on rubble and buttressed with white marble blocks from West Rutland to protect the causeway from the slamming waves that easily reach three feet on this part of the lake. The causeway curves over a natural sandbar that made construction a little easier, said Costello, a historian of the Island Line.

 

COHISTORY-1-C29

The Island Line steams across the causeway from South Hero to Burlington. Built in 1899, the causeway supported train traffic until the early 1960s and was converted to a recreation path starting in the mid-1990s. (Photo: Courtesy of “Images of Colchester” by Inge Schaefer)

 

 

Residents of South Hero and other Island communities rode the train into Burlington to go to the movies, do their shopping and get to class at Burlington High School. Butter, milk and other products from the islands were transported by rail in cars refrigerated by ice from the lake.

 

The route carried passengers until the mid 1950s and freight until the early 1960s.

 

Not long after rail service ended, discussion began about converting the railway into a recreation path. Gov. Phil Hoff envisioned a "linear park." It took many years but today the causeway is part of the 14-mile Island Line, which stretches from the Burlington waterfront to the Champlain Islands with the assistance of a warm-weather ferry that carries riders across the "cut," a small stretch of water that interrupts the causeway. The span was once crossed by a swinging railroad bridge that was removed in the 1960s.

 

It took several decades for the transition from rail to recreation to happen. Costello lives in Colchester near the causeway and remembers that in the early 1990s, the access to the old rail bed from Mills Point Road was completely overgrown. "I would see it and wonder what was out there," Costello recalled.

 

Once you bushwhacked onto the causeway, it was sharp, pedestrian-unfriendly rock known as railroad ballast, Costello remembers.

 

He and a few neighbors were nonetheless intrigued with the possibility for recreation and took it upon themselves to haul lumber out in a boat and lay it over a section of the causeway where a small bridge stood without any planking, so pedestrians could access more of the route.

 

Interest grew and the town of Colchester successfully applied for a grant to resurface the causeway so that it could be used as a walking path in the mid-1990s. Work by Local Motion to connect the causeway to the Burlington Bike path with ferries and bridges gradually built up access and traffic.

 

Today the Island Line is one of the best known rails-to-trails networks in the country, with daily service in warm months over the "cut" on a 20-passenger commercial vessel. Costello believes the causeway is the longest non-motorized path across water in the world and is seeking recognition in the Guinness Book of World Records.

 

In summer, the trail is busy with cyclists, walkers and anglers. It's much quieter in winter, but still attracts birders, walkers and sometimes cross country skiers. Right now the gravel pathway is icy in patches but navigable. The path is not routinely cleared of snow in the winter but is sometimes packed down by walkers or groomed for skiing. So plan your footwear accordingly and enjoy a bracing winter walk out into Lake Champlain.

 

Contact Molly Walsh at 660-1874 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Follow Molly on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mokawa

 

 

 

 

Pedestrian adcidents fairly random, Police say

Burlington Free Press

ELIZABETH MURRAY

FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

December 8, 2014

 

Between late September and early November in Burlington, three motor vehicle crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists had occurred on or near Pine Street this year. However, Pine Street is not the place in the city with the heaviest number of general crashes this year, or consistently the area where pedestrian- or bicyclist-involved crashes are the highest, said Burlington Sgt. Thomas Radford. Radford is a 20-year veteran of the Burlington Police Department. 

 

In his experience, Radford said pedestrian or bicycle crashes with cars are fairly randomly spread throughout the city. These types of crashes make up a fraction of all accidents this year, with 28 crashes involving bicyclists and 10 involving motorcycles. The Burlington Police Department did not provide exact statistics on the number of pedestrian vs. car crashes that occurred so far this year. “My experience is that there are certain areas where one is more likely to get hit than others, but it’s pretty random throughout the city,” Radford said. “If you’re a pedestrian, you have nothing to protect you, so when you enter that crosswalk, you have to make sure that the vehicles have stopped. If you do that, then you’re going to keep yourself safe.”

 

As of Nov. 30, Burlington police statistics show that 1,731accidents have occurred this year. Most of these accidents,
or 62 percent, are property damage only events, according to statistics obtained from the Burlington Police
Department. The statistics also show that five percent of all these crashes involved injuries to people — which includes
motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. These percentages are consistent with past years, the department concluded
after examining the statistics. 

 

Radford said pedestrian and bicycle crashes in Burlington seem to get the most attention from the media — making it seem like more have happened. According to Radford, he has seen several things improve in the city, particularly along Pine Street with the flashing crosswalk signal that was installed this year,  which he said has had a “huge effect.” The total number of motor vehicle crashes has gradually increased in Burlington over the last three years. However, this year’s crash statistics started high in January, with almost 200 crashes in one month, but eventually leveled off and dropped in November. 

 

A heat map created by the Burlington Police Department shows that areas in Burlington where crashes happen most often are around 1127 North Avenue, the Winooski Avenue and Main Street corridors, 11 Colchester Ave, the intersection of Main Street and East Avenue and at 595 Shelburne Road. Stu Sporko, a University of Vermont student and Burlington resident, said he often rides his bicycle to work at the Battery Street Jeans Exchange on Marble Avenue. As a bicyclist, Sporko admitted he does not follow the rules of the road too closely, but he said fault comes from both sides. He also said he would like to see more bicycle lanes around the city. “I’ve seen some people driving fast down Pine Street, and there’s not really a lot of courtesy to pedestrians on Pine Street compared to other side streets,” Sporko added. “If you’re trying to cross, you kind of have to wait until all the cars go by...

 

 

However, the real traffic really hits you on Shelburne Road.” Sporko said that Pine Street is fairly empty at night, but that is when he sees people speeding down the street the most. Burlington resident Tori Wonderlick said that she walks to work on Church Street every day from her North Avenue home. She said that being predictable to cars and bicyclists is the  way she keeps herself safe.


Wonderlick said she has observed that four-way intersections, especially near one-way streets in the Old North End, seem to be most confusing for drivers. She said she has almost been hit while crossing the street when the motorist only looked the one way before turning up a one-way street in the direction where she was crossing.  “Sometimes, I think people can get pretty impatient at some of those heavily-trafficked fourway stops that only have stop signs,” Wonderlick added. “At high-traffic times, people tend to act as if the stop sign is a stop light ... As a pedestrian, I feel like it’s important to pay attention to who is paying attention to you too.”

 

Contact Elizabeth Murray at 651-4835 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LizMurraySMC.

 

Pedestrian adcidents fairly random, Police say

Burlington Free Press

ELIZABETH MURRAY

FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

December 8, 2014

 

Between late September and early November in Burlington, three motor vehicle crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists had occurred on or near Pine Street this year. However, Pine Street is not the place in the city with the heaviest number of general crashes this year, or consistently the area where pedestrian- or bicyclist-involved crashes are the highest, said Burlington Sgt. Thomas Radford. Radford is a 20-year veteran of the Burlington Police Department. 

 

In his experience, Radford said pedestrian or bicycle crashes with cars are fairly randomly spread throughout the city. These types of crashes make up a fraction of all accidents this year, with 28 crashes involving bicyclists and 10 involving motorcycles. The Burlington Police Department did not provide exact statistics on the number of pedestrian vs. car crashes that occurred so far this year. “My experience is that there are certain areas where one is more likely to get hit than others, but it’s pretty random throughout the city,” Radford said. “If you’re a pedestrian, you have nothing to protect you, so when you enter that crosswalk, you have to make sure that the vehicles have stopped. If you do that, then you’re going to keep yourself safe.”

 

As of Nov. 30, Burlington police statistics show that 1,731accidents have occurred this year. Most of these accidents,
or 62 percent, are property damage only events, according to statistics obtained from the Burlington Police
Department. The statistics also show that five percent of all these crashes involved injuries to people — which includes
motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. These percentages are consistent with past years, the department concluded
after examining the statistics. 

 

Radford said pedestrian and bicycle crashes in Burlington seem to get the most attention from the media — making it seem like more have happened. According to Radford, he has seen several things improve in the city, particularly along Pine Street with the flashing crosswalk signal that was installed this year,  which he said has had a “huge effect.” The total number of motor vehicle crashes has gradually increased in Burlington over the last three years. However, this year’s crash statistics started high in January, with almost 200 crashes in one month, but eventually leveled off and dropped in November. 

 

A heat map created by the Burlington Police Department shows that areas in Burlington where crashes happen most often are around 1127 North Avenue, the Winooski Avenue and Main Street corridors, 11 Colchester Ave, the intersection of Main Street and East Avenue and at 595 Shelburne Road. Stu Sporko, a University of Vermont student and Burlington resident, said he often rides his bicycle to work at the Battery Street Jeans Exchange on Marble Avenue. As a bicyclist, Sporko admitted he does not follow the rules of the road too closely, but he said fault comes from both sides. He also said he would like to see more bicycle lanes around the city. “I’ve seen some people driving fast down Pine Street, and there’s not really a lot of courtesy to pedestrians on Pine Street compared to other side streets,” Sporko added. “If you’re trying to cross, you kind of have to wait until all the cars go by...

 

 

However, the real traffic really hits you on Shelburne Road.” Sporko said that Pine Street is fairly empty at night, but that is when he sees people speeding down the street the most. Burlington resident Tori Wonderlick said that she walks to work on Church Street every day from her North Avenue home. She said that being predictable to cars and bicyclists is the  way she keeps herself safe.


Wonderlick said she has observed that four-way intersections, especially near one-way streets in the Old North End, seem to be most confusing for drivers. She said she has almost been hit while crossing the street when the motorist only looked the one way before turning up a one-way street in the direction where she was crossing.  “Sometimes, I think people can get pretty impatient at some of those heavily-trafficked fourway stops that only have stop signs,” Wonderlick added. “At high-traffic times, people tend to act as if the stop sign is a stop light ... As a pedestrian, I feel like it’s important to pay attention to who is paying attention to you too.”

 

Contact Elizabeth Murray at 651-4835 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LizMurraySMC.

 

Closing Burlington streets to open community conversation

WCAX

 

Sep 16, 2014 

 

By Melissa Howell 

 

http://www.wcax.com/story/26548623/closing-burlington-streets-to-open-community-conversation 

 

 

BURLINGTON, Vt. -

It's a movement spreading across the nation, from Bogota, Colombia, to Portland, Oregon, and now, right here in Burlington. It's an event called Open Streets BTV. Local Motion is joining forces with the city to halt traffic to hold a party. Sunday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., streets throughout the Old North End will be closed to cars and open to bikes.

Reporter Melissa Howell: The idea of shutting down a whole area in Burlington, how is that going to work for the neighborhood? For the people living on these streets?

Katelin Brewer-Collie/Local Motion: Well, we've anticipated that people will need to be able to drive on Sunday morning during the event, so we will have volunteers stationed at every single intersection along the route.

More than 100 volunteers will be escorting residents to and from their homes throughout the event.

"That's a pretty neat idea. As long as I'm able to get in and out of my driveway, I think it should be a pretty fun idea," said Jon Chamis of Burlington.

Yoga, dancing and free bike rentals for kids are just a few of the more than 30 activities replacing cars on city streets, and perhaps reconnecting the community-- improving the area's reputation.

"I think the North End gets a really bad rap sometimes, and when you see people get together and have fun like that, maybe it will change the while image a little bit," said Marni Cooney of T. Rugg's Tavern.

"It's this great opportunity to spread these positive messages about healthy habits, about community economic development, about local businesses, about coming together and thinking about streets differently," Brewer-Collie said.

While Open Streets BTV is all about bringing the community together, organizers also want to make sure that emergency vehicles can get through. And they've got a plan in place to make sure that happens.

"We will have half of North Street coned off and that lane will be reserved for emergency vehicles should there be one that needs to get through," Brewer-Collie said.

With a game plan already in place, the hope is to see Open Streets come back next year and take meeting the neighbors to a whole new level.

"We hope that in addition to just being a really fun way to spend your Sunday, Open Streets also helps promote that conversation about what everybody would like from their streets and how do we as a community get there," said Emily Boedecker of Local Motion.

The event is sponsored by local businesses. Street parking will be available to residents in all of the blocked off areas except North Street, but, of course, bikes are welcome.

Click here for more information on Open Streets BTV.

 
More Articles...

Landry Insurance

Sign up for

Walk n' Roll News


Email:

 

Local Motion · 1 Steele St. #103 · Burlington · VT 05401 · (802) 861-2700 · Contact Us
© 2015 Local Motion | Designed by: VSD Consulting

rss_icon picasa_logo facebook_icon twitter_icon