Walk 'n Roll News Archives
Each week, stories come back to us from ‘The Cut’ about the people who are riding the bike ferry. Whether locals or visitors, a ride across the causeway is a day to remember. Just this week: 48 mph winds, a 75-year old accordion and ferrying this year’s 1,500th passenger!
I have a confession to make. I started working at Local Motion with a "tree hugging" background. I loved riding my bicycle, but it was mainly an excellent excuse to get outside, smell the fresh air and see nifty things. I was not a "bicyclist." I just love my bike. But, ever since I started working at Local Motion, I've been learning something amazing about how riding our bikes can change the world nearly every day.
Last year, I attended a Safe Routes to School conference and heard a compelling presentation by Dave Cohen of VBike. He reminded us that while our streets are currently designed to optimize car travel, they were not always like this, and showed us a great video of people in cars, on bikes, on foot, on trolleys, and on buses equally using this public space. Here is a very similar video In fact, did you know that our well-paved and smooth roads came about through lobbying by cycling groups? It wasn't until later that automobile groups joined the lobby.
During his presentation, Dave spoke about using bicycles as transportation, sharing with us the great new innovations in electric-assist and cargo bicycles, which allow families to travel together with more ease, and to provide a viable active transportation choice in mountainous Vermont. I even rode on the back of Dave's e-assist cargo bike, as he pedaled up a steep Brattleboro hill. Seeing Dave pedaling up that insane hill, with only a minimum of additional exertion, was revelatory for me. If someone could haul a grown woman (and her extremely heavy briefcase), up a hill that most people would have to walk their bicycles up, then this cargo bike and e-assist thing is a life-changer. I had visions of a healthier, car-light lifestyle, where even my rural home could be bicycle-accessible, and my guilt at adding more carbon to the atmosphere with each trip would evaporate out of the proverbial window. Added bonus - getting out of the car is so good for you.
The enthusiasm in the crowd was growing as Dave showed us beautiful photo after beautiful photo of people having fun in the fresh air, their bodies propelling them through the world. Then, someone asked Dave about the cost of a good cargo bike or e-bike, and the price tag wiped the smiles off of our faces. $3,000 is the average cost of an e-assist bicycle. Cargo bicycles run around $2,000. Still much less than your typical car, but a significant amount for most Vermonters. Enter Vermont State Employees' Credit Union (VSECU)! Yes, VSECU is now offering bicycle loans!
If you're wanting to try out a cargo bike before taking out a loan, you'll be able to try one out for free here at Local Motion sometime in early July. Or, you can get in touch with Dave Cohen at V-Bike, and learn more about his loaner program. Either way, once you fall in love with cargo bicycles, VSECU's revolutionary new loans can make your dream come true!
For all of us, it has been a tough spring. Three people out riding bikes have lost their lives in avoidable crashes due to excess speed, driving under the influence, and driving with a suspended license. We are experiencing a range of emotions: shock, grief, anger, remorse and fear. We are reacting in different ways: riding more, riding less, slowing down until it is safe to pass a person on a bike, winding down our windows so we can hurl insults. I am deliberate in using the inclusive pronoun, “we.” The question, ‘are we safe out there?’ is being raised by all of us who use our roads in any shape or form, not just by those of us who ride bikes or walk.
Last year, there were a total of 17 fatalities from crashes on the roads in Vermont. As of June 18th of this year, we have already reached 17 fatalities. This is our shared concern, not just for people on bikes, not just for other road users described as ‘vulnerable,’ for all of us.
What if the driver of the car that crossed the yellow line and struck Kelly Boe in Weybridge had hit your sister in her car as she was driving the kids home from soccer practice?
What if the teenage driver leaving Hinesburg at excessive speed had, instead of killing Richard Tom, hit and killed a school friend jogging down the road?
What if Dr. Kenneth Najarian had instead been an elderly couple walking across the street to their mailbox and taking a short stroll on the usually calm Greenbush Road?
Had the other vehicle been a car rather than a bike the result may not have been deadly, but would still have been traumatic. It would have left the victim with injuries that linger for a lifetime. The witnesses to the crash would still have violent images in their mind. The drivers who survived would still live with the guilt for the rest of their lives.
How we conduct ourselves on the road, whether we are driving a car, riding a bike, delivering the mail, running the kids to school, or taking a short stroll to see the fireflies in the meadow, is of concern to all of us.
Within our own community, Local Motion is talking with bike shops, bike clubs, touring companies and others to ask, “what can we do together?” Our state agencies are asking the question, “how do we respond?” Our state and local police are saying, “how do we keep people safe?” Human services professionals are asking, “how can we help repeat offenders break the destructive cycle?”
How will we all respond? It will no doubt involve paying closer attention to offenders and enforcing laws already on the books. It will include a focus on education for car drivers and bike riders. It will likely include a call for legislation, and policy, and rides, and rallies.
How effective will these responses be? In large part that depends on you and me. Will we take care of each other on the road? Will we give and get respect? Or will reaching for that cup of coffee distract our attention at a critical moment, or will leaving the house a little later than we planned, tempt us to forget safety in favor of arriving on time?
Wondering “what can I do?” Here are some important ways that you can help:
- Share your thoughts in this Local Motion survey about what should be done to improve safety
Your actions to keep attention on this issue will help fuel our collective push for change.
For my part, I am riding. I am walking. I am running. I am driving. And in each and every moment, I am trying to keep present in my mind the fact that I am using a shared and public space, knowing that I hold the lives of others, in so many ways, in my hands. In the end this is about all of us.
Executive Director, Local Motion
by Peter Burns
Every morning I get up at five and after eating breakfast I meditate for 20 minutes, sitting with
When I ride mindfully I begin by focusing on my posture. In my morning meditation I sit with a
Once my body is aligned properly, I can turn my attention to one or more aspects of the ride.
I can also put my attention on pedaling and changing gears for maximum efficiency. For every
Sometimes I attend to my senses as I ride. I ask myself, what do I see, hear and smell as I ride
Once in a while I see something exceptional -- a rainbow, hundreds of geese flying overhead, a single orange lying in the road. The sonic environment also rewards attention. I listen to the mix
Riding meditatively helps me control road rage. Drivers do discourteous and dangerous things but recently I have been able to remain calm. I do not have the automatic anger reaction that I
Sometimes I just let my mind wander when I ride. If I have a problem to mull over, taking a ride
Looking for a list of participating shops? Go here: Breakfast: Better by Bike Participating Shops
Friday’s not your only day to win big by using your bike. Join the upcoming
If you live, work or play in Chittenden County, you have access to Go! Stations, and we've got great prizes for the electronic bike lockers, transit and CarShare pods that are located at the Go! Stations:
Don’t live or work in Chittenden County? You can still win big with either a Katherine Monstream performance shirt or awesome Local Motion socks. Whether you join for your health, for the challenge, or to commune with friends, there are plenty of opportunities to win!
By Emily Boedecker, Executive Director
There is no doubt that interest in walking and biking, and interest from communities to become more walkable and bikeable, is growing significantly. People for Bikes, a national advocacy group, recently surveyed 16,000 Americans aged 3 and above, and found that 32% of us have ridden a bike for recreation in the last year and 15% have ridden for transportation. Of course it makes sense, whether we care about health, the money in our pockets, the carbon we emit - or simply because smiles have been proven to be 20% wider when riding a bicycle.
If the data shows that more and more people are riding, if 54% think biking is convenient, and if 53% would like to ride more often, what is holding us back?
By Brian Costello, Island Line Coordinator
It was with great sadness that we learned of Bill Hauke's passing on April 1, 2015. Bill was Local Motion's earliest supporter, even before the organization officially existed. From the mid-1990s, when others called the idea “outrageous” and “impossible,” Bill shared our vision of extending the Burlington Bike Path across the Winooski River to Colchester, over the abandoned railroad causeway to "The Cut," and across that 200' cut to South Hero and the Champlain Islands beyond.
By Katelin Brewer-Colie, Complete Streets Project Manager
This April, going from bike to bus to carsharing to foot just got a whole lot easier. Go! Stations in Winooski and Burlington are the first in the northeast to be equipped with BikeLink™ card accessed bike lockers. Check out Channel Five news coverage of the bike locker launch here.
Go! Chittenden County, a collaboration of the region's best transportation organizations, in partnership with Burlington Town Center and the City of Winooski,launched two new Go! Stations in Winooski and Burlington. Other towns have already expressed interest in incorporating bike lockers into Park and Ride and other municipal sites.
By Katelin Brewer-Colie, Complete Streets Project Manager
Vermont bikers: you are nothing less than amazing! Since January, more than 2,100 of you shared your thoughts with VTrans about where you ride now and where you would like to see conditions improve on state highways and Class I town highways! Local Motion works closely with the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) through a variety of programs to help make Vermont roads work better and be safer for all bicyclists -- families, commuters and recreational riders alike.
Local Motion has been assisting VTrans, and consultants RSG and Alta Planning+Design, on the VTrans On-Road Bicycle Plan. The objective of the plan is to develop a comprehensive improvement plan to enhance bicycle accommodations on the highest-ranked bicycle corridors on the state highway system.
Phase 1 of the project is expected to wrap up this summer, and project leaders are ready to present the draft map of priority bicycle corridors on state highways across Vermont, helping to identify where investments should be prioritized to make Vermont’s state roads safer and easier to bike.
By Mary Catherine Graziano, Outreach and Education Manager
Once upon a time, you biked a lot. Or even just a little. But you biked. Then...you had kids. Now your bicycle sits neglected in a dark corner of your home. In a fit of optimism, you may have bought a tow-behind trailer, or a tagalong bike attachment for those idyllic family rides that you fondly imagined. Those items have joined your bike, and in that corner sits a little family of bikes, sadly gathering cobwebs.
It feels inevitable. Kids have SO MUCH STUFF. It’s amazing how much paraphernalia accompanies a baby--bottles, diapers, snacks, toys, wipes, and it doesn’t seem to decrease much when your kids get older. You have schedules now, and daycares, and school, and work and errands. Biking feels like a luxury...from a time when you HAD time.
Our goal is to make this bike free and available for you and your friends and family to try it out and even take it home with you for several days!
But, first we need to win it! The organization with the most votes will win this bike! So, whether we win is up to YOU! Please vote for Local Motion to get this great new bike! Voting ends in 6 days, on April 30, so please vote and share!
Click here to vote: Help Local Motion Win: Cargo Bike Contest
Vermont is a great place to be active. Once we step outside of our indoor bubbles,
The goal of the Everyday Bicycling Project is to give you the choice to use your bike for transportation. This partnership between Local Motion, the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC), and VTrans aims to take bike skills training statewide and help people feel more comfortable using their bicycles as transportation. We have trainers in all corners of the state, and are ready to run a workshop in YOUR town, or at YOUR workplace!
Once we step outside our indoor bubbles, we are instantly immersed in the great beauty of our state. We want to make sure that our youngest generation has that same chance to enjoy nature, safely. With our youth bike skills training through our Kohl's Kids Bike Smart program, we give elementary students essential skills to be confident and competent on bike, enabling them to safely enjoy their beautiful communities by bike.
Kohl's Kids Bike Smart, powered by Local Motion, serves over 5,000 children a year and in 2014 visited towns in eight counties in Vermont. The Kohl’s Kids Bike Smart program is a game-based bike skills curriculum that comes complete with a trailer of over 40 kids’ bikes, and is provided at no charge (aside from a nominal delivery fee) to schools and camps state-wide. This incredible program is entirely funded by YOUR purchases of Kohl’s Cares toys and books at a local Vermont Kohl’s store.
We’ve been listening! Over the last couple of years you’ve shared your thoughts about other bike challenges, and what would really work for you. Enter the Vermont Bike/Walk Challenge, a statewide active transportation and recreation challenge where Vermonters can log their trips on foot AND on bike to collect points. It is also a question of trips not miles, so anyone can rack up an impressive tally of points which can then be redeemed for prizes and gift cards! If you participate in Vermontivate (until May 2nd) and/or get your feet wet with the Way to Go Challenge (May 5 thru 15), you will get a 30 point head-start in the Vermont Bike/Walk Challenge for each program! That is a possible total of a 60 point head start for the committed gameplayer! The month-long challenge starts on Saturday, May 16 and ends on Friday, May 12. To learn more go to: www.vermontbikechallenge.org.
By Peter Burns, Bike Trainer, Photo Credit Astrid Lague
Spring is in the air and our thoughts turn to outdoor activities. If your bike has been in storage for the winter now is the time to take it to a bike shop for a tune up, unless, of course, you can do it yourself. The earlier you bring it in the better. By the end of April, there will be a flood of bikes going into the shops, and you don’t want to be at the back of the line. Every time you ride instead of driving, you save money. So at the bike shop think about what could make your ride more comfortable and more enjoyable. How about new lights or a bell? Bike gloves offer wind protection and padding, and a well-balanced pannier can lighten the load on your back.
When your bike is ready to go, don't hesitate to get out and ride, but remember that spring can be deceiving. Even if it is sunny, 40 degrees calls for a jacket, gloves and a hat. Always bring along another layer for the unpredictable Vermont weather, being cold is no fun and you want your spring rides to be enjoyable.
We are excited to share with you the news that Local Motion and the Vermont Bicycle and
by Mary Catherine Graziano, Outreach and Education Manager
As the season turns (slowly) from winter to spring, with the attendant mud and slush, an article about fat bikes seems doubly appropriate. With a fat bike, you can go where no regular bike can go. They can conquer snowdrifts, slush, sand and other difficult terrain, which in March and April, pretty much describes all of Vermont.
Here’s how they do it: fat bikes, with their tire widths of 4” or more, are much better able to traverse unstable terrain than standard bikes, with their 2” tire width. These fat tires can also be ridden at much lower pressures--down to 6 psi, as opposed to standard tires at 25-65 psi. This lower pressure, plus the extra width, provides stability and traction. When you get on the bike, the tire flattens under your weight, creating more surface area for the rubber to meet the ground. This extra surface area allows the bike to travel much more easily over snow or sand, and because the tires are softer, your trail ride is less jarring. This does not mean that you will sail through the snow on a fat bike. The big deal is that you will stay upright--it’s still going to be a lot of work to plow through those snowdrifts.
The gender gap, the difference in the number of women and men who bike, begins at age 10.
This was just one of the startling statistics shared last week at the National Bike Summit. There were also many encouraging stories shared and inspiring people to meet, like the 12 year old girl who won the national Safe Routes to School poster contest and was joining her state delegation on the hill the very next day!
If there was one idea uniting and inspiring the 600 bicycling activists gathered in DC, it was the belief that biking is turning the corner and moving into the mainstream, a shared belief that biking is for everyone, no matter what age, income bracket, gender or ability. After a century of designing just for the automobile, communities large and small are now investing in bike facilities – protected bike lanes, bike paths, bike parking and more – that provide a safe and inviting places for everyone to ride.
Last year, during the CCTA bus strike in Chittenden County our sister organization, Bike Recycle Vermont (link), whose mission is to provide a path out of poverty by bike, experienced a large uptick in the number of people asking for bikes at the shop. Many low-income Vermonters rely on buses for transportation. When the buses were no longer running they had to find another way to get around, and they turned to Bike Recycle Vermont to get low-cost bikes.
Bicycles are a viable transportation option for many Vermonters to get to work, and to many other destinations. Recent data from the American Communities Survey showed that more people commute by bike in Burlington than in Portland, OR!
Riding a bike is an activity that can be enjoyed independent of age or wealth, and is accessible to people with different physical abilities. We ride for fun, to meet a friend, to get to school or to commute to work. We’ll take our families on a ride across the lake, take a longer trip with friends or even enjoy long, solitary rides through the country-side.
Whatever the reason, bicycling needs to both BE safe and FEEL safe for everyone. What can we do to help more people feel more comfortable riding their bikes? The solution needs to offer a network of bike facilities that connect every part of a city, bike facilities that are appropriately designed for the road and traffic volumes, and a network which connects between towns and cities, so that anyone can ride safely from point A to point B.
Many cities that invest in good walk/bike infrastructure focus on the commercial or more affluent areas of a city first, and many times this means that less affluent areas do not have the same kind of access to facilities for walking and biking. With a growing number of everyday cyclists in Burlington, in Vermont and around the nation, the questions of equity and safety need to be addressed today.
How can Vermont make sure that all areas of the state--from rural to urban, from wealthy to low-income, have access to appropriate infrastructure that keeps people safe, provides opportunities to incorporate walking and biking into their own daily routine, and also connects communities? An essential component is to look at infrastructure across towns and across neighborhoods, to make sure that everyone is getting equal access to safe streets. You can see Vermont’s efforts to improve bicycle infrastructure statewide with the On-Road Bicycle Plan (LINK: http://vtransplanning.vermont.gov/bikeplan) If you have ideas or suggestions, make sure that you attend the April 30th public meeting!
Interested in the intersection between bicycling and social equity? The Alliance for Walking and Biking offers a beautiful and useful idea book on how to create fairer cities, filled with important considerations for creating equity in our on-street infrastructure. To learn more about bicycling and its relevance across the income spectrum, read this article from the national organization People For Bikes
By Peter Burns, Practical Biking Trainer
In days of old, when knights errant went on quests, they had a code of conduct, a code of chivalry that guided their actions. Because there is no real enforcement of bike laws (although there should be), and in places the law is ambiguous, we all have to come up with our own rules for bike riding.
My code of conduct has evolved over the years and I will confess that in the past I have run red lights and blown through stop signs, putting myself in danger and disregarding the rights of other road users. As we ride we are not just deciding where to ride, we are constantly making ethical decisions about how we ride. On a bike it is easy to cut corners, use sidewalks and run red lights. The question is what kind of bike rider do we want to be?
I have changed my behavior now, not just because breaking the law is dangerous, but also because I realize I am part of a bike riding community and I want all of us to be safe and welcome on the roads. So here is my code for ethical riding...
I am also a pedestrian, and that seems less fraught with ethical questions. My main challenge is to avoid jaywalking, deciding if saving the 10 seconds it would take me to walk to the corner is worth it.
As a car driver I also have responsibilities. Driving laws are enforced more than biking laws, but there are still gray areas where ethics and courtesy have their place. I give bike riders lots of room, and don’t honk at them. I also stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. I don’t speed and I stop for stop signs. I try to remember that I am driving something that could cause a cyclist or pedestrian serious injury or death.
You’ve heard the term, scofflaw. It’s been around for more than a century, but is often used today to mis-characterize bike riders in general. We’ve also heard friends say to us, I’d never ride on (insert any name) road, I don’t feel safe. Our roads are our largest public spaces, and to realize the potential of transforming our towns and cities for walking and biking we need to figure out how to share this space with respect and consideration for all users. What is your personal code of conduct?
The City of Burlington's South End PlanBTV is going all out to make planning for a vibrant South End a fun, engaging, and (sometimes) wacky experience. We love the bike rack that artist Tyler Vendituoli has installed in front of SEABA! Here's how he described it:
"The bike rack represents to me a serious topic posed in the form of a joke," Vendituoli says. "The serious topic is that of parking and more specifically the lack of parking in the South End. By the time the people who work here park, there isn't space left for clients or customers to find a spot. I feel like I get an email from work once a month reminding us where its ok to park and when.
"The joke is taking a real issue and blowing it so out of proportion that it becomes humorous. 'Space is so tight and prices are going up so fast that they're even charging for bicycle parking. Can you believe that?' Of course you don't have to pay for bike parking, but it is meant to look like such a... true utility item that it'll be hard to tell."