Walk 'n Roll News
By Peter Burns
When the temperature drops and the snow begins to fall, winter bike season starts. Winter riding can be lots of fun and a great way to get outside and escape the confines of your car. I have been riding through the winter for many years, and I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 suggestions that I hope will help you avoid some common winter riding pitfalls...
Construction is well underway in front of Staples Plaza and the Sheraton (Route 2/Williston Road) to add an eastbound lane for vehicles turning onto southbound I-89. The plan, dubbed ‘Staples Third Lane,’ was developed in 2009. When completed in 2015 bikers and walkers can expect 5-foot bike lanes and new 5-foot sidewalks throughout, plus two new bus shelters.
With our rapidly changing thinking about the importance of protected bike lanes, roads that accommodate vehicles, bikes, and foot traffic, and are suitable for all ages and abilities, we have to ask...would this project be different if it were designed today? It's hard to say. This stretch of road serves 43,000 cars per day, and is one of the busiest in the state. Given the time it takes to plan and build any road project, various constituents are working to essentially predict -- and in turn build for -- the future. Transportation planners and municipal officials, VTrans engineers, advocacy organizations and citizens are all engaged in the process.
Meet Isabella. She’s a lot like other 12 year-olds you might know in your neighborhood or community. She’s exploring her freedom, but still likes to play. She learned how to ride a bike recently and is improving her skills everyday. She’s still a little wobbly and because she is still small, she can’t see or be seen as well over cars or at intersections. One of Isabella’s favorite things to do is ride her bike with her family to get ice cream on the weekends. But she wants to be able to ride alone, too -- to her friend's house, to school, to her favorite playground.
The goal of the "Build it for Isabella" campaign is to highlight how important it is to design bike lanes so they work for all ages and all abilities, for the least experienced and most vulnerable bicyclists among us. While conventional bike lanes are fine for experienced bike riders, they just aren't good enough for kids, older folks, novice cyclists, families with children in tow, and others who need an extra margin of safety to feel comfortable on the street.
Summer 2014 has been one for the record books. With daily Bike Ferry service, extended hours on Thursday nights, over 10,000 riders and - of course - the addition of the new 20-passenger boat, we can’t help but look back and smile. This summer brought a lot of additions to what Local Motion offers Bike Ferry riders, but more than anything else it left us with some unforgettable stories. We sat down with our Bike Ferry crew to recap some of our favorite stories of the season…
Deckhand Frank Malaki recalled an exchange he had on one of his first mornings on the ferry when a big man rode up to ‘The Cut’.
“He was built like a college football player, not a road cyclist,” Frank recalls, “he was wearing a student-sized backpack and riding what looked like a new bike.”
The man said he wanted to take the ferry across and, striking up conversation, Frank politely asked where he was traveling to. “Montreal today,” the man responded (over 85 miles away from the South Hero dock) and went on to say that he started in New York City….just two days before! “I’ll stay in Montreal tonight and start back to the city tomorrow,” he said. “Isn’t that...a long way to do a round trip in just six days?” Frank asked. The man responded that he was doing a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project. Seemingly unphased by his 370 mile trip, he rode off and waved goodbye.
Four bicycles hang from the bike stands at Bike Recycle Vermont: a dusty, cobweb-covered Trek hybrid that was recently freed from the basement, a shiny emerald road bike purchased from Old Spokes Home last year, a Specialized commuter equipped with mirrors, lights, reflective tape, and panniers, and a vintage baby-blue Univega 10-speed with yellow bar tape wrapped around its drop handlebars and a distinguished leather saddle showing its age.
The owners stand in front of their bikes in the stands waiting for the class to begin. For many of the people at BRV tonight, this is the first time they’ve looked at their bicycle in a stand. For the first time ever their bicycle is at eye level. One woman turns the pedals, plays with the shifter, and sticks her nose into her drivetrain for a close-up look at her chain as it moves up and down the freewheel. Another woman inspects the worn, cracking sidewalls of her tires. Another lets out an audible “ah-ha!” as she discovers the source of her squeaky brakes. The bicycle is becoming demystified even before class has begun.
You may have seen, or had a friendly conversation with, Thomas Cohen, at any number of events over the years. While at Local Motion Thomas has been the Secure Bike Parking Manager, the Assistant Bike Ferry Manager, and as we prepare to wish him goodbye he is holding down the fort at the Trailside Center. Truly a jack of all trades, Tom will be greatly missed by the whole team. Before he leaves us we talked with Thomas about his role in developing the Secure Bike Parking program...
LM: How did you come to work at Local Motion?
TC: I found out about Local Motion when I was interning for the BTV Bike Cluster, an internship that board member and UVM professor, Luis Vivanco, set me up with in 2011. I met Chapin (Local Motion’s former Executive Director) at the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C. around that time and connected with him about my interest in Local Motion. After graduation I started as an intern working on the Secure Bike Parking program, which I now manage. It was the first year Local Motion had taken Secure Bike Parking -- which was previously operated independently -- under it’s wing.
Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, who helped grow ciclovía said: “A quality city is not one that has great roads, but one where a child can safely go anywhere on a bicycle.”
My family of five recently returned from five months in Bogotá, Colombia. Bogotá is a sprawling, congested city of over 8.5 million people and we had to adjust to a different language and cultural norms, navigate the city, and confront social and economic inequalities nearly every day. It wasn’t long before the excitement of being in a new and very different place turned to stress for our three kids.
Everywhere you look, biking in Burlington (and across Vermont) is on the rise. It seems that people on bikes are everywhere: not just on the bike path, but all around town. And it isn't limited to the lycra crowd or the day-glo bike commuters or the folks who are biking because they don't have a car. Everyone from new parents to seasoned professionals are hitting the streets!
And the numbers prove it out. From 2007 to 2012, U.S. Census data show that the percentage of commute trips taken by bike in Burlington almost doubled, from 2.9% to 5.5%. That puts Burlington in the same league as Portland, Oregon, which had a 6.1% bike commute share in 2012.
You may have noticed a new face to the Local Motion team in the past year. Martel Catalano joined us last year as our very own Membership and Communications Coordinator (think: Walk ‘n’ Roll news, social media and membership drives). A transplant from the suburbs of New York City, Martel moved to Burlington last fall to fill this role, so we sat down to discuss what brought her here...
LM: What attracted you to Local Motion?
MC: I first heard about Local Motion when I was finishing up at Skidmore College, and doing an internship with Jeff Olson of Alta Planning + Design. Jeff was excited about the strides Local Motion was making in Burlington, and he planted a seed that I carried with me through graduate school.
On previous visits Burlington had always blown me away with its beauty and progressive social scene, so I knew it would be a place where I would love to live. When I started looking for a job where I could have an impact and use the knowledge I had acquired in all my studies, Local Motion came to mind. We began a conversation and look what it lead to!
This past Sunday, over 120 people biked, walked or boated out to ‘The Cut’ in the Colchester Causeway to celebrate a long awaited moment – the official naming of the Bill and Carole Hauke II Bike Ferry.
Friends and family shared ice cream and stories before Local Motion’s Executive Director, Emily Boedecker, stepped to the bow of the ferry and welcomed everyone, “Every single one of you here today, whether you are a supporter of the Big Fix campaign, a member of Local Motion, or a rider of the ferry, deserve recognition and a round of applause for your part in make the vision of daily bike ferry service a reality. From the new wave attenuating docks to the bike ferry itself.”
If you live in or around Burlington, chances are you have driven North Avenue. This important street is the backbone of the New North End as well as a key connection between the New North End and the Waterfront and Downtown. What is less likely is that you have biked North Avenue, or walked along it for any distance.
Over the last year or so, a group of citizens and municipal staff have been working hard on the “North Avenue Corridor Study,” with a focus on making North Avenue good for biking and walking as well as for driving. The good news is that the Advisory Committee has issued a set of recommendations for changes that will dramatically improve North Avenue for everyone in the next couple of years. The picture above shows a street much like North Avenue that has been rethought to make it work for walking, biking, and driving. Read on to learn more about how this will happen!
Last week we added another member to the Local Motion fleet. The “Bill and Carole Hauke II” made its official debut out at ‘The Cut’ in the Colchester Causeway! This beautiful new boat truly takes our Bike Ferry service to the next level.
Since the floods of 2011, we have been working tirelessly to restore one of Vermont’s finest recreational amenities -- the Island Line Trail’s Colchester Causeway -- and upgrade our bike ferry service. Why? Because riding the Island Line Trail has become such a popular activity for visitors and locals alike that far more people wanted to cross the gap in the causeway than our original boats could handle.
“Even running two six-passenger ferries, we regularly had long lines,” says Bike Ferry Captain and Island Line Coordinator, Brian Costello. “With the new 20-passenger ferry, we’ve taken the service to a whole new level. We can take more than three times as many people and the new boat can handle much rougher weather."
The combination of the new ferry and our new wave-attenuating docks is finally allowing us to offer the reliability and quality of service we’ve been dreaming of for the last 10 years. Our goal is to operate seven days a week even during high winds and severe weather! Read on to learn about the new Ferry -- and to meet "Bob," the dummy who keeps us on our toes...
This year, Burlington is organizing its first-ever "Open Streets" event. Open Streets BTV is a celebration of one of the city's largest public spaces -- our streets! On September 21 from 9:00 to 2:00, three miles of streets in the Old North End will be closed to cars and opened to people. Here is a rundown of how it'll work.
Q: What is Open Streets BTV?
A: Open Streets BTV will give residents and visitors an opportunity to mingle, play, and shop, all while promoting healthy living and active transportation. People of all ages will have the chance to travel several miles of neighborhood streets in a safe, car-free environment, enjoying fun and healthy activities along the way.
This is just the beginning! Our goal is to hold events in different neighborhoods throughout the city on an annual basis.
Open Streets BTV is inspired by the South American “Ciclovia” (pronounced see-cloh-vee-ah), which originated in Bogota, Colombia in 1976. The Open Streets movement has really grown in recent years, with initiatives currently taking place in more than 100 U.S. cities. For an inspiring look at how Open Streets works and what it does for communities, check out this Streetfilms video, The Rise of Open Streets.
Kevin Rose manages Local Motion's Trailside Center. He is also our in-house long-distance biking expert, GIS map maker, and storyteller extraordinaire! Come on in and visit Kevin along with his TC Ambassadors at the The Trailside Center down on the Burlington Bike path. The TC is open 7 days a week from 9:00 to 6:00 in July & August and from 10:00 to 6:00 in September & October.
LM: Tell us about the Trailside Center. How did it get started and what is your role?
KR: The Trailside Center came into being in 2003 as an option for bringing in revenue for Local Motion by renting bikes. It is one of the larger revenue streams for the nonprofit today and helps to support many of our programs.
In the TC’s early days, it was much smaller than it is today. As a matter of fact, the room that is now the TC used to be Local Motion’s only office! There was just a handful of bikes, sitting right next to the desks of our co-founders, Chapin and Brian.
I started there in 2008 when the TC Manager was just a seasonal role – a new person every year. When I started coming back year after year, that freed up other people in the organization to do more advocacy work. Since then we’ve seen pretty dramatic growth in the TC.
Ed Champagne is one of our esteemed captains out at the Island Line Bike Ferry. We sat down with Ed recently to talk about his passions, his experience with boats and especially his experience with our favorite boat – the Bike Ferry!
For the first time ever we are running daily service across "The Cut" in the Colchester Causeway from June 14th to September 1st, and will be open from 10am to 6pm. Enjoy late night service every Thursday until 9pm. For more information, or to purchase your season pass, click here!
LM: Can you describe the experience of riding the Bike Ferry?
EC: For me it's just as exciting as if I were a passenger. You’re meeting a lot of people, you’re getting to know about where they are going and the adventures they are having. You’re enjoying all types of weather out there. It’s invigorating to see all that movement, or see how the weather unfolds which can be challenging at times. As captain it makes the day go by quickly! The enthusiasm people have for Local Motion further excites me, seeing the positive affect we have on their lives.
Burlington comes alive in the summer. With bike culture on the rise in cities across America, it’s no surprise that when temperatures rise Burlingtonians are choosing to get around on two wheels rather than four. Picturesque sights, live music, and delicious foods are just a few of the many offerings the Queen City has for locals and visitors alike. Waterfront celebrations and the Farmers' Market at City Hall Park are some of our favorite things to do, and for that reason Local Motion has been working over the past few years to provide a service that makes experiencing these amenities easier than ever – Secure Bike Parking.
Secure bicycle parking is the norm overseas in countries like the Netherlands, where the fixtures are permanent within municipalities. Our friend and volunteer, Stu Lindsay, has had first-hand experience of fietsenstallings on numerous trips to Holland.
Want to ride more but concerned about safety? Here at Local Motion we get questions about safety all the time, so lets leap right into a hotly debated topic, helmets! From selection to fitting to proper use, people really want to get it right! Here's a sampling of the questions we get...
"What kind of helmet should I wear?" Anything sold in the United States is subject to the same safety certification, ASTM, Snell or CPSC. Just make sure it fits you, is good shape, and is worn correctly. Local Motion can help -- come on by anytime!
"How do I get my kid to wear a helmet?" Buy a really sharp-looking model and let them decorate it with their favorite stickers or sparkles. Of course wear a helmet yourself, and then draw a line in the sand - no helmet, no bike.
"Will a helmet keep me safe on my bike?" No.
No? The rest of this article explores why. A helmet is an excellent insurance policy. If you do get into a crash you'll be really glad you had a helmet on. There is absolutely no doubt that wearing a helmet dramatically reduces the likelihood and the severity of traumatic brain injury in the event of a crash.
Dave Cohen, a presenter at last month's Walk Bike Summit, is excited to announce plans for cargobikes on a state-wide basis.
Over the past few years, new revolutionary cargobike designs have emerged in the US that are capable of hauling 400 lbs.or more. That means we can now carry the kids, laundry, and groceries - and perhaps all at the same time! It's a utilitarian cyclist's dream. If this dream sounds a little too much like a fairytale, then you've got to check out the new documentary in-the-making, Less Car, More Bike by filmmaker and cargobike aficionado., Liz Canning.
The west coast of Ireland. Paris. And (wait for it) Vermont's Island Line. These were the three featured biking destinations in a recent article on the front page (!!!) of the New York Times travel section.
(Best of all, the article was written by a Local Motion member.) You can't ask for much better company than that!
That's Ireland on the left, Paris in the middle, and Vermont on the right.
We are calling on 100 Burlington households to take the Park It Pledge this spring. The Park It Pledge is a fun city-wide challenge to drive less for all the good reasons you know about—it benefits your health, your wallet, your community, and the environment.
During this 6-month challenge, all you have to do is make a commitment to walk, bike, bus, carpool, use CarShare Vermont, telecommute, etc. instead of using your own car, and you’ll receive a FREE CarShare Vermont membership, generous monthly driving credits, CCTA bus passes, bike commuter perks and other great transportation resources to help make getting around a breeze!