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Walk 'n Roll News

Serving All Vermonters: Bicycling and Equity

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.  


share of adult non recreation

share of adult recreation


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:  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



600 Advocates (and a couple of Vermonters) descend on DC!


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.



Squirrelly Larry the Fatty and Dan Hock

 by Mary Catherine Graziano, Outreach and Education Manager


Dan Lake small

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.  



Nominate Your Favorite Breakfast/Coffee Shop for National Bike to Work Day

We’ve got an awesome National Bike to Work Day (Friday, May 15th) planned for Vermont!  We’re going to connect with YOUR favorite breakfast/coffee shop, and see if they want to participate in our “Breakfast. Better by Bike” program, where anyone who participates in National Bike to Work Day can stop at a participating coffee/breakfast shop to get a free coffee and/or a breakfast treat. No, you don’t have to be going to work for it to count--any trip, anywhere that you might have taken your car but chose your bike instead, is eligible.  There’s one hitch--we don’t know which are your favorite coffee shops!  Nominate yours: Coffee Shop Nomination Form.  The form will be closed at 5:00 on Monday, March 30th. Once we get your nominations, we’ll check in with nominated shops to see if they are able to participate. The statewide list of participating shops will be available by the beginning of May.


Commuting Code of Conduct

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...

  • Obey red lights and don’t use pedestrian walk signals unless you get off the bike and walk
  • Slow down and look both ways at stop signs
  • Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks
  • Signal all left turns
  • Use front and back lights after dark and wear reflective clothing
  • Don’t ride on sidewalks
  • Never go the wrong way in a one way bike lane

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?



South End PlanBTV Getting Creative with Community Engagement

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." 




What a Year It's Been... Local Motion's 2014 Top Ten!

Wow!  It's been a great year for walking and biking. Communities across Vermont are becoming great places to walk and bike, thanks in part to Local Motion's 1,700+ members, 350+ volunteers, and tens of thousands of collaborators across Vermont.  
You can help make 2015 even better!  If you like what you see, consider making an end-of-year donation to Local Motion here. 
Businesses and community destinations across Chittenden County install over 75 new bike racks with help from Local Motion, and our Valet Bike Parking service helps 5,000 people ride instead of drive to community events in Burlington...
Essex Junction and Town adopt an innovative shared walk-bike master plan that -- at Local Motion's suggestion -- maps out two complementary networks:  one for experienced cyclists and another for new bike riders
VTrans joins with the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission to support the statewide expansion of Local Motion's bike commuter workshops, with a focus on practical biking skills for everyone



VTrans Laying Foundation for Multimodal Transportation System

All this fall, VTrans has been quietly working with Smart Growth America and a handful of partners to map out a plan for revising Vermont's road design standards.  The road design standards are what define how our roads are built, repaired, and maintained, and they haven't seen a complete overhaul in 20 years.


Sound kinda boring?  Actually, this rewrite is just about the most important thing to happen to walking and biking in Vermont in a long time!  The focus of the rewrite is on supporting and advancing a multimodal transportation system:  one where walking, biking, taking the bus, carpooling, and other sustainable options are easy, safe, and convenient.  From placement of transit stops to maintenance of bike lanes to design of crosswalks, VTrans is taking a hard look at every line of what is effectively the bible for everyone from VTrans maintenance crews to town public works staff.




VTrans On-Road Bike Plan Public Meeting Rescheduled!

As many of you are aware, the first public meeting for the statewide VTrans On-Road Bicycle Plan was cancelled due to the massive snowstorm that swept through Vermont, leaving the state a winter wonderland. Not to worry! The public meeting has been rescheduled for Wednesday, January 7th from 2:00 to 4:00 PM statewide.
While we understand that the time change from an evening to an afternoon meeting may not be ideal for many of you who are at work during the day, be assured that there are still several ways to participate and provide comments to VTrans about where you and your family ride bikeswhere you want to bike and where you would bike if conditions were different. For more background about the project goals and phases, read this article from October's Walk and Roll News and visit the VTrans On-Road Bicycle Plan website.



Hip Hip Hooray for a Statewide On-Road Bicycle Plan!

The VT Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is eager for input from Vermonters as they work to create an On-Road Bicycle Plan for state highways and Class 1 roads throughout Vermont from Brattleboro to Newport and St. Johnsbury to Burlington. The On-Road Bicycle Plan is part of the goal to improve Vermont roads so that they work better and are safer for all bicyclists -- families, commuters and recreational riders.

20140921_BMines 011 OpenStreets-BarnesSchool_BikeSmoothies.JPG

VTrans On-Road Bicycle Plan Phases:
Phase 1: (Now - Summer 2015) Where do you ride, and want to ride? Create a tiered system of bicycle corridors based on use and desirability.
Phase 2: What can be better? Identify critical gaps in the most desirable bicycle corridors.
Phase 3: How do we make it better? Identify improvements to be considered to address gaps in the most-desirable bicycle corridors based on use and desirability.




Biking Season Kicks Off for Elementary School Students!

Trailer Kohls Kids Bike SmartWith the summer ending you might think that the biking season is winding down too, but our Kohl’s Kids Bike Smart season, a statewide bike skills training program for children, is just starting up!  Delivered through partnerships with schools and camps, Kohl’s Kids Bike Smart (KKBS) is a code word for FUN! The benefits of learning bikes skills that give a child a sense of achievement, that equate physical activity with fun, and that can be enjoyed as a family or independently, will last a lifetime.



Silver on the Hill!

UVM Bike Share 800x536We are sending out a big cheer today for our friends at the University of Vermont! The Leage of American Bicyclists has just announced this years Bicycle Friendly University awards, and the University of Vermont was awarded a silver medal.  This is a step forward from the previous award of Bronze in 2011.  Now UVM joins the City of Burlington in it's quest for Gold! 



Continuing the Conversation About the Future of North Avenue

city council mtg re north aveThere has been a lot of discussion in Burlington over the last few weeks about the City Council's vote on October 6th to approve a plan for transforming North Avenue over the next one to three years into a walkable, bikeable street for everyone.  Some people think it's too much, too fast.  Others think it doesn’t go nearly far enough.  Our take is that, all in all, it's a big step in the right direction.


Just a few months ago, very few of the improvements that the Council recently approved were being considered for the short term.  While the consultant’s original proposal did indeed call for taking North Avenue from four lanes to three, adding bike lanes for its full length, building multiple crosswalks, and reworking intersections to improve safety, those improvements were envisioned for the medium term (four to seven years).  




Our Hats (and Bike Helmets) Off to You!

sm 20141019 DGoodman  030 IMG 1407

By Emily Boedecker

What does a rite of passage look like for a 15-year old non-profit? By any measure more than 300 people, with over 50 arriving by bike, eating cake outside in 43 degree weather observed by an iron elephant framed by the turn of the (last) century architecture of Shelburne Farms, would qualify!

Last Sunday we celebrated a joint anniversary; Local Motion, founded in 1999, is 15 years young, and our Bike Recycle Vermont program clocks in at 10 years strong. You’ve heard the history -- a crazy idea to run a bike ferry across the Winooski River has transformed, in just 15 short years, to a river bridged, catastrophic floods survived, and a new level of bike ferry service delivered out at ‘The Cut’ in the Colchester Causeway. We are connecting the attractions, the communities and the economies of Greater Burlington and the Islands for residents and visitors alike.



Winter Riding Tips & Tricks

By Peter Burns


Winter RidingWhen 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...


  1. Bundle up! Your extremities - hands, feet and head - are the most vulnerable to the cold.  Biking generates wind-chill, so windproof hats and gloves are a must.  I even preheat my feet, socks, hands, and gloves with a hairdryer before I leave the house. Once your feet and hands get cold, they will stay cold, so it is important to start off warm.  Always bring along another layer of warmth in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.  Hint of frostbite, get inside right away!  

  2.


Widening Route 2 at Staples Plaza

StaplesConstruction 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.




Build it for Isabella

Isabella-Solo copyPeople for Bikes has launched a powerful new campaign to guide towns and cities in designing streets that work for everyone. It's called "Build it for Isabella."


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.  



Our Favorite Bike Ferry Stories of the Summer!


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.




Bike Care 101 Embraces Female Ridership

BRV_Bike_care_101.jpgFour 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.




The Faces of Local Motion: Meet Thomas!

20130511 JLC 010 Kids Day Secure Bike Park Grandmaster Thomas Cohen

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.




The Joys of Ciclovia

Madre de las CicloviasEnrique 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.  



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