Walk 'n Roll News
It’s mid-January on the Burlington waterfront. Single digit temperatures and a cold northwest wind quicken the pace of the walkers, runners, and occasional cyclists that pass by our Trailside Center’s door on the Burlington bike path. The leisurely stride that is characteristic of a warm July afternoon is now a head-down, destination-focused deliberateness in motion.
The Trailside Center door swings open. Seth’s vision blurs behind fogged lenses as he wheels his bike inside. After peeling off layers of winter insulation, he fetches a cup of coffee and joins Zach at the bench. Zach has already set the tone for the morning with a mix of indie rock and funk grooves. Seth and Zach are both seasoned hands, returning to the Trailside Center in the off-season having worked for Local Motion last summer.
The VT Agency of Transportation (VTrans) and their partners on the statewide On-Road Bicycle Plan for state highways and Class 1 roads (RSG, Alta Planning + Design with outreach and technical support from Local Motion) are working away to compile comments and input from people across Vermont about where they ride bikes and where improvements are needed, from Brattleboro to Newport and from St. Johnsbury to Burlington. The On-Road Bicycle Plan aims to improve Vermont roads so that they work better and are safer for all bicyclists -- families, commuters and recreational riders.
Are you a veteran everyday bicyclist? Local Motion is looking for folks who live in all regions of Vermont to lead our Everyday Bicycling Workshops.
Do you have the biking skills? Great stories? Presentation chops? Have a dream of inspiring people to travel on two wheels? Of course you do!
by Mary Catherine Graziano, Outreach and Education Manager
I had never heard the term “wild ice” before I sat down with Charlene to talk about her Nordic Skates. Heck, before I met Charlene, I had never even heard of Nordic Skates!
Vermonters fall into two rough categories: people who live here for the winter, and people who live here despite the winter. For those of you in the second category: I’m so sorry. I promise it will get warm again.
This is for those of us who look forward to the ice, snow and cold. We relish the skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, snowboarding, bicycling, snowman-making and skating on that ice and snow. And if you are one of us, maybe you have looked at the wide expanse of ice over the lake and dreamed of skating on it. If you followed that dream, you would have traipsed down to the water’s edge and discovered that the surface, which looked so smooth from afar, is actually a lumpy, jagged, snowy, broken landscape. This is un-Zamboni’d ice. This is ice that has been blown by the wind, cracked by pressure, and laced with treacherous puddles and wicked air bubbles. This is wild ice. This ice is nearly impossible to skate on with regular skates, except on rare days on small sections of ice. And this is where Nordic Skates come into their own.
By Brian Costello, Coordinator of the Island Line
We had a lot of admiring comments about our new docks out at ‘The Cut’ on the Colchester Causeway this summer - especially on the days when gusts topped 40mph and we were still able to dock the bike ferry with barely a bump. Their 5' draft proved to be exactly what was needed to provide safe harbor for the bike ferry, and finally operate a reliable service connecting the causeway between Colchester and the Islands in all conditions.
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?
Did you know that even wearing all white doesn’t help much with keeping you visible at night? And those of us with dark jackets--well, we’re like everyday ninjas, darting invisibly into traffic, terrifying the folks driving the heavy metal vehicles.
Somewhere in the above photo is a person and two dogs. Clue: look in the street, right in front of the oncoming car. It’s like a Where’s Waldo, but at 25 mph! (Photo taken in Burlington’s Old North End by our roving reporter team.)
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."
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
Are you into bikes and photography? Do you want to inspire other folks to decide to ride in the winter? Do you want to win awesome prizes? If the answer is YES to all three questions, you need to enter Local Motion's winter bike photo contest!
We'll have random drawings every month, with prizes of bike bells, bike lights, panniers, and more! Come late winter, YOU will choose our grand prize winner from a selection of the best photos submitted.
The Grand Prize: a $250 customized winter bike makeover! We'll give you a list of goodies, and you can choose from the list. Options include studded tires, goggles, bar mitts, lights, panniers and more!
Contest Instructions follow...
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.
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 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 bikes, where 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.
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.
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.
With 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.
We 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!
There 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).
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.
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.