2019 Year in Review

A few words from Local Motion Executive Director, Karen Yacos:

As we look back on 2019, I see a year in which Local Motion advanced the work of culture change and movement building in a serious way. We brought Jeff Speck—a thought leader in designing equitable bike- and pedestrian-friendly communities—to UVM, where he spoke to a packed room of officials including mayors and planners, advocates, and interested citizens. And then we brought many of those same folks to Montreal to experience firsthand the sort of changes for which Speck (and Local Motion) advocate. 

In Rutland, we designed and built a pop-up traffic garden that helped kids learn the rules of the road and sparked countless infrastructure conversations between local leaders and residents. We also went head-on at changing car culture, with new programming and potential legislation aimed at improving driver education on safe operation around vulnerable users and alternative transportation. 

While we were at it, we maintained or expanded all of our other programming, from Bike Smart to Valet Bike Parking. You can read more about our work in this newsletter, and be sure to follow us into 2020 as our Local Motion staff continues to support efforts for equitable streets across Vermont.

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2019 Work Map  Advocacy for Better Streets & Connections  

 Education & Commuters  | Recreation & Fun | Volunteer With Us!

Upcoming Events:

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2019 Work Map:

Click on the image below to visit an interactive map of our statewide work(a new window or tab will open)

Advocacy for Better Streets & Connections

Highlights From the Streets!

This year, we hosted a public event series with renowned author, planner and bike-walk advocate, Jeff Speck, organized a trip up to bike-friendly Montreal to learn about best practices for winter maintenance, activated 7 downtown streetscapes with pop-up demonstration projects, designed and built our first traffic garden/playground, launched a bike count program, supported 4 local advocacy campaigns collecting several hundred petition signatures, and provided technical assistance to 28 communities across the state which are working to become safer places for those walking and biking. Read on to learn more!

Event Series with Walk-Bike Advocate and Author, Jeff Speck 

Local Motion, in partnership with the University of Vermont, the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, the Burlington Business Association, and AARP Vermont, hosted a public event series this fall with the internationally recognized author, urban planner, and walk-bike advocate, Jeff Speck. Speck spoke about the myriad benefits of walkable and bikeable communities, the ways we can reshape our public spaces so they improve our quality of life, and the upsides of designing streets that work for everyone. Check out Jeff’s presentation here.


Pop-up Traffic Garden

In September, as part of Rutland’s Green Streets event, we designed and built a pop-up traffic garden.

Traffic gardens are scaled-down streetscapes where kids can safely practice their on-street skills and learn the rules of the road. Basically, they're traffic playgrounds. We enjoyed partnering with the Rutland Regional Planning Commission, Vermont Energy Education Program, Come Alive Outside, Rutland Parks and Recreation, and Rutland High School on this project, and used the opportunity to advocate for safer streets in greater Rutland!

Interested in creating a traffic garden in your community?

All of the supplies needed to create a pop-up traffic garden in your community are available to you as part of Local Motion’s Pop-Up Demonstration Project trailer. Please email [email protected] to request the trailer. 

Making People & Bikes Count

Local Motion volunteers and staff spent hundreds of hours in 2019 supporting the regional bike count program this past year, collecting and post-processing data from nearly 20 different locations across Chittenden County! We’ll be analyzing the data with the Regional Planning Commission and reporting the findings in 2020, in order to grow public support for better bike infrastructure throughout the region.




Learning Journey to Montreal: Making the Case for Year-Round Bikeway Maintenance

Local Motion and other local bike advocates organized a day-long learning journey to bike-friendly Montreal this fall. We were joined by 20 transportation professionals, street maintenance workers, policymakers, and journalists from across Vermont on a tour of the city’s bike network. Local leaders advised the group on how best to design, install, and maintain similar facilities back home on a year-round basis. We brought back a ton of valuable information to share, and showed decision-makers what real bike infrastructure looks like! Check out our blog post and the Sustainable Transportation for Vermont piece by VTrans Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager, Jon Kaplan, to learn more.

A Safer Winooski Ave.

Local Motion has worked with the Burlington Walk/Bike Council, Old Spokes Home, and other local partners to advocate for a safer Winooski Ave. for all modes through the heart of downtown Burlington. This is the major north-south route through the city, and yet it remains one of the most dangerous corridors for those biking and walking. Add your name to our online petition to help make Winooski Ave. as safe and equitable as it can be.

Bike Lanes Finally Installed on Colchester Ave.

After tireless advocacy for a safer Colchester Ave, the bike lanes are finally striped! Thanks to the Burlington Department of Public Works, Old East End Neighborhood Coalition, Burlington Bike/Walk Council, countless advocates, and all those who signed our petition and spoke out at public meetings for making this possible (and to a local activist, Jason Stuffle, for this photo and his dedication to this project).




Financial Assistance Available for Local Projects

Does your community need help crowd-sourcing funds for a local bike and pedestrian project? Local Motion can help! Over the past several years, we've leveraged our supporter base to fundraise and support grassroots efforts around bike-ped improvements across Vermont. Most recently, Local Motion assisted with projects in Shelburne, South Burlington, Burlington, and Vergennes. Check out the mural project on Burlington’s Chase Street and other traffic calming efforts we supported in Burlington’s Old East End Neighborhood this past year. Please contact [email protected] for more information.

One Less Car at Local Events Because of Valet Bike Parking

Valet Bike Parking is encouraging more people to choose a bike as a fun, healthy, and sustainable mode of transportation. We parked 9,126 bikes at over 80 events in 2019, a record number! These cyclists eliminated 4,563 auto trips reducing the number of cars on the streets and cut carbon emissions from belching into the atmosphere. 

We're proud to announce that the City of Burlington has selected Local Motion once again to provide this service to select events in City parks in 2020.

Education & Commuters

Learning to Ride with Bike Smart

In 2019, Bike Smart served 69 schools and camps and provided over 96,659 hours of on-bike training to approximately 13,000 children. Bike Smart served schools in all 14 counties, and over its 9-year lifetime has served over 100 Vermont towns. 

Bike Smart is an incredible resource that introduces children to bicycling and kick-starts healthy and active lifestyles. Kids spend most of their time on bikes, practicing bike-handling skills and on-street safety through games like “Red Light, Green Light” and “Look Back.” “Red Light Green Light” helps children practice controlled starts and stops, while “Look Back” helps children master the skill of looking behind them (for a car) without turning their handlebars accidentally into the path of traffic (yikes!). 

Our four Bike Smart trailers are each equipped with more than 45 bikes of all sizes, and balance bikes for children who do not know how to ride at all. The trailers are an all-inclusive kit and have everything needed to run the Bike Smart curriculum (which is packed full of games and skill-building activities like those mentioned above), including helmets, helmet disinfectant, cones, instructional materials, and more. We even provide giveaway helmets for schools to distribute to students who do not have the resources to purchase one.

Teachers Love Bike Smart!

The entire week was a wonderful experience. We set up courses during recess each day as well and almost all students chose to ride for at least part of the recess. We had to create a schedule! We feel like we have a recess area that may allow for biking as an option and are looking into how to create a small recess bike trail. We have a perfect place to ride! Students went from not riding at all to riding and improving. It all served as a school-wide bonding week, a perfect thing at the beginning of the year! We celebrated at Burlington's Bike Path on a beautiful day. We couldn't have been more supported throughout the week. Everyone truly went above and beyond to help us make it an awesome week. THANK YOU SO MUCH.”

- Salisbury Community School

“This year the students really enjoyed the biking field trip to the library and local neighborhood. Learning they are safe in the crosswalk if they walk their bike was new to many. Parents love this program and I got many positive feedback comments at Parent/Teacher conferences on Friday, November 8th.”

- Windsor School

Students Love Bike Smart: Read Some of Their Thank-You Notes!

We get thank you letters all the time from joyous students about how much they love Bike Smart. But you don’t have to take it from us: we’re sharing some of our favorites! 

Way To Go!

Welcome to Way to Go!, a statewide school challenge focused on encouraging students, staff, and families to take fewer trips in their cars, thereby reducing pollution and congestion, and improving student wellness. We closed the 2018-2019 school year with almost 32,000 sustainable transportation trips by students, staff, and families all over Vermont! Local Motion has been privileged to be a major partner in this program, along with Place Creative, Eco Strategies LLC, Vermont Energy Efficiency Program, the CCRPC, and VTrans, and we’re back at it for this school year, working to get even more schools engaged and involved in changing their transportation habits. Learn more about Way to Go! and how your school can participate here!

A Field Trip, Minus the Bus

As part of Way to Go!, Lyndon Institute students opted to walk to their weekly science field study instead of taking vehicles.  Here’s what one student had to say:

"On the first hike, we encountered many pricker bushes and various other plants.  Although not lots of fun and a little painful, looking back on it now it is a good experience to laugh about.  We also walked very near to the edge of the pond, which was quite slippery. Some students wore Birkenstocks, and although not the most appropriate footwear, they persevered. Some even used the swizzle stick to offer support! It turns out it’s not only useful for clearing ferns and grasses. On one trail there was moss all around with a wee footpath winding through it and little red mushrooms growing about. It made it feel like something out of Avatar!"  

Safe Routes to School National Conference Presentation

Our Education Manager and Livable Streets Manager presented on our work at the national Safe Routes to School Conference in November. Our favorite new idea from a colleague at the event was, instead of issuing speeding tickets to drivers that speed in school zones, requiring drivers that speed to serve as volunteer crossing guards who would collect traffic safety data around the school!  


Traveling & Burlington E-bike Lending Libraries

Our e-bike lending libraries provide free e-bike loans to Vermont residents. In doing so, we aim to introduce a more accessible type of biking for people who might not otherwise use a bike in their daily lives. And because the loans are typically a week-long, folks get to really integrate the bike into their routine. Whether the bike is used for commuting to work, picking up groceries, or getting some exercise and fresh air, the goal is to reduce emissions, improve health, and get more people on bikes. 

In 2019, 80 people borrowed e-bikes from our Traveling E-bike Lending Library, which is made possible by GoVT. Demand for these bikes far exceeded availability, and now our partners in the Upper Valley and Rutland are thinking about creating permanent e-bike lending libraries in their areas!

The Burlington E-bike Lending Library, based at Local Motion’s office, offered five different kinds of e-bikes in 2019. Users borrowed a bike for six days at a time, and this extended lending period included a weekend and several weekdays so users could incorporate the e-bike into all aspects of their travel. This year, 95 people borrowed a bike from the Burlington E-bike Lending Library. We're planning to expand the fleet to include a full cargo e-bike for 2020. This program is made possible by the Burlington Electric Department and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission.

A Traveling E-Bike Lending Library Story! 

One Traveling E-Bike Lending Library user shared their story about commuting to work and the grocery store by bike:

“Loved having the e-bikes—my husband and I both had one on different weekends—and we shared them with neighbors and friends. I commuted to work on them both and encouraged my co-workers to try it too. I also rode down to the White River Co-op from Norwich for groceries...came back with a full bag and a six-pack! I loved going up the hills I often avoid. It's still a workout—not like a moped, but sometimes it feels more like spinning. It can be lots of effort, but you can regulate it when you need to. I also rode up Jericho Street which I would never attempt on my bike—such a pleasure to get up there and enjoy the view and ride! It was also a treat to try both types of bikes, they had different gearing and attributes—it makes me realize what I would look for if I want to buy one. I love the idea of borrowing them—thanks for the opportunity!”

- Norwich, VT  

Caring for Your E-Bike's Battery

The ease of riding an e-bike comes with some extra care required on the part of the owner. That’s because most e-bikes are powered by lithium-ion batteries. These can quickly lose capacity (and therefore range) or even die prematurely if not treated properly. Here are four tips to keep your battery healthy (click here to read our blog on this subject).





Educational Bike Street Riding Videos

Want to ride safer? We teamed up with Skirack to create a series of short videos showing how to handle certain situations you will experience on the road. Check them out!



We’re Educating Drivers

We spend a lot of time educating people on bikes about how to ride safely, but what about drivers? In October, we presented to the Vermont Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association, which is the statewide organization for driver education professionals. The presentation focused on vulnerable users and gave these educators perspective, knowledge, and tools that they can use in the classroom to better educate new drivers on the role they need to play in respecting and being safe around all road users. 

We’re also piloting a program that will send guest lecturers to driver education courses to teach students how to drive safely around cyclists and pedestrians. Finally, we’re advocating for changes that would institutionalize education on safety around vulnerable users, as well as provide students with a perspective on alternative travel modes. The hope is to move driver education in the direction of transportation education. We’re really encouraged by the support for this idea so far!

Recreation & Fun

Summer at the Bike Ferry

The 2019 Bike Ferry season saw strong ridership that was up about 5% in passenger count over 2018. In fact, we were tracking ahead of 2017, our best year ever, before the early closure of the Colchester Causeway. 

We are thankful to have such a professional and dedicated crew and are fortunate to be able to rely on our solid core of volunteers. To illustrate just how challenging their jobs are, we calculated that over the course of a season they board passengers over 27,000 times when you factor in the passengers that make the trip in both directions! In 2019, we once again saw passengers from every US state and 19 countries including India, Malaysia, Uruguay, and Japan. Click here to see where our visitors came from.

Reconstruction on the Colchester Causeway

The 2019 Bike Ferry service began during a sustained period of high water levels. The Colchester Causeway incurred similar damage to that of 2018, but fortunately remained open for Causeway-goers and Ferry passengers. The Town of Colchester secured financing and has initiated a Causeway reconstruction project that began in late 2019. We are expecting a timely start to our 2020 Bike Ferry season on a new and more-resilient Causeway!

Bike Rental Riders From All Over the Globe

The 2019 bike rental season at our Trailside Center on the Burlington waterfront was an excellent one. The weather cooperated, Trailside Center shop traffic peaked in July and August as expected, and the TC staff, as always, crushed it. We added 5 brand-new e-bikes to our fleet this year and they ran at about 3% of the total number of bikes rented. We expect e-bikes will increase in popularity as they attract riders of all abilities. What’s more, they make it possible for more people to ride to the Ferry, a trip that for some was too ambitious. 

As on the Ferry, we collect zip code data from our customers. Every state was represented, as well as an additional 10 countries with Australia and New Zealand being the most distant.

We conducted market research this summer looking at how people find out about our Trailside Center. The two most significant sources were on-line searches and word of mouth. We work hard every day to make riding a bike here in our beautiful state a joy for people visiting our Trailside Center. It pays off with good online reviews, recommendations, and all of the friends we’ve made in Vermont and literally across the country. If you love Local Motion, please spread the word because the bike rental income supports our programming work.

Thank You to All Our Awesome Volunteers

A HUGE thank you to everyone who volunteered with Local Motion this year and helped make our programs successful! It’s been said before and is always worth saying again: We cannot do this work without your help. To the volunteer dockside ambassadors, Valet Bike Parking warriors, Learn-to-Ride helpers, bike counters, and to everyone else: thank you very much. Your time and skills are invaluable and we are incredibly grateful that you have chosen to work towards our common goals.

Haven't Volunteered Yet? 

Looking for another way to become part of the Local Motion community? 

Consider volunteering with us! We are always looking for engaged volunteers to help us provide our services to the Vermont community. Whether you have specific skills you would like to volunteer (videography, desktop publishing, database entry, organization), or have a knack for general office work, we are grateful for every member of our volunteer community. And as always, our Bike Ferry and Valet Bike Parking programs are constantly looking for volunteers! All volunteer work with Local Motion is eligible for City Market member worker credit. Please contact Sandy Bender ([email protected]) if you are interested in volunteering with us.

Become a Local Motion Supporter

Local Motion's mission is to make biking and walking a way of life in Vermont.

Donors like you make it happen! Your support helps build a culture of biking and walking across Vermont. We offer donors a range of options including general and sustaining monthly donations, workplace giving and employer matching, tribute gifts, donations of securities, and remembering Local Motion in your will. We also offer corporate sponsorship opportunities! Learn more here! Local Motion is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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Our e-newsletters are released on a quarterly basis. Stay tuned for our spring edition.