The 2022 legislative session is over, and it was a productive one for walking, biking, rolling, and transit.
Local Motion staff worked both independently and with our partner organizations to make progress on several key issues. We didn’t achieve everything we’d hoped, but there were some significant wins!
The Transportation Bill once again authorized $50,000 for e-bike incentives. The State is finalizing the structure of this program, and we look forward to it launching this summer and bringing e-bikes within reach for even more Vermonters. We’ll be promoting this rebate opportunity once it is available, and we’ll likely work to increase the amount allocated for this program in future years.
As excited as we are for this new rebate program, the $50k allocation is negligible compared to the millions allocated for electric car incentives. Shifting to electric cars is one piece of how we, as a State, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but fleet electrification almost certainly won't happen fast enough to stop the worst effects of the climate crisis. We need to shift focus from changing what we drive to making it easy to drive less—and that requires devoting much more funding than we do now to walking, biking, rolling, and transit.
Vermont State Design Standards Update
Vermont’s State Design Standards play a key role in determining how our streets and roads work in Vermont. This document, which is central to how VTrans and municipalities lay out roadways, was written in 1997. It’s past due for an overhaul.
One of our key focuses for this year was getting that overhaul underway, and we were successful! The Transportation Bill requires that VTrans come up with a plan for updating the Standards “...to create context-sensitive, multimodal projects that support smart growth…” We’ll be staying engaged with this process going forward to ensure that the updated Standards deliver on that mandate.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Integration
This component of the Transportation Bill is somewhat ambiguous, but there are several ways in which it could create opportunities for improved walk/bike infrastructure in Vermont communities:
- Creating a framework through which bike and pedestrian projects can be better integrated into VTrans’ project selection and prioritization
- Determining how to better integrate bike and pedestrian features into VTrans projects
- Providing funding for regional planning commissions to develop municipal bike and pedestrian master plans
Local Motion was one of several organizations advocating for the continuation of fare-free transit. The Transportation Bill allocated funding for public transit providers to continue to provide free rides on most routes, and restore service to pre-COVID-19 levels.
Want to learn more about Vermont’s current walk/bike/roll laws?
A few years ago, Vermont Legislators worked to revise and update some of our walk/bike/roll laws, but we still have a way to go before we have statutes that reflect the current realities of walking, biking, and rolling. This presentation will discuss the history and evolution of road use, describe the current state of Vermont’s walk/bike/roll statutes, and explore possible solutions to address gaps in our laws, such as the Idaho Stop or instituting a firm four-foot-passing law. Please bring your own walk/bike/roll law revisions to this session. There will be an opportunity for idea sharing and discussion throughout the presentation.
Register for the webinar here.