By Peter Burns
I can use the map apps on my phone, but I prefer paper maps. In an unfamiliar place, the phone maps are difficult to follow. They give a micro view of where you are, but not the bigger picture. When you zoom out, street names disappear. Last summer when I ventured across the lake to ride south to Port Henry and then took the ferry back to Charlotte, I almost got lost. I used my phone and maps copied from a New York State Atlas, but I would have preferred a regional map. Sometimes I can tell where I am but I am not sure if I am heading in the right direction. There is also the option of mapping out a route using one of the map apps and then printing it out. I first learned to use maps in England, when I was walking through the countryside. I used Ordinance Survey maps which are beautifully designed. Perhaps I inherited a bit of map reading ability from my father. He was a flight navigator for B-52 airplanes, although he was never involved in any actual bombing runs.
A true train extraordinaire and bike ferry advocate.
It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of our friend, Jeff Cohn. He will be deeply missed by Local Motion staff and so many in the Local Motion family who have known him over the years.
By Peter Burns
In the summer I am not usually bothered by mosquitoes or ticks but I still wear bug repellent because when I stop by the side of the road for a break or go into the woods to answer the call of nature, I get swarmed by mosquitoes. I also get attacked by mosquitoes when I ride up steep hills. I climb so slowly that they can keep up with me but when I get to the top of a hill I leave them behind. On sunny days I wear sun glasses and on cloudy days I wear clear glasses. This keeps most of the insects out of my eyes. Once, many years ago, I rode into a bee and it stung me on the chest. It was startling. From time to time I spot a butterfly flitting through a field. I can identify Monarch Butterflies, Swallowtails and yellow Cabbage Butterflies. Beyond that I am clueless. In the summer I often hear the sound of crickets and cicadas. One December, a couple of years ago, it was 70 degrees just before Christmas. I went for a ride in Shelburne and as I glided through the countryside I felt strange because although the temperature felt like summertime, I did not hear any birds or insects.
I have an old pair of Pearl Izumi winter bike tights that have a zipper at the bottom of each leg. One of the zippers broke and this presented a problem. The tights are second hand, so I did not feel that I could return them to the manufacturer. Having a seamstress replace the zipper would be expensive and my sewing skills are not up to replacing a zipper myself. The tights are very warm and aside from the zipper, in good shape. I did not want to get rid of them. I needed a way to keep the lower part of the tights closed. I could have duct taped them shut, but that would make it hard to put them on and take them off. The most obvious solution would be to tuck the tights into my socks. This would work, but I wear long underwear under the tights and I need to tuck my long underwear into my socks so the long underwear does not ride up under the tights. I tried keeping the tights closed with rubber bands, but that left big gaps. The same thing happened when I used metal pant leg cuff clips. Then I remembered a pair of footless wool socks that I bought a couple of years ago when Eastern Mountain Sports was going out of business. They proved to be the perfect solution! First I tucked my long underwear into my socks, then I put on my tights and finally I pulled on the footless wool socks. They kept the bottom of the tights secure and also provided an extra layer of warmth. I was very pleased.
Here's the 2018 Year in Review Newsletter that was emailed on January 23, 2019.
We’re walking and rolling! 2018 was a jamming year for biking and walking in Vermont. Thanks to you, our donors, community partners, and business members, Local Motion continues to make our streets more livable, get more people biking and walking, advocate for better policy, and grow Vermont's active transportation culture. Keep your eye out for a few Local Motion newsletters each year!
By Karen Yacos, Local Motion Executive Director
Curt McCormack is the new Chair of the House Transportation Committee in Vermont, and he doesn’t own a car! We love how this guy gets to work (watch how here) by walking to a regional bus for his Burlington to Montpelier (and back) commute to the Statehouse. Everyday. He, and all the folks who are opting to use their feet, a bike or transit rather than a car, will help infuse some new thinking and ideas into the transportation discussion in Vermont, and at the perfect time. Although Vermont has made progress creating safe space for bikers and pedestrians on some roadways, and continues to work on the initial stages of a network of transit and other options that make travel without a car possible in such a rural state, local and state transportation policy, plans, and projects are still substantially about the car first and foremost. This will change because it has to. We all can see more and more people out, in all weather, waiting for a bus, biking, jumping in a carshare or on a share bike trying to get where they need to be WITHOUT A CAR. Our state policies, and expenditures, need to support this shift in the biggest way possible because the result will be healthier people and planet, more livable communities, and a better quality of life for Vermonters.
As part of Transportation for Vermonters (T4VT), a coalition of likeminded partners who support a vision for a sustainable and accessible transportation system for Vermont, Local Motion helped develop a shared 2019 Policy Agenda which was sent to Vermont legislators last week to welcome them to their job and reinforce the importance of bringing forward-thinking and new ideas about our transportation system with them. The T4VT agenda calls for, among other things, increased funding for infrastructure for walking, biking, carpooling and other choices, and the public transit that knits it all together. See the full agenda below or by clicking here.
Elements of Bike Riding, Part 7
Recreational Winter Riding
The elements have to be just right for a fun winter road ride. The roads have to be clear of snow and dry, because the bike I ride for pleasure has no fenders. The temperature has to be above 35 degrees with no rain, I have to have time to ride and it has to be well before dark. In December, when the sun is setting at around 4, just finding enough daylight is a challenge. On December 21st, all the elements came together and I was able to take my first fun ride in quite some time. I have been riding daily for practical purposes and I am in good enough shape to ride for two hours without any difficulty. I went on my usual short ride route -- from Winooski through the Intervale to Mallets Bay, then the Colchester Bike Path to 2A where I stopped at the Burnham Library to use the bathroom and get some water. I went on Depot Road, Sand Road and Gentes Road which took me back to 2A. I circled back to Suzie Wilson Road and then rode through Fort Ethan Allen and Saint Michael's to get back to Winooski. There was a moment, on the Colchester Bike Path, overlooking Mallets Bay, when I felt that opening up of the mind and body that is one reason I ride. It is a feeling of spaciousness and joy, a sense of freedom difficult for me to achieve in other areas of my life. One of the pleasures of riding in the winter is that you can look through the woods and see things that are blocked by the leaves in the summertime. I see houses and sheds that are invisible during the warmer months. Last summer I photographed wild flowers. This spring I will start photographing abandoned sheds and barns. I saw two good sheds on my ride. Even on warmer winter rides, I don't take photographs because my hands get cold easily, even with gloves liners on. That is why my photography project will start in the spring.
In the winter, when I get home from riding, I bring my bike into the front porch so that it can dry off from the snow or rain. Later I bring the bike into the house. There are many advantages to having an inside bike. It is easy to put more air in the tires or lubricate the chain. The bike and the bike lock dry throughly every night. Last year when I kept my bikes out in a shed, my lock got wet in the rain and then froze overnight. It was really hard to get open in the morning, and from then on, when it got really cold, the lock was hard to use. The biggest advantage in the winter is that you can leave the house with both you and the bike warm. In single digit temperatures, even with glove liners on, my hands quickly get cold if I have to unlock my bike and put my lock in my pannier then close the pannier. It also takes some time to put on my bike helmet and switch on my lights. Once my hands get cold, they don't warm up again until I am inside.
When I teach winter bike classes I tell participants about the importance of the indoor bike, and I suggest that if necessary, they may have to get rid of a roommate or a spouse to make room for the bicycle. It it just a matter of getting ones priorities straight.
Other Bike Riders
Cars present the real danger for bike riders but It can be annoying when too many pedestrians and bike riders are using the same recreation path. Last year, in early October, on the holiday weekend, I took the Colchester Causeway to the bike ferry. It was a cool gray day and I thought that the weather might keep others away, but the Causeway was crowded with riders and walkers of all ages. I don't go very fast, but I do go faster than most causal riders, so I passed others bike riders. People coming the opposite way often drifted into my lane and only looked up at the last minute. Riders and pedestrians going my way did not stay over on the right hand side. It was no fun. If we suddenly had as many bike riders as we have car drivers, chaos would result and it would be frustrating to ride a bike. There will be more riders as time goes on and infrastructure and bike riding culture will have to keep pace.
I see other bike riders most days. There are still few enough of us to stand out among pedestrians and cars. I know a handful of people to wave to, the rest are strangers. Some riders are slower than me, some faster. There is one particular man who seems in a great hurry and he is always passing me in town. It is usually when I am on my commuter bike, loaded down with stuff. Also, in the city, I see no need to ride fast. Sometimes he passes me on Riverside Avenue. I confess that I fantasize about seeing him when I am on my road bike. Then I would leave him in the dust! This is unlikely to happen because I rarely ride my road bike in town.
By being involved with Local Motion and Old Spokes Home, as well as online groups, I have come to feel that I am part of the bike community here in Burlington. It is a good feeling. Many of the things I love to do are solitary pursuits. I usually ride, swim, do yoga, read, and meditate alone. I try to add some group element to each of those activities, so I don't feel isolated. Teaching bike classes and going on occasional group bike rides keeps me in direct contact with other bike riders.
As the weather gets colder, I see fewer bike riders. Many people stop when the roads get icy. In the late fall the Church Street Marketplace and City Market remove some of their bike racks, which makes things just a little bit harder. That said, during the first real snow storm of the year, in late November, I saw four other bike riders on my way to work. This would not have happened every a few years ago. We are making progress!
There are more and more electric bikes on the roads. They are great for people who would not ordinarily get out on a bicycle. For people with disabilities they are a godsend. I prefer to ride a regular bike. I find it very satisfying to utilize only human power. I can't imagine engaging in any sports activity in which I did not provide the power myself. The question is whether electric bikes should go everywhere that regular bikes go. I am leaning toward use on the road and recreation paths but maybe not on single track trails. In early November I saw a man standing by his electric bike on a trail in the Intervale. There had been rain the day before and the trail was muddy. The man had skidded on his bike and now the fender was rubbing. He had just fixed it with a dime embedded in a stick. Very creative. I offered to help but he was fine. I wondered if having an electric bike made it too easy to go fast on a slippery trail.
Although I have not experienced extreme road rage recently, I still get angry every couple of days. I just don't chase car drivers down so I can yell at them. I have done that in the past. Recently a white truck cut me off on Riverside Avenue by taking a right onto Intervale Road. The driver turned into a driveway on Intervale Road and I resisted the impulse to follow him and have a little discussion. I also worked on not spending the next fifteen minutes on revenge fantasies. On a regular basis cars come too close or start moving at a stop sign before I have finished crossing. Riverside Avenue heading into Burlington is a challenge in the morning. At the top of the hill I turn left onto either Hyde Street or North Winooski Avenue. If it is after 7 AM, traffic gets heavy and it is hard to get into the left lane to make my turn. I often have to stop on the right side of the road and look back until all the cars have passed. Then I can get into the correct lane. This is not pleasant, especially when there is snow on the right side of the road and I have less space than usual. Given a choice, I prefer to ride on car-free roads. This happens less and less frequently in Chittenden County. New homes and businesses are going up all the time, and there is more traffic than ever. The infrastructure for bikes is still patchy.
I am glad I do not own a car. Once in a while I use a Car Share vehicle but mostly I ride, take the bus or walk. When I do get behind the wheel of a car, I find myself instantly returning to car consciousness. Recently I was driving in town when I saw two people approaching a crosswalk. Instead of slowing down I sped up to get through the crosswalk so I would not have to stop. It was automatic, I didn't even think about it. We change who we are when we change from rider to driver .
By Peter Burns
Join Local Motion (and Peter) at a winter biking workshop near you this December! These fun events are free and include food and prizes. Find the schedule at www.localmotion.org/events
When I started riding through the winter 35 years ago, there were only a handful of us. Each year more and more folks are riding though the winter. The technology for cold weather riding is constantly improving. Even more important is the change in consciousness. Many people see winter riding as not only possible, but desirable. If you can ski, you can bike in the winter!
From May to October of this year I was able to take a long ride almost every week. I am lucky to be able to have these adventures, and I have been thinking about the things that make them possible.
I am blessed with the ability to ride for a long time. Years of biking, swimming and yoga have kept me fit and strong. I do not have any nagging injuries that make riding difficult, although I do have aches and pains that come and go. My vision and hearing are fine.
I also have the temperament for endurance. I enjoy long books, longs swims and long bike rides. These are things I look forward to. Even when I have to get up early to ride, and it is dark and chilly outside, I seldom hesitate about going. I am interested in how the mind and body work under duress. That said, I am not interested in seeking out pain. Riding, swimming and reading are pleasures.
Although I have a full time job, it is flexible enough to afford me the time I need to ride. My work schedule is from Saturday to Wednesday. My vacation time is generous, and last summer I took every other Sunday off. I was able to ride on most of those Sundays. My children are grown up, so I don't have to do childcare anymore. This leaves me free for other activities.
After many years of living from paycheck to paycheck, I have managed to attain a modicum of financial stability. This means I do not have to work seven days a week, as I felt obligated to do in the past.
Because of the infrastructure in Chittenden County, including CarShare and the bus system, I can live without owning a car. Instead, I have three bicycles, one for my daily commuting, one for dirt road riding, and one for on road riding. I can use some of the money I save from not owning a car to help me maintain my mini-fleet of bikes.
Last but not least, I live in Vermont. Ten minutes from home and I am out in the countryside. I am so lucky to be able to ride in a truly beautiful place.
This month, Local Motion partnered with parents and administrators from the Edmunds Schools to install a pop-up demonstration project to improve safety along South Union Street. School drop-off and pick-up along this stretch has long been a challenge, with buses, cars and bicyclists all vying for space. Pop-up projects like this one serve as temporary, low-cost ways to collect feedback about street design before significant resources are invested on permanent improvements.