Summer has come to a close and fall is in full force with winter fast approaching! Before the snow falls, we wanted to give you an update on all the great things that we worked on over the summer.
- We formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team and have set out to understand and address structural racism within our organization and in the context of the work we do.
- We operated our Bike Ferry and Trailside Center safely and successfully during this summer of COVID-19.
- We turned our in-person safety, education, and Learning Network workshops into webinars and reached more people than ever.
- We continued to offer our E-bike Lending Library so Vermonters could get outside in a new and fun way.
- We maintained over three miles of protected bike lanes in Burlington.
But that’s not all! Read more about what we’ve done this summer by scrolling through our fall newsletter.
Karen Yacos, Executive Director
Local Motion’s Continuing Commitment to Anti-Racism
Local Motion has a long history of paying attention to equity issues in our work, and we recognize that we, like everyone, still have significant work to do in order to become truly anti-racist and equitable in our work. At Local Motion, we have set out to understand structural racism and the inequities built into our transportation systems, and what we can all do to address this through our work. We know we will need to make some changes over the next few years, from who we partner with and where, to improved communications, outreach, and programming to serve a more diverse community. We formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team to help guide our learning and organizational changes. In July, we joined with 30 other organizations and made a public commitment to this work by signing Burlington’s Declaration on Racism. We take this challenge seriously and will do what we can to address our role in contributing to and solving structural racism and inequality in our efforts to build a strong and inclusive biking and walking culture in Vermont. We look to our Local Motion community to help us and welcome your ideas and comments. Please get in touch if you have something to share, or want to learn more.
Jump to a newsletter section:
Advocacy for Better Streets & Connections
Thank you to our amazing Cone Keepers
This summer and fall, Local Motion volunteers maintained protection for the bike path detour route on Burlington’s Pine Street, as well as for the existing bike lanes on North Avenue. Cone Keeper volunteers performed checks twice daily and reset cones along these routes, maintaining over three miles of bike infrastructure over the spring, summer, and fall. Thank you to everyone who helped out with this project, which provided safe routes for both transportation and recreation.
The temporary protection isn’t suitable for winter use and will be put away at the end of October, but we’ve demonstrated several things: First, that protected bike lanes work great on North Avenue! Second (pending data from bike counts and speed monitoring) that protected bike lanes help calm traffic and increase ridership. And finally, that our volunteers are awesome! (Not that we needed any convincing).
VTrans Guidance on Demonstration Projects on State Highways
In many Vermont towns and villages, Main Street is a state highway. Until recently, demonstration projects like those we’ve supported with our Pop-Up Trailer have not been allowed on these roads. Local Motion has been working with a group of stakeholders to assist VTrans with the creation of a guidance document to allow municipalities to conduct infrastructure demonstration projects on these state roadways, and we’re excited to share that the guidance is now available here: (need link). Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for technical assistance and support with demonstration projects.
Safe Routes for All Learning Network Events
In August, we hosted nationally-recognized walk advocate Mark Fenton, who presented on the importance of safe routes to school to a packed webinar audience that included school board members and administrators, elected officials, planners, public health professionals, and others. The presentation focused on ways in which schools can encourage healthy transportation options like walking and biking by establishing walking school busses and bike trains, improving school policy, and working towards safer infrastructure. We’ve already seen a lot of work happening around the state that was kickstarted by this presentation.
Education & Commuters
E-Bike Lending Library
With three E-bike Lending Libraries in action this year, Local Motion reached over 250 people and provided over 300 free trials of commuter and cargo style e-bikes. Melding the desire to enjoy and explore outside with climate-conscious thinking, e-bikes are becoming more popular than ever. The E-bike Lending Libraries offer a unique chance to try one out and test how it can fit into your life without any financial investment.
Upper Valley Lending Library: A stellar group of volunteers in the Upper Valley region came together to host three different e-bikes in five towns, offering borrowers a chance to take home a bike for a multi-day loan or test ride the different bikes for a shorter demo period. This library offered borrowers an option to try an e-cargo bike, an e-commuter bike, and a converted commuter bike (using a standard e-bike conversion kit).
Traveling E-bike Lending Library: With increased safety measures and uncertainty about COVID, the E-bike Lending Library that normally travels to multiple hosts throughout the state remained stationary this year instead. Our partner at the Rutland Recreation Department hosted the RadWagon, offering multi-day loans to residents in southern Vermont. A big thank you to our dedicated partner for hosting for the entire season!
Burlington E-bike Lending Library: The fourth year of the Burlington-based E-bike Lending Library launched in April with increased safety measures and ran steadily through the end of October. The library included a selection of commuter bikes as well as two different types of cargo bikes: a standard longtail cargo bike and a bakfiet (front-loading) cargo bike. Thank you to Burlington Electric Department for providing funding for several of the available e-bikes!
Way to Go! Is Back for the School Year
Good news! Way to Go! To School is back, and there are some great prizes and incentives for schools that participate!
We know things keep changing, which might mean that transportation, already a challenge, is becoming even more crucial for school coordinators to engage their community in sustainable & active transportation choices.
Because this year has been particularly challenging for schools, Way to Go! this year is designed to be as simple as possible. If a school does any sustainable transportation activity--no matter how small, we’ll give credit for any action and/or improvement.
Every activity earns the same amount of points. Schools will just report their transportation action or activity, and earn points toward rewards!
The more a school does, the more points they’ll earn, and as they earn more points, a school will earn incentives like reflective vests branded with their school name, or stickers, or bike helmets. There’s an ever-growing series of prizes.
Bike Smart is Launched!
Last year, on March 15, Bike Smart came to a screeching halt. Our incredible fleet of four trailers, complete with bikes, helmets, and training materials–perfect for teaching elementary school students how to ride legally, safely, and competently--was all ready to go. We had already done all of the work to set up the spring season: bikes were overhauled, trailers were inventoried, the school delivery schedule was set up, and we were about to send the trailers to our first schools when we got the news that schools were moving to remote learning. We canceled all of our programmings and mothballed the trailers for the spring and summer.
We’re returning to normal, but normal is looking a bit different than usual this time around.
PE teachers had been telling us that since the gyms were no longer being used, they were looking for programming that they could do outside, and Bike Smart, with the trailers full of bikes of all sizes, was a perfect fit for their needs.
Because of the hybrid schedule, with students in school only half of the time, we needed to double the length of our usual loan period. Our trailers are now at schools for between 2 weeks to a month, as opposed to 1-2 weeks, meaning that although we’re out at schools, we’re still only able to serve half as many schools, as usual, this year.
This year, we’re working with some schools to offer mini-fleet loans from our Trailside Center rental fleet, supporting special-needs and alternative educational programs. We’re being nimble, trying new things, and doing what we can to meaningfully support our community.
We’re also continuing to develop our remote programming and support for schools, working to offer materials and curriculum for teachers to offer the students who are fully remote. Link to the educational resources page.
Restarting Bike Smart has been a major triumph, especially given the financial challenges of the spring and summer. This work was made possible due to grants from VTrans and support from our donors. We’re proud of the community we live in and work with. Thank you!
Recreation & Fun
An Update on the Bike Ferry
The 2020 Bike Ferry season has indeed been one that we’ll remember for a long time! Leading up to the season not only did we encounter the delayed completion of the Colchester Causeway project, but a global pandemic that was turning the whole world upside down! We remained flexible, managed our season rollout carefully, and developed entirely new ways to operate to keep our passengers and our staff safe. With the causeway complete, we finally opened our season on August 12 (over two months later than normal) to welcome a quarantine weary public back on the Island Line Bike Ferry.
The operational and financial challenges were much, beginning with the implementation of Covid-19 safety protocols that included a limit on our passenger loads, repeated disinfecting of the boat, and eliminating the exchange of cash and tickets. Yet passengers showed up in force as a testament to the world-class summer experience aboard our boat. In just 6 weeks we had over 10,000 passenger boardings!
One of our goals for 2020 was to focus on the quality of the experience for Ferry passengers and staff. By taking advantage of the operational imperatives imposed by the pandemic we think we have succeeded. To that end, real success this year can be measured by the incredible dedication and resulting contribution of our Ferry staff. Our crew stepped up to the challenge of operating safely in a COVID era environment and they committed themselves to staff the boat well beyond their usual complement of hours and responsibilities. They showed enormous flexibility and commitment that really made the 2020 season a reality. Supreme gratitude goes to our captains Ed, Rich, and John; our deckhands Larry, Pat, and Kelsey; our dockside ambassadors Phyllis and Annie; and to our valued and many volunteers.
All about the Trailside Center
There were plenty of pandemic-induced challenges for our bike rental operation too! Will there be any customers? Will the tourists come back? How do we keep customers and staff safe? How do we staff? How do we budget revenue and expenses? AND unrelated to the pandemic, will the planned railroad construction obstruct our access to the bike path? Should we even open?
The Trailside Center has ramped up over the summer and is now operating at close to pre-pandemic levels. Our fleet of over 100 bikes can be sold out on weekends. Newly implemented software allows customers to reserve and pay for clean and disinfected rentals that are ready when they arrive. We broadened our reach to prospective customers by teaming up with the Spirit of Ethan Allen to offer a Bike and Boat promotional package.
Like the Ferry, we remained flexible, learning as we slowly opened our doors to the public in mid-May. Smart, nimble, and dedicated staff ended up basically re-inventing the Trailside Center. AND yes, in early September when the railroad demolished the bike path right outside our door, we were already renting bikes out of a repurposed office on the other side of the building at 1 Steele Street!
Although 2020 showed an expected drop in revenue, the season has been far from the disaster we thought possible back in April. The Trailside Center continues to perform impressively and has now outperformed its 2019 September results. Supreme gratitude goes to the awesome TC staff: Tanawat Luekr-u-suke, Tom Bennett, Deborah Kraft, Kofi Young, and Nick Koleszar.
What's going on with Valet Bike Parking
We all look forward to a time when the Burlington area summer events are back in full bloom. We’re also pretty certain the bike-riding public will welcome our Valet Bike Parking team back to the over 80 local events after a year of being in hibernation. As the coming winter wears on, we’ll be planning for our return in 2021. We all miss our fearless leader Stu Lindsay and look forward to his return to safe and secure bike parking next summer.
Want to stay up to date on all things Local Motion?
Watch for our quarterly e-newsletters in your inbox!