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.
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.
A two-week pilot demonstration project is beginning on Saturday, September 29 on two blocks of South Union Street to help make the streets around Burlington's Edmunds Schools safer for the school and surrounding community! Local Motion is working with the Edmunds Middle School PTO, Burlington School District, Edmunds Middle School, Edmunds Elementary School, Burlington DPW, and Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission to plan and install this exciting temporary street improvement.
Features that help make biking and walking safer have been installed across Burlington in many places this summer! And DPW isn't done yet, as several more safety features are being completed into this fall. These are all a part of the City's effort to create a network of connected streets where people of all ages and abilities can easily get around and feel safe doing so, as outlined in planBTV Walk Bike. Neighborhood Greenways are an important part of this--that is, streets with low vehicle volumes and speeds designed to prioritize bicycling and enhance conditions for walking. "The Wiggle" in the ONE is a great example of this, where folks of all ages and abilities can get from the NNE or Battery Park and the Waterfront to the top of the hill (UVM and UVMMC), downtown, or anywhere in between.
Below is a sample of the wonderful bike and walk infrastructure that the City of Burlington has or is in the process of completing this summer. Fear not, much more superb bike and walk infrastructure is planned for upcoming years to help complete a connected citywide network.