Summer Newsletter 2020

If the last several months have taught us anything, it’s how important it is for Local Motion to be adaptable and resilient. Practically overnight, we have transformed the way we communicate with our community of supporters, volunteers, and partners, reimagined much of our programming, and found new ways to deliver it. As we learned of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others, we began the difficult process of evaluating our role in becoming antiracist in our work.  

These are challenging times, and what we do has never been more important. We have provided leadership and expertise in supporting communities as they create new spaces for people to recreate, commute, shop, and be outside by advocating for—and even helping to maintain—everything from expanded parklets to new and improved bike infrastructure. Our instructional video series is helping new and returning riders (and there are many of them!) be safe as they discover the joy and utility of bicycling. Many of these same riders are utilizing our expanded E-bike Lending Libraries as a way to try an electric bike for the first time. 

While we eagerly await the reopening of the Colchester Causeway and the Bike Ferry, our Trailside Center has reopened with enhanced safety measures. Bike rental income provides essential support for our programming, so please help us spread the word and send visitors to see us on the Burlington Waterfront. I don’t know what the next year or even the next month will bring, but I do know that, with the support of folks like you, Local Motion and our staff will meet whatever challenges we face and continue to work towards a more walkable, rollable, and bikeable Vermont. 

We hope you take the time to read about the work we’ve been doing in this newsletter, and that you find the time and space to walk, bike, or roll during these long summer days.

Vermont Strong

The staff at Local Motion are incredibly proud to be a part of a community of compassionate, resilient, and caring people that make up this state that we live in. Physical distancing has kept us from the office, but it hasn't kept us indoors. We wanted to show our pride in our state and its citizens during this crisis by spelling out “Vermont Strong” using smartphone mapping programs during our walks, bike rides, and hikes.

Thank you all for everything you have done and are doing to keep your neighbors safe. No matter the situation, we can count on Vermonters to step up for each other.

Calling All Walkers & Bikers!

We want to hear your stories! 

How has COVID-19 changed your walking and biking habits? Are you walking in local natural areas that you’ve never explored before? Have you started putting in steps that you normally wouldn’t have? Are you out pedaling through your neighborhood more? Have you started biking for the very first time or are you dusting off your old bike after a long hiatus?

Your story may be shared with our community to show how people’s biking and walking habits have changed during the pandemic, and to demonstrate the importance of access to safe transportation and recreation.

Please fill out this form and tell us all about it.

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 Advocacy for Better Streets & Connections  | Education & Commuters  | Recreation & Fun

Advocacy for Better Streets & Connections

Pop-Up Protected Bike Lanes in Burlington

Thanks to our community’s advocacy, Burlington’s Shared Streets initiative has grown to include protected bike lanes on Pine Street and North Avenue. Although we have always advocated for such improvements, they are essential right now and needed to happen quickly. These protected bike lanes consist of cones provided by the City, which are being maintained daily by Local Motion volunteers (you folks rock!). Making them happen—and keeping them in place—has required intense advocacy and outreach to residents, businesses, and officials from Local Motion staff and supporters. Thank you to those of you who sent emails, made calls, attended meetings, and supported this work with your donations.

You can sign up to help maintain the North Ave. bike lane protection here, and for Pine St., click here.

Open Streets Initiatives

We’re excited to see Burlington continuing to expand its Shared Streets initiative by opening downtown streets for pedestrian-only use this summer. This follows a letter sent to the City by Local Motion and the Burlington Walk/Bike Council that recommended many new initiatives in response to COVID, including pedestrianizing downtown streets to make space for community and business activity.

Bike Count

We are continuing to partner with the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) on a regional bike count program—providing important data that may support the creation of more bike and pedestrian infrastructure. This summer and fall, we’ll be counting traffic in high-priority locations in Chittenden County. You can expect to see a report and the data from these counts made public soon.

Statewide Advocacy for Parklets

Vermont’s downtowns are facing incredible challenges. One way municipalities can help is by allowing businesses to repurpose parking spaces as additional outdoor seating space for restaurants or even retail room for stores. Our Livable Streets Program Manager Jonathon Weber wrote an op-ed promoting the idea for VTDigger, which sparked some lively community conversations. We also contributed to a webinar hosted by the Vermont Council on Rural Development and presented to the Rutland Regional Planning Commission’s Transportation Advisory Committee. Now, Rutland is incorporating parklet spaces into its new Center Street design!

Keeping an Eye on VTrans’ Autonomous Vehicle Testing Guidance

VTrans recently called for comment on a new permit guidance that would allow autonomous vehicles (AVs) to be tested on Vermont roads. Experience in other places around the country has shown that these vehicles struggle to recognize people walking, biking, and rolling in the roadway. In the long run, we think that AVs have the potential to make our streets safer, but for now we’re working to ensure transparency and safety in Vermont’s AV testing plans.

Education & Commuters

Everyday Biking Basics Videos

We’ve created some new resources for people who are getting back on their bikes and for those looking for a refresher in bike safety and biking basics. Through this series of short videos, you’ll learn how to properly fit your helmet, how to get on your bike even with limited mobility, how to start and stop your bike like a pro, and tips for staying safe while riding in traffic. Click to check out the videos!

E-Bike Lending Library

There is a brand new E-bike Lending Library this year! The Upper Valley E-bike Lending Library is a Local Motion program generously supported by a team of dedicated volunteers from a variety of local organizations. This Library consists of three e-bikes (two standard and one featuring a conversion kit) that will travel around the Upper Valley this summer and fall.

Have you borrowed an e-bike through our program? Please tell us about your experience here.

Way 2 Go! Update

Way to Go! is a year-long, school-based sustainable transportation initiative. It’s free for schools to join, and engaging in sustainable transportation activities earns them points and rewards. This year—despite all the challenges—30 schools reported participation and activities in Way to Go!. Collectively, these schools engaged in 12,175 active transportation trips (walk, bike, or roll), 973 sustainable transportation trips (carpool or bus), and 1,070 educational presentations. This is a huge amount of activity, and we’re so glad to see Vermont schools stepping up to engage in the work of sustainable transportation. Schools got incredibly creative with their programming, too, from virtual Walk to School Day videos, to using bicycles to pick up school lunches, to virtual helmet events via Zoom. It’s been a year of invention out of necessity.

Here are three stories from this year’s Way to Go! Activities:

  • At the beginning of the school year, Peter Lawry of Central Elementary School held a week-long bike event with the Kohl’s Kids Bike Safe Bike Smart Trailer. He notes that “Each student had three on-bike lessons throughout the week, including three after school biking days and three bike to school days. Students learned the basic rules of the road and then went on bike rides in Bellows Falls with their class to practice those skills. Students look forward to this week-long event every year! The Bike Smart trailer is a fantastic resource to engage in learning critical bike skills.”
  • Charleen Pariseau from the Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes held several walk to school events during the year. She explained, “Most staff greeted the students on their way with colorful safety vests, hats, and signs and walked with them back to school. The students were rewarded with a safe routes activity packet and a homemade bookmark about safe walking. Plus, they were provided a special ice cream treat that they got after lunch.” Charleen has done a terrific job identifying a safe route to school and making the walk to school days special by rewarding students and staff for practicing good habits.

Pass With Care

One of the side effects of driving in the car is the bubble-like quality of being inside a motor vehicle. It insulates you from your community, and from a sense of interaction with other road users. We see this whenever a pedestrian is carelessly splashed by a car driving through a puddle (it’s nearly always possible to slow and wait until the pedestrian is clear of the splash zone). We also see it in how people drive in general around people on foot, bike, assistive device or horse. We sometimes forget the humanity of the people outside of the car, and drive without care to that fact. 

Our goal with the Pass with Care campaign is to remind people that the folks they are driving around are neighbors, friends, parents, and children. All of the volunteers who participate in this campaign live here in Vermont, and we are very grateful for the donation of their time and effort. Look for this campaign to roll out soon. If you want to be part of our campaign roll out (posting and sharing these images), please e-mail [email protected] to get on the media list. 

Recreation & Fun

Vacation close to home! Our Trailside Bike Rental Center is open for business. 

This year, we have transitioned to online reservations to eliminate unnecessary touchpoints and streamline our bike rental process. For everyone’s safety, we are requiring that all customers wear masks when interacting with our staff. We’re following the mandatory health and safety requirements as outlined by the Vermont Department of Health and CDC to maintain a safe environment for you and for us. Learn more about how we are protecting you and your family when renting bikes!

Bike & Boat

Experience a day in Vermont unlike any other! Bike along the shores of Lake Champlain on Burlington’s beautiful Island Line Trail, then enjoy a refreshing scenic narrated boat ride. We’ve teamed up with the Spirit of Ethan Allen III to create the Bike and Boat Waterfront Package! You’ll enjoy up to 4-hour bike rental, followed by a 1.5-hour tour aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen with a la carte food and beverage available for purchase. This package is perfect for families, couples, and friends! Click here to learn more about the Bike and Boat Waterfront Package. 

Want to know how we are keeping you and your family safe from COVID-19? Read all about it here

Bike Ferry update

We’re planning for the Bike Ferry to launch in conjunction with the reopening of the Colchester Causeway, which is scheduled for September 8, 2020. We will announce the details of our fall ferry schedule and the protocols that we put in place to ensure the safety of our crew and passengers. Even if we only run for a few weeks, we’re looking forward to getting back out on Lake Champlain and offering folks a welcome return to something familiar—to something that people love.

Valet Bike Parking Status

Valet Bike Parking is on pause, but not forgotten. When public events are able to start back up, Valet Bike Parking will be there to help keep your bike safe and make the choice to ride easy!

Thank You, Local Motion Community!

Thank you to all our donors, volunteers, partners, and corporate sponsors who have stepped up and supported us during this difficult time. We can’t do this work without you, and as you can see in this newsletter, we are doing some great work, even during a pandemic!

If you are interested in becoming a corporate sponsor, from financial and in-kind support for our programs and events to workplace giving and volunteering, we'll customize a sponsorship opportunity that's just right for your business. Click here to learn more.

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