Thursday, December 18, 2008

Plans for a Shelburne Road Roundabout Divide Transportation Types

Seven Days Vermont -- Local Matters

Think navigating the Shelburne Road rotary is hairy during rush hour? It’s nothing compared to the difficulties surrounding the potential redesign of the five-way intersection that ranks as one of Vermont’s 50 most dangerous intersections.

City councilors, residents, traffic-safety experts and bicycling and pedestrian advocate Local Motion are at odds over dueling plans. The differences in the designs — the first emphasizing pedestrian safety and reduced auto speed, the second allowing cars to travel faster at higher risk to walkers and bicyclists — are raising uncomfortable questions about whose interests take precedence: commuters, families who want to safely cross the rotary on foot or bicycles, or Hill residents concerned about increased traffic on their streets.

At stake is almost $1 million in federal funds the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) has promised to the project. VTrans has made it a priority because of the rotary’s alarming accident rate: 53 car crashes between 2002 and 2007.

The first plan, called the single-lane roundabout, would merge Shelburne Road’s two northbound lanes into one as it approaches the convergence of Ledge, Locust, St. Paul and South Willard streets in Burlington’s South End. That would halve the speed of cars and narrow the pedestrian crossing from four lanes of traffic to two. This plan is preferred by Burlington’s Department of Public Works, Local Motion, many residents living near the rotary and the traffic consultants who worked on the plans.

The second plan, called the “hybrid,” keeps two northbound lanes on Shelburne Road moving faster than with the single-lane plan, although it would create longer waits for cars trying to enter the roundabout from St. Paul and Locust streets. It has support from CCTA, the transportation authority that runs the region’s public busses, as well as residents who are concerned about delays, problems pulling onto and off of Shelburne Road, and increased traffic on quiet neighborhood streets.

The hybrid plan also has the support of two of three Burlington city councilors on the committee that is charged with evaluating the designs. Clarence Davis (P-Ward 3)and Bill Keogh (D-Ward 5) are both on the Transportation, Energy and Utilities committee, or TEUC, that will make a recommendation to the city council. At a public hearing on December 4, Davis and Keogh said they support the second option, partly because of concerns about potential traffic delays and bus-route backups.

VTrans, however, isn’t sold on the proposal. The state agency previously expressed reservations that the plan, as envisioned, won’t sufficiently improve safety at the intersection to justify the cost.

Potential backups for CCTA’s Shelburne Road bus route is one reason TEUC is asking VTrans to reconsider its objections, said Keogh. The bus stop at Adams Court, just south of the rotary, may end up being eliminated if the single-lane plan creates delays, he said, citing a December 3 letter from CCTA to Burlington Public Works.

For an outside opinion, Seven Days called on traffic consultant Georges Jacquemart, a partner with New York-based BFJ Planning and the author of Modern Roundabout Practice in the United States. Although he’s not working on the redesign, he agreed to study the two competing plans.

“There’s no doubt the single lane is the best alternative,” Jacquemart said in a telephone interview. Since traffic is constantly moving into a roundabout, cars enter a “rolling queue” which may result in a rush-hour delay of five to 15 seconds, he said. But “it’s crazy to risk pedestrian lives because of this delay, and it’s not a delay that would cause cars to shift to other routes.”

Residents brought that up at a November 13 public hearing: If traffic slows on Shelburne Road, will some of those drivers divert to quiet Hill Section streets such as Prospect Parkway and Crescent Road? It’s unlikely, said RSG’s Mark Smith, who worked on the roundabout plans. “If the delay is less than 10 seconds, then why would you go three blocks out of your way?” he asked.

While the city awaits an answer from VTrans, there’s a concern the agency might direct the funds elsewhere, said Eleni Churchill, senior transportation planner for the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization, which funded and reviewed the study of the roundabout plans. In the meantime, City Councilor Andy Montroll (D-Ward 6), who chairs the TEUC, said he would like to see the committee consider a single-lane design built on the footprint of the hybrid, which would give the city flexibility if the single-lane plan creates traffic problems.

VTrans spokesman John Zicconi said there’s no deadline for the rotary project. But speaking theoretically, he said, if a city can’t decide what it wants, “then we’ll use money we have for other things.”

After it hears from VTrans on whether it will fund the hybrid, the TEUC will send its recommendation to the city council, which will then vote on which alternative it prefers. The council vote is likely to happen in January, Montroll said. Whatever the decision, many residents who travel on Shelburne Road each day hope the decision comes sooner rather than later.

“I want a safer way to cross,” said Hoover Street resident Leslyn Hall. “I worry about when we’re going to have the next fatality. “

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Road improvements squeeze cyclists

By Jason Starr
The Essex Reporter
Photo by Susan Reid

A ride down Susie Wilson Road may be easier for drivers now that Lowe’s Companies Inc. has widened the road and added turning lanes – a condition of the store’s permit under the State of Vermont’s Act 250 development review.

But what has been an improvement for traffic flow has been anything but for bicyclists.

Michael Hechmer has been commuting by bicycle from his home in Westford to Fletcher Allen Health Care, where he works as a chaplain, for five years. He makes the 15-mile, 45-minute trip each way seven months out of the year. Given rush-hour traffic, he said it’s only 15 minutes longer to bike to work than to drive.

Susie Wilson Road is a critical connector on Hechmer’s way from Route 2A to Route 15. He figured the stretch would be challenging during the summer and fall as construction on the turning lanes was in full swing. And it was difficult, he said, aside from the fact that traffic moved more slowly during the construction period.

But he didn’t expect the work would usurp what was a serviceable bike lane of about 4 feet on both sides of Susie Wilson Road and leave nothing but a torn up sidewalk, that, even when it recovers, is not recommended for cyclists because it repeatedly intersects side streets and turning cars.

“When they finally got to painting the lines I realized I no longer had an identifiable shoulder,” Hechmer said. “Now it’s like riding on Route 15. There’s just no space for a bicycle.”

The previous four-foot bike shoulder stretched from Kellogg Road nearly to Route 15. As state and local transportation officials negotiated road improvements with Lowe’s during Act 250 review last year, they knew they would be squeezing cyclists in favor of automobiles.

“We acknowledged right up front that we would lose these bike lanes,” Essex Public Works Director Dennis Lutz said. “But with 25,000 cars out there, you have to make choices. This was a casualty of trying to fix the traffic and reduce accidents out there. Something had to give.”

The Act 250 process incorporated hearings seeking public input on the plan for Susie Wilson. Chapin Spencer, the executive director of Local Motion – a Burlington-area group that advocates for multi-modal transportation infrastructure – regrets not making the case for the bike lanes then.

“We struggle trying to be at all places all the time,” Spencer said. “We’ve worked hard to get county and state plans to be developed so this is just thought about as part of normal planning improvements.

“It’s not easy balancing all the modes,” he added, noting planners incorporated pedestrian crosswalks and sidewalks into the Susie Wilson Road improvements. “But if we can try to think about it up front it will be a lot easier than trying to retrofit it in the future.”

A retrofit is not likely to happen.

“The problem is we are at the limit of our right-of-way,” Lutz said. “We have no room to add bicycle lanes.”

The town plans to mark the right-hand lanes of the road as shared lanes with bikes and cars. That may not be enough for Hechmer. He’s considering alternate, if longer, commuting routes for the spring.

“I’m going to try and miss as much of Susie Wilson as I can,” he said.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Leahy eyes more money for Route 15

The Essex Reporter
By Jason Starr
November 2008

Sen. Patrick Leahy continues to position the Route 15 corridor at the receiving end of federal appropriations.

He funneled $1.6 million to Essex and Colchester last year to jump-start the proposed connector road from St. Michael's College to Fort Ethan Allen and support streetscape improvements from Susie Wilson Road to Five Corners.

Now he is working to secure an additional $3 million to be split between Essex Junction and the Town of Johnson about 30 miles to the east. His office has alerted the Village to expect one-third of the $3 million in 2009.

Leahy previously granted federal funds for the recently completed paving, lighting and sidewalk project at Five Corners.

"He is focusing on individual projects where the prospects for now are the best," Leahy transportation policy aide Greg Cota said. "Making sure that the corridor is welcoming, safe and attractive is important to Senator Leahy."

Essex Junction hired local contractor Donald Hamlin Engineering to put together a near-term and long-term wish list for Route 15 as it enters the Village from Winooski and Colchester. One of the first priorities will be remaking the entrance to the Champlain Valley Exposition.

Members of the Expo board have agreed to pitch in $80,000 to the Route 15 improvement pot. The Village has also pledged $80,000.

For now, the Village is working with $400,000 in federal money, the remainder of the $1.6 million earmark from 2007. The majority of the earmark – $1.2 million – went to Colchester and St. Michael's for the campus connector. Village and Leahy officials believe the budget will have to be increased to have a meaningful project for Route 15.

Village officials have been meeting nearly every week for about three months with engineer Rick Hamlin, members of the Expo board and Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization officials to discuss Route 15. They presented plans during a Village Board of Trustees meeting last week.

With the amount of money available still up in the air, a phased approach was recommended. The Expo gateway, with plans including a new pedestrian entrance and bus turnaround, improved sidewalks and lighting and new signs, would be in the first phase.

"The CVE's frontage was the original thing that started this," Village Manager David Crawford said.

Other phase one ideas include creating a dedicated five-foot-wide bike lane from Susie Wilson to Five Corners, repaving and restriping lanes and improving the connection with West Street. The Vermont Agency of Transportation has plans to repave from Susie Wilson to the Expo next summer.

The Village also hopes to expand the work recently completed at Five Corners over the rise to Post Office Square.

"The idea is to carry that theme at Five Corners with better lighting and better walkways into the hills section," engineer Rick Hamlin said.

The longer term vision includes roundabouts at West Street and Post Office Square, a pedestrian/recreation path along portions of the railroad that parallels Route 15 and a trolley service running from Five Corners to downtown Burlington. Each phase, of course, would come with new costs requiring new federal funding.

"We're expecting to have a presentation for Senator Leahy that shows them this concept and gets it into their thinking," Crawford said.

[Note: Bolded sections are Local Motion's emphasis]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shelburne Kids Learn To Walk Safely

BUS STOP -- Children at Waldorf School in Shelburne learned about bus safety during a special national Safe Routes To School program held on school grounds last week. Here, Bert Nubile, a parent of a Waldorf student, instructs youngsters about how to safely board and exit a CCTA passenger bus. The program presented at 50 schools around Vermont, was coordinated by Pam Mathews of Local Motion, a Burlington-based organization.

ED Note: Safe Routes To School is coordinated in Vermont by VT Agency of Transportation.

Mobile Bike Drive in Burlington

Blurt: The Seven Days Staff Blog
By Cathy Resmer
November 24, 2008

Img_2086 I pulled up to work this morning and saw this van sitting outside my office. Turns out it's a mobile, mini bike drive, organized by Bike Recycle Vermont.

These dedicated pedal pushers are standing outside on this frigid morning collecting used bikes that they'll fix up and sell to low-income Vermonters. Bike Recycle founder Ron Manganiello says people who meet BRV's income guidelines can receive a bike, helmet, lock and a set of lights for just $20. That's a great deal.

Manganiello says that, since its inception four years ago, BRV has refurbished and sold thousands of bikes to people who need them. BRV shop manager Mark Rowell adds that BRV isn't just providing bikes. "We train at-risk youth, we train volunteers to work on bikes," he says.

BRV accepts used bikes as donations at its HQ in the Good News Garage building, in the former bus barns Img_2088_2 on North Winooski Avenue in Burlington. But since they got this swanky van — donated by VBT, along with 100 bikes, and lots of bike parts — they decided to actively seek donations by setting up a mobile station. The hope is that people will donate bikes on their way to work.

This is only the second time they've tried this approach; they staged their first mobile bike drive three weeks ago in front of General Dynamics and collected 15 bikes.

Why stand outside right now asking for bikes? Are they doing a special push for the holidays? Rowell says no. "We spend the winter fixing bikes and getting them ready for spring," he says.

They don't seem to be doing as well this morning — probably because they forget to tell us they were doing it! So none of my co-workers brought in bikes. Too bad. Maybe next time. I hope all the people at VEIC and JDK and Kelliher Samets Volk pony up some wheels. If you read this before 10 a.m., feel free to drop by with a donation. We're at the end of South Champlain Street, across from the Bobbin Mill.

Here's a short video from Mountain Lake PBS with more information about BRV.

The folks in the photo, left to right: BRV volunteer Parker Brown, Rowell, Americorps/VISTA Emily Eschner and Manganiello. I think I'm going to go outside and offer them some coffee.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pedestrian Hit By Car In Williston

Burlington Free Press
News Brief
November 21, 2008

WILLISTON -- Williston police say they are looking for more information in connection with a pedestrian who was hit by a car at about 5 p.m. Wednesday. The accident was not a hit-and-run, police said.

Police did not identify the name or gender of the pedestrian who was injured in the accident on Williston Road, near the intersection of Maple Tree Place.

The extent of the pedestrian's injuries were not specified by police.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Williston Police Department at (802) 878-6611.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Response to Bike Math

WPTZ Editorial
Friday, November 14, 2008

The following is a Newschannel 5 editorial response.

Building safe places to walk and bike makes sense – especially now with high gas prices, climate change and an obesity epidemic.

A new federal transportation bill will be drafted soon, and groups like Local Motion are working to secure $50 million dollars in federal funds to connect our region’s sidewalks, bike lanes, and paths.

The investment would put Vermonters back to work building these facilities and get more Vermonters active, thereby reducing our health care costs. It would also revitalize our village centers and reduce emissions.

VTrans found 55% of area residents are using our tails every year, and the US Census found 18% of commuters are walking and biking to work in Chittenden County’s core. This is not about lycra-clad cyclists. This is about kids walking to school; it's about seniors strolling to the local store, and commuters biking to work. Active Vermonters are healthy Vermonters.

That’s how I see it.

This has been a Newschannel 5 editorial response.

Editorial Response by Chapin Spencer, Executive Director Local Motion, Burlington, VT

Original editorial: Local Motion Media File: Bike Math?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bike Math?

WPTZ Editorial
Friday, October 31, 2008

We all know hopping on a bicycle and pedaling around in the clear, crisp outdoors air is a good thing. But, to put it bluntly, it ain't worth fifty million dollars.

That's how much a local group wants the Federal government to fork over, though. The money's part of a program to improve and expand bike paths, and some folks think it would be swell to have that money for the spandex-and-pointy helmet-set in Chittenden County.

We say slow down.

Vermont's infrastructure has real issues that demand real attention and real dollars. Bridges are crumbling. Roads need repair. These critical needs are a bit higher on the priority list than building another bicycle path to nowhere.

If we want some earmarks from Senators Leahy and Sanders, we suggest asking them to help with our real needs. We think the pedal pushing crowd already has enough spaces for spandex. That’s our opinion. What’s yours?

Aired by President/General Manager, Paul A. Sands

Update: Local Motion Media File: Response to Bike Math

Monday, October 27, 2008

Winooski sidewalk plan moves forward

Burlington Free Press
By Matt Sutkoski
October 27, 2008

WINOOSKI -- A planned sidewalk construction project long under discussion for an area near the Winooski Educational Center has taken a step forward.

The Winooski City Council this month formally adopted the proposal, which involves building sidewalks along Franklin, George and Bellevue streets.

City leaders are not sure how much the work will cost and when it will get under way.

Residential areas around Bellevue and Franklin streets are near Winooski Educational Center athletic fields. Many people use the local streets to reach a parking lot to attend sporting events. Or, they park along the streets and walk to the school.

Children going to and from the school also walk on the streets, and the city wants to provide sidewalks to ensure pedestrians are not too close to traffic.

"There are places in the city that need sidewalks," Mayor Michael O'Brien said. "That one was identified because it was one of the primary routes to school," he said of the Bellevue Street neighborhood.

O'Brien said proposals for sidewalks in the neighborhood have been discussed for years, but coming up with a firm plan has been delayed by disagreements among neighbors over how best to design the sidewalks and neighborhood improvements.

Some residents of the neighborhood remain opposed to the plan, but O'Brien said there appears to be enough consensus to move forward.

O'Brien said he hopes sidewalk construction could begin next year.

The city's schools are beginning to address safety associated with people parking on and near Bellevue Street during sporting events, School Board Chairman Jim Ticehurst said.

"Some people aren't very compassionate about the neighbors. They park right across the driveways," he said.

He said the school is encouraging visitors to use the Main Street entrance to the school property and park in the lot in front of the school whenever possible. The effort could help reduce the number of vehicles on streets where children are walking, he said.

The School Board's facilities subcommittee is also exploring other ways to help reduce traffic congestion and parking in the Bellevue Street neighborhood, Ticehurst said.

Contact Matt Sutkoski at 660-1846 or

One man's story: A car-free year in Stowe

By Eric Law
September 18, 2008

Like all other bets made over the cubicle during the workday, this one was supposed to be forgotten. However, I not only took the bet but clung to it like a squirrel’s nut.

I had gone carless in Boston during college, shared a car with a girlfriend for nearly five years in Missoula, Mont., and even attempted to go carless on Martha’s Vineyard in the dead of winter, so it is evident I was just looking for an excuse to go carless in a new locale.

My work colleagues may have underestimated my predisposition toward car independence, but I in turn greatly underestimated going carless in rural Vermont.

My lifestyle lends itself nicely to such a challenge. First and foremost, I have no kids. I don’t live miles off the beaten path and, logistically speaking, I am perfectly situated in Stowe village. I am also an avid biker and runner, fully willing to travel great lengths. In fact, I can’t imagine anything else I would rather do.

Too cold out? That’s not a problem, considering the Green Mountain Transit Authority’s Route 100 Commuter goes right by my house and drops me off just a few feet from my Waterbury office Monday through Friday.

To hedge my bet even more, I am blessed with many friends who occasionally pass my centrally located home on their way to work, to the mountain, and anywhere else I may need to go.

The cubicle bet didn’t stipulate I couldn’t take motorized travel, or even that I couldn’t drive someone else’s car if the owner was in the passenger seat.

The challenge would be easily met if I could sell my Saab (which I did in a couple of weeks’ time on craigslist) and followed a few simple rules. Since the bet was not about skirting car payments, inconveniencing friends and family, or passing the cost of transportation to others, the following rules were meant to safeguard the original intent of the bet — which was simply to reduce the footprint of one person and ultimately society’s.

The order of preferred transportation was public transportation (bus, train, or subway), commuting by bike, carpooling, and, yes, hitchhiking.

To be sensitive to other people’s schedules and to not put people out, one has to be willing to hitchhike as a last resort. It is inevitable that you find yourself without a car and without an alternative, no matter the planning, and the last thing you want to do is call a friend at home to come to your rescue.

As it is, you are inconveniencing others when they accommodate your schedule without you knowing it. For example, many people will tell a white lie and say they are going your way even if they aren’t if you ask them for help in a tight spot (“The car is in the shop”) or an emergency (“The car is in the shop and my kid is sick”). I came to learn this silent act of kindness only after the fact.

You might have seen me from time to time walking from Stowe’s lower village westward. You might even have contemplated giving me a ride if you hadn’t had a car full of stuff or passengers, been late for work, or been taught by your parents never to pick up hitchhikers (even though they likely came from a generation of hitchhikers). There is no commentary here, other than we live in different times and Vermont folk of a past era never let me walk backward for more than 10 minutes.

Weekends were by far the toughest transition for me. Since I was relatively new to Stowe, most of my social networks were outside town. More often than not, I could not and would not travel outside town borders if I thought I would have to rely on a ride from a friend. I missed many events in a year-plus, but this was only a temporary situation where I could read and write as much as in college, learn every nook and cranny of my adopted town, and for the first time in a long time not rush through life.

I would like to say the lack of ready transportation allowed me to focus on all the important things in life, but I can report with confidence that simplifying alone — that is, going carless — is not the philosophical remedy some people make it out to be.

With that said, it certainly doesn’t impede personal growth.

The most important rule was to understand that my little experiment was not groundbreaking — surely this has been done by many others in Vermont in less convenient situations — and that I was not going to change the world by reducing my carbon footprint by a small fraction.

The best piece of advice came from a dear friend: “This is your selfish pursuit and you aren’t doing this for a prize, so stop talking and just do it.” I may have failed at this level of humility, but in striving toward this goal I became more accessible, and so did my hidden curriculum — that we can all do something in very private ways to reduce our footprints, whether the impetus is to improve our personal finances amid rising energy prices, reducing global emissions, or simply to rid our dependence on foreign oil.

The trials and tribulations of living without a car (and a computer and TV, to pique your interest) for more than a year can’t be summed up in a newspaper column. I saved some money from not having a car payment or insurance, but not as much as one may think, because I always tried to return favors. I’d like to think of myself as a giving person and enjoyable to be around, but the reality is that if you got a ride from someone and you didn’t at the very least attempt to pay your share, the offer may not be repeated. You don’t want to burn bridges and lose friends when you are without a car.

Reactions to my year without a car ranged from intense interest to pure disdain. Most people were somewhere in the middle, intrigued but confused why I wanted to do it and if I was comfortable leaning on others. As much as I tried to limit my reliance on others, I was learning we Americans value independence, not necessarily interdependence.

After a year plus without a car, I took the money I saved and entered the Tour D’Isle in Montreal, an event that celebrates bike commuting. There seemingly couldn’t have been a better event to culminate my experience, but for reasons that became clear to me over time, I didn’t feel like celebrating. I had just bought a new car the previous week, but the purchase was taxing and anticlimactic and now I was celebrating my year without a car with the wrong event.

Something went terribly wrong or right this past year because I won the bet and still feel like I have failed.

Eric Law of Stowe works as an environmental analyst and project development specialist for the Vermont state government.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

MPO- 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation

CCTV Channel 17
October 20, 2008


CCMPO has been participating in a national effort for increased federal funding dedicated to walking and biking projects. This press conference will highlight potential projects and the benefits of more funding to our communities.

Speakers: J. Jeffrey Munger, Senator Bernie Sanders Office; Jeffrey B. Carr, Chair, CCMPO; David Reville, AARP Vermont; Charlene Wallace, Local Motion

Upcoming Airtimes
  • Friday October 24, 2008 at 6:00 PM

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

All Aboard Heel-Toe Express!

WPTZ Channel 5
October 20, 2008

Alternative Transportation Gaining Traction

Chittenden County transportation advocates are looking for some big money to encourage walking and biking.

All Aboard Heel Toe Express!

The Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO) has unveiled a list of 12 projects that it says could both ease traffic congestion and improve the environment.

"There's just a great opportunity for those federal dollars to be spent in a good way," said CCMPO planner Brian Davis.

The list of projects, which would cost about $50 million, comes as part of a larger national effort to encourage federal transportation officials to allocate money for alternative transportation efforts.

They include new bikeways across the Winooski River and around Lake Champlain, improvements to the Route 15 corridor and programs to encourage people to walk and bike.

Advocates say that despite falling gas prices, there is still demand.

"Even at these gas prices--there are a lot more people biking than we had two years ago," said Charlene Wallace, of Local Motion, a nonprofit group that supports alternative transportation efforts.

Campaign targets bicycles, pedestrians

Burlington Free Press
By Matt Sutkoski
October 21, 2008

WINOOSKI -- A county planning group and local advocates are pushing for up to $50 million in pedestrian and bicycle projects across Chittenden County that would help create a seamless nonmotor transportation network.

The 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation seeks to increase federal transportation funding for walking and bicycling in the next federal transportation bill.

Bryan Davis, a transportation planner with the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization, said he is optimistic federal dollars could flow toward bicycle and pedestrian improvements despite the sour economy.

The planning organization, which establishes transportation priorities in the county, is working with groups such as Local Motion, a pedestrian and bicyclists' advocacy group, to promote the campaign. Members of the groups announced the effort Monday at the traffic circle in Winooski. The location is near the Winooski River bridge between Winooski and Burlington, a spot the planning organization targets as ripe for work that would improve bicycle and pedestrian access.

Other areas that need improvements are Vermont 15 between Winooski and Jericho; U.S. 2 at Interstate 89 exit 14 and U.S. 2 between Burlington and Williston, according to a CCMPO report released Monday. Overall, Davis said the campaign would close gaps and improve unsafe areas in the county's pedestrian and bicycle network.

The report also states the Burlington Bike Path, paths in Charlotte and Shelburne, and the Colchester-South Hero Causeway need upgrades. The campaign also calls for education and enforcement to inform bicyclists and pedestrians of their rights and responsibilities on the trail.

All the improvements envisioned in the campaign would cost about $50 million to complete, according to the CCMPO's report.

Jeff Munger, a transportation policy adviser for Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., said hints are emerging that the federal government will become increasingly responsive to bicycle and pedestrian projects. As an example, he said the $700 billion bailout bill recently adopted by Congress has an interesting, little-known provision. Employees who use a bicycle to commute to and from work are eligible for a $20 tax-free reimbursement for bicycle related expenses, he said.

Metropolitan Planning Organization executive director Michele Boomhower said Chittenden County governments, transportation planners and advocacy groups overwhelmingly support broader pedestrian and bicycle access. She said increased federal funding for bike and pedestrian paths would satisfy these groups.

Contact Matt Sutkoski at 660-1846 or

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Miles of new trails to open

Rutland Herald
By Josh O'Gorman
October 18, 2008

Mountain bikers and horseback riders rejoice — soon you will have more trails to ride, but you're going to have to pitch in and help.

The Green Mountain National Forest is opening up more than 35 miles of trails for equestrian use, while mountain bikers will be able to enjoy about 7 miles of new trails.

The decision to open the trails came after Green Mountain National Forest asked for public comment in March, which drew more than 600 comments and suggestions on which trails should be opened and what they should be used for.

"We had a lot of interest in designating these trails," said Rob Hoelscher, acting district ranger for the Middlebury and Rochester Ranger District. "We felt we needed to designate these trails and include mountain bike and equestrian riders and the first step was designating those trails that best support those uses."

Hoelscher said the trails were originally designed for uses that have heavier impact than either bikes or horses and many are used by snowmobile riders in the winter.

Hoelscher designated a network of trails and forest service roads east of Goshen Road and north of Goshen Dam in Goshen and Ripton that together will compose an approximate 7-mile loop for horseback riders.

Mountain bike riders will be able to enjoy the Oak Ridge Trail, a 1.5-mile ride whose trailhead is on Route 125 in Ripton just west of the Ripton Country Store.

In the southern part of the state, about 26 miles of trails have been designated for equestrian use in Glastenbury, Stratton, Winhall and Woodford, a network of trails that will create an 18-mile loop, said Doug Reeves, recreational planner for the Green Mountain National Forest.

Reeves said two trails — one measuring about 4.5 miles and the other about 1 mile — have been opened up for mountain bike use in the Stratton area.

While forest service officials have designated the trails for these new uses, they are not open yet.

"When the trails open up really depends on when we can form partnerships with equestrian groups and mountain bike groups," Hoelscher said. "They need to make improvements to the trails first before they're opened up."

Hoelscher said the Green Mountain National Forest is teaming with horse and mountain bike groups to assist in trail maintenance. His district has entered into an agreement with the Vermont Mountain Bike Association to improve and maintain the Oak Ridge trail and is in negotiations with an equestrian group to improve the horse trails.

"We're not building new trails. We're opening them up for multiple use," Reeves said. "The more partners we have the more uses we'll have for the trails."

Reeves said he is in negotiations with mountain bike and horse groups and planned to meet with them in November.

"The Vermont Mountain Bike Association is very pleased with our partnership with the forest service," executive director Patrick D. Kell.

The association has 21 chapters from Jay Peak to Putney and also works with the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation to open up state land to mountain bike riders.

Kell said his association recently received $35,000 in grants — $26,000 from the National Forest Foundation and $9,000 from the Bikes Belong Coalition — to improve the Oak Ridge Trail and other trails in the area. The National Forest Foundation grant will be paid to the Vermont Youth Conservation Corp, which will work on the trails next summer, Kell said.

In the immediate future, the Vermont Mountain Bike Association will work on the Oak Ridge Trail, beginning 9 a.m. Sunday. For more information, visit them on the Web at

Contact Josh O'Gorman at

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bicyclist Injured In Crash With Car

Burlington Free Press
October 13, 2008
News Brief

COLCHESTER -- A woman was treated at Fletcher Allen Health Care after being hit by a car at the intersection of East and West Lakeshore drives in Colchester.

Bonnie Anderson, 23, of Burlington rode against traffic into the intersection and was struck by a 1996 Chevrolet driven by Patrick Duxbury, 38, of Colchester on Saturday morning, Colchester police said. Police are investigating the accident.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Kid Gyms One More Step in De-Evolution of Society

Burlington Free Press
By Cormac Walsh
October 5, 2008

Congratulations to Action Kids Fitness Center for discovering the newest way of ripping off rich, neglectful parents while disrupting childhood development ("Kid gyms offer needed exercise," Sept. 16). The article provides shocking evidence of how the evolution of technology has contributed to the de-evolution of American society.

These glorified day care centers, claiming they are offering children a fun new outlet for exercising, are really taking away from children's opportunities for healthy interaction. Stationary bikes and treadmills hooked up to video games are repulsive. The article states that these devices force the child to keep moving or the game will shut down.

Didn't farmers tie carrots to the end of sticks and dangle them in front of mules to get them to plow their fields? I hope they're at least hooked up to a turbine. There is an idea for alternative energy. Take a hundred kids, lock them in a basement, hook 'em up to these devices and let them generate power for our schools, hospitals and health clubs.

I bet these kiddie gyms won't be so trendy after some kid leans against a hydraulic button and crushes his little sister to death. Maybe the scariest part of the article was the mentioning of "yoga for tots."

Kids are being distracted from human interaction by today's technology. Instead of socializing in a game of tag, kids are hooked up to video machines.

If children have weight problems, regulate their diet and engage in outdoor activities with them, take away their electronics and sign them up for sports .


Human Powered Vehicle Burlington Bikefest

Bridget M. Burns
Seven Days
October 8, 2008
Photo Slideshow:

1st Annual Human Powered Vehicle Bike Fest

Burlington Free Press
Photos by Alison Redlich
October 5, 2008

Scores of bike enthusiasts gather at City Hall Park in Burlington for the 1st Annual Human Powered Vehicle (HPV) Bike Festival on Saturday, October 4, 2008.

Rachel Siegel and her daughter Gertrude 4 1/2, of Burlington
Tom Jannke of Ledyard, CT in his Velomobile
Mike Beganyi of Burlington who pedaled with his daughter Ava, 8 months, of Burlington, in their Bakfiets bicycle which was made in Amsterdam
Event organizer Phil Hammerslough of Burlington
Leonard Krash of Conneaut, OH, who displays his Belokit and answers questions at City Hall Park
Tom Jannke of Ledyard, CT in his Velomobile
Ty Larson, 3 1/2, of Burlington

License and Regulate Bicycle Riders

Burlington Free Press
By Leonard Brown
October 4, 2008

As a motorist I have comments that are related to aggressive cyclists.

All bicycles must be inspected and issued license plates affixed to the bicycle by the inspector. This will give the motorist a method for reporting the aggressive cyclist.

All cyclists young and old must take a written exam and be given a license. A fee will be charged to offset all costs for the above.

There should be insurance to protect the motorist.

Proof of license and insurance must be presented when buying or renting a bicycle.

The bicyclist/driver problem cannot be fully resolved by local rule; it must be addressed at the state level.

South Burlington

Festival Promotes Human Power

Burlington Free Press
By Lauren Ober
October 3, 2008

Phil Hammerslough wants you to stop thinking of bikes as sporting goods and start thinking of them as the most efficient way of getting from here to there.

Hammerslough, 65, began biking year-round about 40 years ago and hasn't looked back. He pedals himself through rain, wind, sleet and snow and looks at his bicycle as a vehicle, one that is human-powered.

Helping people see bikes as a viable transportation option has been Hammerslough's goal for years. This weekend's Human Powered Vehicle Burlington Bikefest is largely a result of Hammerslough's enthusiasm and advocacy.

The festival, which runs today through Sunday at locations around Burlington, seeks to introduce people to human powered vehicles including recumbent bikes, trikes and velomobiles -- a single-passenger bicycle with a full fairing, seen mostly in Europe. There will be demonstrations of human powered vehicles, as well as lectures, bike tours and a trailer pull.

Hammerslough points to the downturn in the economy as a reason for people to start biking rather than driving. Becoming fuel-independent can make a huge difference in people's lives, Hammerslough said.

"From an economic standpoint, biking is a fabulous concept," Hammerslough said.

One of the festival's other organizers, Stu Lindsay, said the event is a way to celebrate human ingenuity while showing people how accessible biking for transportation is. The velomobiles might look space-age with their aerodynamic shells, but they are no more complicated than a regular bicycle and are better for riding year-round.

Lindsay, who builds specialty bikes for people with physical disabilities, thinks it's possible for people to bike year-round, if only cities were more accommodating. Burlington isn't a bad place to commute by bike, Lindsay says, but "we are one of those cities that could do an awful lot more."

Lisa Aultman-Hall, director of the Transportation Research Center at the University of Vermont, agrees that Vermont is doing a pretty good job accommodating people who cycle as a primary means of transportation. Aultman-Hall will speak tonight at City Hall's Contois Auditorium on the 10 biggest transportation myths and the reality behind them.

"Given our constraints like winter and the hills, we're doing pretty well," Aultman-Hall said. "I think it's exciting that our advocates and leaders want more."

From a transportation and congestion standpoint, Aultman-Hall said human powered vehicles should be a big part of the discussion. Not everybody needs to ride a bike, she says, but if some people ride instead of drive, the roads are better for everyone.

That is Hammerslough's overarching goal, to show people the benefits of human powered transportation.

"If I can get people to ride one more week a year, I've accomplished something," Hammerslough said.

Contact Lauren Ober at 660-1868 or

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What Goes Around Comes Around

Seven Days
Photo by Jack Rowell
September 24, 2008

Science-fiction novelist H.G. Wells once wrote, “Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” That quote could sum up the old-spokes saviors at Bike Recycle Vermont. Since 2004, BRV has provided hundreds of donated-and-refurbished cycles to low-income folks in need of two-wheeled transportation. The organization also trains disabled and disadvantaged Vermonters to be bike mechanics. A partner of cycling-advocacy nonprofit Local Motion, BRV supports its pedal-powered mission with a fundraising party this Saturday. Bid on silent auction items and bake-sale goodies at 6 p.m., or get your toes tapping at a 7 p.m. hoedown featuring high-toned honky-tonk from the Starline Rhythm Boys (pictured). Bring the family: Kids 15 and younger and seniors 65 and older join the gyrations for half-price.

Bike Recycle Vermont Benefit

Saturday, September 27, 6PM at Shelburne Town Hall in Shelburne. $20-25.

Contact Info:
Seven Days Says:

The Starline Rhythm Boys get rowdy with original rockabilly numbers at a wheel-friendly fundraiser. Silent auction and bake sale, 6 p.m., dance concert 7 p.m.

Biking Advocates Push Five-Point Safety Plan

Seven Days
By Kevin J. Kelley
Photos by Matthew Thorsen
September 24, 2008

Only 1 percent of the state’s highway-safety budget goes to help protect walkers and cyclists, even though they have accounted for nearly 6 percent of Vermont’s road fatalities since 2001.

Moreover, just two of the 1400 jobs at the Vermont Agency of Transportation are centered on pedestrian and biking projects, according to the department. And one of the two positions — a staffer for the Safe Routes to School Program — is currently vacant.

In the wake of last week’s rally in Burlington to support two cyclists injured in hit-and-run collisions with motorists, Vermont biking advocates hope to implement a five-point plan that includes a “fair share” of funding for safety initiatives.

Chapin Spencer, director of Local Motion, a Burlington group that promotes human-powered transportation, said concern engendered by the two accidents offers an opportunity to convince lawmakers to take bike and pedestrian safety issues seriously.

In addition to increased funding for safety education, the group urges reduced speed limits in downtown areas, targeted police enforcement and establishment of a reporting system for drivers who endanger bikers and walkers.

A greater degree of personal responsibility is the fifth piece in the group’s package. Acknowledging that some bikers are themselves reckless, Spencer said, “We’re willing to have enforcement against us in return for increased safety.”

Even prior to the September 17 show of strength by more than 100 bikers in City Hall Park, the balance of power had already begun to shift, Spencer suggested. He notes that voters in both Shelburne and Williston approved bonds earlier this year to build non-vehicular paths. And the state Legislature appropriated $50,000 last year for the purchase of five “shoulder sweepers” — machines that regularly clear away rocks and debris that can cause bikers to wipe out or to swerve into traffic.

But lawmakers and the governor did little for pedestrians and cyclists last session, despite the growing public interest in alternate forms of transportation. The only major bike-related bill, which would have required motorists to give cyclists and walkers more room, died in the House after passage by the Senate.

Nancy Schulz, head of the statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition, expressed hope that the uptick in gas prices over the summer will “grease the skids” for legislative action in the coming session. However, she added, it could prove more difficult to persuade Gov. James Douglas to take action.

“We hear a lot from Gov. Douglas about how important it is to be physically active,” Schulz said. “But I’d say the biking and pedestrian community is disappointed by his response to our concerns.”

State Sen. Phil Scott, who rides 100 recreational miles per week in the summer, said most lawmakers don’t understand the importance of bike safety.

“It’s hard for them to know how vulnerable you are when they’re not out on a bike on the road,” he noted.

Jon Kaplan, VTrans’ sole biking specialist, said that, despite the perception that the state favors automotive interests, “For a small state, we actually do quite a lot for bikers and pedestrians. We could do more, but we do a lot.”

A former city councilor, Spencer said biking is generally perceived as a “fringe issue.” Advocates hope to broaden support for their plan by trying to appeal to motorists’ shared interests in safety. Drivers are also pedestrians some of the time, Spencer points out, and can therefore be encouraged to look at transportation issues from perspectives other than behind the wheel.

“In promoting our vision of alternatives, if we vilify people who drive in a rural state with bad weather,” he said, “we’re never going to become mainstream.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

100+ Rally for Bike Safety at Burlington City Hall

Seven Days
By Mike Ives
September 16, 2008

At 12:15 p.m. today, more than 100 people gathered in Burlington's City Hall Park to rally for "Safe Streets." The event was organized by the local nonprofit Local Motion in response to two recent hit-and-run incidents in which bicyclists were injured.

"This is fabulous," Judy Bond, the newly elected president of the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, said after assessing the size of the crowd. But it's "really unfortunate," she added, that the event had been precipitated by two tragedies.

The first hit-and-run victim, according to the Burlington Free Press, was Rose Long, a 20-year-old University of Vermont student. Long was struck by a red Jeep last Monday while riding down Pearl Street in Burlington. After being transported to Fletcher Allen Health Care, she was treated for "multiple fractures, severe facial lacerations and a collapsed lung." The second bicyclist was hit last Tuesday while riding down Patchen Road in South Burlington and suffered minor injuries, the Free Press reported last week.

Today in City Hall Park, after Mayor Bob Kiss pledged to "do all I can to move forward" on bike-safety issues, Burlington Police Department Chief Michael Schirling said he will work with Local Motion, the Burlington Bicycle Council and the Burlington Walking Work Group to "craft meaningful and new strategies to keep our streets safe" through "engineering, education and enforcement."

During his speech, Local Motion Executive Director Chapin Spencer outlined a Five Point Platform for Safe Streets. The platform calls for "bike/pedestrian safety education," "reporting aggressive driving," lowering speed limits, "targeted" traffic enforcement, and "personal responsibility" on the part of both bikers and motorists.

According to a rep from the UVM Cycling Club who spoke at today's event, Rose Long, the student who was injured last Monday on Pearl Street, is now walking. But, since Long's insurance plan doesn't cover oral surgery, her family and friends are soliciting donations at a website they created.

Cyclists rally for safe streets

Burlington Free Press
By Lauren Ober
Photos by Alison Redlich
September 17, 2008

A cyclist waved a poster at Tuesday’s Rally for Safe Streets that read “I learned to share in first grade.” The sign was meant to convey the message that cyclists and drivers need to learn how to peacefully coexist on Vermont’s roads.

That message was echoed throughout a impromptu lunchtime rally at Burlington’s City Hall Park, prompted in large part by two recent hit-and-run accidents in Chittenden County involving cyclists and cars. While many attendees were angry about the recent hit-and-runs, most agreed that cyclists and motor vehicle operators bear equal responsibility when it comes to road safety.

The rally was organized by Local Motion, a Burlington bicycle/pedestrian advocacy organization. Representatives from the Burlington Police Department, the Green Mountain Bicycle Club, the Vermont Bike/Ped Coalition and the University of Vermont Cycling team spoke at the event. Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss also lent his support, saying that with more people walking and riding bikes, the city needs to find ways to accommodate them all safely.

“Clearly, we can all share the road,” Kiss said.

Chapin Spencer, executive director of Local Motion, spearheaded the rally after two cyclists in a week were struck by motorists who then drove off. Rose Long, a junior at UVM and a member of the cycling team, was hit Sept. 8 while riding with a friend in downtown Burlington. Another young cyclist, whose name was not released by police, was hit a day later on Patchen Road in South Burlington.

•Laws for bicyclists

•Rose Long Fund

Long sustained serious injuries that required 15 hours of reconstructive surgery. Adam Desjardin, 22, of Vergennes has been charged in connection with that incident.

Spencer was adamant that roads are not just for cars.

"The days when we plan for just cars are over," Spencer said. "We've talked about sharing the road. Let's do it."

Spencer detailed a five-point plan aimed at making Vermont's roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. The first part of the Local Motion initiative is to secure more bike/pedestrian education funding from the Vermont Governor's Highway Safety Program.

According to recent state statistics, cyclists and pedestrians make up 5.8 percent of traffic fatalities. Of the Governor's Highway Safety Program's discretionary funds, 1 percent is allotted to bicycle/pedestrian safety funding.

Spencer also advocated for an aggressive-driver reporting initiative; lower speed limits in Burlington's downtown and in neighborhoods with no posted speed limit; targeted enforcement, including ticketing rule-breaking cyclists or crosswalk stings; and personal responsibility.

"If we all do these five pieces, our community will be a better place," Spencer said.

Local Motion plans to work with a number of city agencies and nonprofits to get its message out. The Burlington Police Department is working to establish an aggressive-driver reporting initiative, Burlington POlice Chief Mike Schirling said.

The program, which Schirling says he hopes to have up and running by spring, will allow cyclists or pedestrians to report an aggressive driver. If callers have sufficient identifying information on the vehicles, the police will be able to follow up on the report with a call to the drivers, telling them they are on notice.

The police can't issue tickets from the callers' claims, but they can hope to influence drivers' behavior. Schirling says it's about providing education in a neutral middle ground.

"We do traffic enforcement now, but it's very one-dimensional," Schirling said. "We need to change the standard."

Schirling talked extensively about the need to be courteous on the road and the benefits of good behavior. Kim Lang, a bicyclist at the rally, said she appreciated Schirling's message. She said she also agreed with one of the main messages of the rally -- "Give Respect, Get Respect."

"I liked the respect aspect going back and forth," Lang said. "How do we spread that into the greater community?"

One of the main pillars of the rally was the need for more education, both for cyclists and motorists. Ron Manganiello, a local cyclist who volunteers with Bike Recycle Vermont, said he'd like to see people approach road safety education the way seat belt use was promoted. The key, he said, is to make road safety automatic for children, just like buckling a seat belt.

Spencer ended the rally by asking the approximately 100 people in front of City Hall to take a pledge promising to do their share to "create a safe street environment" whether biking, walking or driving.

"We all here stand for safe streets," Spencer said. "We must all share our roadways."

Contact Lauren Ober at 660-1868 or

Five Point Safety Plan: Local Motion’s 5-point platform for safe streets

1. Fair share for bike/pedestrian safety education
Since 2001, pedestrians and cyclists have accounted for 5.8 percent of all roadway fatalities. Local Motion calls for the Governor’s Highway Safety Program to minimally dedicate a proportional 5.8 percent of its safety budget to bike-pedestrian safety efforts.

2. Aggressive driver reporting initiative
Our communities need a system, developed in partnership with law enforcement agencies, that follows up on reports of aggressive driving. The simple act of having law enforcement contact vehicle owners of cars that have been reported and inform the owners of Vermont law can address the most dangerous behaviors on our roadways.

3. Lower speed limits
The Burlington Public Works Commission recently adopted the Burlington Transportation Plan, which states: “The City will pursue several policy initiatives including: Changing speed limits to 20 mph in the downtown Slow Streets zone and to 25 mph on neighborhood streets without posted speed limits.” We want to see this enacted. Slow streets are safe streets.

4. Targeted enforcement
Targeted and high-profile enforcement efforts provide great returns. Word travels fast and the news that the police are conducting crosswalk stings or handing tickets to cyclists who ignore the laws will get around. A few well-publicized days of traffic enforcement can be very effective.

5. Personal responsibility
We are all responsible for our actions. We must recognize this responsibility no matter how we travel on Vermont’s roads — whether on bike, on foot or behind the wheel. In the end, there is nothing more effective than modeling good behavior.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Montpelier Bicyclist Injured In Accident

Burlington Free Press
News Brief
September 16, 2008

WILLIAMSTOWN -- A bicyclist was injured when a trailer pulled by a passing vehicle knocked him off his bike.

Kurt A. LaPrairie, 57, of Montpelier was taken to the hospital with cuts to his shoulder, elbows and legs. LaPrairie was riding north Saturday on Vermont 14 when a GMC Yukon towing a 30-foot camper attempted to pass him, according to police.

As the driver, Christopher Bartlett, 38, of Barre, was passing, LaPrairie collided with the trailer and was knocked to the ground, police said.

Bartlett reported the incident, as did LaPrairie when he arrived home.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Vermont State Police Middlesex barracks.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hit-and-run suspect pleads not guilty

Burlington Free Press
September 12, 2008
By Lauren Ober

A Vergennes man whose license had been suspended pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges stemming from a hit-and-run accident in Burlington that left a local college student badly injured.

Adam Desjardin, 22, was arraigned on one felony count of leaving the scene of an accident and one misdemeanor count of negligent vehicle operation for allegedly hitting and injuring University of Vermont junior Rose Long with his SUV. Desjardin turned himself in to Burlington police Wednesday once he became aware that authorities were looking for him, said Lt. Bill Ward of the Burlington Police Department.

Long, 20, and a friend, James Patterson, were cycling in downtown Burlington on Monday night when Desjardin allegedly struck Long with his vehicle at the intersection of Pearl and North Union streets. Witnesses said Desjardin stepped out of the car briefly and then left the scene.

Long, who is a member of the UVM cycling team, sustained severe facial lacerations, a collapsed lung, a broken wrist and a broken jaw, nose and pallet. She also shattered bones in her forehead and lost a number of teeth in the accident. Her injuries required reconstructive surgery Thursday.

Desjardin was released on his own recognizance on the condition that he will turn in his license plates and car keys to police and have no contact with the victim. He is next scheduled to be in court Oct. 8.

Long, originally from Sutton, is an accomplished road cyclist who captured the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference overall championship this year. Recently, she worked on the race committee for the Burlington Criterium, the hallmark event of the Green Mountain Stage Race. Long, a mechanical engineering major, was selected for an internship in the orthopedics department at Fletcher Allen Health Care just days before the accident.

More than 30 cyclists from around Burlington showed up for Thursday's arraignment. Many said they were there as a show of solidarity for cyclists who have been hit by cars.

"I think it shows that cyclists don't like to be hit by cars," said Tom Dinunzio, a member of the UVM cycling team.

Many people in the courtroom were collegiate cyclists who said community awareness of cyclists on the road is an important issue for them.

"A lot of people don't realize it's their responsibility to avoid anything in front of them -- a pedestrian, a cyclist, a guy in a wheelchair," said Dan Benson, also a member of the UVM cycling team.

According to the Vermont Governor's Highway Safety Program, bicyclists and pedestrians make up 7 percent of traffic fatalities. Of the program's discretionary funds, just 1 percent is allotted to bicycle/pedes- trian safety funding.

Chapin Spencer, executive director of Local Motion, a bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization, says the amount the state spends on bike/pedestrian education should be at least proportionate to the percentage of fatalities.

This most recent accident should be a signal to lawmakers that something needs to change with regard to road safety, Spencer said.

"There have been three serious bike accidents in the past week. It's about time that the state step up and invest in traffic safety to stop the carnage," Spencer said.

Contact Lauren Ober at 660-1868 or

Residents' opportunity to comment on bike/ped path will be Sept. 15

Shelburne News
September 12, 2008

Shelburne residents and property owners are encouraged to meet on Monday, Sept. 15 to discuss alternative alignments relating to a segment of the Longmeadow-Webster Road Bicycle and Pedestrian Path. The segment undergoing evaluation would link the Harbor Road section of Shelburne Village with the western end of Webster Road.

Jim Donavon, a consultant who helped prepare a feasibility study for the path, completed in April of 2004, will moderate the meeting, which will start at 7 p.m. and take place in Shelburne's municipal complex. Donovan will report on his renewed efforts to identify and evaluate alignment alternatives and understand issues associated with construction of this portion of the pedestrian/bicycle path. The presentation will be followed by a public comment period.

The original feasibility study for the project was accepted by the Shelburne Selectboard in April of 2004. Following release of the study, Vermont Railway, Inc., and the Rail Division of the Vermont Agency of Transportation felt conditions had changed since the completion of the study and expressed new opposition to portions of the proposed route located within the railroad corridor right-of-way. Funding to reexamine those sections of the path was obtained from the State of Vermont through the Transportation Enhancement Grant Program.

According to Bike and Pedestrian Paths Committee Chairmen Rob Donahue, the alternatives analysis is an important stage of the study. "Alternatives must be fully investigated before a preferred route can be identified," said Donahue. "Impacts on natural resources need to be well-understood, so we don't expend effort pursuing ideas that couldn't, for example, receive environmental permits."

Town Planner Dean Pierce points out that the upcoming meeting will be the second time that alternatives for the path segment are discussed. "A change in land ownership along the previously selected preferred route after the initial alternatives analysis was done convinced us it would be good to revisit some of our options," said Pierce.

The Town plans to have this feasibility report completed by the end of December. The outcome of the report will say whether the path alignments are physically and technically possible. It will then be determined whether or not the alignments will be economically possible. Provided both of these issues are passed, the Selectboard will then discuss how the town will go about financing the reasonable changes.

Individuals with questions about the meeting are encouraged to contact the Shelburne Planning Office by calling 985-5118 or by sending an e-mail to

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Police investigate car-bike collision

Burlington Free Press
News Brief
September 11, 2008

South Burlington police are seeking information on an accident that occurred on Patchen Road and White Street about 5:20 p.m. Tuesday, when an unknown motorist struck a bicyclist.

According to police, the motorist was driving southbound on Patchen Road and attempted to cut through a parking lot to avoid a traffic light. In making an abrupt right turn, the vehicle struck a bicyclist riding on the sidewalk. The driver picked up the bike and helped up the cyclist from in front of the vehicle, then fled the scene, police said.

Police described the vehicle as a green minivan with Vermont registration that included FFY or FFI. The driver was described as a white male in his late 60s or early 70s, with gray hair, bald on top. The cyclist was taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care, treated for minor injuries, and released.

Witnesses are asked to call the South Burlingotn olice at 846-4111 or Champlain Valley Crime Stoppers at 864-6666.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bicyclist will need more surgery after hit-and-run

Burlington Free Press
News Brief
September 10, 2008

BURLINGTON -- Rose Long, a University of Vermont student who was struck while riding her bicycle on Pearl Street on Monday, will undergo reconstructive surgery on her face later this week, according to Long's sister.

Burlington police today are still looking for the driver of a red Jeep Cherokee-style vehicle that hit Long and fled the scene on Pearl Street.

According to police reports, Long, a member of UVM's cycling team, was on a group bicycle ride when she was hit while riding westbound into the intersection of Pearl and Union streets. The vehicle allegedly pulled in front of Long, 20, as if it intended to turn onto North Union Street, police said.

Long was transported to Fletcher Allen Health Care for treatment for multiple fractures, severe facial lacerations and a collapsed lung. The victim's sister, Amie Long, said her sister will undergo reconstructive surgery on her face later this week. Long is originally from Sutton.

The vehicle is described as a red, Cherokee-style Jeep that was likely manufactured in the mid- to late-1990s, with a large dent in the rear passenger side door. The vehicle bears green registration plates with possible registration number of DME 977.

The operator was described as a white male with dark hair wearing a white T-shirt, khaki shorts and white sneakers. He is estimated to be in his early- to mid-20s and is between 5-feet-8 and 5-feet-10 inches tall.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ride on: How to get out of the car and on the road

Times Argus
August 24, 2008

You can spend 20 minutes driving from the center of Montpelier to Barre and at least 15 minutes from Chittenden to Rutland. So why not bypass traffic, get some exercise and even save a few bucks? With gas prices going up, many commuters are downsizing from four wheels to two.

Kelly Odorisio, a physical therapist at Rutland Hospital, bikes 10 miles from her home in Chittenden to the hospital two to three times a week. She has been making the ride for about 10 years.

“People are afraid it’s going to take a lot of time but if you think about the time it takes to drive, biking really adds only a few extra minutes,” explains Odorisio.

Nancy Schultz, of the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition, used to bike the nine miles from her home in Montpelier to her office in Barre. “It felt so good starting my mornings with exercise,” says Schultz who still bikes to work although her commute is now under one mile. “Then I used my commute home as time to decompress.”

Selecting a decent commuting bike

If you're buying a bike from a store, tell the seller what kind of riding you're planning to do. Depending on your needs, a bike shop might suggest a hybrid (half mountain bike and half road bike). According to Bruce Faulkner of the Great Outdoors shop in Rutland, you should expect to spend between $350 and $600 on a decent bike. Keep in mind that you're buying a vehicle: a more economic bike might require some tinkering in the garage. If you don't want to be your own mechanic, splurge and purchase a higher quality bike.

If you are dusting off an old bike or haggling for one at a yard sale, keep in mind that while the price is right you are probably going to have to purchase new parts. Check with a local bike mechanic to discuss what needs to be replaced on your bike. Tires cost about $15 to $40 a piece, depending on the make and model of the bike. A rusted chain and cassette can be replaced starting at $75. Even if your commute is on flat terrain, you'll want a set of brakes that open and close well (replacement starts at about $40). A worn or uncomfortable seat can be swapped for a new one starting at $20.

Most shops offer tune-ups starting at around $35. A mechanic will turn your wheels, lubricate the chain and cassette, test the brakes, make sure the cables are intact and check every moving nut and bolt. If you are not familiar with proper bike care, you should get a tuneup once every year.

Tip: Shops get very busy when the weather is nice. Bring your bike in around February when mechanics aren't as busy.


It's necessary to have a bike helmet (starting around $30) that fits snugly. According to Schultz, the front of the helmet should almost cover your eyebrows. Worn properly, you should only be able to fit two fingers between the strap and your chin. “It should be uncomfortable to eat an apple,” explains Schultz.

Under Vermont law, nighttime bikers must have a front white light that is visible from 500 feet away. A rear red reflector must be visible from 300 feet away. Schultz suggests that bikers also buy a red blinking light for the rear of their bike because it is more visible to drivers. Expect to spend around $15 for reflectors and up to $30 to outfit your bike with lights.

When sharing the road with cars and trucks, it is important to ride in a consistent manner. Stay on either the sidewalk or road and don't weave through traffic. If the road doesn't have a wide shoulder, ride 18 to 24 inches to the right of the white line. Shultz says it is illegal for bikers to ride two-by-two if it impedes the flow of traffic. Bikes are considered vehicles and bicyclists are required to follow driving laws: Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks and obey road signs and traffic lights.


Bicycles are easy to steal, especially in towns without many bike racks. If you can't bring your bike into the office and there are no racks nearby, secure it to a lamp post. Combination locks (around $8) are sturdier than a lock and key. Secure the tires to the frame with a U-lock (starting at $30) or remove both wheels using an Allen wrench. If there's a quick-release mechanism that makes it easy to remove the seat, consider taking it with you into the store or office. Thieves have been known to take those, too.

At the office

No one wants to start the work day looking like they've just biked 10 miles. Even if your office doesn't have showering facilities, it's still possible to look fresh.

“I wash my face, use some deodorant and throw on a little mascara,” says Odorisio, adding “and that's on a heavy duty day.”

Odorisio is lucky: Her 10-mile commute to the Rutland Hospital is mostly downhill, so she doesn't have to worry too much about perspiration.

Even so, she often leaves a set of clothing at the office for a quick change before her work day begins.

Mary Hooper, mayor of Montpelier, jokes about being “properly modest.”

On her 1½ mile ride from her house to the center of Montpelier, she is often spotted wearing a pair of bike shorts under a skirt. In bad weather, she pulls wind pants and a rain jacket over her work clothes.

“You have to get (to work) early and bring a towel” she says.

Since the majority of sweating occurs on the upper body, use a messenger bag instead of a backpack to avoid a sweaty back, or secure your briefcase to the back of your bike.

Hannah Van Susteren is a freelance writer. She lives in Calais.

Bike/pedestrian policy key to campaigns

Times Argus
August 24, 2008
By Jenny Nixon Carter - Correspondent

It is August in an election year – and that means the incumbent office-holders and new candidates will soon be on your doorstep (if they have not been there already).

While you have the candidate's attention, don't forget to remind them that a safe walking and biking system — which includes adequate pedestrian sidewalks and bike lanes – is an important component of our local and statewide transportation infrastructure.

Yes, these are lean times for our local and state government, but that only means that we should focus our transportation funds on projects that: 1) reduce our dependence on expensive foreign oil; 2) limit our environmental impacts; 3) augment our public transportation systems; and 4) enhance the vitality of our downtowns.

Pedestrian and bike projects, of course, do all of these things (and they also have this nice side effect of making our communities healthier). It is important, therefore, that your representatives know that pedestrian and bike projects must remain a part of our transportation mix and be included in any broad transportation plan.

The challenges are big. During the past several years, Transportation Enhancements funding has significantly decreased and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program is closed to new projects. Many bike and pedestrian projects — and this includes large-scale sidewalk improvements and paving new bike paths and lanes – rely on these programs. State support of these projects is critical if we want our communities to be something other than car- and truck-choked places along a highway. Let your representatives know where you stand on funding for pedestrian and bike infrastructure.

Note too that during the past legislative session the Vermont Senate and House Transportation Committees considered, but did not bring to a vote, a bill to make roads safer for bicyclists. Several states have implemented the so-called 3-foot rule or similar legislation, which mandates that motor vehicles give bicycle riders at least 3 feet of space when passing. Until we actually have designated bike lanes, bikes have to share the road with cars.

The goal of the law is not to give motorists tickets or to encourage reckless and unyielding cyclists. Rather, the evidence suggests that just having a 3-foot law – which could then be included in driver safety courses – increases both motorist and cyclist awareness of their surroundings and decreases potentially harmful interactions.

As I have noted before in this column, providing a minimum passing distance is especially important in places like Rutland County that lack specific biking infrastructure (there is not a designated bike line in the county). In the end, if more people feel safe riding their bike and sharing the road with cars, then more people will actually ride their bikes to work, to school and to the store. Again, let your representatives know where you stand on this issue.

Fall is in the air, and another election is on the way. When they come to your doorstep and ask for your vote, find out where the candidates stand on funding pedestrian and bike projects and the 3-foot rule.

After that, vote accordingly.

Jenny Nixon Carter is the Executive Director of the Rutland Area Physical Activity Coalition. She can be reached at For more information on RAPAC go to