Tuesday, October 21, 2008

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 msutkosk@bfp.burlingtonfreepress.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment