Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 in pictures by Local Motion

Local Motion says: "Thank you to all our members and volunteers who helped us have a spectacular year!"

BTV Mayoral Candidate Debate on Transportation

From Local Motion

Thursday, January 12, 2012, 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Join Local Motion and AARP for a Mayoral Candidate Forum on Transportation and Livability issues.


More info: contact Chapin Spencer .
The views of the candidates are not necessarily those of the event hosts or event sponsors.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Vermont will use more brine on roads, two-lane plows

MONTPELIER — Winter road crews in Vermont will be using more brine instead of salt this year, new plows that can clear two lanes at the same time on interstates, while also giving road crews more discretion on how much salt and brine to apply, officials announced Friday.
Gov. Peter Shumlin devoted his weekly news conference Friday mostly to a discussion of winter road maintenance and a plea to the public to slow down in snowy or icy conditions, especially around snowplows.

“We’re urging drivers to use extra caution on icy roads, as we always do, because that saves lives,” Shumlin said.

Transportation Secretary Brian Searles said Vermont would continue its “safe-roads-at-safe-speeds” policy for winter road maintenance.

“This means that during a storm we will be out plowing, sanding, salting, to keep the roads open,” Searles said. “But drivers should expect during a storm to see snow on the roads. So, we need drivers to be a partner with us, to adjust their driving to those conditions.”

Snowfall in Vermont has been spotty at best so far this winter, but Friday morning saw a fresh snowfall of up to 3.8 inches, according to the National Weather Service in Burlington.

Shumlin and Searles were joined by front-line plow drivers who shared harrowing stories of encounters with aggressive and distracted drivers.

Jerold Kinney said he was on his first trip plowing his route between the state garage in Randolph and Bethel on Interstate 89 early Friday when “I had an individual driving a
four-wheel drive pickup, texting with one hand — I’m pretty sure his coffee cup was in the other — driving with his knee, go by me at 50 miles an hour, maybe 60, on a snow-covered road.”
“Two miles later I saw him backwards in the ditch, still on the text messages. He said he was fine so off I went,” Kinney said. “But it’s just a clear case of the distractions that the drivers have.”

When they’re not busy watching out for other drivers, plow operators like Kinney will have more authority to judge road conditions and determine how much sand, salt or brine — a mix of salts and water — to apply to road surfaces, Shumlin said.

In talking with workers, “There was some feeling among the hard-working men and women who are keeping our roads safe that for budgetary reasons that they couldn’t always allocate what they felt was right as the storm was being dealt with ... without further orders from higher up,” the governor said.

Shumlin said the policy this winter will give road crews the authority to use whatever they think is necessary to keep the roads clear and safe.

Brine will be favored over salt this winter because brine adheres to road surfaces better than salt, is less damaging to the environment and can be applied in advance of a storm to keep conditions from getting bad in the first place. Special equipment is needed to make brine. It has been available in northwestern Vermont and this year will be used in the Rutland area for the first time.

The state also will have two “tow plows” in use. The plows have rear-mounted equipment that clears two lanes of interstate at once, officials said.

Congress Disses Bus Riders; Drivers Rewarded

As of January 1, bus commuters will loose half of their transit benefit while drivers will keep getting theirs. It’s even worse for bike commuters who get less than 10% of what drivers get.
It’s a depressing reality as Congress failed to keep the transit benefit from being slashed at the end of the year.  Check out this blog post from Transportation for America.
These commuter benefits allows employers to pay for their employees’ commuter costs with pre-tax dollars.  In the New Year, drivers will be able to get a $240/month benefit but transit riders will only be able to get $120/month.  Bike commuters can get their employer to give them a pre-tax benefit too, but it is only a paltry $20/mo!

St. Albans City Wins Big Grant for Sidewalks & Paths

St. Albans City recently won just over $2 million for a streetscape project on North Main Street. The project will include new sidewalks and bike infrastructure, linking downtown to a 19-mile pedestrian network and a 26-mile bicycle trail.  The grant comes from the federal TIGER grant program, which stands for “Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery.”  Full story:
On a related note, St. Albans City Elementary will be incorporating bike skills training into its PE classes from May 21 to June 1.  Local Motion will provide the school with 46 kids’ bikes, all needed equipment, and a trailer to store the bikes, all at no cost (other than a small delivery fee) as part of its Bike Smart Equipment Loan program.  For more info about this program, visit
To top it all off, a Bike/Pedestrian Committee has recently formed in St. Albans with the goal of making the city even safer and more welcoming for people on foot and on bike.  For more info about the Committee, contact David Hutchinson.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bike To Work Infographic: Environmental And Health Benefits

From Huffington Post

Biking to work may be difficult for Americans who have long commutes and live in isolated areas, but there's a lot to be gained by leaving the car at home.
According to a study from November inEnvironmental Health Perspectives, if 30 million urban and suburban midwesterners replaced half of their short car trips with cycling during the warmest six months of the year, they "could save approximately four trillion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, 1,100 lives and $7 billion in mortality and health care costs for the region every year."
HuffPost blogger Christine Negroni believes everyone could learn a lesson from the urban bike culture of Copenhagen, Denmark. She writes, "Copenhagen has ambitions to increase the number of two-wheeled-commuters to 50% by 2015, and I hope they achieve it. Even more, I hope their progress sends a message far beyond Denmark and encourages the rest of the world to adopt pedal power, the ever-renewable-energy source."
While biking to work will help you lose weight and lessen your carbon footprint, it could also increase the impact of air pollution on your health. Researchers in London found that people who cycle to work have 2.3 times more soot from vehicle exhaust in their lungs than individuals who walk to work.
Is your area well-suited to bike riding? Check out this list of the best U.S. cities to live in without a car.
Check out the infographic below from and learn "How bikes can save us."
Biking And Health
Created by: Healthcare Management Degree

Monday, December 12, 2011

Support Walkable and Bikeable Alternatives to the Circ!

From Localmotion

Earlier this year, Governor Shumlin announced that the Circ Highway would not be built as planned.  Instead, the governor called on towns, advocates, and state government to work together to come up with alternatives to the Circ that would address some of the same issues — mainly congestion and traffic safety — without building a new highway.Local Motion was asked to serve on the Circ Alternatives Task Force, which has been meeting since late summer to identify and come to consensus on options to propose to the State for funding.
The first round of projects includes development of a detailed plan and alignment for ashared-use path along Route 15 from Winooski to Essex Junction — a major priority for the bicycling community for years.  Please voice your support for this important regional link!  Come to the public meeting this Wednesday, December 14.
MEETING DETAILS:Wednesday, December 14, 2011 from 7:00 to 9:00 PMAlbany College of Pharmacy, 261 Mountain View Drive, Colchester  (map)Click here for the agenda for the meeting
Local Motion supports these projects because they help advance Circ communities’ transportation priorities while building the bicycling, walking, and transit infrastructure that our region needs.  The members of the Task Force have done a great job of thinking regionally and looking to the future. Please come thank them and help us make sure that these projects proceed as planned.
There is a memo describing the proposed “implementation” (i.e., construction) projects as well as a list of proposed planning projects (the first five on the list are proposed for the current round) on the Circ Alternatives website, as well as a series of maps of the (now defunct) highway version of the Circ project and lots more.  Contact Jason Van Driesche, Local Motion’s Director of Advocacy and Education, at or 861-2700 x109 with questions.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Update on the Complete Streets development in Montpelier

From Montpelierbikes

What are YOUR priorities for the City of Montpelier?
Where do BIKES fit into the City's Envision Montpelier process -- or do they?

 Take this month’s survey related to Infrastructure and help us prioritize action strategies for Montpelier’s future.
Copy and paste this link into your browser:

Your feedback will guide the enVision Montpelier Steering Committee and the Montpelier Planning Commission as they review and prioritize the Community Action Plan, so please take time to complete the survey.

HINT: you can prioritize MULTIPLES of the transportation items, and vote for COMPLETE STREETS and WRITE-IN a vote for ON-ROAD bicycle facilities, as a Montpelier Bikes leader did here.

Montpelier Bikes' current projects include:

  • Developing a Complete Streets policy for the City of Montpelier.
  • Bicycle Parking - Working with the City of Montpelier and private property owners to install additional bicycle racks, bicycle shelters, and bicycle lockers in the downtown area.
  • Advocating for bicycle lanes on Route 2 / 302, and for bicycle facilities on other city streets.
  • Bicycle safety education & tips through classes and a one-on-one "Bike Buddy" program.
  • Having fun with relaxed bicycle rides such as our "Bike to Brunch" series and our Neighbohood Bike Tours.

We need you to be part of the process.  

While at times we may ask for volunteers, or request that you contact decision makers to show the constituency for bicycling — most of the time, we just want you to participate by riding your bike. 
The more bicyclists we have on the roads in Montpelier - the stronger our presence in the city.  The more bicyclists on the roads - the more drivers are aware of bicyclists on the roads, and the safer it is for everyone.

Please join our email list to stay in touch - just send an email to to ask to be added.  Thanks!

Should some roads only be for cars?

From anniebikes blog:
North and South Winooski Avenue is a thoroughfare in Burlington that is marked for cyclists in various ways: sharrows, a wide lane, and without room or designation depending upon where you are in its 2-mile length. With piecemeal bike improvements its proponents want it to be the southbound bike route through the city. This road spans the North End retail district, to busy downtown, to quiet residential neighborhoods.

I pedal this route often, especially on the separate bike lane along a one-way half mile corridor. It's pleasant and I can let my thoughts wander to the pedestrians, trees, or businesses en-route.

Approaching the intersection. Bike lane disappears.
I wait in right lane, then go when light turns green.
At a traffic light in downtown where North Winooski becomes South Winooski, the one-way abruptly becomes two narrow alleys. Without a concession to bicyclists, I am propelled into lots of traffic. I take the whole lane because hugging the curb allows autos to squeeze by. I've considered riding on the sidewalk, though it is technically illegal as the walks are painted with "walk your bike" signs. Mind you, this is only for three blocks, but my senses are on 360 degree biker-alert.
In intersection. Notice how close the autos are. Two lane
traffic in each direction.
It was in this district that a car eased behind me. I checked my mirror. It wasn't dangerously close. The passenger leaned out the window and yelled "Get off the road. Roads are for cars!" This verbal slander doesn't normally phase me so I continued on, not giving an inch. The car cruised at a slow speed, fortunately, and went around when the left lane was free - oddly doing exactly what they should!. Interestingly enough, I saw the same altercation, with another cyclist, half a block further on.

Even if I take the lane cars zoom past. Notice the lack of green space between
lane and sidewalk. I've heard talk of reducing this 3 block zone to two lanes,
adding a bicycle lane. It won't come soon enough!
Later that day I mentioned the incident to my husband as we often share our crazy driver stories. He shook his head. "What about the safety of the situation? Cars are bigger. They win. Maybe some roads should only be for cars."

What? Those words came out of my husbands mouth? He's a fairly regular bike commuter too. With all our proclamations of "share the road" - and I am one of them - what if some cyclists would rather not share?  If my husband feels that way, how many other cyclists do? And, more disturbing, is this a defeatist attitude or is it just a practical viewpoint from an aging cyclist?

So, would my husband have chosen to not travel those three blocks? Would he ride on the sidewalk and risk a ticket, or go 4 blocks out of his way to avoid the area? We didn't talk about it. I'd like to think he'd stand up for a cyclist's rights, but as he ages he's become aware of his mortality, and he certainly has a right to his own opinion.

So, I leave you with these thoughts. As cyclists, we avoid some roads in favor of others - that's a given. But do particular road conditions push you over the edge? And, at what point do we allow cynicism to control our bike advocacy?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Burlington's citywide speed limit falls from 30 mph to 25 mph today

From the BurlingtonFreePress

Dennis Sumner (right) and Dan Hill of Burlington's Department of Public Works Traffic Division install a sign alerting motorists that the speed limit thoughout the city is 25 m.p.h. on Tuesday, November 29, 2011. The new speed limit goes into effect at midnight Tuesday.
Dennis Sumner (right) and Dan Hill of Burlington's Department of Public Works Traffic Division install a sign alerting motorists that the speed limit thoughout the city is 25 m.p.h. on Tuesday, November 29, 2011. The new speed limit goes into effect at midnight Tuesday. / GLENN RUSSELL, Free Press

Consider the new law as a motorist’s license to loaf: Burlington’s citywide speed limit falls from 30 mph to 25 mph, beginning this morning.
Burlington police will continue at present levels of enforcement, using the lower speed limit, Police Chief Michael Schirling said.
The change — which retains some lower and higher speed limits in certain sections of the city — is expected to enhance the safety of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as reduce air pollution, said Nicole Losche, a transportation and environmental planner at the Department of Public Works.
City resident Phil Hammerslough, an avid walker and biker, termed the slowdown as “a huge improvement,” worthy of celebration.
“I’ve been hit a couple of times by cars,” he said. “They took place at low enough speeds that I survived.”
Hammerslough, who lobbied for lower road speeds as a Burlington Walk-Bike Council steering committee member, said pedestrians — if they take the time to listen — will hear a significant drop in traffic noise when the law takes effect.
The new law, approved Oct. 19 by the Public Works Commission, states that a 30 mph speed limit will remain in force on Plattsburg Avenue, on North Avenue between the Vermont 127 entrance/exit ramps and Plattsburg Avenue; and on Shelburne Street between the intersection of Locust and Ledge streets and the South Burlington city line.
Other roads will remain posted as exceptions to the 25 mph limit:
• 5 mph: Church Street between Main Street and Pearl Street.
• 20 mph: Lake and Church streets between Main and King streets.
• 35 mph: On the Northern Connector, beginning 500 feet south of Plattsburg Avenue, north to the Colchester town line.
• 50 mph: On Vermont 127 (also known as the Beltline).
Downtown “slower streets” — as well as the heavily trafficked corridors on North and Plattsburg avenues and Battery and Shelburne streets — will continue to be evaluated for safety and speed, Losche said.
During public hearings for the proposed speed limit changes, Hammerslough was among those who argued, unsuccessfully, for a 20-mph cap in the city’s downtown core — a limit that was a part of the department of public works’ original recommendation, and based on the 2011 Transportation Plan.
Until more dramatic changes are made, “car-centric” policies in Burlington will continue adding to the city’s congestion and pollution, Hammerslough said Tuesday.
“Can they really find a parking spot any faster if they’re driving at 25 miles per hour than they can at 20?” he asked.
Kelly Devine, executive director of the Burlington Business Association, supported the drop from 30 mph to 25 mph, but argued against the additional 5 mph reduction for streets in the heart of downtown.
“We were concerned that the lack of consistency in speed limits downtown might actually prove confusing, and less safe, for out-of-town visitors,” she said.
In the absence of data that showed that a slightly higher speed actually caused more accidents in Burlington, Devine said she favored stronger efforts to promote safer passage by bicyclists, skateboarders, pedestrians — as well as motor vehicles — through the city.
And if a collision occurs?
Statistics support slower speeds, wrote Department of Public Works Director Steve Goodkind in a recent announcement. The U.S. Department of Transportation has found that injuries inflicted by cars on pedestrians at 25 mph are typically half as severe as those at 30 mph, he wrote.
Contact Joel Banner Baird at 660-1843 Read his blog at and follow him on Twitter

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Idaho Stop Law (David Hoffman)

From Urban Velo

Pulling Out The Stops

How a nearly 30-year-old Idaho law that permits bicyclists to sometimes roll through stop signs is gaining interest across the country.
By David Hoffman
In 1982 the Idaho legislature passed a law that allows bicyclists to in some cases treat stop signs as though they were yield signs. Under this law, permitting that there were no vehicles at the intersection, cyclists would perform a rolling stop. In addition, bicyclists are permitted to treat a red light at an intersection with no other traffic as a stop sign—first coming to a complete stop and then proceeding forward. Now known as the “Idaho Stop Law” or the “Stop as Yield” to many people, both legislators and advocates alike are beginning to explore the possibility of passing a similar law in their state. Unsurprisingly, this law generates considerable controversy—even among some bicycle advocates.
The tension between motorists and bicyclists is growing as more and more bicyclists are taking to the streets. Efficient bicycling relies on the momentum generated by the bicyclist to keep moving forward, and as anyone who has ridden a bike knows, stopping breaks momentum and forces the rider to work harder to regain the lost movement. This simple law of physics encourages most bicyclists to perform “rolling stops” at most stop signs—scanning left and right to make sure that there is no competing traffic, and then proceeding forward without letting the bike come to a complete stop. This behavior, or worse—blowing through a stop sign without even slowing—is observed by motorists, and there are few things that make motorists angrier when they share the road with bicyclists. Tensions rise.
The Debate
Supporters of the Idaho Stop Law note that laws are enacted to meet a need; in the case of stop signs and stop lights, the regulation of traffic through intersections. Additionally, laws can and do change over the years. Prohibition (the banning of the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcohol) became the law in the United States in 1919 by way of the Eighteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Healthy Community Design workshop comes to Montpelier, Nov 30

From Local Motion

Healthy Community Design
Wednesday, November 30, 2011, 9:00am - 3:30pm

Municipal Planners, and Planning Commissioners:

This one day training will provide information, tools, and practice to individuals interested in creating new opportunities to bring public health voices and approaches to local policy decisions and efforts to increase physical activity and create access to healthy foods through:
  • concentrated mixed used development
  • bicycle and pedestrian friendly communities
  • access to parks, recreation facilities and open space
  • access to fresh and healthy foods

It is highly recommended that community teams composed of community advocates, planners, and town officials attend this event together. Please share this announcement with partners in your community and encourage them to register and attend.

For additional information, please contact:
Suzanne Kelley, VDH Physical Activity Coordinator,

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Some more thoughts on Safe Streets and the "Idaho Stop" in Burlington

Recently, according to Local Motion, The Burlington Police Department has "changed their focus from education to enforcement" in regards to cycling in the city.   Apparently the Burlington PD has been a founding member of the Safe Streets Coalition and "for several years", as the article states, they have been working to educate cyclists about the rules of the road.  Well, As some one who cycles everywhere, all the time in Burlington and the surrounding areas I have not seen much from the cops that I would classify as attempts to educate cyclists.  The PD will now be slamming you with a $70 ticket for no lights at night and up $200 for running a stop sign or red light.  Local Motion assures us they are working with the police to "ensure that enforcement is focused on the most serious violations".  I believe in safe streets.  In fact It has taken me a long time to come to terms with my place on the road as a cyclist.  I think this comic from Yehuda Moon sums it up best.
I used to ride as aggresively as I could in the city.  Due largely to the comodification of Bike Messenger culture, "extreme" city riding has become popular anywhere cyclists and motorists share space.  Along with this comes phases 2 and 3 as related by Yehuda Moon.  The Rage comes from motorists treating you like dirt even when you are abiding by every law of the road and the self-righteousness comes from having to defend yourself at every intersection, along any block of parked cars, and any time a motorist passes you.  But lately, perhaps with inspiration from this comic strip, I have decided that slowing down just a little bit, pausing at stop signs, stopping at stop lights, and generally not riding like a jerk is way more fun and enjoyable than trying to break my best time from the Pearl St. to Main St. on S. Winooski Ave. 
Riding with lights is a great idea.  Slowing down and looking both ways, yielding to traffic with the right of way, at intersections is very important.  Riding the wrong way up a one way street (salmoning) is a terrible practice.   After all; cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians all have to do our parts out there in the mayhem of traffic.
However, I think this policy is misdirected.  Furthermore, I am disappointed that Local Motion is spending energy in this capacity.  I agree, there should be reprcusions for violations, but i think we need to rethink what constitutes a violation.  As it stands now, failing to put your foot down at a stop sign could land you a $200 ticket, even if there is no traffic in either direction and you happen to catch a cop having a bad hair day.  The fact is, I will argue that cyclists are a bit different than cars and we should be entitled to certain leniences in the law.  Take for example the law in Idaho.  In Idaho, Cyclists are required to treat stop signs as yield signs and Stop Lights as stop signs.  The exact language can be found here: section 49-720 .  What this means is that cyclists are afforded the right to slow when approaching a stop sign and if there is no traffic that demands the right of way the cyclist may proceed without a complete stop, however if there is traffic that has the right of way the cyclist must stop until it is safe to proceed.  With stop lights a cyclist is required to stop but if there is no traffic that demands the right of way the cyclist may proceed through the intersection without waiting for the light to turn green.  Again, if there is traffic the cyclist must wait until it is safe to proceed.  There are several articles on this law at the website here and here
This is the direction our city should be moving toward.   I believe that Establishing policies like this along with adequate infrastructure and city planning could increase the number of cyclists which will in turn make the streets safer for everyone.  Simply put, safe streets are not enough, we need *sensible* safe streets.   So, I guess what im trying to say is dont ride like a jerk (make sure you are visible, signal your intentions, ride confidantly, and yield the right of way to who rightfully deserves it) but also you are but one piece in a madhouse we know as traffic and by being out there everyday pedaling away you are making the world just a little bit better every second and you deserve all the respect and dignity in the world.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Let's get this started: The "Idaho Stop" for Burlington and Vermont!

With more and more reports on cyclists in Burlington receiving $200+ penalties for 'rolling' through a stop sign (without traffic or late at night with no one else around) it seems necessary to start the discussion on the so-called "Idaho Stop for cyclists" as a law. 
Check out the video animation below created by Portlander Spencer Boomhower (you might remember him from an article he wrote for BikePortland). When he's not thinking or writing about bikes, Spencer is a freelance computer graphics artist. He masterfully put those skills to use in a video he titled, Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop.
Watch it below:
Spencer says he hopes the video makes its way to legislators in Salem who are still pondering the Idaho Stop Law.