Vermont and its largest city, Burlington, enjoy top billing on nearly every U.S. quality-of-life ranking — best outdoor town, fittest city, healthiest state. But one category attracts surprisingly few accolades: bicycle friendliness.
In the 2010 appraisal of Bicycle Friendly States, recently released by the League of American Bicyclists, Vermont ranked just 34 out of 50. That’s down from 21 in 2009 and 17 in 2008. The state is now ranked behind states such as Kentucky, Mississippi and South Carolina — none of which is known for being progressive.
Despite new legislation passed this year aimed at making the streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, Vermont still falls far short of expectations. Nancy Schulz, executive director of the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, says Burlington saw progress in accommodating bicycles during Peter Clavelle’s mayoral terms, and the state also made strides during the Dean administration — but not much legislative change has happened since.
“There’s been a lot of backslide,” Schulz says. “I hope this shocks people into recognizing what we’ve been saying for years — we can’t just rest on our laurels from the ’70s.”
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