Friday, May 27, 2011

Major flooding hits central and northeastern Vermont

Major flooding has hit much of central and northeastern Vermont after torrential overnight rain.
Many major roads are closed this morning, and the Winooski River is menacing downtown Montpelier and Waterbury, the National Weather Service said.
The National Weather Service said Winooski River water was on State Street in downtown Montpelier early this morning and evacuations were taking place.
There was also major flooding in Barre, where water raced down Main Street and swift water rescues were in progress in the predawn hours, the weather service said.
Major flooding is expected this morning along the Passumpsic River in and near St. Johnsbury, the National Weather Service said.
The National Weather Service said the flooding might be worse than the severe floods of 1973, one of the worst on record.
Vermont Emergency Management advises motorists to refrain from driving across flooded roads.
“Floodwaters can create unseen washouts and in flash flooding the current can be extremely strong — strong enough to wash away you and your car,” the agency said. “Most flooding deaths occur when motorists drive through floodwaters.”
Residents who evacuate their homes should turn off their circuit breaker before leaving, and have their electrical system inspected by a professional before they return, the agency said.
Vermont Emergency Management said many major roads are closed due to flooding, including U.S. 2 near East Montpelier, Plainfield and Danville, Vermont 14 near Barre and Vermont 12 between Montpelier and Northfield.
Emergency shelters are open at the National Life Building in Montpelier and Barre Auditorium, Vermont Emergency Management said.
State offices have been advised to operate on a reduced workforce until at least 10 a.m. today. State workers in Caledonia, Orange and Washington counties have been ordered to follow the procedure until 12 p.m. today.
The order does not extend to “essential personnel,” such as Corrections, Institutions, Public Safety and Transportation Maintenance workers.
The flooding came after severe storms caused tornado warnings and widespread damage from wind and hail.
The threat is not over. Showers and thunderstorms, some with torrential rain, are likely to redevelop over Vermont today, threatening renewed flooding.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bike, commuter cafe for Burlington

For a long time now, Michael Jager has been nursing the vision of a Burlington creative and commuter hub in the vein of New York City’s Gerde’s Folk City or Zürich’s Cabaret Voltaire. On Friday, he’ll bring that vision to life in the form of a massive, industrial-chic café to open steps from the Burlington bike path, in the basement of the JDK building.
“It’s been building in my mind and heart for the last four or five years,” says Jager of Maglianero, which he named for the black jersey given to the last cyclist to finish an Italian race. Jager, chief creative officer of JDK Design, is also a dedicated cyclist who pedals to work most days of the year. “I’ve always wanted to participate in and allow that café experience where cultural collusion happens, whether it’s artists, designers, athletes, playwrights, musicians or writers. [We wanted to] facilitate creative, positive change and help people meet each other and share ideas,” he says. And drink really, really good coffee.
Maglianero, which is accessed from the back of the JDK building, offers plenty of room for creative ferment: The 4000-square-foot space has long hosted exhibitions and events and even features a skate park along one wall. The skate ramps remain, but the meandering space now has pine and ash tables and counters, benches, chairs, and two enormous communal tables for meetings both casual and formal. Murals cover the walls, and wireless access is a given.
Jager says the café epitomizes his goal of a “modern mobility movement” that celebrates the environmental and fitness benefits of bicycling, skateboarding and walking. The space has an indoor corner to rest bikes, “for people who are just slipping in; we don’t want them to have to worry about locking it,” says café manager Jesse Bladyka. Also on hand are tools to fix tires and perform tune-ups and equipment for cleaning both bikes and their sweaty riders: an outdoor hose and an indoor shower. The staff plans to bring in high-profile local cyclists for classes and lectures.
But, if cycling is a central passion here, so is coffee. The nerve center of the space is the copper-topped bar. A longtime barista, Bladyka heard about the gestating Maglianero through the “coffee community” while working in Wyoming and moved back to his home state this spring to help manage the venture. He’s shown his commitment to capturing coffee’s subtlety of flavor by experimenting with different brewing methods for the beans that have been carefully chosen and roasted by Mané Alves of Waterbury’s Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Co.
Alves has direct-sourced three single-origin roasts — one each from Ethiopia, Kenya and Guatemala — and worked with the farmers to set prices. Bladyka plans to offer slower brewing methods, such as café solo, pour-over and ice drip, during off-peak hours. He’s putting his staff through a 40-hour training regimen. “It’s an art and a craft, and it needs to be practiced with care,” says Bladyka.
The bar is outfitted with a La Marzocco espresso machine on a swivel stand, so it can be used for demonstrations. A glass case will house pastries, bagels, and perhaps grab-and-go yogurt and fruit. Don’t expect much else to start — coffee is the star here, along with a small selection of teas from Vermont Artisan.
Maglianero will serve Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will continue to serve as an art exhibition space, as well as a lecture and for-hire meeting area and live music venue. Jager and crew will use the space to debut a cycling apparel line ranging from caps to gloves that will ultimately include “custom-tailored, bespoke pieces,” he says.
But for now, he’s focusing on tailoring a new hangout for creative and business communities that love their caffeination as much as their pedal power.

Read more on facebook.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Vermont lags in making roads safe for all --- still...

Carol Tremble of South Hero ties an arm band onto Andy Shuford of Montpelier before leaving the Statehouse for the Ride of Silence to honor cyclists killed and injured by motor vehicles.

MONTPELIER — Thirty cyclists filed down U.S. 2 out of Montpelier on Wednesday evening in silence. Dodging potholes, crumbled pavement and the cinders that gather on the side of the road, each wore an armband in honor of a cyclist who has been injured or killed by a car.
“We are about to ride on one of the worst sections of road in the state,” Nancy Schulz, executive director of the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, told those gathered. “It’s not OK.”

By coincidence, a few hours earlier, the governor had signed into law a bill that is supposed to make sure state and local roads aren’t just for cars and trucks. Any new construction or upgrades must take into account the needs of cyclists, pedestrians, the elderly and handicapped, and public transportation options.

“This bill is going to ensure Vermont roads are safe for all users,” Gov. Peter Shumlin said as he was about to sign the bill into law Wednesday morning.

In a state that prides itself on having an active population and an environmentally friendly outlook, however, similar efforts have not always translated to results. Even before the new legislation, state law said road construction should take into account room for bicyclists and pedestrians. It was never mandatory, however, and elements that would make a road easier to navigate on bike or foot weren’t always included.
The state ranked just 34th in the nation for being bike-friendly last year, according to the League of American Bicyclists. By comparison, some other small, cold-climate states did better: Maine was third, New Hampshire sixth.

While Shumlin championed the new law he signed Wednesday, it, too, is not entirely mandatory. Planners can opt out of taking into account non-motorized usage if they can prove it’s not worthwhile.

Nonetheless, advocates are enthusiastic that the new law will change the landscape.

“No more will we have a strictly auto-centric approach,” Schulz said. “We’re in the room. We have a seat at the table.”
Read full article here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Complete Streets now Law in Vermont!

On May 18, Governor Shumlin signed the Complete Streets bill into law in front of a packed house in the Statehouse.  Watching the signing were many instrumental in the bill's passage -- Senator Dick Mazza, AARP's Jim Leddy, Sen Bill Doyle, Rep Mollie Burke, Rep Pat Brennan, and complete-streets-logoAARP's Jennifer-Wallace Brodeur.
The bill will "ensure that the needs of all users of VT’s transportation system—including motorists, bicyclists, public transportation users, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities—are considered in all...transportation projects."  Thanks to Local Motion members who spoke up!
Thanks to AARP and Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur for leading this important campaign, Local Motion members who sent letters of support,  Statehouse Transportation Committee ChairsDick Mazza and Pat Brennan who helped guide this important bill through, VT Bike & Pedestrian Coalition and all the bill's 28 co-sponsors.  Read AARP's press release here.
Among other things, this bill should help reverse Vermont's declining bike-friendliness ranking from the League of American Bicyclists.  Among the 50 states, Vermont ranked 17th when the ranking started three years ago.  In 2010, we fell to 34th.  This bill, along with the Safe Passing Bill last session (thanks to the VT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition), should boost Vermont's ranking.
Thanks to Silver Spokes rider Dick Aiken, Earl's Cyclery owner Roger Frey and Silver Spokes rider Steve Couzelis who volunteered their time to attend the signing.  Thanks also to Local Motion members who support us in working on these important issues!  Keep the good work going, join today!

Lake rises again in long lasting flood

From the Burlington Free Press:
The causeway between Colchester and South Hero, seen on Tuesday, May 17, 2011, has been heavily damaged by high water from Lake Champlain.  The causeway has been closed by washouts after the bridge on the Cochester side.
The seemingly never-ending Lake Champlain flood worsened Tuesday as runoff from heavy weekend rains swelled the lake once again.
The lake had risen about seven inches since Saturday, reaching just over 102.6 feet by late Tuesday afternoon. Forecasters said the lake would peak near 102.75 feet today.
Vermont Emergency Management spokesman Mark Bosma said there were no reports of new major damage because the latest Lake Champlain crest is still at least six inches below the record high of 103.2 feet set May 6. But property owners with flooded camps and homes will be forced to wait longer for the water to ebb.
Gov. Peter Shumlin urged Vermont homeowners to call 211 if their houses have been damaged by flooding. The calls will help officials determine whether Vermont qualifies for federal disaster aid for individuals who suffered flood damage, he said.
"We need a reliable estimate of individual damages," Shumlin said, noting that data from 211 calls will help establish those estimates.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has determined there is enough damage to roads and other public property inVermont to receive federal money to repair state and municipal infrastructure damaged in the flooding.
Little rain fell in Vermont Tuesday, so water is expected to begin receding again later this week. The two to four inches of rain that has fallen in recent days will slow the fall in the lake level. The lake typically falls at a rate of an inch or two a day even in sunny, dry weather.
Forecasters said showers are possible each day for the rest of the week. The showers aren't expected to raise the lake after today, said Andy Nash, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in South Burlington.
This spring has set the mark as the rainiest on record. Since March 1, The National Weather Service has measured 15.75 inches of rain, exceeding the old record of 15.46 inches in 1983. For climatological purposes, spring is regarded as the period from March 1 through May 31.
Chances are good that the lake will continue to recede almost uninterrupted over the next several weeks, Nash said. Storms in late spring and summer can produce torrential thunderstorms that affect a small area, but don't usually deposit heavy rain over the entire Lake Champlain drainage basin. "For the lake to go up, you have to have a substantial amount of rain over the entire area, and thunderstorms don't do that," he said.
True to form, the forecast for the rest of the week calls for scattered showers and thunderstorms almost daily through Monday.
Contact Matt Sutkoski at 660-1846

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Complete Streets Bill to be publicly signed on Wednesday, May 18, State House Montpelier

This month, the Legislature approved the Complete Streets bill, which mandates road construction that will accommodate buses, bikes and pedestrians — as well as cars. Gov. Peter Shumlin is marking its passage Wednesday with a public signing of the bill; supporters of alternatives to single-car commuting are expected to be there, cheering him on.
 WHEN: 10 a.m. Wednesday
 WHERE: Governor’s ceremonial office at the Statehouse, Montpelier.
 CARPOOLS: Leave at 9 a.m. from the Staples Plaza parking lot near the Interstate-89 cloverleaf on Williston Road.
 CCTA: Runs a Link bus that leaves the Cherry Street terminal at 7:45 a.m., arrives at the State House at 8:52 a.m. Return bus departs at noon; check online for full schedule: Montpelier Link Bus 

 INFORMATION: Contact Local Motion Executive Director Chapin Spencer at or Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur, associate state director forAARP at
Free bus rides
Buses offer commuters cheap, predictable ways to get to and from work. The Chittenden County Transportation Authority offers free rides Friday for those who want to sample their routes.
 WHEN: All day Friday
 HOW: Scoot to the CCTA website for details and schedules: CCTA Way to Go!

It's not too late to join the Way to Go VT! Commuter Challenge

A cyclist pedals along North Union Street in Burlington on Thursday. The weeklong Way to Go! Commuter Challenge starts today.
It’s not too late to leave your car at home for this week — or pack it with car-poolers, say organizers for the annual Way to Go! Commuter Challenge.
Participants in the five-day pledge to lower Vermont’s single largest source of carbon emissions might also dabble with bus travel, or bike and walking commutes, they say.

Most of them, after a week, will still cling to the American claim of entitlement to the costly convenience of cars, said Way to Go! coordinator Tom Horn, a transportation consultant at Burlington-based Vermont Energy Investment Corp.

“It’s like a right,” he said Saturday. “It’s a huge issue for us, and it’s going to get bigger.”

The weeklong event, which officially begins today, is not designed to fast-track behavior modification among commuters, Horn said; but it might pique their curiosity about life in the bus-or-bike lane.

About 3,000 Vermonters have signed up online and received tentative calculations for their individual contributions to cleaner air and cheaper travel.

Statistics maintained by the campaign are far from iron-clad, Horn said; there are heaps of variables, including the reluctance of schools to furnish personal information to a public database.

The group’s website predicts that by Friday, Vermonters can expect to have saved about 350,000 car-miles — or roughly 15,000 gallons of gasoline, using a 20 mpg average.

The week of fewer car trips will keep about 300,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, it adds.

Not everyone who participates does so for virtue’s sake, organizers say: Cost is a driving factor for people to drive less, too.

They predict that, collectively, Vermonters will spend about $79,000 less on commutes this week.

The numbers game has spurred a rivalry between the towns of Hinesburg and Shelburne, where advocates have released photographs of their respective champions (Karla Munson and Donna Fialkoff, respectively) squaring off in boxing gloves.

Hinesburg has the edge in experience, said Munson, who coordinates the long-established Hinesburg Rides network of carpooling, car sharing and employer incentives. In 2009 — two years after its founding — the group won a bike rack for the village in previous competitions. It now maintains a lively website,, where members can arrange for, or initiate, any number of transportation options.

Munson says the group is taking no chances with Shelburne.

Commuters in Hinesburg will have a free van service to Burlingtonthis week, embellished with free coffee and donuts at the village terminus.

This month, organizers in Chittenden County unveiled the Carbon Cup, a trophy fashioned from a gussied-up and engraved car muffler, topped with a spray of flowers.

Three such trophies for participation will be awarded at the end of this week’s Way to Go challenge: to a small company (fewer than 50 employees); a larger company; and to a Vermont city or town.

For more information about Vermonters who are working together for cheaper, cleaner commutes — even if they sometimes appear to be having a ball — visit the Way to Go! Vermont

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 660-1843 Baird’s blog: Become a fan of the Burlington Free Press page on Facebook at

Are bike bells even effective? In Japan they are....

A japanese bike bell experiment should teach is a lesson. Here is how a simple bike bell works in Japan. Fabulous! 
Just thought some of you commuters out there might appreciate it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May = Bike month!

bike month logo



The League of American Bicyclists is the national sponsor ofBike Month, and this year Bike to Work Week is May 16-20and Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 20.


Need some ideas? Use the League's Bike Month Guide to learn how to get started promoting your event.


Help promote bicycling this May and every month! The League has free Bike Month promo tools like logos, posters and banners to place on your Web site this May. Printer files can also be requested at


Check the Bike Month events section often to see what Bike Month and Bike to Work Week events are going on in your community. Also, post your area, club, business or school's Bike Month events on our Web site for free! Post or find Bike Month events today.


Are you planning on riding this Bike Month but need to freshen up on your bike safety and riding skills? The League has several bike education resources to help you ride confidently and safely this May. The League's Ride Better page has detailed the Rules of the Road and commuting tips to making riding fun and safe for all new and returning riders. Simplebike maintenance and fix-it info is also located located on the Ride Better page.

Complete Streets Report published, great success

"Americans who live in cities and towns, north and south, east and west, have a strong interest in ensuring that transportation investments provide for the safe travel of everyone using the road.
This report demonstrates an enormous effort to use Complete Streets policies to re-orient long-standing transportation policies so to better provide roadways that are safe for everyone and help communities meet a variety of challenges facing them in the 21st century. While opinion polls show that voters want infrastructure investments to create safe streets for their children, we know the commitment runs much deeper. Elected officials, advocates, and transportation practitioners have spent months and even years crafting each of the policies analyzed in this report." (Complete Streets Report, pg. 6)

Last week, we released a comprehensive report (.pdf) documenting the growing number of strong Complete Streets policies in states, regions, and local governments across the country.
While we always felt this report would be a welcome addition to the multitude of Complete Streets resources available to advocates, practitioners, and elected and appointed officials (and to those who wear multiple hats), we are grateful for the warm and wide attention it has received so far.
A cursory list of the many who took some time to note the report include:
The report was made possible through the donations of our Steering CommitteePartners, and Supporting Members.
Last week, we asked our mailing list to help us bridge a funding gap of $20,000 by June 30. Many already stepped up to help us continue our advocacy, training, and technical assistance work, and we thankful for their generosity.
If you care about Complete Streets — that is, if you care about safe, livable, green communities that provide multi-modal transportation opportunities for everyone — then please help us bridge our funding gap and make your gift by clicking this link today.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ride of Silence, May 18, 2011, Montpelier

The VT Bike/Ped Coalition is asking everyone to come out and joint the May 18 Ride of Silence in Montpelier to emphasize the need for safer roads and commererate those who have died or have been injured riding. 
Start at 6:00pm on the Statehouse lawn. Moderate pace to Middlesex, complete silence, helmets mandatory.

Check out more here on
Ride of Silence Logo

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Commuter Challange: May 16-20 2011 - Sign up now!

Vermonters are putting a dent in carbon pollution during the weeklong Way To Go! Commuter Challenge. Last year we reduced over 240,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. So leave your car at home and join the fun. Individuals, businesses, schools, organizations - everyone is welcome. Last year we walked, biked, carpooled and rode the bus all the way to our goal. Join us for this year's commuter challenge and enjoy the benefits. It's healthy, fun and saves serious money and gas. Plus you'll be entered to win this years great prizes. Win a Burton snowboard, an ipod or go all the way and win the prestigious CARBON CUP! So let's GO. Together we can make a big impact on carbon pollution

Commuting & Ridesharing Resources for Vermonters

A Carpool Story

Ride along with three Go Vermont carpoolers
and learn the benefits of sharing a ride.

Go Vermont LogoGo Vermont is a free resource that provides transportation options for people who want to reduce the cost and environmental impact of driving. The program features a free carpool/vanpool matching serviceevent and single trip ride matchingridesharing tips, and other practical information on getting around by bikingwalkingbustrain and ferry.
Check out more here.