Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bike Fixtation In Uptown Gets National Attention

Sitting quietly above the Minneapolis Greenway in the Uptown Transit Station is the first ever Bike Fixtation (we see what you did there).
While this repair stand/ vending machine combo has been installed for several months at this location, as of this week, it is starting to get some national attention.
The Twin Cities company (Bike Fixtation)  has been featured on both Urban Velo and Treehugger touting its free tool usage and availability to cyclists in need.
The premise is simple, if you happen to be cycling along in the Uptown area or on the Greenway and are outside of the normal bike shop hours of operation, you pop in spend a little cash and voila’ you have yourself an inner tube, rim strip, sunscreen, bonk avoiding snack, whatever you need.  We haven’t had the need or opportunity to use the machine and fix-it stand yet, but it is comforting to know that it is there.  How about you? Have you used the Bike Fixtation yet, if so what do you think?  Let us know in the comments below.
If you want to see some pretty cool behind the scenes action be sure to check out BikeFixtation’s post on Minneapolis Bike Love Forums about the installation and usage of the machine.
So far this is the only installation that has been put up, but we hope to see these popping up all over the cities.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy

ZURICH — While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation.

Cities including Vienna to Munich and Copenhagen have closed vast swaths of streets to car traffic. Barcelona and Paris have had car lanes eroded bypopular bike-sharing programs. Drivers in London and Stockholm pay hefty congestion charges just for entering the heart of the city. And over the past two years, dozens of German cities have joined a national network of“environmental zones” where only cars with low carbon dioxide emissions may enter.
Likeminded cities welcome new shopping malls and apartment buildings but severely restrict the allowable number of parking spaces. On-street parking is vanishing. In recent years, even former car capitals like Munich have evolved into “walkers’ paradises,” said Lee Schipper, a senior research engineer at Stanford University who specializes in sustainable transportation.
“In the United States, there has been much more of a tendency to adapt cities to accommodate driving,” said Peder Jensen, head of the Energy and Transport Group at the European Environment Agency. “Here there has been more movement to make cities more livable for people, to get cities relatively free of cars.”
To that end, the municipal Traffic Planning Department here in Zurich has been working overtime in recent years to torment drivers. Closely spaced red lights have been added on roads into town, causing delays and angst for commuters. Pedestrian underpasses that once allowed traffic to flow freely across major intersections have been removed. Operators in the city’s ever expanding tram system can turn traffic lights in their favor as they approach, forcing cars to halt.
Around L√∂wenplatz, one of Zurich’s busiest squares, cars are now banned on many blocks. Where permitted, their speed is limited to a snail’s pace so that crosswalks and crossing signs can be removed entirely, giving people on foot the right to cross anywhere they like at any time.
As he stood watching a few cars inch through a mass of bicycles and pedestrians, the city’s chief traffic planner, Andy Fellmann, smiled. “Driving is a stop-and-go experience,” he said. “That’s what we like! Our goal is to reconquer public space for pedestrians, not to make it easy for drivers.”
While some American cities — notably San Francisco, which has “pedestrianized” parts of Market Street — have made similar efforts, they are still the exception in the United States, where it has been difficult to get people to imagine a life where cars are not entrenched, Dr. Schipper said.
Europe’s cities generally have stronger incentives to act. Built for the most part before the advent of cars, their narrow roads are poor at handling heavy traffic. Public transportation is generally better in Europe than in the United States, and gas often costs over $8 a gallon, contributing to driving costs that are two to three times greater per mile than in the United States, Dr. Schipper said.
What is more, European Union countries probably cannot meet a commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions unless they curb driving. The United States never ratified that pact.
Globally, emissions from transportation continue a relentless rise, with half of them coming from personal cars. Yet an important impulse behind Europe’s traffic reforms will be familiar to mayors in Los Angeles and Vienna alike: to make cities more inviting, with cleaner air and less traffic.
Michael Kodransky, global research manager at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy in New York, which works with cities to reduce transport emissions, said that Europe was previously “on the same trajectory as the United States, with more people wanting to own more cars.” But in the past decade, there had been “a conscious shift in thinking, and firm policy,” he said. And it is having an effect.
After two decades of car ownership, Hans Von Matt, 52, who works in the insurance industry, sold his vehicle and now gets around Zurich by tram or bicycle, using a car-sharing service for trips out of the city. Carless households have increased from 40 to 45 percent in the last decade, and car owners use their vehicles less, city statistics show.
Read more here

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FREE Bus service for Montpelier, starting July 5

Montpelier postcard post card - Bird's-eye view of Montpelier, VT
Montpelier is getting its own 'around-town' bus service, it's free and starts on July 5th 2011. The Circulator is a bus service provided by the GMTA and will loop around Vermont's Capital multiple times a day. 
Check the full schedule and stops here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Causeway bike ferry canceled for season

From 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.

Bike ferry service between Colchester and SouthHero sections of the Island Line Trail has been cancelled for the season -- a casualty of flood-related causeway damage, advocates announced today.
That disappointment has been softened by "unbelievable" business and community support, and a new, collaborative fundraising effort for the Lake Champlain-side trail, said Chapin Spencer, executive director of Burlington-based nonprofit Local Motion.
Island Line Trail enthusiasts, meanwhile, can ply alternative scenic routes -- and participate in a growing number of local events to help restore the popular link between Burlington and South Hero, Spencer said at a press conference at the group's trailside office.
Local Motion is hosting the newly established Friends of the Island Line Trail charitablefund, and will coordinate the regional campaign with local outdoor stores, Burlington Parks and Recreation; and the causeway's co-owners: the Town of Colchester and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife.
A "Save the Causeway Soiree" will inaugurate fundraising at 5 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Snow Farm Winery in South Hero.
Other upcoming events:
- July 1-3: Earl's Cyclery, Old Spokes Home, North Star Sports and Skirack will donate 7 percent of sales to the trail's repair
- July 4: A barbecue and live band will benefit the trail, noon - 3 p.m. at Blue Paddel Bistro in South Hero
- July 15: Full Moon Dance Part at the Old Lantern in Charlotte, 6 p.m. - midnight
Parks and recreation directors Glen Cuttitta (Colchester) and Mari Steinbach (Burlington) said that engineers are continuing to evaluate damage inflicted by Lake Champlain's record-breaking floods.
Although lake water levels dropped below the 100-feet flood stage Sunday, experts will need the lake to drop several more feet before they can begin designing repairs and estimate costs, Cuttitta said.
Some funding to repair and maybe even improve the trail will likely come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Spencer said, but will require a 25 percent local match.
To make an online donation, or for more information on flood-damaged trails - and those that are in good shape for walkers and bikers, visit Local Motion's website:
Contact Joel Banner Baird at 660-1843

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

CCTA spreads its wings into regional market

The Chittenden County’s transit agency is going regional. Starting July 1, the Chittenden County Transportation Authority will permit municipalities in other counties to join as member communities, CCTA announced Wednesday. CCTA will take over the Green Mountain Transit Agency, which has provided transit services in surrounding counties, with no changes in service.
Under the expansion, CCTA will welcome representatives from Washington, Franklin, Lamoille and Grand Isle counties, all of which have been served by GMTA, a nonprofit agency created by CCTA in 2003. CCTA will continue existing transit service in those areas under the GMTA name, CCTA said in a news release.
"The public, including passengers, should not notice any changes in GMTA services or established branding identity," CCTA said. "The high quality of service currently provided by CCTA and GMTA will continue and no noticeable changes are expected to affect passengers in any way." GMTA’s vehicles, facilities and fares will remain the same.
The new, unified regional transit authority in northwest and central Vermont will serve 47 percent of the state’s population, CCTA said, providing "the maximum opportunity for service coordination and connectivity."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Jennifer Wallace Brodeur: A successful push for more-complete streets

We celebrated the passage this spring of Vermont's Complete Streets Bill (H.198), which ensures that community and roadway planners think about how people can better access public roadways without a car. Its signing into law by Gov. Peter Shumlin on May 18 was the culmination of a two-year campaign of outreach, public education and statewide advocacy — and was AARP Vermont's highest legislative priority at the Statehouse in 2011. We were joined in support for the bill by about 45 other Vermont organizations.

Free Press: Did your advance work pay off?

Jennifer Wallace Brodeur: Definitely. Having key legislators on board and the voices of so many partner organizations really made the difference. The final bill gained unanimous support not only from the House and Senate, but from key organizations such as the Vermont Agency of Transportation, Vermont Natural Resources Council, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and the business community. Rep. Mollie Burke of Brattleboro sponsored this bill and helped move it through to passage. Her support was critical in the campaign.

FP: Who else moved it along?

JWB: The transportation committee chairs in both the House and Senate — Rep. Patrick Brennan and Sen. Richard Mazza — as well as all members of those committees.

FP: What does the bill do, specifically?

JWB: It requires state and local transportation planners to consider incorporating complete-streets policies — the needs of all users and all abilities — into all new paved roadway projects, and those being redesigned or rebuilt.
If planners can't accommodate all users regardless of age or ability, then they have to report and document which of the following exceptions applied:
• Use of the transportation facility by pedestrians, bicyclists or other users is prohibited by law.
• The cost of incorporating complete-streets principles is disproportionate to the need or probable use.
• Incorporating complete streets principles is outside the scope of a project because of its very nature.

FP: Will it be expensive?

JWB: Not necessarily. Many accommodations and plan adjustments can be quite minor actually — particularly if addressed in the design phase. Recent street and intersection surveys conducted by AARP in Brattleboro, Rutland, Burlington and St. Johnsbury revealed a host of problem areas in these communities — many of which could be addressed for little or no funds.

FP: How will we follow the progress of projects?

JWB: The bill requires the Vermont Agency of Transportation to provide Vermonters with ongoing transparency so that the public can see where complete-streets policies are (and are not) being incorporated into state and local transportation projects.

FP: Does the bill have any far-reaching objectives?

JWB: It's a key component to making more communities in Vermont livable and retaining the uniqueness we already have. When we design our communities and transportation systems for people, we create places that people want to stay.

FP: How did AARP Vermont assume a leadership position in this bill?

JWB: How people get around is essential to both quality of life and the livability of a community. We've been committed to encouraging all aspects of livable communities for several years now, and mobility is a critical piece. We saw a lot of opportunities for ways to increase pedestrian safety, and to address other transportation needs of an aging population.
The statistics on this issue paint a compelling picture. A recent AARP report found that two in five Americans age 50-plus say their neighborhood sidewalks are inadequate. Incomplete streets include anything from no sidewalks nor bike lanes to broken sidewalks and unsafe crossings.
Some 47 percent of Americans over the age of 50 reported not being able to safely cross a main road near their home. This is a key reason why 65 percent of non-driving seniors make fewer trips to visit family, friends, shop or attend community events.
Many older Vermonters are staying home and missing out on activities that are so vital to mental and physical health due to inadequate pedestrian access or safety concerns.
By 2025, people age 65-plus will comprise nearly 20 percent of the population. Yet two-thirds of transportation planners and engineers say they have yet to begin addressing older people in their street planning.

FP: Are there benefits to younger Vermonters?

JWB: All pedestrians, cyclists and public-transit users will benefit from this important change in how roads are designed and rebuilt. Safe, complete streets are just as important for kids walking or biking to school and parents pushing strollers as they are for older residents.
Jennifer Wallace Brodeur of AARP Vermont is the nonprofit's associate state director for state and community outreach.

Hazards close stretches of Burlington Bike Path

Barricaded closures of storm-damaged sections of Burlington’s bike path are steering walkers and cyclists away from some splendid lake views.
As bicyclists seek alternate routes, the path’s advocates are making plans to inspect and shore up undermined and eroded stretches. It can’t be a rush job, Burlington Parks Superintendent Deryk Roach said.
How long will portions be closed? Indefinitely” is the operative word.
“A lot of this is going to depend on the lake,” Roach said, helping haul a metal barrier into place at the Lakeside Avenue bridge. “Until the water level goes down, we won’t know what’s involved in getting things back into shape.”
Lake Champlain remains above flood stage in the wake of the region’s wettest spring and record-high lake levels. Those conditions have closed the Island Line causeway, a popular route for bikers between Colchester and South Hero.
Wednesday, several late-lunchtime walkers scooted past the new barricade just before 1:30 p.m., when general foreman Marty Hornick locked it into place. The group heeded Roach’s advice and took the longer, noisier, sunnier and dustier way back to downtown, via Pine Street.
The department is playing it safe, Roach said. Although some of the hazards are obvious, portions of the path are less stable than they look, and closure will protect less-than-alert users from painful or costly missteps.
Erosion near the Pine Street Barge Canal bridge allows only a few inches of clearance for wheelchairs and three-wheelers, he added.

No 'fast patch' 

The department listed the off-limits zones in their order of instability:
- Lakeside Avenue north through Perkins Pier (at the Pine Street Barge Canal bridge).
- From the Starr Farm/Northshore area to North Avenue Extension.
- The 127 Recreation Path north of Ethan Allen Homestead to Ethan Allen Parkway.
Engineers will examine the path’s exposed surfaces this week and begin a series of recommendations to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, Roach said.
Continue here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Any Excuse for a Picnic: The Decade Ride

Yesterday afternoon, a crowd of nearly a hundred eclectic Burlington characters gathered in the parking lot of an undisclosed location for a relatively hush-hush cycling event known as the "Decade Ride." The secrecy is just for thrills, but it also ensures that the event grows each year by word of mouth alone. Despite the lack of advertising, the countryside parking lot teemed with spokes and bodies.
The ride didn't start in Burlington itself, so folks filled their truck beds with bikes and made a caravan out of town. There was just one requirement for the ride: To come in costume, be it theatrical feathers and tutus, hipster plaid, or biker-geek Spandex.
There is also an unspoken preference for fixed-gear bicycles, unusual contraptions or retro models. I have never seen so many fixies, tandems, unicycles, penny farthings and tall bikes in one place. The crowd was equally varied and unusual, composed of cycling enthusiasts, acrobats, train hoppers, musicians, artists, bus drivers and retired businessmen.
The ride is more social than athletic, and in truth we spent more time eating and laying about in fields than pedaling. Everybody made sure to strap baskets, crates and even mailboxes to their frames to contain an overflowing store of edibles. 
Only a few miles after a very dramatic and slow start, we gathered by the lake's edge for our first picnic break. People popped champagne corks and munched on sandwiches. A few brave souls stripped and dove into the lake. We hopped back on our bikes after it began to rain, and rode on for a ways over a few slight inclines and shaded bends in the road.
Sunlight always seems more beautiful after a brief storm, and the crowd let out a colletive sigh as the clouds parted. No sooner had the sun appeared than we came upon a creemee stand, which we assaulted like a swarm of bees. At this pit stop, a small cone will get you two hefty scoops, and a large creemee is nearly the size of a hog thigh.
We took our frozen treats to the lawn and unloaded the rest of our picnics. I wandered and sampled from the generous spreads of the crowd: blueberries, cured meats, honey wine, grapes, cupcakes, sushi. I watched as one large man unwrapped a package on his lap. It contained an entire steak and one piece of wilted romaine lettuce. Whatever calories we had burned during the 10 miles to this spot were soon balanced out by our indulgent lunch. 
We eventually rolled back onto the road, but not for long. The next gas station we passed provided a perfect opportunity for picnic #3. I heard somebody say, "My happiness levels have dropped to euphoric, I need something quick!" During this rest, people broke out their juggling balls and ukuleles, and performed somersaults, cartwheels and handstands. We played an extensive game of leapfrog and attempted balancing acrobatics in the grass, snacking on chocolate-covered espresso beans and plums. 
There are two more "Decade Rides" this year, and I'm sure people will be exercising their appetites more than their biking muscles in preparation. If you want to join the festivities, dust off your ugliest bicycle — the rustier the better — and ask around. Chances are, if you see somebody in Burlington riding a bicycle with food in their basket, they will know something about the next location.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fundraising may help save Colchester Causeway

From Burlington Free Press:
Two fishermen pick their way past a badly damaged part of the Colchester Causeway on Saturday. Record spring flood´ing severely eroded the recreation path.

COLCHESTER — The future of the badly damaged Colchester Causeway is in doubt after two months of punishing Lake Champlain floods and waves, but efforts are starting to rebuild the popular recreation trail.
The causeway is a former railroad bed extending into Lake Champlain from Colchester 2.75 miles toward South Hero. Another half-mile section is on the other side of a short stretch of open water in South Hero.

The long-lasting, record lake flood this spring has severely eroded the causeway. Cost estimates for repairs are not available yet, and nobody is sure from where the money will come to fix it. The causeway will remain closed for most, if not all, of the summer and fall, bike advocates said.

The causeway is owned by the town of Colchester and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. The state and town are seeking money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Causeway Repairs.

Vermont is seeking a disaster declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for extensive flooding on rivers and Lake Champlain that started in April and continued through May. FEMA officials toured the causeway two weeks ago as they inspected flood damage in Vermont.
If FEMA comes through with repair money, Colchester and the state would likely have to come up with local matching funds, said Chapin Spencer, director of Local Motion, a bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group that has been extensively involved in development and promotion of the causeway.

Spencer said he hopes to meet with Colchester and state officials this week to discuss starting a charitable fundraising drive to help the town and state produce any matching funds FEMA requires. He said he hopes to plot strategy even before the lake flood fully recedes.

“For Fish and Wildlife and Colchester, this is an unanticipated expense. We might be able to substantially close the gap on the local match,” Spencer said.

The destruction on the causeway is extensive.

Saturday, a few people ventured out onto the badly damaged causeway, despite signs warning people away. The first 200 yards or so of the causeway had relatively minor damage, but after that, waves had taken large bites out of the gravel path. In some places, waves eroded the entire path away. Remaining sections were littered with thousands of jagged rocks the size of golf balls and baseballs.
More here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Teaming up with top cyclists to promote respectful riding

As part of the Safe Streets project, Local Motion is teaming up with some of Vermont’s top cyclists to promote riding by the rules of the road.  We’re working with the “Tuesday Night Worlds” ride, a fast-paced ride that starts in South Burlington and circles through Shelburne and Charlotte every Tuesday evening after work.  Our goal is to support ride leaders as they work to make this ride a model for how cyclists and motorists can each get where they are going — and get along with each other in the process.
Bobby Bailey orients cyclists about ride etiquette
About 40 riders showed up on May 24, which was our kick-off event.  Bobby Bailey, a cycling coach and regular participant in the Tuesday ride, emphasized the importance of holding to a tight double pace line (that is, no more than two riders abreast) for the first few miles until the group got out onto quieter country roads.  He also made it clear that they would be stopping as a group at stop signs and crossing together so as to minimize their impact on traffic flow.
“This ride can be pretty competitive,” Bailey said.  “People get in race mode, and all they focus on is keeping up with the guy in front of them.”  The best way to make sure that riders stop for stop signs, he explained, is to set the ride up so that everyone agrees to stop. That way, riding by the rules doesn’t make a rider fall behind the pack, and stopping becomes the norm.
Officer Josh Flore and riders listen to the pre-ride orientation
Officer Josh Flore of the Shelburne Police Department joined the group at the start of the ride to talk about safe and respectful riding.  He then met the riders at Irish Hill Road and Mount Philo Road in Shelburne, a busy intersection where riding by the rules is especially important.  “The riders did great,” he said.  “They stopped just like they should and then moved through fast.”
Starting June 6, Local Motion will be running ads on The Point family of radio stations about respectful riding, driving, and walking.  Listen for the ads, then visit our website at for more info and resources!
Many thanks to the Vermont Governor’s Highway Safety Program, which is the lead funder of the Safe Streets project.

Higher (Bike Safety) Education

A guest blog post by Local Motion volunteer and certified bike safety instructor, David Jacobowitz:
I teach bike safety education mostly to adults. Recently, it was a pleasure to address students in Luis Vivanco’s Bicycles, Globalization, and Sustainability course recently. I use the curriculum set out by the League of American Bicylists, which is based on John Forester’s principle that bikes fare best when they act like and are treated like vehicles.
The students want to go on field trips around the Burlington area, so it is a good idea to have them educated a bit on basic bike safety. These are good students. They have made it to higher education and they are good at learning complicated stuff. So bike safety would seem to be a breeze.
It was. We pretty quickly went over the basics of Vermont law, rules of the road, ABC Quick Check, skills you might need for safe riding and avoiding hazards.
In the discussion three scenarios came up which I want to present:
  1. Riding on the sidewalk to avoid construction. A young man described a time when he was riding downtown and saw a line of cars stopped by a flagman. He rode up onto the sidewalk and passed the line and the construction. Was this OK? What rules should he follow?
  2. That brought up another question, this time from a woman. Is it OK to ride as a pedestrian in the crosswalk during the pedestrian phase of a traffic light?
  3. A rider who often carries his kids in a trailer behind his bike asked where should you position yourself in a bike lane that goes all the way to the intersection with a line of cars to your left.
Sometimes bikes do not act like other vehicles on the road. When is it OK to deviate from Forester’s principle? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.