Monday, October 31, 2011

Fixing South Burlington

From LocalMotion

South Burlington really boomed during the car-centric middle of the last century.  This meant that most of the development was friendly to cars, but not to walkers and bikers.
To South Burlington’s credit, they’ve succeeded in developing Vermont’s most comprehensive network of paths over the last 20 years — 12+ miles connecting many neighborhoods.  Now, the challenge is to create a city center and more pedestrian-friendly streets.
How the heck could the City make Williston Road an enjoyable place to walk and bike for example?  Not an easy proposition…but city officials and residents are trying.  See the update from Planning Director Paul Conner below.
Local Motion encourages our friends in South Burlington to get involved in this planning process.
Dear neighbors,
A hearty thank you to all those who were able to attend last night’s opening presentation and workshop on the Williston Road / City Center Community Design project. Over 60 people attended and participated! Last night set the stage for this project, by looking at what people want from a City Center and Williston Road area. Specifically, what form it should take. What makes one environment inviting to spend time in, and another just a place to get in and get out from? What do we want to have as an experience walking through City Center? What should Williston Road’s future buildings look like, in terms of overall size, height, setback, etc.
Today the design team spent the day working on the feedback from last night, touring the area, and meeting with individuals and groups.
Tomorrow, Friday, at 4:30, we’ll have a “mid-project” presentation and feedback. This will be the first ideas for what the standards (ie, rules, in a graphical form) for development could be. The team needs you input to refine these ideas.
On Saturday, at 3:00 pm, we’ll have our “closing presentation”, where the team will give their more refined ideas for the area, get more feedback, and discuss next steps to completing this project.
All events will be held here at City Hall. I hope to see you here. This project will be a success if together we make it one!
Community Design Workshop
FOR City Center & Williston Road
Help refine the vision for City Center and Williston Road into
standards for how these places will look, feel, and be used.
All are invited and encouraged to attend this important workshop. Attend one or all of the events!
The goal of this project is to establish new standards for development in these areas. It is critical that all views are shared, up front!
Community Pin-Up and Review
Friday, Oct 28th, 4:30 – 6:30 pm, City Hall (575 Dorset Street)
Closing Presentation
Saturday, Oct 29th, 3:00-5:00 pm, City Hall (575 Dorset Street)
Live Design Studio:
Wednesday Oct 26th to Saturday Oct 29th, City Hall (575 Dorset St.)
Please pass this message along to others.
Paul Conner, AICP
Director of Planning & Zoning
City of South Burlington
575 Dorset Street
South Burlington, VT 05403

A half-decade later, Winooski traffic circle still vexes

WINOOSKI — Cathy Simard was steaming Monday morning, parked in her minivan amid car fumes in standstill traffic waiting to get into the downtown Winooski traffic circle.

"I hate this Winooski circle. It's the stupidest thing they ever did," she said. "It's a traffic hazard."

Other drivers had a variety of grumbles about the traffic circle and the long lines of cars waiting to enter the circle to make their way to work and school. The common complaints: The people trying to turn left, waiting for traffic as cars line up behind them; the traffic signals at the circle's midpoint that allow pedestrians to cross but bring traffic to an exasperating standstill; the timid, foolish or clueless motorists who don't know how to navigate the circle effectively. And, the state says it's a high-crash location.

The morning commute is especially vexing for people coming in from the north and east toward the traffic circle. Cars and trucks back up along East Allen Street, up Main Street toward Colchester, and along side streets just west of the circle.

The Winooski traffic circle is more complicated than most roundabouts, which have fewer streets feeding into them, fewer pedestrians to deal with and lower traffic volumes, according to traffic engineers.

The city, working with a county transportation planning group, is trying to figure out how to make the traffic circle work better, especially from the standpoint of safety. The study is also focusing on the traffic problems on the northern and eastern parts of the circle.

"We're looking at different design alternatives that we could do with not much cost, just to improve safely as well as reduce congestion," said Eleni Churchill, senior transportation planning engineer with the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. Churchill is coordinating the Winooski traffic circle study with the city.

The Circle

The Winooski traffic circle was part of the city's massive downtown redevelopment project during the first decade of the 21st century. It opened to traffic in late 2005.

The circle replaced a more traditional downtown streetscape. Main Street was pretty much where it is now, except it sported two-way traffic, north and south. People who wanted to get to East Allen Street drove to a four way intersection and turned in front of the Winooski block.

Now, the western side of the circle, the former Main Street, is one-way southbound. People who want to head east on East Allen Street loop around the entire circle counter-clockwise to access East Allen.

There's also a traffic signal in the middle of the circle to help pedestrians cross directly across it. That's unusual in traffic circles.

Winooski City Engineer Steve Palmer said the hard look at the traffic circle is happening now because it's been there for half a decade, and people have become relatively accustomed to it. Also, downtown Winooski's redevelopment is nearly complete, so traffic patterns won't change substantially or rapidly in the next few years. That means if the traffic circle is redesigned, it's less likely to become outmoded anytime soon, Palmer said.

One more concern: Some motorists negotiating the circle say people have not mastered the art of driving through a traffic circle.

Palmer agreed. "People kind of dawdle."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Transportation Enhancements under Attack Again

Transportation Enhancements under Attack Again
Contact your Senators Again Today to Save Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding

It’s happening again.  Just one month ago, Sen. Coburn (R-OK) failed in his efforts to strip funding for Transportation Enhancements from the six-month transportation extension.
Senator Rand Paul’s 80-year Bridge Repair Plan
Now, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is taking the lead in trying to destroy Transportation Enhancements.  On November 1, the Senate will finalize the transportation appropriations bill, which sets funding levels for FY2012.  Sen. Paul has offered an amendment to redirect all funding for Transportation Enhancements to bridge repair.
We agree on the need to keep our bridges safe, but the lives of pedestrians and cyclists are important too. Thirteen people died when the Minneapolis bridge collapsed in 2007: since then, close to 20,000 pedestrians and 2,800 cyclists have died on our nation’s highways, largely as a result of poor highway design and a lack of safe non-motorized infrastructure – exactly what the enhancement program was created to fix.
If Sen. Paul’s amendment is successful, it would eliminate approximately $700 million in federal funding for FY2012 that is used to construct sidewalks, bike lanes, bike paths, trails and other infrastructure that makes it safe for bicyclists and pedestrians to get around.  Even if every penny of these funds is diverted to bridge repairs, Senator Paul’s plan will still take 80 years to fix the backlog of bridge repairs we have today.
Remember that the TE program represents less than two percent of the Federal transportation program and these projects help alleviate traffic congestion, improve safety, get people active, and create more jobs per dollar than highway-only projects.
Remember also that last year, states sent back to Washington $530 million of unspent bridge funds in rescissions – the states are leaving bridge repair funds on the table, unspent, year after year; they should at least spend these funds first.
If the Paul amendment succeeds, it will make it much more challenging to sustain funding for Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails in the long-term transportation bill that the Environment and Public Works Committee starts debating just 8 days later on November 9.
We must turn back any amendment to strip Transportation Enhancements.  
Last month, more than 75,000 messages were sent to Senators to ask them to stand strong for Transportation Enhancements. That was an amazing turnout, but we must do better this time.  Every time someone in Congress attacks bicycling and walking, we must push back even stronger than we did the time before.  And, we will keep doing it until bicycle and pedestrian funding is protected.
This is the third time in a month that a small group of Senators have targeted Transportation Enhancements, using a different angle each time.  It is a waste of the Senate's time and taxpayers dollars to focus on this small and valuable program when we are in dire need of real and viable solutions to fix our failing transportation system.
Please contact your Senators today to ask them to vote against the Paul amendment (SA-821) to eliminate Transportation Enhancements.  And then please forward this message to at least five others who care about the safety of people walking and bicycling on our streets.
Thank you for your help today, and for passing the call to action along.

Shelburne Looks to Enhance Vitality of Rt 7

Shelburne residents, town officials and planners are looking at ways Route 7 in their town can be a more vibrant mixed-use area.  Check out their "Parking Lots to Parkway" website.
Local Motion congratulates Shelburne for taking this step.  While the new Rt 7 provides continuous sidewalks and bikelanes, without a robust mix of housing, office and retail -- the corridor will remain mainly full of cars and stripmalls.
In mid-October, the three-day public workshop members of the design team looked at ways that Route 7 can be redeveloped and how existing buildings and sites can be repurposed to create a more attractive commercial sector that is also pedestrian oriented and incorporates housing.  A compact walkable pattern of development is in itself environmentally sound, but the team also looked at how green infrastructure can be a feature of redeveloped properties.
Working alongside representatives from the town, residents, and property owners the design team hopes to transform Route 7 from a suburban strip into a parkway and show how to achieve goals through revisions to land use regulations.
The result will be a "road map" for remaking this underperforming part of town into an attractive mixed-use district that residents can be proud of and that is a setting for many kinds of commerce and residences.\

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Seven Days: "Winter bikers brave wind chill, salt and snowy shoulders"

winter cyclist
Diana Hanks is no fair-weather cyclist. In fact, the Winooski resident, an operating-room assistant at Fletcher Allen Health Care, actually prefers bike commuting in winter. Never mind the cold season’s potential dangers and discomforts.
For one thing, “There are fewer thieves around,” Hanks says, noting that her bike was stolen one warm day outside the hospital. “There are fewer creeps, too,” she adds. “Some guy chased me one night. That doesn’t happen when it’s freezing out.”
Hanks finishes her shift at 11:30 p.m. and then pedals along Colchester Avenue to her home. In winter, she rides on the sidewalk to avoid the perils of icy roads narrowed by snowbanks. “The sidewalks are almost always plowed,” Hanks says. “It feels a lot safer than being on the street.”
Charlene Wallace, on the other hand, sticks to Pine Street in the snow and slush when cycling between her South End home and her job at Local Motion on the waterfront. “The sidewalks are dangerous because of all the driveways,” Wallace says. “Cars don’t expect to see you when they’re backing out or pulling in.”
Hanks, however, says she prevents unpleasant encounters by shining her front light directly into the face of a driver exiting or entering a driveway. Plus, Hanks notes, “I give everybody the right of way.”
But why would anyone go to such extremes? What’s the point of biking into Arctic headwinds and through rain, sleet, snow and gloom of night?
Convenience is one reason. “It’s much faster and easier to go by bike than by car in winter,” says Lisa Aultman-Hall, an engineering professor who cycles a mile and a half to and from the University of Vermont nearly every day between December and April. “You’ve got to scrape off your car, and parking and then walking to your office can be a real hassle,” she says. “I love biking right up to the door and then just hopping on my bike when I leave.”
And cycling is certainly quicker than walking. “I just don’t have the patience to go by foot,” Wallace says, adding, “I’ve got to get some exercise to offset all the time I spend sitting at the computer. It’s a healthy and satisfying way to commute. Also, it’s way fun.”
All-weather bike commuters such as Wallace have come to make up a fellowship rather than a freak show. Many more cyclists will take to the streets this winter than have previously, predicts Glenn Eames, owner of the Old Spokes Home bike shop in Burlington’s Old North End. One factor promoting cycling beyond Thanksgiving is that “global warming has changed the seasons a bit,” he observes. “It stays warmer a little longer.”
For Mike Beganyi, a wintertime pleasure cyclist, the rewards take the form of “therapy or meditation.” Biking on snowy trails reveals “a whole different world,” Beganyi says. “It gives me head space that I really need.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Herringbone: Burlington's Own Tweed Run - Saturday, Oct 22nd 2011


Saturday, October 22 · 10:00am - 2:00pm

Starting at Maglianero, ride leaves at 11 am.

More Info
Join us one and all for a leisurely tour of our Queen City. For those unfamiliar, a tweed ride is social and inclusive, slow paced and polite, and of course, involves wool and libations (lycra free please). The older the bike, the better, but no worries if you have more than three speeds, you are still welcome. Starting at Maglianero for coffee, continuing on a route that will lead us through many of Burlington's historic places, stopping along the way for events such bicycle poetry and prose readings, music, portraits, silly games, afternoon tea, and ending for fish and chips and pints downtown. Prizes will be awarded for the best dressed lass and lads, best mustache, as well as other manifestations of the tweed spirit.

No wool in the closet? Grandpa's suit jacket smell too much like mothballs? Never fear! Visit these sites for some fashion inspiration. Or stay tuned for fashion advice to follow. (check out the dress code section)
Your local thrift store!!!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

GM apologizes for saying bikes suck

After GM's recent advertisement aimed at College Students across the country offering discounts so no should have to sink as low as having to buy a bicycle to get places the company now  publicly apologizes for the ad. 

Bicycling enthusiasts across the country started shouting at General Motors on Monday over this ad in several college newspapers pitching GM discounts as a way to avoid the suckitude of biking places. Within hours, GM apologized and promised changes. Here's why it's so sensitive.
Transportation history buffs know General Motors' infamous role in replacing U.S. streetcar systems in dozens of cities with GM diesel buses in the middle of the 20th century. Since then, mass-transit and anti-car activists have questioned how many more people might have eschewed their own vehicles for People Movers had those systems survived.
So when GM's ad for college discounts showed a bicyclist hiding his face in shame and what appeared to be a bus rider getting splashed, along with taglines to "stop pedaling, start driving," the Twitter volume rose quickly.
The League of American Bicyclists even called it "one of the more remarkably ill-conceived car ad campaigns of all time." (Have they seen the J-Lo Fiat 500 ad yet?)
GM apologizes for saying bikes suckLast night, GM began apologizing abjectly on Twitter, telling angry cyclists the ads were "created with student input," were not meant to slag biking or public transit and would be changed. While they're at it, maybe they can explain what kind of college student would use a discount to buy a Buick Enclave.

Bicycle manufacturer Giant also responded to the ad and published a similar version of it in response. Well said.....

Giant Ad

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wisconsin town proposes bike ban

Now here is a story that shows some outright backwards developments. Please, Wisconsin, you can do better than this!

The bedroom community of Hull, Wisconsin considers ways to draft an ordinance that could close and otherwise restrict town roads to biking and walking.
Town of Hull Chairman John Holdridge presented a draft ordinance to the town Public Safety Task Force “to promote safe use of Hull roads by bicyclists, pedestrians and vehicles … through reasonable separation and usage regulations.” Then, in classic doublespeak fashion, Holdridge proposes to promote safe bicycle use by banning them! The proposed statute says, “bicycles may be prohibited from using Hull roads after holding a public hearing.”
Papers please!
I don’t know Wisconsin law so I can’t comment on the legality of a local ordinance like that, but Hull wades into freedom to travel rights with a proposed permit requirement for “Groups.” On top of the bike prohibition statute, Chairman Holdridge proposes:
A formal notification system is established which provides contact with known groups who walk, run or bike in the Town of Hull. Groups will be informed of the state law and the Hull ordinance to control their operation on Hull roads. Groups operating on Hull roads shall be required to have a permit based on an application which details travel plans (time, date, roads used, and numbers) prior to operating on Hull roads. They will need to certify to following all applicable laws and ordinances.
The way I see this working is, we’ve got the names of the athletic directors and we’ve got the names of the cross country track coaches so once we get this, maybe even before we can approve that particular provision, the Town will invite them in and have a discussion.
Hull’s Public Safety Task Force has been mulling ways to keep cyclists, joggers, and dog walkers off of their city streets for a couple of months now. The town council receives complaints regarding groups cycling, walking, and jogging on public roads, and, according to the Public Safety Committee, those people primarily come from the University of Wisconsin in Stevens Point three miles south of Hull, along with cross country runners from high schools in Stevens Point. The ROTC battalion at UW-Stevens Point “has caused problems” for the town as well. Discussion in the September 15 public safety meeting then devolved into gripes about people riding without lights, people taking up the whole lane while biking and walking, and dog walkers blocking traffic and leaving their pet excrement on the street.
The Public Safety Committee doesn’t appear to address any actual public safety issues with the bike / jog / walk ban. Drivers in this city of 5,000 seem to be annoyed by the momentary delays posed by walkers, joggers, and cyclists. There are no sidewalks on the 80 miles of road in Hull and, according to Public Safety Committee meeting notes, the lanes within town limits are no more than 12 feet wide.
The irony: the Public Safety meeting that proposed this bike ban begins with discussion about speeding motorists who drive too fast through town, about how bad the speeding is on parts of Jordan Road and North Second Street and other roads by I-39 on the western edge of Hull and what can they do to reduce the speed limits and oh-by-the-way can we call the Sheriff and ask him to step up enforcement. Finally, at the end of their September meeting, the Public Safety Committee had a traffic engineer come in and talk to them about ways they could implement traffic calming measures.
It sounds to me like the town council in Hull probably need some education. I hope cyclists in Portage County and with the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin are able to reach out to these officials in a mutually constructive way.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Local Motion catches oversight in Champlain Parkway Act 250 process

From LocalMotion

Local Motion has been involved for well over a year in the planning process for the Champlain Parkway.  Our goal has been to ensure that, if it is built, this major new artery into Burlington (which includes reconstruction of upper Pine Street) creates the best possible facilities for people on foot and on bike.  Our work began to pay off this past week when the City of Burlington notified the Act 250 District Commission that it will be designing the Champlain Parkway project as a “Complete Street,” as outlined in the city’s newly adopted Transportation Plan.
The City of Burlington’s Transportation Plan calls for bike lanes, sidewalks, benches, bus shelters, and other bike-ped amenities throughout a Complete Street.  It also specifies that curb cuts, crosswalks, and other key infrastructure elements should be designed for smooth and efficient movement of people on foot and on bike.  And the plan places great emphasis on keeping vehicle speeds low so as to promote a safe and vibrant environment for walking and biking.
In the City’s letter to the Act 250 Commission (see below), the City thanked Local Motion for bringing to the Commission’s attention the fact that it had mistakenly submitted its OLD transportation plan — which doesn’t call for Complete Streets — in its original Act 250 package.  (Several weeks prior, we had highlighted this issue and many others in our first letter to the Commission.)  Many thanks to the folks at Burlington Public Works for creating such a forward-looking Transportation Plan.  Now it’s time to make sure that the Champlain Parkway lives up to the plan’s high standards!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Low-impact commuters score 'Carbon Cup' awards

Winners in the seventh annual “Way to Go!” commuter challenge received chrome-plated car mufflers as trophies Friday in Burlington City Hall and the rest of the state benefitted from a week of cleaner air and less congested streets.
The mid-May competition also shaved about $90,000 from motorists’ gasoline budgets, said Bryan Davis, transportation planner with Winooski-based Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission.

Although modest compared to the state’s approximately $1 billion per year appetite for engine fuel, Bryan praised the seven-day contribution as a valuable “snapshot” of the economic impact of replacing single-car commutes with pooled rides, buses, biking and walking.

“Most of what we spend on gas leaves the state,” he said.

Montpelier, which won top municipal honors, did not send a delegation to collect its muffler. Vergennes took second place.

Burlington tied for third with Waitsfield, and Mayor Bob Kiss accepted a certificate honoring the Queen City’s high degree of municipal participation.

“We are making progress. Are we making enough? Maybe not. Are we on the right track? Absolutely,” the mayor said.

“I’m convinced we’re changing the world,” Kiss said. “It won’t happen tomorrow, but we’re tipping it today.”
The competition appears to have sparked ongoing efforts — and rivalries — for low-carbon rides and bragging rights. Organizer Tom Horn, a transportation planner with Burlington-based Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, cautioned this year’s winners against complacency.

Rachel Gitajn, a project engineer at Burton Snowboards, didn’t need to be reminded: this year the company lost its three-year winning streak to

“We’re disappointed that we lost, but we take credit for it, too. We told them all our tips and tricks. We all upped the ante,” Gitajn said.

Small-business category Carbon Cup winner Williston-based AllEarth Renewables has a built-in advantage with mission-driven employees, CEO David Blittersdorf said.

But top honors came via “carrots and sticks” in the workplace, he added.

Every employee who commutes by bus or another low-emission conveyance receives a $500 incentive.

“Basically, employees get free transportation by taking the bus,” Blittersdorf said.

And his “stick?” He’s planning to charge for parking spaces in the company lot.

“We have to move people to do different things,” he said.

Phelan Fretz, executive director of previous winner ECHO Center in Burlington, gracefully acknowledged All-Earth’s edge.

“We’re going to have to step up our game,” he said.

Information on how to prepare for next year’s Way to Go! challenge — and statistics on this year’s participation — can be found 

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 660-1843 Read his blog at and follow him on Twitter

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Colchester Ave 'Complete Street' Approved!

From Localmotion

After a year-long demonstration, multiple public meetings and continued advocacy from nearby residents, the City of Burlington has officially committed to keeping the 3-lane design that was installed last September!
On September 28th, the Public Works Commission unanimously approved the 3-lane design with bike lanes and enhanced crosswalks. As long as weather cooperates, the final coat of asphalt and the striping should be in place by winter.
The Commission referenced the City's newly adopted Transportation Plan that calls for 'Complete Streets' as an important reason to approve this demonstration project.  As Commissioner Maggie Gundersen rightly noted "It will take time to transition to our complete streets plan" and added that she sees the benefits.  "As a driver, I feel much safer on Colchester Avenue now -- it's much calmer."
"This process wasn't easy, so I want to specifically acknowledge the strong leadership from Public Works (Erin Demers and Nicole Losch), the CCRPC (Eleni Churchill), CATMA (Bob Penniman), RSG (Joe Segale), the City Council Transportation Cmte (Kurt WrightVince BrennanDave Hartnett), City Councilor Sharon Bushor and the entire DPW Commission," said Local Motion's Director Chapin Spencer.
The City started the 3-lane demonstration in September 2010. The road had previously been 4-lanes and was a high-crash location.  The 3-lane design has been working well, even with the 18,000 to 20,000 cars a day.  Now that the City will make the 3 lane design permanent, it will allow for bike lanes and enhanced pedestrian crossings.  When Public Works initially asked for public comment on the redesign, comments were 160 in support and 10 opposed, but a few critics persisted in questioning the complete street.

If we weren't able to get the 3-lane design passed on Sept 28, another year would have gone by without the final coat of asphalt added on the street or the formal bike lanes.  The successful demonstration ran for a full year, and the continued support of Burlington residents helped convince policy makers to make it permanent.  The Department of Public Works has led the way with forward thinking work on Colchester Avenue and we should thank them! Click here to send a thank you email to DPW staffer Nicole Losch.
The City and many stakeholders have completed a final draft of a long-range plan for Colchester Avenue.  It also shows a 3-lane 'complete streets' vision, and it will be presented to the full DPW Commission in October 2011.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Halloween Bike Ride, Oct 30, 2pm Burlington

From Localmotion

Join us for a rolling costumed bicycle parade through Burlington!
Halloween Bike Ride!
Sunday, October 30, 2pm
City Hall Park, BTV
After Party @ Maglianero
Tthumb_OSH_logo_smhis lazy 2-mile ride will be escorted by the police, so bring the whole family -- young and old alike!  Free.  Volunteers needed to help with traffic and the post-ride party.  Prizes for costumes so go big!  Lead sponsor: Old Spokes Home.  Other sponsors: Northfield Savings Bank,Ben & Jerry's Foundation.