Saturday, March 31, 2012

Progress slowly made on advocacy at National Bike Summit

From Bicycle Times:

By Karen Brooks, photos by Chris Eichler, captions courtesy of Carolyn Szczepanski
One week ago, more than 800 enthusiastic bicycling advocates met in Washington, D.C., to network, learn strategy, and above all, remind Congress that bicyclists are an important part of the national transportation network. This was an exciting, if confusing, time to attend the National Bike Summit. Finally, it looks like a brand new transportation bill will make its way through Congress after years of the old bill, SAFETEA-LU, being extended again and again. Now signs are promising that dedicated funding for cycling-related projects will be preserved. For another boost, we received more news on a proposed unification between three of the nation’s largest advocacy organizations.
Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) (center- red tie) met with a large delegation from Wisconsin — and was presented with a League Leadership Award for his strong support of bicycling in Congress.

Transportation bill

Not long before the Summit, a horrible version of the transportation bill was put forward by the House of Representatives, called, ironically, the American Infrastructure and Energy Jobs Act. This bill would have axed all dedicated funding for biking and walking enhancements. Some Representatives had come together to vote for a bipartisan amendment to preserve funding, known as the Petri amendment, but it lost by two votes in committee. However, it seems that the voices of a horde of bike-friendly voters were heard, not to mention those of pedestrian and public transit advocates and plenty of other factions who were unhappy with the bill, and support to get it passed has been hard to come by.
Now, a comprehensive transportation bill, called MAP-21, has passed the Senate. This bill has a provision to replace programs that help us most – Transportation EnhancementsSafe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails – with optional “additional activities” funding. But a bipartisan amendment, the Cardin-Cochran amendment, would increase local control over how this money is spent, so that it doesn’t end up languishing in state Departments of Transportation coffers, or being spent on more highway projects.
At the time of this writing, at the very least, the old transportation bill has been extended for 90 days with funding levels preserved. But the lack of a long-term bill creates uncertainty for many projects currently in the works, and the extension gives House Representatives time to try to build support for their own bill, rather than simply accepting a version of the Senate's bill.
The mood on the Hill was definitely better than at last year’s Summit, with lawmakers of both parties seemingly more willing to come together to fund bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Our main argument was (and is) that this funding is by no means pork-barrel wastefulness—it gives a lot of bang for the buck. Just 1.5 percent of Federal transportation funds goes to support the 12 percent of trips made by walking and bicycle nationwide. Not to mention that non-motorized travel is clean, healthy, energy-efficient, and economical. Hearing from constituents makes all the difference to your representatives in Congress. Go to the League of American Bicyclists’ website today and find out how to join the chorus.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) chatted with constituents from her district in the back of a pedicab.

Unified advocacy organizations

Among all this talk of lawmaking was the excited buzz over a proposed unification of three of the most powerful advocacy organizations in the country. Leadership from the League of American Bicyclists (representing individual cyclists), the Alliance for Biking and Walking (a coalition of local and state bike/ped organizations), and Bikes Belong (the bike industry’s advocacy arm) met last February and tentatively agreed to merge the three into one large and powerful organization. This move has the potential to be huge—giving one strong voice to cyclists across the U.S. Right now, the goal is to finalize the decision on whether to proceed with this unification by the end of September, and to launch this new organization in January of 2013.
From left: Jeff Miller (Alliance for Biking & Walking), Andy Clarke (League of American Bicyclists), and Tim Blumenthal (Bikes Belong) announced the potential unification of the nation's three largest bicycle advocacy organizations.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reminder: This Saturday March 31st, Walk/Bike Summit in Burlington

From Local Motion

Saturday, March 31, 8:30 am to 1 pm

On Burlington's Waterfront in the Lake & College Building,
60 Lake Street (above Skinny Pancake) (at intersection of College St.)
Burlington, Vermont

Walkers and bikers come together! On March 31, residents, planners, volunteers and public officials will meet for inspiration, to share resources and get more people walking and bicycling in Chittenden County. The 2012 Walk/Bike Summit, hosted by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and Local Motion, will feature workshops on bicycle commuting, innovative facilities, effective advocacy tactics, national trends and more. Participants will hear from local, state, national and international experts on exciting trends, discover new resources to get around our region, and talk to leaders about turning ideas into action.

Directions to Lake & College Building, 60 Lake St., Burlington

Walk or bike to the event! Take a CCTA bus! Share a ride and park in the public lot behind ECHO, for free at the College St. waterfront lot, for free at the Union Station lot (with the yellow booth), in the garage behind Macy’s, or use on-street metered parking. Click here for a map of Burlington parking.


8:30 – 9:00 Sign in and Schmooze – light breakfast buffet

9:00 – 9:50 Opening Remarks and Advocacy Awards

9:55 – 10:45 Workshop Session 1

10:45 – 11:00 Break

11:05 – 11:55 Workshop Session 2

12:00 – 12:45 Keynote Speaker, Jeff OlsonAlta Planning+Design

12:45 – 1:00 Wrap Up

Workshop Choices

Session 1

There’s no better time than right now to work with your town in improving walking and biking. Join local leaders to learn how you can be successful in advocating for Complete Streets projects to make your community accessible for everyone.
Communities across the globe have found on-the-ground solutions to some of the issues facing our own projects in Vermont. See what’s worked in getting more people walking and biking and how we can apply those same design techniques in your town.
  • Historical Perspectives on Bicycling in Burlington, 1870-1920 - Luis Vivanco, UVM
This presentation shares stories and images from an ongoing research project on the early history of bicycling in Burlington during the period 1870-1920.

Session 2

  • Improving Walkability and Livability in Riverside/Underhill Flats: An Experience with the Active Living Workshop – Kari Papelbon, Town of Underhill
The Towns of Jericho and Underhill came together in 2011 to apply for a grant through AARP to host an Active Living Workshop.  Led by the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, this unique community event provided the opportunity for landowners and neighbors to plan for improved walkability and livability in the Riverside/Underhill Flats Village Center.  Learn about the process, the experience, and future steps to make the vision a reality.
Learn the nuts and bolts of commuting by bike: how to pick a bike, what to wear, how to be visible and predictable, dressing for the weather, riding in traffic, and more. Put what you learn into action during exciting statewide bike challenge that opens for registration on April 1 and runs May through August. All workshop participants will come away with a kit for promoting the challenge to friends, neighbors, and coworkers, as well as tips and resources for making bicycling a regular part of their own commute.
Hear the latest on federal funding for walking and biking, the political process surrounding these funding/policy streams, and advocacy efforts from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to ensure that our leaders recognize how walking and biking are part of livable, desirable communities.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Transportation issues a must for Weinberger's to-do list

From the Burlington Free Press

The age of cheap gas is over. Residents are now spending 20 percent of their income on transportation alone. How can we ensure residents will have affordable ways to get around in the future?
While many transportation policy issues will be hotly debated at larger levels, Burlington’s new mayor has the opportunity to show how a small city can lead the way.

The area’s transportation partners have been collaborating more and more — and the results are paying off:
• Bus ridership is up 59 percent over the last decade.
• 43 percent of Hill employees are now getting to work some other way than driving solo.
• Residents are now walking and biking more after a 50-year decline.
• CarShare Vermont’s vehicles are being used six hours a day.
The real team approach among CCTA, Campus Area Transportation Management Association, CarShare Vermont, Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, SSTA, VTrans, the city of Burlington and AARP is improving our transportation options.
And yet, the new mayor can drive this collaboration to a whole new level and make Burlington a model small city for clean, safe, affordable mobility. Here are 10 steps:
1. Give downtown employees transportation options. Every downtown employee who doesn’t drive solo frees up a parking space for shoppers. Let’s figure out how to get CATMA’s award-winning commuter incentives (Bike/Walk Rewards, Guaranteed Ride Home, etc) and Go Vermont’s services into the hands of all downtown employees.
2. Be an active champion for a new CCTA transit center. The current outdoor terminal is under-sized, unheated and unwelcoming. The mayor can help increase ridership, reduce congestion and stimulate downtown development by supporting CCTA’s inclusive efforts to build an attractive new transit center with an indoor waiting area, rest rooms and other amenities.
3. Spur walkable downtown development. One concrete step the new mayor should evaluate is reducing on-site parking requirements for developers if they agree to pay into a downtown transportation fund that supports all modes of transportation.
4. Empower public works to implement your vision. NIMBY concerns and a reluctance to change have stalled sidewalk projects, created disjointed bike lanes, and delayed a consolidation of duplicative transit routes. Giving Public Works the policy support to implement changes consistent with the master plan and your vision will get things done.
5. Support a Business Improvement District (BID) — To avoid driving to the ‘burbs to shop, we must help our downtown compete with the big boxes. A BID creates a formal structure for business owners to help the city address pressing issues and often to maintain sidewalks, green space and parking.

Don't Move from Burlington to Portland, move Portland to Burlington...

From VTIndoorCycling


Seriously, the "bike train to school" thing has to be one of the coolest implementations of bike transportation I've ever seen.

How many of us have been riding on Williston Road, buzzed by cars, or driving somewhere we could have ridden to but it didn't feel safe, or looked for a place to lock our bike up at a store and found there was no rack anywhere near the door? How many of us would ride to work, but there's no shower? How many of us have just wanted to chuck it all and move to the bike paradise that is Portland?  Better idea: what can we do to get improve the cycling experience in Burlington , so we don't want to move to Portland all the time?

Most of the time, VTIndoor and this blog is focused on training, training hard, doing intervals, and sweating and all that good stuff. But most of us have a life to live the other 167 hours of the week.  Much of that life can be lived, nay, enhanced on a bike. And the way to do that is to use bikes every day. Here's your challenge, folks:

  • This week, come ride with us Thursday night for one more indoor session at Maglianero. 
  • In the next week, take one trip that would have been a car trip and do it on the bike. In street clothes. 
  • In the next month, do something to advocate for better cycling infrastructure. 
  • In the next season, help somebody you know get on a bike. Build up your beater for them, take them on a ride, show them how to change a tire. 
  • In the next year, get involved with your local bike/walk council, rec path committee, planning commission, Local Motion, whatever. these people are out there, and they are working to do good things in your community. Join them. 
See you Thursday night. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Walking through Burlington, anti-growth advocate James Howard Kunstler offers a critique

From the Burlington Free Press

No-growth zealot James Kunstler tours the Church Street Marketplace in Burlington on Wednesday March 14, 2012.
On a walk through Burlington with author and environmental commentator James Howard Kunstler, there’s a lot to learn. Observe: ‘We suffer as a society from living in places that are not worth caring about.’ So how do we start to care? Kunstler has some ideas — and he promises change is coming, like it or not. 

Q: How to avoid a formulaic interview with a man whose gripe against suburbia is already the stuff of legend?

A: By getting out of the basement of the University of Vermont’s Waterman Building. The reasoning: By walking around Burlington, we might avoid cliches; we might stumble upon novelty; we might drift into free-ranging, free associations.

James Howard Kunstler, in town earlier this month for a speech, dressed down and sensibly for the occasion: a worn green jacket, gloves, grubby jeans and a baseball cap. His shoes defined him as an avid pedestrian.

What were we expecting — a messiah? An avenging angel?

Kunstler offered a disclaimer: He describes himself as a prose artist.

“I’m not an urban designer or a credentialed professional,” he began. “I’m just a guy who started out as a journalist and wrote a bunch of books. I have a role to play in my culture. I’m sort of a cultural observer.”

Kunstler agreed to share his observations with a fellow pedestrian and observer — this writer — along with Free Press Photographer Glenn Russell and professor Richard Watts, senior research analyst at the Transportation Research Center at the University of Vermont.

To break the ice, I steered the ensemble into a crowded parking lot behind Waterman. Kunstler obliged with a discussion about his abiding pet peeve: the automobile.

We walked in a northwesterly direction, threading our way between parked cars.
Joel Banner Baird: What do you make of all this?

James Howard Kunstler: (gesturing at the expanse of metal and marked asphalt) Well, the first thing to remember is that all this is not a conspiracy. Well — sometimes, every now and then it’s visible in actions like General Motors and Firestone Tires destroying the American trolley system. But generally, what you had was a consensus in America that we were going to do things a certain way. And we did.

So most of these things that we will see represent choices that our culture consciously made. Now, the catch is that sometimes societies make poor choices, and then they have to pay the price of that, and pay the consequences.

For better or worse, that’s sort of the situation that we face now: the consequences of whole sets of choices that we made about how we were going to live.

JBB: Sort of like the Romans and Phoenicians who needed a lot of wood, and denuded their hills of trees?

JHK: It seemed like a good idea at the time. A lot of things happen in history because they seem like a good idea at the time. Then you get used to it, and you carry it forward, and there are consequences. And maybe, looking through the rearview mirror, it wasn’t such a good idea. But it happened.

This whole dynamic of industrial development and all of its offshoots and accessories: These things happened chronologically very fast, compared to the way things happened and changed in the broader spectrum of human history.

JBB: Like weaponry, maybe? There have been some quantum leaps there.

JHK: Yeah, there have been some leaps. The whole enormous package of growing complexity and interlocked, mutually reinforcing, mutually dependent complex systems. These things arose with staggering speed, and the whole thing has been kind of improvised. So a lot of what you see looks and acts the way it does because we’ve been making it up as we go along, trying to do the best we could with what we had.

JBB: As always, it seems.

JHK: And it was working. It worked well enough that we had a stable society for the past 75 years — say, since the last Great Depression. Even given several wars and international conflict and political uproars of various kinds — this has been a fairly stable society. We weren’t invaded; we weren’t overrun by other people. We had some economic travails —

JBB: So we’re opportunists?

JHK: My point isn’t that we’re opportunists. It’s that this project that we embarked on about four generations ago, living the way we did, has appeared to be successful for a very long time. And it’s very hard for people to imagine that it might not continue to work OK. And that’s one of the things behind our failures to recognize our problems.

JBB: And because it’s happened very quickly?

JHK: You know, you’re in a society that hasn’t had enough time to reflect on what it does. It just kind of stumbles from one year, one election cycle, one generation to the next. Trying to keep its stuff going, without a whole lot consciousness about what the destination is.

JBB: Do you think it might be a question of leadership? There used to be elders who said stuff like, “If you plow this field too often and seed it with nothing but corn, you’re in trouble ...” I mean, humanity has tended, over the millennia, to rebound.

(The ramblers stop abruptly along South Williams Street. Remarkably, no cars — at least cars in motion — are in evidence. Nor are there any other pedestrians in the vicinity. The effect is unsettling.)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pedestrian deaths a call to action

From Local Motion/ Burlington Free Press

In the first two months of 2012, Vermont has suffered five pedestrian fatalities. This is already more than we typically see in an entire year. What has gone wrong?
Jan. 1: In Rutland City, 54-year-old Nancee Gell was killed while crossing South Main Street.
Jan. 11: In Brattleboro, 68-year-old Susan Press died of injuries from being hit on Western Avenue last November.
Feb. 15: In Burlington, 63-year-old Bruce Lapointe died of injuries received when was hit in the crosswalk on Barrett Street Feb. 6.
Feb. 21: In Rutland, 57-year-old Deborah Campbell was pushing her husband in a wheelchair when a hit-and-run driver struck her from behind.
Feb. 23: In Brattleboro, 64-year-old Gary Lumbra was killed while walking along Canal Street.
These pedestrians were not darting in and out of traffic. They were mature citizens doing their best, often under conditions that make safe walking harder than it should be: deteriorated or missing sidewalks, faded crosswalks, and distracted drivers. These crashes and fatalities truly were avoidable.
We Vermonters pride ourselves on our care for one another. It is time for us to take responsibility for pedestrian safety. Here are a few first steps.
Drive responsibly: An inattentive driver can cause life-altering harm in seconds. Drive attentively, go slow in populated areas, and pull over before using electronic devices.
Use safety gear: Reflective gear makes you visible from far enough away to give a driver time to react. Local Motion offers a $6 coupon for safety gear. Download the coupon at: www.SafeStreets
Support pedestrian safety initiatives: The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission works with towns to plan for and fund sidewalks, intersection improvements and other projects that make walking safer. Encourage your town to take advantage of the RPC's expertise and resources.
Help educate others: Join the Safe Streets Collaborative, an outreach effort launched by Local Motion, the city of Burlington and others in 2008, after two hit-and-runs. Contact Jason Van Driesche or 861-2700 x109.
Demand better street design: Thanks to AARP of Vermont, the Legislature passed a "Complete Streets" bill last session to ensure that streets are designed with everyone's safety and mobility in mind. Now we need to help our towns implement this policy. Contact Jason Van Driesche at or 861-2700 x109 to learn how to be an effective advocate.
Until recently, Vermont was a shining star for pedestrian safety. A 2012 national study ranked Vermont as the safest state in the nation for pedestrians. The analysis found that a pedestrian in Florida -- the most dangerous state -- was almost 20 times as likely to be killed as a pedestrian in Vermont.
After years of progress, trends are heading in the wrong direction. At the national level, a recent assessment by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that pedestrian deaths nationwide increased by more than 4 percent and pedestrian injuries jumped an alarming 19 percent in 2010 relative to 2009. In Brattleboro, car/pedestrian collisions were up 75 percent in 2011.
No one is quite sure why pedestrian deaths and injuries are increasing, but there are some likely culprits. Distracted driving plays a major role. High-speed arterial roads with few safe crossings are also a problem. And the issue of pedestrian distraction -- texting while walking, for instance -- can't be ignored.
Vermont can't rest on our "safest state" laurels. It's too early to tell if the recent increase in pedestrian injuries and deaths is part of a sustained trend. But every person killed or injured is one too many, and it's time to start making our roads and streets safer again.
While pedestrian safety is everyone's responsibility, it can't be solved through individual actions alone. We need to work together to build safety into how our streets work. With leadership from VTrans, the Vermont Governor's Highway Safety Program, the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, and others, we can reclaim our title as the safest and most enjoyable state for people-powered transportation.
Jason Van Driesche of Burlington is the director of advocacy and education at Local Motion, northwest Vermont's nonprofit walk-bike advocates.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cycle-Skating - what happened to it?

Thanks to Local Motion...
After watching this, you’ll want to head to your shop, take the wheels off your kid’s bike and build yourself a pair!

VTrans to host public meetings for feedback on economic study - Thursday March 15


Find a link to the FULL REPORT here

MONTPELIER – The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) will hold a public
meeting via VT Interactive Technologies on March 15th, regarding the final draft report on
the Economic Impacts of Walking and Bicycling in Vermont.
The study is the first of its kind in Vermontin that it estimates how bicycling and walking
impact the state economy. The final draft report will be presented at this meeting for public
review to receive input and comments.
The public meeting times and locations are:
March 15, 2012
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Vermont Interactive Technologies – 9 sites across the state
ƒ Brattleboro  ƒ Williston
ƒ Middlebury  ƒ Montpelier
ƒ Randolph Center  ƒ Newport
ƒ Rutland  ƒ Springfield
ƒ White River Junction

Plus live streaming at:

Click “link to login” and login as username: RSGINC password: Stream107
This page also contains a chat room (below the live stream) which can be used to ask
questions. Participants using chat should identify themselves with a name by typing in
the command "/nick John-Doe" and hitting enter. Note the space between nick and first
name and the hyphen (without a space) between first and last name. If a new window
appears requesting username and password, you've selected a name (or nickname)
someone else already has. Cancel out and try something else.

See for additional information and directions to the sites.

The Vermont Pedestrian and Bicycle Policy Plan identified the need for this study to
determine the overall economic and environmental benefits of bicycling and walking on the
State’s economy.  This study is meant to be a one year “snapshot” of the total economic and
environmental benefit - including direct, secondary and spin-off benefits – of bicycle and
pedestrian facilities and activities, including tourism, environmental, improved air quality
and reduced green house gas emissions, real estate values, health, reduction in demand on
the transportation systems, and other economic benefits.
All members of the Vermont public are invited to attend and provide their input on the
draft report. The final draft reportis available on the project website:
The public comment period will end Thursday, March 29, 2012. Comments can be emailed

Repair options to be discussed at Burlington Bike Path hearing tonight

View PDF here
Advocates for walking and biking will hold a public meeting tonight to discuss ways to repair and upgrade Burlington’s beloved — and well-worn — waterfront multipurpose recreation path.
The 7.5-mile, mostly paved pathway runs from Oakledge Park to the Winooski River, where it connects with the Island Line Trail. The path serves commuters, strollers and competitive racers, and is routinely touted as one of the Queen City’s “crown jewels.”
The all-volunteer Burlington Bike Path Task Force was formed in 2010. Its work took on an undiluted sense of urgency in the wake of last year’s spring flooding on Lake Champlain, which damaged portions of the trail and highlighted its vulnerability to erosion.
The path’s outmoded design and safety standards, and the cost of its rehabilitation, are outlined in a 75-page study completed in February by Resource Systems Group Inc. and commissioned by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and the Burlington Department of Parks and Recreation.
Three cost scenarios for the path’s restoration are pegged at $11.6 million, $13.8 million and $16.8 million, with corresponding upgrades to structure and safety.
The study is a work in progress, organizers say; public input will be incorporated into the task force’s presentation to the City Council later this spring.
Today’s forum takes place from 5:30-7 p.m. at Contois Auditorium.
Although the bike-path study doesn’t recommend funding strategies, it cites a 2010 University of Vermont Transportation Research Center study that estimates the path’s annual contribution to the local economy from one-day tourists at $4.5 million.
A more thorough discussion of the economic impacts of walking and biking — one that ventures well beyond tourism — will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, and will be streamed online.
The discussion, hosted by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, will accommodate comments by logged-in participants. It also will serve as an introduction to another walk-bike study, this one completed last week by Resource Systems Group, Inc., Economic and Policy Resources, Inc., and Burlington-based nonprofit Local Motion.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Car-culture critic lecture on Wednesday in Burlington

From the Burlington Free Press

Think electric cars bode well for civilization? Author and environmentalist James Howard Kunstler begs to differ — chiefly, he says, because America (and many other countries) has created vast, wasteful suburban landscapes.
Kunstler will address this and other environmental themes at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the University of Vermont Davis Center. The lecture, "The End of Cheap Energy," is free and open to the public.
Wednesday's talk is a part of a series of seminars, "Vermont’s Energy Future," co-sponsored by UVM’s Center of the Research on Vermont, the Transportation Research Center and the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics.
More information on the series can be found online at
Kunstler’s website is

Monday, March 12, 2012

Results of Bike/Ped Economic Study - read the whole report


Please click here to view a report on the economic impacts that bicycling and walking have in Vermont.  VTrans funded the study, which was generated with the help of a task force, Local Motion, and consultants.  The VT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition is pleased that this work was undertaken to generate hard numbers that bike/ped advocates can use to demonstrate the value of these activities in Vermont.  Those who participate in bicycling and walking in Vermont benefit the economy in a variety of ways.

Bike Parking Report Is Prepared for Legislature

As a result of legislation that passed in 2011, a bike parking report was created for the 2012 legislative body. Except for the sections on inventory and recommendations, the report was written by the VBPC at the request of the Department of Buildings and General Services (BGS). It's an executive summary that discusses the findings of the bike parking survey conducted by the VBPC in the spring of 2011.  In the report, the VBPC makes the point that good bike parking solutions at state buildings are site specific.  A cookie cutter, one size fits all approach won't work. The VBPC hopes that BGS will heed the specific suggestions that are made in the bike parking survey relative to sites around the state.
 click here to review the bike parking survey results.
Here is the executive summary report after the break:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

U.S. 7 improvements stuck in the slow lane

From Burlington Free Press

Commuter traffic is steady on U.S. 7 in Shelburne on Friday. South Burlington will host a public meeting Thursday to discuss ideas for improving traffic flow and addressing safety issues along U.S. 7.
It seems only yesterday — Jim Douglas was governor and Barack Obama was a junior senator from Illinois — but it was six years ago that the Agency of Transportation finished its $32 million, three-mile project on U.S. 7 from IDX Drive south to Webster Drive in Shelburne.
Shelburne has recently looked at that work and found it ugly and conducive to the commercial-strip sprawl that marks the South Burlington section of the road. Some folks in Shelburne are now studying whether they can improve the road’s aesthetics and keep such development at bay.
Just north of the big project’s finish line, however, longstanding issues have been compounded by a growing population that puts more pressure on Shelburne Road near Interstate 189.
The questions involve traffic flow and traffic lights and clog and glut and whether more pedestrian amenities or bike lanes could improve the road experience from IDX Drive north to the Interstate junction.
Frank Mazur, a former state representative from South Burlington who chaired the House Transportation Committee, isn’t optimistic. He said from his winter home in Florida that improvements on the road will be a long time coming.
“You can plan and plan and do more plans,” he said. “We’ve been planning and studying this for years. Now, we’re studying it again.”
The fundamental problem, he said, is the glut of building nearby — with each new housing unit or expanded business adding to the pressure, “and yet we let all the construction go on.”
From his perspective, “more infrastructure” might relieve some of the pressure: connecting roads, bike paths, a bypass behind Lowe’s or the Southern Connector, born as a concept in the 1960s and still on the drawing board, but some of those solutions aren’t politically attractive and others pie in the sky — he mentioned commuter rail as a perennial impractical suggestion. “It’s an endless thing and a battle that goes on forever,” he said.
Mazur recalled that talk of expanding Shelburne Road began in the 1980s, but the big project didn’t begin until 2003. “Chittenden County is small, and it needs a lot,” he said, “and the state has other priorities.”
Read more here

Friday, March 2, 2012

From the VBPC
Yesterday, some great rail news came to the bike/ped community. It was announced that passengers will be permitted to roll bikes onto Amtrak trains in Vermont. This change is scheduled to take place in spring or early summer. Amtrak cars, equipped with racks, will allow bikes to hang and be locked. Still to come are the exact starting date of this service and whether or not a fee will be charged. Imagine being able to take your bike in this manner to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC or other Amtrak destinations on this route.

Thanks to Bob Atchinson of VTrans' Rail Division for this news and to all who sent letters lobbying for this change, including Governor Shumlin, Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing, Megan Smith, and Vermont Rail Action Network executive director, Christopher Parker.
The service will be limited to the number of racks per car; seemingly three as indicated in the photo. Making reservations will be key.

Nancy Schulz of VBPC spoke directly with Bill Hollister, is the Principal Officer of Amtrak's Public Affairs Department. Bill explained that Amtrak has selected the "Vermonter" for a study that will examine the feasibility of rolling bikes onto certain types of Amtrak trains that are not equipped with a checked baggage car. It's not known how long the study will take, when and how bikes will be permitted to roll onto the Vermonter, or what fee may be charged for this service. The study is in the very earliest stages and doesn't involve any other train route at this time.

There are discounts for passengers traveling on Amtrak using the Ethan Allen and Vermonter trains and the correct details are as follows: From any Amtrak station in Vermont to any other Amtrak station in Vermont, there is a discounted one-way fare of $12. A reservation must be made at least one day in advance. Note that there are some blackout dates and the discount is contingent upon seat availability. There is also a Visit Vermont Discount of 20% from any destination along the routes of the Vermont trains which requires a three-day advance reservation and also has blackout dates and availability restrictions. Vermont's Department of Tourism and Marketing recommends you access the discounts via:

Let's hear it for multi-modal transportation!