Thursday, July 26, 2012

Repairs to begin on Colchester Causeway From WCAX

The bikepath and pedestrian walkway - which links Burlington to the Lake Champlain islands - brings in millions of dollars-worth of spending into the area every year. However, the Colchester Causeway - a key portion in the middle - is still in need of repair following last year's spring flooding in Northwest Vermont.

Construction is due to begin Monday. The project is expected to cost just less than half a million dollars but Colchester taxpayers won't pay a dime.

Jerry Plewa and his wife Carmela are on their annual trip to Burlington, drawn by Lake Champlain and the scenic bike path that lines it.
Dangerous algae blooms prevented them from taking a dip in the water and the couple cut their bike ride short Wednesday afternoon when they ran into a closure along the Colchester Causeway. "Usually we go biking first, then we go for a swim," said Jerry, "so the first disappointment was the water, and now it's this."
About 2.5 miles of the 3.5 mile-long path is in disrepair after being pummeled by storms last spring. "It's a resource that's invaluable to our area," said Colchester Parks Dir. Glen Cuttitta, "we've had washouts as deep as three feet."
Reconstruction is due to begin this coming Monday and wrap up by the first week of November. Users have navigated around rough spots but Cuttitta says that can't continue. "There can't be any access to this area while the construction is going on," he said.
The path is only about 12' wide and narrows considerably where the storm did the most damage. That poses challenges for construction vehicles and elongates the repair timeline.
Fixes should cost about $450,000. Federal funds will cover three quarters of the repair cost; state dollars will account for 15 percent.
An anonymous donor picked up 2.5 percent of the bill, and Local Motion - a Burlington-based non-profit - has agreed to take on the final 7.5 percent.
"It's really a unique and tricky project that the public should stay clear of if we want to meet our deadline," said Brian Costello of Local Motion.
He said the group had already been fundraising to expand bike ferry service along the route when the storms hit last year. The effort now also covers the causeway cost.
Visitors say they plan on staying updated on the progress of repairs. "This is our favorite," said Jerry Plewa of the path, "in Montreal we have our spots, but this is our favorite spot in Burlington, we always like to come out here.
In the meantime, the other spots will have to do, at least until next year.
To keep the public updated on progress while the area is closed off, Colchester staff said they hope to offer updates through the media as well as post pictures on their site or Local Motion's.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Got $70 Burning a Hole in Your Pocket?

From Local Motions Blog

HEADS UP:  the Burlington Police Department is stepping up enforcement of all traffic laws for bicyclists!  You could get a $70 ticket if (among other things) you:
  • Go through a red light or stop sign
  • Travel the wrong way on a one-way street
  • Ride at night without lights (front and back)
    During a recent multimodal outreach and enforcement detail, the Burlington police talked with lots of people who were walking (23) and biking (25) about the rules of the road. They only issued one ticket, though: to a motorist who went through a red light. Over the next few weeks, they will add more tickets to the mix.
The police are also stepping up enforcement for motorists, with a focus on things that could get walkers and bicyclists hurt:  speeding, running red lights, failure to yield, and so on.  They are alsoissuing more tickets to pedestrians who cross against the light.  Their goal is to reduce crashes and injuries for people on foot and on bike.
Why is Local Motion on board with more tickets for walkers and bicyclists?  Two reasons:
  1. FAIRNESS.  The police are focusing on the serious stuff -and they’re being evenhanded about it.  Whether you’re walking, biking, or driving, if you do something stupid and dangerous, they’ll give you a ticket.
  2. RESPECT.  If we in the bike community want Burlington to make a serious investment in more bike lanes and other infrastructure, we’re going to have to earn the support (and the respect) of the non-bicycling residents of our city.  Riding by the rules is one of the best things we can do to build momentum towards a transformation of our streets.
So riding right not only could save you $70 — it could also get you a better city for bicycling.

Cruise Raises $164,000 for Trail Repair & Ferry!

From Local Motion

On July 11th, a capacity crowd of 150 trail enthusiasts boarded the Northern Lights to take a special trip up to 'the cut' in the Causeway.  See photos here!
It was part of The Big Fix -- Local Motion's $1.5M fundraising campaign to repair the Island Line Trail from the record 2011 flooding and to relaunch dramatically expanded Bike Ferry service.
The energy on board to finally complete the 14-mile Burlington / Colchester / South Hero trail was palpable.

Cruise_Cathy_douggoodman.comHonorary Co-Chairs Bill & Carole Hauke announced a $100,000 challenge grant as the boat paused next to the causeway.
VTrans Secretary Brian Searles told the crowd that Local Motion is the most effective advocacy organization he has seen and reiterated the the State's support for this spectacular trail.
Campaign Co-Chair Cathy Frank said that the flood had a huge silver lining in rallying the community together around fixing and completing this spectacular trail.
Huge thanks to Lake Champlain Transportation Company and Gobeille Hospitality for donating the boat, the fuel and the food for the event!  Thanks also to photographer Doug Goodman and musician Joe Cleary for donating their services.
The campaign has raised $1.37M -- with just $130,000 to go!
We need you! The sooner we complete the fundraising, the sooner the works gets done.  If you want the trail fully open with Bike Ferry service in 2013, we need to finish the campaign soon.  Donate today and your gift will be matched 1:1 by the Haukes!

City Council Praises Bike Path Rehab Plan

From Local Motion

On July 16, the efforts to comprehensively rehabilitate Burlington's popular but aging bike path moved a step closer to reality.
After two years of focused effort, the Bike Path Task Force's Chair John Bossange presented the final improvement plan to the City Council.  All the Councilors who spoke praised the plan and urged fast action. The total rehabilitation package will cost between $11M and $16M depending on the level of improvements.
The Task Force recommended the City consider the following funding approach:
  • $1M from private fundraising with the help from a Parks Foundation of Burlington
  • $3.6M from a 1% increase in Rooms & Meals tax for 3 years
  • $7M from Waterfront TIF funding and/or a General Obligation Bond
  • $4.5M from Federal & State grants
  • Finally, the Task Force recommended a 1/2 cent dedicated property tax (that would raise $180,000/yr to maintain Burlington's growing network of multi-use paths including the Burlington Bike Path
Councilors from all three parties applauded the Task Force's recommendations and called for these items to be put on the November 2012 ballot.

Burlington Bike Path Task Force Members and Staff at Council Meeting (L to R): Chapin Spencer (Local Motion), Zandy Wheeler (Skirack), Mari Steinbach (Burl. Parks & Rec), Jane Knodell (UVM), John Bossange (Task Force Chair) and Kurt Wright (Task Force Member, former City Councilor).
The improvement plan calls for an upgrade to the 25-year-old facility by:
  • Stabilizing ke lakeshore sections to guard against future erosion
  • Widening the path from 8' up to 11' where feasible
  • Adding unpaved shoulders for running/walking
  • Improving the safety of path/road intersections
  • Improving the connectivity to area neighborhoods and roads
  • Adding trailhead kiosks and directional signage
  • Adding learning stations / exhibits along the path

Monday, July 16, 2012

VPR Vermont Edition: On biking in Vermont

Listen to the whole podcast here

Bike Access In Vermont - VPR

Vrom VPR

AP/Elaine Thompson
Nancy Schulz, of the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, says the number one issue in Vermont for bikers is a need for improved infrastructure.
In Vermont, particularly this time of year, you see people on bikes everywhere, both commuting and riding for pleasure. A recent national survey ranked Vermont as the 18th state nationwide when it comes to bike friendliness. We talk bike access, and what the state and towns are doing to improve it, with Nancy Schulz, executive director of the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition.
And we want to hear from you! Let us know which roads and paths in the state are best - or worst - for biking. Post your questions and comments below, or write to

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Burlington road signs: cars and bikes must share the road



Burlington is considered a bike-friendly town, but things are not always smooth out there on the road. Now signs are popping up reminding drivers and bikers that both have a right to the road.
New signs going up across Burlington have drivers and bikers -- taking notice. Not just share the road, but bikes may use the full lane.

Steve Goodkind with the Dept. Public Works says, "The road is for all vehicles. Bikes are vehicles, cars are vehicles."

Goodkind is in charge of putting the signs up for the city. But having survived being hit by a car -- for him its also personal.

Goodkind points out, "It's a good healthy reminder to everybody."

Road signs referring to bicycles is not only to clarify the rights a cyclist has on the road, butalso to bring awareness to drivers.
According to Officer Mike Hedmond, the legal system with biking is fairly simple to follow. He says that cars need to be aware that there are all kinds of vehicles around. And that bicycles specifically are sharing the same driving space as a car.
Cyclist advocates say that both cars and biles should be held to a higher standard when sharing a lane.
Jason Van Driesche from Local Motion advised, "Be courteous and thoughtful about how we use the streets and see if we can make it work better for everybody."

VanDriesche says that sharing the road may be legal, but that doesn't excuse not being accountable for the same illegal actions a car can commit.

You see a pedestrian who's trying to cross and you pointedly ignore them and cut them off and practically run them over because ou want to make your turn. A car who does that should get a ticket, so should a bike.

So, the roads remain shared ...and so do the rules.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bike Racks Everywhere

From Local Motion

Bike racks are popping up all over Burlington!  The city Department of Public Works is constantly investing in new racks in the public right of way.  The Vermont Agency of Transportation has launched a new program to provide racks to communities racks at no charge.  And businesses are putting in racks themselves as part of their investment in their customers.
Among many other great examples, here’s a fantastic addition to the built-in rack at City Market:
Brent Demers and Pat Burns of City Market (shown above) designed and installed this rack system with help from Metalworks, a metal fabrication shop on Flynn Avenue.  It has several great features:
  • Extra-long racks for greater bike stability
  • Plenty of space between racks
  • Bollards (the vertical yellow plastic tubes) to prevent cars from backing into bikes
Kudos to City Market for giving up a car parking space to make more room for bike parking.  In exchange for one car space lost, they gained over a dozen new bike parking spaces!

Down on Pine Street, Lake Champlain Chocolates installed some great new racks as part of a parking lot reconfiguration:
These racks are deceptively simple, elegant, and straightforward.  They aren’t fancy, but it is clear that a lot of thought went into their placement and design.  A couple of important features to note:
  • The racks are inverted U style, which is one of the best options for an economical rack that works great for bikes
  • There is plenty of space between racks so bikes aren’t crowded
  • The racks are located right in front of the main entrance — great visibility and easy access!
  • There is plenty of space to wheel bikes in and out of the racks without running into a wall or other obstruction
Great job, Lake Champlain Chocolates!  Burlington needs a lot more racks just like yours.

Can Williston Road be saved?

From Local  Motion

You've got to give South Burlington officials credit. They have embarked on an ambitious demonstration project to see if a section of Williston Road can be made a safer and more pleasant place to walk, bike and drive.
It started June 28. As part of the State of Vemont’s Williston Road repaving project, they included a City-sponsored demonstration project to test a “Complete Streets” scenario between Hinesburg Road and Kennedy Drive. Williston Road was re-striped with reduced through lanes and a center two-way left tum lane.
Data is now being collected and traffic behaviors observed during the demonstration period and a decision will be made on its permanent design.  Your input is needed! More people have complained to date than have complimented the City.  Send your comments to CCRPC staffer Eleni Churchill and SB DPW Director Justin Rabidoux.
This is the first ever “Complete Streets” project in South Burlington, and is being funded in part by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission.  Read press release here.
If this demonstration is successful, it will give us all an opportunity to look at a more permanent and more comprehensive 'complete street' implementation on Williston Road.  Either way, Local Motion salutes the City of South Burlington for working to make their busy roadways more friendly for all modes.
complete-streets-logoWhat is Complete Streets? The Complete Streets concept is one that designs streets to enable safe access for all users. In the case of Williston Road, the City is hoping to reduce weaving traffic and overall vehicular speeds while creating adequate space for bicycles and a better environment for pedestrians. This section of Williston Road is among the City’s busiest streets, seeing an average of 20,000 vehicles per day. The Complete Streets concept was authorized for Williston Road by a vote ofthe City Council in earìy 2012.
Got ideas? Questions and comments can be directed to the Department of Public Works at 802-658-7961.