Thursday, November 8, 2012

Montpelier Bike Summit a great success! Optimistic news on Montpelier Bike Path

Last nights Bicycle Summit in Montpelier, VT turned out to be a great success. Over 60 people followed the invitation of Mayor John Hollar, at the Bike/Ped Forum two weeks ago. Visitors ranged from local commuters, recreational riders, a newspaper reporter for the Bridge to City officials, Police officers and bicycle advocates. The discussion was split up into three main groups, one discussing the situation of local Mountain bike/multi-use trails and single track in the Montpelier area, the second one touched on the topic of a potential annual bicycle festival for downtown Montpelier and the third (and biggest) group talked about safety on Montpelier's roadways, and the (non-)existing bicycle infrastructure. Although these three topics go hand in hand, and a local bicycle festival for example would help showing off the local multi-use trails or an existing bike lane infrastructure, the three groups individually came up with suggestions and ideas for further steps and actions.
The third group (on bike safety and infrastructure) came up with the idea to create a Bike Master Plan for the city of Montpelier, to eventually help make Montpelier a (Bronze medalist) bicycle-friendly city, a reward given out by the League of American Bicyclists. As further action steps this would include a list of the most dangerous spots for cyclists in the Montpelier, as well as necessary precautions, such as a painted bike lane, Sharrows, new road surfaces, improved removal of debris or snow etc. A number of participants suggested  an improved North-South bike axis for cyclists through the city. This list of 'requests' could be sent to the city's department responsible for paving, lane painting and could ideally (if budget allows) be incorporated in upcoming construction work. Furthermore, the participants discussed a potential website where to road hazards for cyclists, pedestrians etc. could be reported to (such as severe potholes, missing or dangerous signage, debris, etc.)
On another note, according to Mayor John Hollar there is news on the developments on the 'gap' in the Montpelier bike path. The City is planning and working on connecting the two pieces of the path by installing a separate bike/ped bridge over the river behind Shaw's. Also, the city is planning on purchasing the open lot on the other side, and once these negotiations are concluded the continuation of the bike path over to Taylor Street is just a matter of time. For the eastern end of the bike path (by Hunger Mountain Coop) construction is planned to begin in teh spring of 2013 and connect the path to Berlin!
Intersection Main and State, not (yet) very bicycle-friendly
The public works department of Montpelier collected all attendees email addresses to form a listserv / google group for further coordination of action and  potential future meetings. Over all a very pormising meeting showing off lots of potential for the (bike) future in Montpelier, Vermont.

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