Thursday, February 28, 2013

Support 3-Foot Passing Bill; Oppose Bike Registration

From Local Motion
VT Statehouse painting
Would you like state law to require motorists to give at least 3' of clearance when passing a person walking or bicycling?  If so, contact your State Representativeand ask them to support H.209. 
Representative Jim McCullough of Williston has submitted H.209.  A similar Senate bill will be introduced soon by Senator Philip Baruth.  Thanks Jim & Phil!
This proposed bill would stengthen the 'Safe Passing Bill' passed three years ago by requiring motorists to allow at least 3 feet of clearance when passing “vulnerable users” (walkers, bikers, equestrians, etc.).  It also adds an additional foot of clearance for every 10 mph of vehicle speed over 30mph. 
Let your legislators know that you support H.209.  Find your legislators here.
It will also define vulnerable user rights-of-way for 14 situations in motor vehicle law for such actions as going through intersections where motorists turning right or left sometimes cut you off.
Contact Local Motion supporter Bruce Cunningham at 802-482-2933 for more info.  He's been pushing for this bill as a volunteer for 3 years.  Thanks Bruce!
Thanks also to the VT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition for successfully advocating for the original Safe Passing Bill.

30 reasons to pick up biking

From BikeRadar

Whether it's to boost your fitness, health or bank balance, or as an environmental choice, taking up cycling could be one of the best decisions you ever make. Not convinced? Here are 30 major benefits of taking to two wheels.
1. You’ll get there faster
Commute by bike in the UK’s major cities and you’ll get there in half the time of cars, research by Citroen shows. In fact, if you drive for an hour in Cardiff’s rush hour, you’ll spend over 30 minutes going absolutely nowhere and average just 7mph, compared to averaging around 12-15mph while cycling.
2. Sleep more deeply
An early morning ride might knacker you out in the short term, but it’ll help you catch some quality shut-eye when you get back to your pillow. Stanford University School of Medicine researchers asked sedentary insomnia sufferers to cycle for 20-30 minutes every other day. The result? The time required for the insomniacs to fall asleep was reduced by half, and sleep time increased by almost an hour.
“Exercising outside exposes you to daylight,” explains Professor Jim Horne from Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre. “This helps get your circadian rhythm back in sync, and also rids your body of cortisol, the stress hormone that can prevent deep, regenerative sleep.”
3. Look younger
Scientists at Stanford University have found that cycling regularly can protect your skin against the harmful effects of UV radiation and reduce the signs of ageing. Harley Street dermatologist Dr Christopher Rowland Payne explains: “Increased circulation through exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to skin cells more effectively, while flushing harmful toxins out. Exercise also creates an ideal environment within the body to optimise collagen production, helping reduce the appearance of wrinkles and speed up the healing process.” Don’t forget to slap on the factor 30 before you head out, though.
4. Boost your bowels
According to experts from Bristol University, the benefits of cycling extend deep into your core. “Physical activity helps decrease the time it takes food to move through the large intestine, limiting the amount of water absorbed back into your body and leaving you with softer stools, which are easier to pass,” explains Harley Street gastroenterologist Dr Ana Raimundo.
In addition, aerobic exercise accelerates your breathing and heart rate, which helps to stimulate the contraction of intestinal muscles. “As well as preventing you from feeling bloated, this helps protect you against bowel cancer,” Dr Raimundo says.
5. Increase your brain power
Need your grey matter to sparkle? Then get pedalling. Researchers from Illinois University found that a five percent improvement in cardio-respiratory fitness from cycling led to an improvement of up to 15 percent in mental tests. That’s because cycling helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus – the region responsible for memory, which deteriorates from the age of 30.
“It boosts blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which fires and regenerates receptors, explaining how exercise helps ward off Alzheimer’s,” says the study’s author, Professor Arthur Kramer.
6. Beat illness
Forget apples, riding’s the way to keep the doctor at bay. “Moderate exercise makes immune cells more active, so they’re ready to fight off infection,” says Cath Collins, chief dietician at St George’s Hospital in London.
In fact, according to research from the University of North Carolina, people who cycle for 30 minutes, five days a week take about half as many sick days as couch potatoes.
Riding’s the way to keep the doctor at bay:
Riding’s the way to keep the doctor at bay
7. Live longer
King’s College London compared over 2,400 identical twins and found those who did the equivalent of just three 45-minute rides a week were nine years ‘biologically younger’ even after discounting other influences, such as body mass index (BMI) and smoking.
“Those who exercise regularly are at significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, all types of cancer, high blood pressure and obesity,” says Dr Lynn Cherkas, who conducted the research. “The body becomes much more efficient at defending itself and regenerating new cells.”
8. Save the planet
Twenty bicycles can be parked in the same space as one car. It takes around five percent of the materials and energy used to make a car to build a bike, and a bike produces zero pollution.
Bikes are efficient, too – you travel around three times as fast as walking for the same amount of energy and, taking into account the ‘fuel’ you put in your ‘engine’, you do the equivalent of 2,924 miles to the gallon. You have your weight ratio to thank: you’re about six times heavier than your bike, but a car is 20 times heavier than you.
9. Improve your sex life
Being more physically active improves your vascular health, which has the knock-on effect of boosting your sex drive, according to health experts in the US. One study from Cornell University also concluded that male athletes have the sexual prowess of men two to five years younger, with physically fit females delaying the menopause by a similar amount of time.
Meanwhile, research carried out at Harvard University found that men aged over 50 who cycle for at least three hours a week have a 30 percent lower risk of impotence than those who do little exercise.
10. It’s good breeding
A ‘bun in the oven’ could benefit from your riding as much as you. According to research from Michigan University in the US, mums-to-be who regularly exercise during pregnancy have an easier, less complicated labour, recover faster and enjoy better overall mood throughout the nine months. Your pride and joy also has a 50 percent lower chance of becoming obese and enjoys better in-utero neurodevelopment.
“There’s no doubt that moderate exercise such as cycling during pregnancy helps condition the mother and protect the foetus,” says Patrick O’Brien, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
A ‘bun in the oven’ could benefit from your riding as much as you:
A ‘bun in the oven’ could benefit from your riding as much as you

In Many Families, Exercise Is By Appointment Only

From NPR

Most families know that their kids need to exercise. In a poll that NPR recently conducted with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, practically all of the parents surveyed said it's important for their kids to exercise. But about one-third of them said that can be difficult.
Take Yvonne Condes of Los Angeles: It falls on her, like many parents across the country, to make sure her kids get enough exercise every day. Federal health officials recommend at least one hour of daily exercise for children and teens. But many public schools have reduced or completely cut physical education classes because of budget constraints.
On a typical day, Condes picks up her two boys — Alec, 9, and Henry, 7 — from school then begins her daily trek to sports practices. Alec plays baseball and Henry plays basketball.
And, because Condes lives in Los Angeles where traffic is a huge problem, shuttling her kids back and forth can take five minutes or 25. Some days Condes spends 45 minutes just to go a mile.
Condes is a runner and recognizes the importance of daily exercise. She and her boys walk to school two days a week, but she knows that's not nearly enough physical activity.
As for just going outside to play in the neighborhood, well, that's not really an option, she says. Like many parents in our poll, Condes says it's just not safe.
"My younger son just started to ride his bike a lot. He doesn't have a huge area to ride in because we live between two major streets," she says.
Yvonne Condes helps her son Alec get ready for baseball practice.
David Gilkey/NPR
It's not just traffic that concerns Condes. "There's a homeless guy lives down the street, and sometimes he'll start yelling, he walks into the busy street yelling at cars," she says. She doesn't want him to scare her son or cause any other problems for him.
And that's why, most days of the week, Condes finds herself in the car driving her boys to "club" sports. All the driving can be frustrating, she says, in large part because "there's so much time where we're not actually doing anything, just traveling from one place to the other."
Condes is a freelance writer and co-founder of the blog "I work when the kids are at school. Sometimes I can get work done when they come home, but if we're not home till 5 or 6, then I'll be up till 11 p.m. trying to catch up." But, she says, "it's all for the kids."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Drivers Cover Just 51 Percent of U.S. Road Spending

With a fair amount of (heated) discussion kicking up from the article about McAllister's proposal for Vermont cyclists to pay a $20 fee to be biking on VT roads and if it should be law for riders to register their bikes here is a great article from the Streetsblog DC that puts things in perspective. Roads in the US are only funded 51% by gas tax, tolls and user fees. The rest is paid by everybody, car owner or not. 

There’s a persistent misconception in American culture that transit is a big drain on public coffers while roads conveniently and totally pay for themselves through the magic of gas taxes. And that used to be true — at least for interstate highways, a fraction of the total road network.
Drivers directly pay for just 50.7 percent of the cost of the American road system. Image: Wikipedia
But that was many, many failed attempts to raise the gas tax ago. A new report from the Tax Foundation shows 50.7 percent of America’s road spending comes from gas taxes, tolls, and other fees levied on drivers. The other 49.3 percent? Well, that comes from general tax dollars, just like education and health care. The way we spend on roads has nothing to do with the free market, or even how much people use roads.
“Nationwide in 2010, state and local governments raised $37 billion in motor fuel taxes and $12 billion in tolls and non-fuel taxes, but spent $155 billion on highways,” writes the Tax Foundation’s Joseph Henchman. Another $28 billion of that $155 billion comes from revenue from the federal gas tax.
Meanwhile, transit fares cover 21 percent of costs nationwide, indicating that the difference in subsidies for roads and transit is not as great as it’s often made out to be. (Though in absolute terms, there is a big difference: The total subsidy for roads dwarfs the total subsidy for transit.)
Even more interesting is to compare roads to Amtrak, a favorite target of self-styled fiscal conservatives in Congress. Amtrak recovers about 85 percent of its operating costs from tickets — a relative bargain compared to other modes. Even accounting for capital costs, Amtrak — which operates mostly on privately owned tracks — covers 69 percent of its total costs through ticket prices and other fees to users.
The Tax Foundation also analyzed transportation spending in every state to determine which states subsidize their road systems the most through general taxes. Drivers in Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, and New York cover the highest share of road spending compared to drivers in other states. Drivers in Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota, and Vermont cover the lowest share.
Correction: An earlier version of this story, using Tax Foundation calculations that don’t factor in the federal gas tax, understated the share of road spending covered by drivers. Also, updated 1/24/13 to reflect total Amtrak costs.
Angie Schmitt is a newspaper reporter-turned planner/advocate who manages the Streetsblog Network from glamorous Cleveland, Ohio. She also writes about urban issues particular to the industrial Midwest at

Burlington welcomes a new bicycle company to town

From Burlington Free Press
Chapin Spencer of Local Motion, Mayor Miro Weinberger and Paul Budnitz of Budnitz Bicycles.

Mayor Miro Weinberger took a quick spin Tuesday on a Budnitz bicycle to familiarize himself with his wheels before riding to the company’s new headquarters on Maple Avenue from City Hall in celebration of “Budnitz Bicycles and the Modern Mobility Movement Day.”
Weinberger proclaimed Tuesday as Budnitz Bicycles Day in honor of the company that moved to Burlington on Feb. 1 from Boulder, Colo. Founder Paul Budnitz began building the high-end, belt-driven, titanium bikes when he couldn’t find a city bike that he liked. There are four models of the Budnitz bike, available in steel or titanium, with a single speed or an internal 11-speed hub.
Walking back to City Hall on Church Street, Weinberger gave his verdict of the bike before the ride: “Incredibly light, everything very crisp, an exciting bike.”
With that, Weinberger headed for Maple Avenue along with Paul Budnitz, Liz Robert, owner of Terry Precision Cycling — also headquartered on Maple Avenue — Chapin Spencer, executive director of Local Motion, and more than a dozen local supporters of cycling.
Before the ride, Nathan Wildfire, assistant director for economic development in the city’s Community and Economic Development Office, read parts of the Budnitz Day proclamation out loud, saying that bicycling and walking support some 1,400 jobs in the Burlington area and add $87.2 million annually in economic activity to the region.
Contact Dan D’Ambrosio at 660-1841 or ddambrosio@burlington

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Should Vermonters have to register bicycles?

"I think they've had a free-ride for quite a while and it's time that they need to be part of this," said Sen. Norm McAllister, R-Franklin County.
McAllister represents residents from the Northwest corner of the Green Mountain State. He's proposing a $20 state registration-- similar to a license plate-- for those 18 and older who want to ride bicycles on Vermont roads. He says millions have been poured into widening roads and creating paths for bikers. McAllister says tags would lead riders to adhere to the rules of the road, and help track down stolen bikes. He also sees an opportunity to cash in on Canadian tourists headed south under pedal power.
"It's not a nonstarter, there are many in my camp who would write it off immediately. I have some concerns about, having said that, there are many ways we want to get pedestrians and bicyclists paying their share," said Chapin Spencer of Local Motion.
Spencer points out that all residents pay property taxes which in turn fund local roads. He says informal funding drives successfully fueled repairs to the bike path linking Burlington to the Lake Champlain Islands.
"One of the challenges that this bill over registration of bicycles faces is that the cost to administer the program may likely be larger than the revenue it would take in," Spencer said.
"I kind of heard that, too," McAllister said.
McAllister says he knows his proposal is a work in progress and concedes there's little chance serious discussion gets rolling this year. But he wants to start the debate, in an effort to avoid spinning his wheels down the road.
Senators got a first look at the proposal Tuesday. The measure is currently on the desk of the Transportation Committee.
Watch the VIDEO HERE

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Guyette Explains and Promotes New Downtown Montpelier District

by Nat Frothingham
As president of the board of directors of Montpelier Alive, Greg Guyette champions downtown Montpelier. In this question-and-answer exchange with The Bridge, Guyette explains what a Downtown Improvement District (DID) is and how such a district, if it wins approval on March 5, would work and would be funded.
On Town Meeting Day, Tuesday, March 5, Montpelier citizens will vote on Article 15—a proposal to establish and fund a DID.

What is a Downtown Improvement District? I know such districts are in place in other Vermont communities. How do such districts work in practice?
A Downtown Improvement District is a geographical area within which additional tax dollars are raised and spent for the benefit of the properties and businesses located within that area. In Montpelier, the proposed district has the same boundaries as the existing Designated Downtown. Each of the existing improvement districts in Vermont operates differently, based on local agreements or ordinances. In Montpelier, the DID funds will be collected along with municipal property taxes from commercial property owners and from the state of Vermont through increased PILOT payments.

What’s the benefit that you see from a Downtown Improvement District in Montpelier?
Montpelier has never had a dedicated budget for enhancing our streetscape and strengthening our business climate. The DID budget will fund highly visible improvements to the downtown landscape and promote Montpelier regionally as a special destination to live, work, shop and vacation. The promotions will promise a special experience in Montpelier, and the improved streetscape, in addition to our collection of distinctive shops, restaurants, hotels and inns, will help us fulfill that promise.

How is such a district formed? In other words is it a vote of City Council followed by approval of city voters? Is that what gets a district going?
Yes, that is essentially the process. City Council has given their approval for the Downtown Improvement District to appear on the March ballot based on its merits and on support from stakeholders within the district. On Town Meeting Day, the voters in Montpelier will be given the opportunity to vote on the DID [Article 12]. We feel confident the measure will receive broad

What sort of money will a district in Montpelier raise and how will that money be spent and who will watch over the finances to make sure they are wisely spent?
The district will raise $75,000. The budget will be drafted by the DID committee and will be presented to Montpelier Alive and the City Council for approval. Important to note: the committee will be comprised of property owners, retail shopkeepers, restaurateurs and representatives from the lodging community, the arts community, and from the state of Vermont. These folks are vested stakeholders and know best how to make strategic spending decisions that will benefit the downtown.

Am I right in thinking that the voters at city meeting will vote on whether to form a district and to appropriate money for it but that only ground-floor commercial properties in the district will pay for it? If this is the case, is it fair for voters who will pay nothing to vote an added tax burden on ground-floor commercial properties who will be obligated to pay for the added money?
We have been asked this question in many forums and the simple answer is that this is the mechanism that the state of Vermont legislature established, and it is a framework we must work within. The assessment is on commercial real estate, exclusive of all residential properties. In terms of “the many” voting to tax “the few,” we asked the stakeholders to weigh-in on the DID and by a nearly 3 to 1 margin, they support this investment. We asked property owners and merchants, and the response we received is that this investment is necessary to maintain a competitive downtown. I think that is the key; this is an investment that we fully expect to pay dividends back to the funders. Montpelier Alive pursued this measure as a means to support a vibrant downtown and a dynamic business community, and that point should not be lost in the conversation.

We haven’t had such an improvement district in Montpelier in previous years, and yet somehow we got the planters, we got the waste receptacles, we got the banners. What changed? Why do we now need to raise additional money?
That is a great question. Yes, for years we have walked the streets, hat in hand, asking for donations for special projects or funding them through small Montpelier Alive operating budgets. However, the Montpelier Alive budget is stretched between festivals and events, streetscapes, special projects and myriad other downtown financial demands. We have not printed banners in years; they are expensive. We are limited in our ability to place holiday lights; they, too, are expensive. After many years of replacing the old plastic trash barrels with the nice steel waste and recycling containers, we are only a fraction of the way through that replacement process. This tool, the DID, provides a dedicated and predictable funding stream with which we can make an immediate impact and step up our downtown investment. Unlike many items taxpayers fund, the DID will present immediate and noticeable results that we will all enjoy and benefit from.

Do you see an appropriation for a Downtown Improvement District as a one-time event, or will this appropriation be put before the voters year after year and become another added tax on the business community?
This tax could be put before the voters year after year as it is in some communities, and it is supported year after year in those communities. However, we would likely seek council approval for a charter change, providing long-term predictability for the DID committee. It is very important to understand that buy-in from the business community is essential to our efforts. We will be talking with them; we will be asking for their ongoing input, and if they see increased foot traffic, increased sales and a more vibrant downtown, we are confident that they will support the ongoing nature of the DID.

What is the most compelling reason in your mind why a Downtown Improvement District should be approved?
We live in an ultracompetitive marketplace. The online threat to brick-and-mortar business grows every year. To survive, to thrive, we need to grow our market share, and that means new bodies, new feet on the street. We have a Super Walmart coming to Berlin. We have a neighbor six miles to the south that has invested heavily in their downtown: Waterbury has just completed a fantastic rebranding of their downtown, and they are poised for growth. This is not the time to be complacent; this is the time to invest intelligently to reinforce our position as a hub for regional business, and that is what we are doing.

Are you confident that spending money to advertise downtown Montpelier in out-of-state publications is a good idea? It can be argued that you can spend a lot of money on such publications with very little results, certainly very little measurable results. How will you measure the results of such out-of-state advertising for downtown Montpelier?
Again, spending decisions will be made by the committee. If the business owners on the committee do not feel that there is substantial opportunity to draw visitors from Montreal, Boston or Hartford, they will not invest there. I believe in the power of promotion when it is supported with substance. The DID will likely provide both.

Why institute a Downtown Improvement District? Why not just raise the needed money by canvassing City Council, the downtown merchants and others, including Montpelier residents, who may be willing to support downtown development efforts? Why restrict the fundraising to downtown commercial properties? Why not have a more general public campaign for support? After all, a strong downtown benefits everyone in the city, not just people who have a commercial interest.
We have worn out our shoe soles for nearly 20 years canvassing downtown for money. And at the end of the day, the same loyal group of business owners steps up to support us. But, we can only ask so many times over the course of the year. The DID spreads the cost of improvement and promotion over the entire district, so that all beneficiaries will contribute, including the state of Vermont. The state will contribute roughly 40 percent of the DID budget. It was very important to us in the planning stages that this investment not be overly onerous on the individual shopkeepers. In the models we ran, we determined that the cost for a typical downtown store, if the landlord passes the cost along, will be in the $10 to $20 per month range. And, again, this added expense will be invested, and it will deliver returns. We could have asked the city for an allocation from the General Fund, which would have effectively taxed the whole city. However, the downtown stakeholders have an opportunity to increase revenues and profits from this investment, and they have indicated that they support this measure, so we did not feel that the citywide tax approach was the right strategic decision.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Should Vt. seniors face stricter driver's license renewal rules?

It's driver's ed all over again for a group of 16 seniors at the Jericho Library. The group is taking a four-hour AARP class to sharpen their defensive driving. For some who first got behind the wheel before four-lane roads or a 65 mph speed limit, the refresher class provides some important pointers.
"We cover the new experiences with vehicles, the new equipment-- ABS brakes, driving on the interstate, seat belts, air bags," said Douglas Masson, the volunteer instructor.
While some of these drivers will continue to drive into their 80s, others will face the difficult choice of when to hang up the car keys for good.
"You'd prefer to make the decision yourself and see it yourself, but if you don't, then you should pay attention to the people who are close to you and if they are seeing that you're not doing very well then it's a heads up," said Marilyn MacKenzie, 75.
Vermont lawmakers will soon be grappling with a bill that transfers some of those difficult decisions away from individuals and families, and into the hands of the DMV. The measure would require a vision test for license renewals at age 75 and a road test for those turning 80.
"We have no mechanism for our reviewing drivers of a certain age. This bill is to get that conversation going," said Rep. Alison Clarkson, D-Woodstock. "This bill is to say that we know that the accident rates are substantial with our older drivers and our younger drivers. We address the younger drivers. We don't address the older drivers and it's time we had that conversation."
Vermont's license renewal schedule-- every four years-- is among the shortest in the country. But unlike more than two dozen other states, there are no additional requirements for older drivers, like a vision test or a road test.
AARP has come out strongly against the proposal.
"Well, you know if you have a bill that just looks at a specific person's age and asks them to go to the DMV for an eye test, you're not solving the problem here. The real problem here is we all want to get bad drivers off the road, whether they're 18 or 36 or 76 years old and this bill, all be it good intentions, is simply not going to accomplish that," said Greg Marchildon, the director of the Vt. AARP.
Back at the refresher class, Marilyn MacKenzie says as difficult as it is, she supports the legislative effort, even if it means losing some of her driving independence.
"When that time comes that I can't drive, I'll have to make some other decisions," she said. "It's just the way life is."
Like Vermont, New Hampshire and New York also have no driving license renewal requirements for seniors. In New York, renewals are every eight years.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cyclists say their rights are going unrecognized

From the Boston Globe
Wellesley police spent months investigating a fatal truck-bike crash. A grand jury declined to indict the truck driver.

It’s a common refrain among local ­cyclists: Want to kill someone and get away with it? Run them over while they’re on a bicycle.
Within Boston’s growing cycling community, a perceived lack of criminal prosecution of motorists involved in fatal bike crashes has been a regular source of outrage in recent years. That ire came to a ­fever pitch last week, when a grand jury investigation of a Wellesley bike crash with seemingly copious evidence — video footage, witnesses defending the deceased bicyclist, a truck driver who had fled the scene and had an extensive history of driving infractions — came back with no charges.
The grand jury’s decision, bicyclists contend, is evidence of a wider problem: Most people do not respect the rights of bike riders.
“The message that we got from this particular case,” said David Watson, executive director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, “is that, clearly, members of the general public still don’t care enough about bicyclists’ safety.”
Historically, prosecutors have been seen as reluctant to seek charges in crashes ­between bikes and cars. Civil cases have long been the realm of justice for families. But ­cyclists say they want better, and they had hoped to get it in the case against truck driver Dana E.A. McCoomb, accused of striking and killing cyclist ­Alexander Motsenigos, 41, on Weston Road in Wellesley.
‘It’s really an example of how people have it in their heads that bikers are reckless. ’
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Police and prosecutors were seeking to charge McCoomb with vehicular homicide, as well as unsafe overtaking of a bicyclist.
The accident was particularly grisly. Video footage, captured by a traffic camera, showed McCoomb’s truck attempt­ing to overtake Motsenigos, striking him from the side, and driving off without stopping. A woman who was one of several witnesses, defended the cyclist at the scene, shouting: “It wasn’t his fault! He didn’t do anything wrong! He was just coming down the hill, and the truck hit him! The truck was going way too fast!”
An accident reconstruction confirmed police officers’ belief that charges against the driver were in order.
McCoomb’s lawyer, Scott Tucker, could not be reached Thursday. After no charges were returned against his client, he declined to comment on the grand jury’s decision, stating only that he was happy that McCoomb was not indicted on criminal charges.
Hearing that the driver would not be charged criminally shocked and angered members of the cycling community, many of whom were still reeling with sadness and anger at other recent bicycle fatalities, including the death of 23-year-old Boston University student Christopher Weigl, killed in ­December on Commonwealth Avenue in Allston. Suffolk prosecutors are awaiting a final report from the Boston police collision reconstruction team before they decide if charges will be filed in that case.
Josh Zisson, a lawyer specializing in bicycle-related cases, said many cyclists view ­juries in criminal cases as a litmus test of how they are ­embraced and protected by the communities in which they live. Stereotypes about careless or foolhardy bicyclists, he said, leak into the criminal process.
“It’s really an example of how people have it in their heads that bikers are reckless to ride in the street,” Zisson said.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day, Vermont!

Have a happy Valentine's Day, Vermont! Ride, Walk, be safe! 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Highspeed Trains through Montpelier?

A suggested highspeed rail map for the whole United States, with stop in Montpelier!? What would you think of that? The option of being able to go to Boston or Montreal in almost no time, connecting highspeed trains to Florida, even the Westcoast? Sounds pretty awesome, pretty European, if you ask. 6 hours to Chicago at 220mph..... think of the possibilities.
 From California Highspeed Rail Authority
New map: US High Speed Rail System. This map is inspired by ideas from various agencies and advocacy groups including Amtrak, The Transport Politic, Wikimedia Commons, Florida High Speed Rail, SkyscraperPage Forums, Southern High Speed Rail, Southeast High Speed Rail, Ohio Department of Transportation, California High Speed Rail Authority, Midwest High Speed Rail Association, US DOT Federal Railroad Administration, Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corp
Get PDFs and posters at

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Achieving a Visioin: Strategies for Creating a Culture of Safety for Bicycling


Presentation at CNU20:

In the video presentation above, I explain the root cause of the beliefs that inhibit bicycling in America, why the prevailing strategy can’t fix it, and offer a strategy that can. In addition to teaching people to be successful anywhere, this strategy includes many progressive infrastructure ideas that are cost-effective, versatile, expandable and supportive of successful bicyclists.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Real Reason Why Bicycles are the Key to Better Cities

Here is a great article from the Sustainable Cities Collective on bicycles as a key to better, livable cities. With the perspective of some changes coming to the downtown area of the city of Montpelier this year with hopes for a more vibrant (and less car-centric) downtown this articles points out why bike lanes are not just a great and safe way for people to get from point A to point B (oftentimes quicker than in a car) but also how they benefit local businesses economically. (According to the VT Bike / Pedestrian Summit last fall there are plans to change some downtown streetscapes / designs, connect the two pieces of bike path (east-west) from the Coop to the Highschool by installing a bridge behind Shaw's, and hopefully some re-paving for State St. that will include bike lanes. But more updates on that as they become available).

Here is a great example for any street corner in downtown Montpelier, that is mainly used by pedestrians, however car parking seems still very dominant and - in this case - unsafe (diagonally, instead of parallel.) There is plenty of on-street parking available within one or two blocks, and this area (and its local businesses) would very much benefit from less parking, and a bike lane next to the sidewalk. That would quiet down the side walk area and allow for more outdoor seating for example. 
Read the article from SustainableCitiesCollective below.

We all know the talking points. The benefits of bicycles have been tirelessly elaborated upon; bicycles improve health, ease congestion, save money, use less space, and provide efficient transportation with zero fuel consumption and zero carbon emissions. The culmination of a population on two wheels can have a drastic impact on the overall wellbeing of a city. However, none of these come close to the most meaningful aspect of cycling, a factor that cannot be quantified but has endless value to those fighting to improve their communities.
The most vital element for the future of our cities is that the bicycle is an instrument of experiential understanding.
On a bicycle, citizens experience their city with deep intimacy, often for the first time. For a regular motorist to take that two or three mile trip by bicycle instead is to decimate an enormous wall between them and their communities.
In a car, the world is reduced to mere equation; “What is the fastest route from A to B?” one will ask as they start their engine. This invariably leads to a cascade of freeway concrete flying by at incomprehensible speeds. Their environment, the neighborhoods that compose their communities, the beauty of architecture, the immense societal problems in distressed areas, the faces of neighbors… all of this becomes a conceptually abstract blur from the driver’s seat.
Yes, the bicycle is a stunningly efficient machine of transportation, but in the city it is so much more. The bicycle is new vision for the blind man. It is a thrilling tool of communication, an experiential device for the beauty and the ills of the urban context. One cannot turn a blind eye on a bicycle - they must acknowledge their community, all of it.
Here lies the secret weapon of the urban renaissance.
You see, those of us fighting for our cities, we struggle because too few see the problems, and fewer understand the solutions. They are quite literally racing past the issue, too busy to see, too fast to comprehend.
I cannot approach the average citizen and explain the innate intricacies of land use and transportation relationships, how density is vital to urban sustainability, how our sprawled real estate developments are built on economic quicksand, how our freeways shredded the urban fabric like a rusty dagger, how deeply our lives would be enriched by a collective commitment to urbanism.
Aside from glazed eyes, I will be met with outrage. No one wants to be told that they must radically alter their lifestyle, no matter how well you sell it.
The bicycle doesn’t need to be sold. It’s economical, it’s fun, it’s sexy, and just about everyone already has one hiding somewhere in their garage.
Invite a motorist for a bike ride through your city and you’ll be cycling with an urbanist by the end of the day. Even the most eloquent of lectures about livable cities and sustainable design can’t compete with the experience from atop a bicycle saddle.
“These cars are going way too fast,” they may mutter beneath their breath.
“How are we supposed to get across the highway?”
“Wow, look at that cathedral! I didn’t know that was there.”
“I didn’t realize there were so many vacant lots in this part of town.”
“Hey, let’s stop at this cafe for a drink.”
Suddenly livability isn’t an abstract concept, it’s an experience. Human scale, connectivity, land use efficiency, urban fabric, complete streets… all the codewords, catchphrases, and academic jargon can be tossed out the window because now they are one synthesized moment of appreciation. Bicycles matter because they are a catalyst of understanding - become hooked on the thrill of cycling, and everything else follows. Now a new freeway isn’t a convenience but an impediment. Mixed-use development isn’t a threat to privacy but an opportunity for community. And maybe, just maybe, car-free living will eventually be seen not as restrictive, but as a door to newfound freedom.
The real reason why bicycles are the key to better cities?
Some might call it enlightenment.
Editor’s note:  a version of this piece was originally posted on
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Next American City Next American City is a national quarterly magazine about making cities better. We observe, document and conceive realistic solutions about how to improve cities—how to ensure that future generations’ lives are improved, and not made more dangerous or unnecessarily complicated by the decisions we make. In each issue of the magazine ...