Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pearl Street Improvements in Burlington

From anniebikes
Thanks for this great contribution!
I do not feel safe in this scenario.
This is Pearl Street. It's a heavily used corridor, connecting Winooski and Burlington, that ebbs by the hospital, the University, flows downhill past old houses, by the top of a pedestrian mall, and 1.5 miles later, ends at venerable Battery Park for grand Lake Champlain views.

From it's illustrious roots as a dirt road, where wealthy Burlingtonians built homes, then an Italian neighborhood, razed in the 1960s for urban renewal—the border of which is the section of Pearl Street in the above photo—the renaissance of this street changes with the times. It is changing once again.

Because it's a thoroughfare, used by tourists, students, and residents, cyclists often use it—myself included—to get to the lakefront. Two years ago, federal transportation money supported a section of reconstruction. City planners reached out to the public, asking for design assistance that would serve all users. Three proposals came forward, one of which supported bike lanes. Cycling advocates spread the word on this particular plan, and many of us weighed in on our decision. I was thrilled that I could pedal with my children on the street. Plan 3, with bike lanes was adopted.

Crosswalk at head of Church Street pedestrian mall. Notice cyclist on sidewalk.
Fast forward to today. Most of the work is complete. Power lines are below ground. Pretty street lights are in place. Bump outs, with parallel parking replaced angled parking. There are safer pedestrian crosswalks, with traffic lights and posts clearly defining their space. Lane markings are yet to be striped.

I often ride the sidewalk if I'm going to the post office (building on right).
But therein lies the problem. If one inspects my first photo, there was never enough room to accommodate a safe bike lane.

I studied the published schematic. Three feet of space is allotted for cyclists. That's smack in the door zone.

Yellow is bump out for pedestrian crossing. Notice narrow 3-foot margin for cyclists
Realistically, to begin with, there was never enough room for parking, driving lanes, plus adequate width for safe cycling. Originally designed as carriage roads, then widened for automobiles, all New England roads are narrow. There is a lesson here. As cyclists advocate for more road space, we should get the facts to better champion our presence.

All this makes me wonder why the lanes have not been striped. Did cyclists speak up? There's been a flurry of e-mails regarding this situation. Some have said it's far better to add sharrows than stripe a 3-foot cycling lane. If lines are painted as planned, they say, it could lead a novice rider down a potentially dangerous path. I tend to agree.

Hopefully, we can learn from this experience. I, for one, will be reading plans more closely.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Be One of 44 "Testers" Who Roll Bikes on Amtrak!

From the VBPC
 In mid-July, Amtrak is inviting 44 bicyclists to roll their bikes on and travel at no charge northbound on Amtrak's Vermonter.  The train will be the normally scheduled Vermonter but it will be equipped with one car that has rack space for four bicycles.  Each bicyclist will sign up to board the train at a particular stop and will get off the train at the next stop.  Because there are a total of 11 possible boarding stops (including two in MA and one in NH)), a maximum of 44 bicyclists can be accommodated on this test run.

Having Amtrak once again allow bicycles to be rolled onto trains in Vermont has been a long-time advocacy goal of many in the bike/ped community.  This is a special and historic opportunity to personally participate in this test run, a demonstration project that may result in the change we have been seeking.

Please read the details below closely so you understand what's involved in the test.  Please don't sign up if the guidelines don't work for you.  To demonstrate that the bike/ped community in Vermont truly wants to see this change implemented, it would be great to have the enthusiastic participation of 44 individuals.

Here are the options:

Four bicyclists may get on at Springfield, MA and get off at Amherst, MA
Four bicyclists may get on at Amherst, MA and get off at Brattleboro, VT
Four bicyclists may get on at Brattleboro, VT and get off at Bellows Falls, VT
Four bicyclists may get on at Bellows Falls, VT and get off at Claremont, NH
Four bicyclists may get on at Claremont, NH and get off at Windsor, VT
Four bicyclists may get on at Windsor, VT and get off at White River Junction, VT
Four bicyclists may get on at White River Junction and get off at Randolph, VT
Four bicyclists may get on at Randolph, VT and get off at Montpelier, VT
Four bicyclists may get on at Montpelier, VT and get off at Waterbury, VT
Four bicyclists may get on at Waterbury and get off at Essex Junction, VT
Four bicyclists may get on at Essex Junction and get off at St. Albans, VT

The ride is free but Amtrak can't provide transportation back to your starting point.  You will need to bicycle back or make other arrangements to return.  Amtrak will provide a survey to each participant so you can record your experiences getting aboard, securing your bike, riding the train and getting off the train.  Clear and thoughtful survey responses are essential to assist Amtrak in determining what needs to happen if this service is to be reinstated.

There may be an opportunity to roll your bike onto the Ethan Allen train traveling northbound from Castleton to Rutland during the week of July 22.  If that opportunity materializes, details will be forthcoming.

The date of the Vermonter test will be July 16, 17, or 18.  The exact date should be determined next week.  If you'd like to reserve a spot for yourself, based on the information you now have, you can do so by responding to this message with your name and the stop at which you want to board the train with your bike.  Reservations will be taken on a first come, first served basis.  A waiting list for each stop will be created if demand is sufficient.

Thanks for your participation in this important demo! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Car-Sharing in Montpelier?

Over the past year, CarShare Vermont has been working with a group of dedicated Montpelier volunteers to explore the possibility of expanding our successful car-sharing service to the Capital City. To gain a better understanding of how car-sharing might work for you, we have developed a short survey. It only takes about 5 minutes to complete; please click the link below. We look forward to hearing from you!

Take the Survey Now

We are at a critical point in this feasibility study, and we need your input. Your feedback will help us better understand the transportation needs of the Montpelier community and whether CarShare Vermont is a good fit. Most importantly, we need to know if you’ll use our service so that we can determine whether or not expansion is possible.

To take the survey, please click the link above or copy and paste into your web browser. Please email, or call(802) 861-2340 with any questions. Thank you for your help!

More about CarShare Vermont

CarShare Vermont is a local non-profit organization that's on a mission to help Vermonters get around with fewer cars. We do this by providing an affordable, convenient, and reliable alternative to private car ownership. We station fuel-efficient vehicles in easy-to-access spots around town, which our members can use by the hour or by the day 24/7 to get where they need to go.

Since we set up shop in Burlington almost five years ago, over 800 students, businesses, families, and individuals have been enjoying the financial, environmental, community, and health benefits of being CarShare Vermont members.

Car-sharing is great for:

  • Running errands
  • Shopping trips & doctor's appointments
  • Recreational & social trips
  • Work-related travel
  • Out-of-town travel 
  • Other regular short-term travel needs
  • Occasional longterm travel
For more information about how CarShare Vermont works and the benefits of membership, please visit


Getting from here to there:

New project helps Montpelier State employees get around

By Mary Hooper

The State of Vermont is making big changes in how State employees can get to and from work in Montpelier. Starting July 1st the State will pay half the cost of a bus pass and will guarantee a ride home for employees who car/van pool or ride the bus. In addition, preferential parking will be developed for van and car poolers.  Employees will also be able to participate in a commuter choice benefit which will allow them to use pre-tax dollars to purchase bus tickets and pay for car pooling costs.  And finally, the State of Vermont is also sponsoring the CarShare Vermont feasibility study to determine whether car-sharing can be successful in Montpelier.

Communities around the country (Burlington and Hanover, for example) have seen great results by enacting this type of program. Businesses can invest in their employees instead of parking and employees can save money.  Traffic and parking pressures are reduced, and emissions are decreased. It's a win-win!

A State “transportation demand management” committee is working on promoting these ideas with state employees and looks forward to partnerships with the City of Montpelier and local businesses.  Combine these efforts with the City’s bus system and now all of us who live and work in Montpelier can get to work differently. And, if CarShare Vermont expands to Montpelier, we can even think about getting rid of a car altogether!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Senator Schumer Leading the Charge to get Bikes on Amtrak Trains

Photo by Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority
Commuting by bike makes a lot of sense in a big city, unless you have a far commute.  Commuting by train makes a lot of sense too, unless you don’t live or work close to a train station.  Bikes are great on vacations too, if you can get them there.  While some areas accommodate bikes on their trains exceedingly well, such as the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority pictured above, other areas and routes offer barriers such as increased fees or having to box your bike, if you can bring them at all.  Hoping to increase tourism in upstate New York, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer urged Amtrak to add cargo cars on two lines, the Adirondack and Ethan Allen covering a combined 622 miles, exclusively for carrying bikes.  You can read more  here or here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Way to Go! Waitsfield Elementary School

Way to Go! Waitsfield Elementary School
Kids on Bikes! 
The Vermont Safe Routes to School Resource Center partnered with Way to Go! Vermont to encourage more schools than ever to participate in the May 13-17 Way to Go! Clean Commuter Challenge.

The school with the greatest percentage increase of student who arrived by a 'green' form of transportation is crowned the School Carbon Cup Champion for the 2012/2013 school year!

This year's winner is Waitsfield Elementary! During their Way to Go celebration, 77.2% of their students chose to either walk, bike, scooter, skateboard, bus or carpooled to school! By participating in Way to Go Week the number of clean commuters at Waitsfield Elementary increased by 33% compared to an average school travel day.

Congratulations to our Runner-Up, Moretown Elementary School with 76.5% and our 2nd Runner Up, Edmunds Elementary School with 73.8% of students clean commuting! 
The clean commuters at the thirteen participating Way to Go Schools collectively represented 1450 students who opted to arrive and depart by something other than their family car. 

To see the results in detail visit: