Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Help Getting the Cross Vermont Trail Bridge in Montpelier Built!

The House Transportation Committee needs to hear from Vermonters about supporting a new bridge over the Winooski River in East Montpelier to connect the Cross Vermont Trail. They're considering appropriating $100,000 to match a $1 million+ federal funding earmark to build the bridge.
 trail sign
The committee wants to hear from a variety of community people who are vested in this bridge project and in the trail as a whole, to tell them why the Cross Vermont Trail is important and how this bridge and the connected trail will boost economic development. 

Click here to learn more about the Cross Vermont Trail.

Here is suggested text for an email to your legislators: 

I am a Vermonter from ______________ in support of a building a new bridge over the Winooski River in East Montpelier to connect the Cross Vermont Trail. Please appropriate state funds to make this possible!

Please reach out to the House Transportation Committee by Tuesday, 3/4/14.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Parking Bikes in the Winter

From anniebikes
As the snowplow clears the latest snowfall from the roads, I've been pondering what it's like to be a winter cyclist, navigating less than ideal conditions. It's tough enough, traveling and sharing narrower lanes with vehicles. But what happens when a rider arrives at work or stops to do errands? Where do they lock their bikes?

Walking around town, I've noticed that uncovering snowbound bike racks is the furthest from most business owner's minds. Whether it's city-owned racks or the YMCA, it seems that people aren't quite used to the idea of winter commuters—not to mention providing a safe place to lock bikes.

How long until 3 feet of snow melts?
So while some riders have abandoned their bicycles at racks—now buried beneath 3-4 feet of hard-packed snow—the same fixture is not available for use by others until the snow melts. Really. Racks remain buried until mother nature lends a helping hand.

But getting back to businesses and parking. There is one place that treats cyclist the same year-round: City Market. They have covered bike parking right in the front of the store. In fact, it preempts car spaces, and if you present your Bicycle Benefits sticker upon checkout, you score a discount. How's that for celebrating bike commuters?

On the other hand, I can think of two bicycle shops that have less than ideal parking, even for employees. I would think these particular businesses would be the first to encourage commuters—the least of which is a safe place to store their bikes. The first business provides two racks in front of their shop, which is great for customers, but employees are reduced to sharing the same racks. To their credit, racks are at least kept clear year-round. The second shop has no racks in front of the store, instead, preferring to offer a 50 foot line-up of bicycles for sale across the entire front of the store (usually in warmer weather). It's mystifying... I showed up one day and had to lock my bike to a tree. It was only later, when I exited out a side door, that I noticed one small rack against a windowless expanse of the warehouse-sized building. Another time, I discovered employees park their bikes outside a back door in a secluded spot with woods a few feet away.

So, I propose that bicycle shops—you know who you are—set an example and offer inside accommodation for employee owned bikes. And, go one step farther and supply a rack in a visible location for your customers. This simple message goes miles towards promoting cycling as transportation.

How Biking Can Improve Your Health and the Environment - Infographic

Here is a cool infographic from

Americans love their cars.
I live in Detroit and it’s called the Motor City for a reason. We have the Woodward Dream Cruise annually which displays classic and cool cars for miles. People will camp out for hours and tailgate just to watch awesome cars drive up and down Woodward Ave. We also host an amazing auto show where new concept cars are introduced by popular automakers. We Detroiters are constantly using our cars.
However, using your car too much can have a negative impact on the environment and your health.
Did you know that 30+ minutes of biking per day lowers women’s risk of breast cancer? Or how about three hours of biking per week reduces risk of heart disease and stroke by 50%?
Check out this infographic to learn more about the benefits of incorporating more biking into your daily travel!

Footloose and Car Free! - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

"Helmets not even in top 10 of things that keep cycling safe"

British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman says it’s time for the cycling community to put the debate about mandatory cycle helmets to bed and get across the message that helmet use is one of the least important cycling safety measures.
Even talking about making helmets mandatory “massively puts people off” cycling, Boardman said, and likened the culture of helmet use among keen cyclists to people wearing body armour because they have got used to being shot at.
Talking to at the London Bike Show, Boardman said, “I think the helmet issue is a massive red herring. It’s not even in the top 10 of things you need to do to keep cycling safe or more widely, save the most lives.”

You’re being shot at, put on body armour

Boardman returned to an analogy he has made before, and which even he admits is a bit melodramatic, though it gets the point across
“It’s a bit like saying ‘people are sniping at you going down this street, so put some body armour on,’” he said.
Government encouragement to wear helmets was therefore “a big campaign to get people to wear body armour, by the people who should be stopping the shooting.”
Widespread use of helmets, he said, sends the wrong message.
“Once you see somebody wearing body armour, even if there’s no shooting, you think ‘Christ I’m not going down there if they’re wearing body armour to go down that street.’ It scares people off.”
There’s a better solution to the problem of cycle safety, Boardman said. In the Netherlands, just 0.8 percent of cyclists wear helmets yet the Dutch have the lowest rate of cycling head injury, thanks to segregated cycling infrastructure. Thirty percent of journeys in the Netherlands are made by bike, he said, and 50 percent of children’s journey to school.
”The best way to deal with [the head injury issue] is what the Dutch have done,” he said. “Where you have the Highest rate of helmet use, you also have the highest rate of head injury: us and the US.”
Yet there’s also an almost-fanatical, knee-jerk devotion to helmet use among enthusiast and sporting cyclists.
Boardman said: “People who are wearing body armour get used to being shot at, when it’s the getting shot at that’s the problem.”

A distraction

Talking about helmets had become a time-consuming distraction, he said. “We’ve got to tackle the helmet debate head on because it’s so annoying,” he said. “It gets a disproportionate amount of coverage. When you have three minutes and someone asks ‘Do you wear a helmet’ you know the vast majority of your time when you could be talking about stuff that will make a difference, is gone.”
He said the focus on helmets had made cycling seem more dangerous than it really is.
“We’ve gone away from the facts,” he said. “We’ve gone to anecdotes. It’s like shark attacks - more people are killed building sandcastles than are killed by sharks. It’s just ludicrous that the facts aren’t matching up with the actions because the press focus, naturally, on the news stories, and [the notion that cycling is dangerous] becomes the norm, and it isn’t the norm.
“You can ride a thousand times round the planet for each cycling death. You are safer than gardening.”

Cycling’s image

Like many cycling advocates, Boardman wants to see cycling presented as a normal, everyday activity.
“I saw two people riding down the hill to my village. One person coming down the hill to go for the train in high-viz, helmet on.
“A few moments later another guy came down, in shirt sleeves, with a leather bag on his back, just riding his bike to the station.
“Which one of those makes me want to [ride]?”

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What snow reveals about our streets design and layout

With something like 10-12 inches of snow on the way, Montpelier and other Vermont towns could learn a lesson or two from this.

The snow reveals how our streets give car drivers more space than they need
and inspires visions of how you could better use that space.
Image courtesy Doug Gordon

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Vermont Walk/Bike Summit: Registrations and Nominations

Save the date for the Vermont Walk/Bike Summit on Saturday, March 29, 2014 at the Hilton in Burlington.    
Want to recognize a person or a project that helps further advance walking and biking opportunities? Nominate them by March 1sthere: Call for Nominations

Vermont Bike/Ped Coalition is Asking for Your Help to Pass 2 Bike/Ped Safety Bills

Since the tragic crashes in September that resulted in hospitalizations of cyclists in VT and deaths in NH, many of you have contacted the VBPC to express support for legislation that would address the major problem of impaired driving in Vermont.

We now are asking you to send a brief email message to the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bill Lippert, via to express your strong support for two bills that will help provide important protections to bicyclists and pedestrians.

H.707 lowers the current blood alcohol content (BAC) limit from .08 to .05.  The U.S. is well behind the curve as most other nations have recognized the wisdom of the change and have adopted the .05 limit.  Note that this legislation is not designed to prevent someone from having a beer or a glass of wine with dinner.  On average, one beer or one glass of wine would raise blood alcohol content to .02 and would be "cleared" by the body in about one hour.

H.501 creates a uniform standard of impairment so that motorists who are driving impaired due to prescription or over-the-counter drugs will be treated by statute in the same manner as motorists who are driving impaired due to consumption of alcohol.

Both of the above bills will provide law enforcement officers with helpful tools to keep impaired drivers from Vermont's roadways, will deter some citizens from making poor choices, will draw attention to the growing problem of impaired driving in this state, and will offer additional protections for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Thank you for emailing to say you would like the House Judiciary Committee to take up these two bills and pass them out of the Committee.  Please be sure to provide your full name, the name of the town where you reside, and why these bills are important to you.

Vermont Transportation Board Releases 2013 Annual Report

The state's Transportation Board recently released its biannual report capturing what Vermont residents had to say on various transportation-related subjects.  This report, which is prepared for legislators, has a section (pages 14 - 19) devoted to bike/ped comments that were collected at regional public meetings and via email.  Thanks to the many bike/ped supporters who spoke up.  Note that there is a box on page 15 that reflects the strong feelings expressed by the bike/ped community about the need to eliminate impaired driving.  To read the full report or to review just the bike/ped pages, please go to the T-Board's web site:

The report does a good job reflecting what Vermonters had to say.  What remains to be seen is what action, if any, will be taken by the legislators who receive the report.  Will it prompt changes in policy or legislation to make VT's roads safer or will it take its place on a shelf gathering dust along with so many similar reports?  You can help keep the dust off this report by reading the sections that matter to you and then emailing your representatives in the House and Senate to ask them for their reactions.  Bike/ped improvements will only occur if we keep bike/ped concerns on the table and bike/ped issues in the conversations.