Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bike to Brunch in May in Central VT

From the VBPC

Bike to Brunch series. Break bread with kindred spirits!
May 10 through May 31 (4 consecutive Saturdays) Participate in a guided bike ride to a different cafe each week.
Destinations will be: Red Hen Bakery and Cafe in Middlesex (12 miles round trip) on May 10; Postal Cafe in Worcester (18 miles round trip) on May 17; Maple Valley in Plainfield (22 miles round trip) on May 24; and On the Rise in Richmond (60 miles round trip) on May 31. Bikes should be in good mechanical condition. Helmets are mandatory. Rain cancels. Gather at the tennis courts at Montpelier High School at 10:00 am.

For more info, contact

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lots of bike events coming in Vermont!

From the VBPC
Please note the following upcoming events that involve the VT Bike/Ped Coalition:

April 22 (Tuesday)--Earth Day Celebration at the Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier.  Pick up free copies of the VT State Bikeways map, Share the Road bumper stickers, bicycle commuters guides, collision cards, and much more.  The VBPC table will be staffed from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm.  For more info, 

May 4 (Sunday)--Covered Bridges bicycle ride.  Choice of 23, 30, and 36 mile routes.  Gathering time is 9:45 am at the Wheeler Lot in Dorset Park, South Burlington.  Rolling hills, a chance to visit as many as four covered bridges, and a stop at the Old Brick Store in Charlotte.  Co-sponsored with the Green Mountain Bicycle Club.  For more info, contact:

May 6 through May 27 (4 consecutive Tuesdays), 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm--Boomer Bike Ride series.  Classroom instruction in safety, shifting gears, bike fitting, tire changing, and much more plus easy, guided bicycle rides for those age 50+ who want to build their confidence and skills.  Montpelier Senior Activity Center.  Instruction provided by VBPC.  Pre-registration required.  For more info, contact   

May 10 through May 31 (4 consecutive Saturdays)--Bike to Brunch series.  Break bread with kindred spirits!  Participate in a guided bike ride to a different cafe each week.  Gather at the tennis courts at Montpelier High School at 10:00 am.  Destinations will be:  Red Hen Bakery and Cafe in Middlesex (12 miles round trip) on May 10; Postal Cafe in Worcester (18 miles round trip) on May 17; Maple Valley in Plainfield (22 miles round trip) onMay 24; and On the Rise in Richmond (60 miles round trip) on May 31.  Bikes should be in good mechanical condition.  Helmets are mandatory.  Rain cancels.  For more info, contact

May 12 (Monday)--Safety Forum targeting Windsor and Windham Counties, organized by VTrans.  Town Hall, Bellows Falls.  7:30 am to 3:00 pm.  Among many presenters, the VBPC will discuss bike/ped training for law enforcement officers and drivers' ed students.  For more info, contact

May 16 (Friday)--Safety Day, organized by VTrans, National Life HQ in Montpelier.  7:00 am to 2:30 pm.  VBPC will have an exhibit table and will offer sessions on helmet fitting, two minute bike check, and more.  For more info, contact 

May 21 (Wednesday)--Ride of Silence.  Annual ride to remember bicyclists killed or injured in crashes with motor vehicles.  12-mile, round-trip ride conducted in silence at a respectful pace.  Bicyclists will be provided black and red armbands to wear.  Meet at the state house steps in Montpelier at 5:30 pm.  For more info, contact

Additional events can be found at the VBPC web site:  As you bicycle, walk, and/or drive in the coming months, please remember to behave safely, legally, and courteously toward all roadway users.  And thank you for supporting the VBPC.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Why do you ride like that?


“Biking in the middle of the lane like that sure looks dangerous.”

Driving in the middle of the lane actually protects cyclists against the most common motorist-caused crashes: sideswipes, right hooks, left crosses, and drive-outs.  A bicycle driver’s top safety priority is to ensure he or she can be seen by motorists with whom they might potentially be in conflict, and bicycling in the middle of a lane is one of the most effective ways to do that.  Most overtaking crashes involve a motorist who attempts to squeeze past (illegally) in a lane that is too narrow to share.
This is the width of a typical lane with vehicles drawn to scale. None of the above vehicles are able to give the required 3ft of passing clearance without changing lanes. A cyclist is far more likely to be sideswiped than run over.

“I thought bicyclists had to keep all the way to the right.”

While Florida law [FS316.2065-5] does say bicyclists must drive “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway,” it also provides many exceptions to this rule, including:
  • When overtaking and passing another vehicle
  • When traveling at or near the same speed as other traffic
  • When preparing for a left turn
  • Where a lane is too narrow to share safely with another vehicle
  • To avoid any condition that makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge
Many surface hazards – such as potholes, puddles, debris, and broken glass – are more common near the edge of the roadway.
Keeping to the right can often hide a bicyclist from a turning motorist at the critical time and place. Check out this animation to see all the hazards a bicycle driver faces when trying to stay to the right.

“Why weren’t you in the bike lane?”

Anywhere in the bike lane a cyclist would be struck by this door. If the handlebar nicked the door, the cyclist would be thrown into the path of passing cars.
This is not a bike lane. It is two feet less than the minimum.
Most of the same reasons why bicyclists will drive towards the center of a lane are good reasons for leaving the bike lane, and Florida’s new mandatory bike lane use law allows cyclists the same exceptions as it does to keeping right in general. Here are just a few reasons:
  • Bike lanes collect the debris and glass that is swept off the road. Sometimes you can see it because it’s big, like tree branches, but sometimes only we can see it. A small shard of glass can cause a flat tire. (How many tires did you change on your way to work today?)
  • Many bike lanes are designed poorly or just plain dangerous. Bike lanes next to parked cars are often entirely within a hazard area we call “the door zone.” A suddenly-opened door can kill a cyclist.
  • When approaching intersections, or in areas with lots of driveways, a bike lane puts us in a conflict zone (shown in the above animation). Bike lanes increase our risk for all of the common crossing and turning crashes.
  • It may not be a bike lane. It has become popular to add edge lines several feet to the left of the curb. This space is substandard and not safe for a bicyclist to use, though many bicyclists are tricked into riding there.
Many of the reasons we avoid bike lanes are not visible or apparent to a person in a car. Of course, if a bike lane provides a clean, safe place to ride, we use it.

“Wouldn’t you just be safer biking on the sidewalk?”

While biking on the sidewalk would eliminate the very rare overtaking crash, it would increase the bicyclist’s risk for the far more common right hooks, left crosses, and drive-outs, and would make left turns far more complicated and less safe for the cyclist.  Sidewalks present many more blind spots and physical hazards (such as poles, newspaper boxes, and intruding shrubs and tree limbs) than roadways do.  If there’s a sidewalk on the left side of the road, but not the right side, cyclists would be traveling against the flow of traffic, which has been shown in traffic safety studies to increase the cyclist’s crash risk by a factor of four.

“You’re gonna get run over.”

Bicyclists across the nation who drive their bicycles in this manner have logged millions of miles without serious crashes or injuries.  By comparison, bicyclists who hug the edge of the road, or ride on the sidewalk get into crashes much more frequently.
This video demonstrates why riding farther into the lane is not only safer for a cyclist, but creates less disruption for motorists.
No other road users impede traffic as frequently or severely as the drivers of private automobiles.

“You’re impeding traffic.”

All road users impede other road users on a routine basis.  A motorist waiting to make a left turn from a two-lane street will impede motorists behind him.  Transit buses stop to pick up and drop off passengers.  Pedestrians in crosswalks impede motorists who are required to yield to them.  Convenience must take a back seat to safety.  In our training courses we teach cyclists how to minimize the delay they might cause to other road users, while still driving in the safest possible manner.
It’s rare for a bicyclist to cause more than 30 seconds of delay to passing motorists. On the other hand, traffic lights are often as long as a 1:30.

“You’re supposed to ride single-file.”

Florida law allows bicyclists to travel two-abreast, provided doing so does not impede traffic.  On streets where the lane is not wide enough the share, a solo bicyclist is allowed to ride in the middle of the lane anyway, so the presence of another bicyclist to her right is of little consequence.

“Bicyclists don’t pay gas taxes, and shouldn’t be allowed on roads.”

Ah, where to begin… First, most bicyclists own and drive motor vehicles, buy gasoline for them, and therefore pay gas taxes.  We all also pay gas taxes indirectly when pay for other goods and services; businesses pass along the costs of shipping and travel to customers.
But even if cyclists paid nothing, use of public rights-of-way is not contingent on payment of taxes.  The Declaration of Independence does not say “all taxpayers are created equal,” but “all men are created equal” (meaning persons), and traveling along a public right-of-way is an essential liberty.
Many other taxes contribute to the construction and maintenance of public roads, including property taxes, sales taxes, impact fees, and more.  Much of the gas tax is used to widen roads to accommodate more and more cars.
Gas taxes also go toward the construction of sidewalks along many roads.  Using the same “don’t pay gas taxes” reasoning, school children should not be allowed to walk to school on sidewalks because they don’t pay gas taxes.

“Bicyclists should be required to have driver’s licenses.”

As with gas taxes, most do.  But the reason people are required to be licensed to drive a motor vehicle is because they are inherently dangerous devices which pose a great danger to others.  Motor vehicle drivers kill over 35,000 and injure over 2 million people a year in the United States.  Careless or reckless motorists are a danger to everyone, while careless or reckless bicyclists are mostly a danger to themselves.  If bicyclists should be required to be licensed, then so should pedestrians, as they pose about the same danger to others.

“Too many bicyclists think the laws don’t apply to them.”

We agree! We encourage and train bicyclists to drive their vehicles in the safest legal manner.  Bicyclists who violate the law not only endanger themselves, but make those of us trying to do the right thing look bad.  You can help us by calling the police (non-emergency number, please) when you see bicyclists doing the following: running red lights, blowing through stop signs, driving on the wrong side of the road (facing other traffic), and driving at night without front and rear lights.  But please don’t call the police if you see one of us in the middle of the lane!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

250 attended first very successful Vermont Walk/Bike Summit

From the VBPC
Displaying Caroline Sampanaro at Summit.jpg
Caroline Sampanaro addressing Summit attendees.  Thanks to Kathy Davidow for permission to use this photo.

An enthusiastic group of 250 attended the Walk/Bike Summit in Burlington this past weekend.  Those who journeyed to the Hilton enjoyed delicious breakfast and lunch foods, an array of 10 workshops, inspiring words from Transportation Alternatives' Caroline Sampanaro, input from a panel of VT leaders, plenty of table displays, networking opportunities, and late afternoon options to walk and bike a bit.  If you attended the Summit, you'll soon be asked for your feedback so that future events of this kind can be made even better.

Thanks once again to the following sponsors who made the Summit possible:  VTrans, the University of Vermont Transportation Research Center, the city of Burlington, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont, AARP, RSG, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Lamoureux & Dickinson, Vermont Department of Health, Red Hen Baking Company, Old Spokes Home, Skirack, Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, Broadreach, Stantec, the Vermont Governor's Council of Physical Fitness and Sports.  Thanks, also, to the Rutland Regional Planning Commission and Discovery Bicycle Tours.

The VT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition was fortunate to partner with the following to organize the 2014 Summit:  Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, Local Motion, VTrans, the city of Burlington, the University of Vermont's Transportation Research Center, VT Safe Routes to School, and AARP.   Thanks to all for working diligently to put this successful event together.

Nancy Schulz