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MONTPELIER, Vt. -
They came on foot, under pedal power and via both kinds of horsepower. Users of Vermont's roadways rallied in Montpelier Friday night to keep their shared space safe.
"So we're coming together as users of the road in so many different ways, and we're coming together to say that we can make a difference today, the very next time that we sit on a bike, the very next time that we turn the key in the ignition, we can make a difference for the safety of everyone on the road," said Emily Boedecker, the executive director of Local Motion.
This year, Vermont's roadways have been the scene of 10 fatal motorbike crashes, an additional two with pedestrians, and another four involving bicycles-- that's the driving force behind the rally for road safety. For perspective, the state saw only one fatal crash involving a bike in the previous 10 years, according to bike safety advocates.
"It's the fatalities that make headlines, but the story is much larger than that. It's about the serious injuries, the minor accidents, the near misses, the stories that so many people have," Boedecker said.
VTrans spokesperson Kevin Marshia says Vermont lost 690 people to crashes in the last 10 years, while 3,873 suffered temporary or permanent physical injury over the same period.
"That's like the population of Waterville or St. George being lost to highway fatalities in a 10-year period, or the population of Bristol or Brandon being, suffering incapacitating injuries in a 10-year period. This is a serious issue," Marshia said.
Those organizing the event say they hope to convince those on the roads of the importance of knowing the rules, respecting others and sharing that knowledge with others. They say spreading knowledge like this on the Statehouse lawn can be more powerful than any law passed up the hill.
It's unclear if legislation will come out of the event, but those in attendance Friday evening said if they hear good ideas, they'll share them with lawmakers, too.