Barbara Duncan checks out a Smart Electric Vehicle at the 2014 EV EVent at the Montshire Museum. Photo Credit: Dave Roberts

Plug-In to Electric Vehicles at the Upper Valley Electric Vehicle Expo

Vital Communities, Upper Valley Sierra Club, and volunteers from several Upper Valley energy committees are joining forces to host the Upper Valley Electric Vehicle Expo on Saturday, September 9, from 12 to 4 p.m. (rain or shine) at the Dothan Brook School in White River Junction, Vt. as part of National Drive Electric Week. The Expo is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to pre-register online at UVEVExpo.org for a chance to win $250 and other prizes.

Ariel Arwen with the Upper Valley Sierra Club at the New London Electric Vehicle event. Photo Credit: Allyson Samuell

Ariel Arwen with the Upper Valley Sierra Club. Photo Credit: Allyson Samuell

Electric vehicle owners from across the region will show off their wheels, with several local car, bicycle and motorcycle dealers bringing the latest all-electric models for visitors to explore. Vehicles will include the popular Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt, as well as the Tesla Models X and S, Tesla Roadster, BMW i3, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Smart Fourtwo and others. The Dartmouth Racing Team will also bring their electric race car. Free test rides will be offered throughout the afternoon.

“Our 2016 event in New London had over 300 attendees and dozens of electric vehicles. This year’s event in White River Junction will be even bigger,” said Jamie Hess, a volunteer from New London. “Electric vehicle technology keeps getting better. I’m seeing more and more people making the switch.”

An attendee learns about charging plug-in vehicles. Photo Credit: Dave Roberts

An attendee learns about charging plug-in vehicles. Photo Credit: Dave Roberts

It’s true. Most new fully electric vehicles can drive more than 100 miles, with some current models going more than 200 miles on one charge. Driving electric is cheaper, too—comparable to paying $1.50/gallon at the pump. Not to mention great acceleration and increased traction thanks to efficient electric engines and heavy batteries.

According to Drive Electric Vermont, the number of electric vehicles in Vermont has increased by 40 percent over the last year alone. That trend is expected to continue in the Upper Valley and across both Vermont and New Hampshire as vehicle ranges increase and more charging stations are installed.

Ted Dillard with electric bike at the event at the Montshire Museum. Photo Credit: Karl Kemnitzer

Ted Dillard with electric bike at the event at the Montshire Museum. Photo Credit: Karl Kemnitzer

The September 9 Expo will feature more than just cars—electric motorcycles, bicycles and even lawn equipment will also be available for visitors to see, touch and try. Drop-in presentations from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. will cater to both electric-vehicle enthusiasts and those who are new to the technology.

Families are welcome and there will be free refreshments. Event sponsors include Catamount Solar, Cyclewise, Energy Emporium, Green Mountain Power, Lyme Green Heat, Newport Chevy, Nissan of Keene, Norwich Technologies, Omer and Bob’s, ReVision Energy, Solaflect Energy, SunCommon, Twin State Ford, Zoom Bikes, Building Energy and Anne’s Country Store.

EverydayBicyclingWindsor

Spring Into Bike Riding Season…

…with practical skills training to get you riding more!

What is Everyday Bicycling?

It’s using your bike for those everyday trips that we all make — grocery shopping, getting to work, or even picking up the kids from school. It’s about making the choice to leave your car behind when you can, in favor of getting outside, exercising, and saving gas!

How can I get involved?

Vital Communities offers a range of bike skills trainings for groups of adults (and mature teens). We can hold one workshop or a whole series at your workplace, community center, or town park.

What kinds of workshops are offered?Pumping tire

Basic Everyday Bicycling (practical tips on everyday bicycling) 60 minutes long (indoors)
On-Street Bike Skills (build your street riding skills) 60-90 minutes long (outside, with your bike!)
Basic Maintenance (tire change, basic adjustments and troubleshooting) 60-90 minutes long (inside or outside, with your bike!)

What does a workshop provide?

• Practical tips from experienced Everyday Bicyclists on incorporating bike travel into any lifestyle
• Expert advice and guidance
• Low-cost gear: bells, lights, helmets, reflective vests, and more!
• Free informational resources

tom-bikeWhat is the time investment?

• We strive to make hosting a workshop very easy for you.
• We offer highly flexible scheduling.
• We provide all of the marketing and promotional materials that you need.

How much does it cost?

• FREE for Upper Valley Transportation Management Association (UVTMA) members. (If you’re not a UVTMA member, give us a call!)

• FREE for Vermont communities and workplaces, thanks to support from Local Motion and Go! Vermont.

How do I get started?

Contact Bethany Fleishman at 802.291.9100 x111 or Bethany@VitalCommunities.Org

parking

Planning the Parking Future of White River Junction

Hartford Awards Contract for White River Junction Parking and Transportation Plan; Vital Communities and RSG to Lead Project

Vital Communities and neighbor RSG have been selected by the Town of Hartford to develop a Downtown White River Junction Parking Management Plan. Using a combination of Town funds and a Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development Municipal Planning Grant, the study will examine ways to improve current parking conditions and to manage future demands for parking in the historic downtown.

Over the past 15 years, downtown White River Junction has experienced a significant economic revival and now finds itself a vibrant arts and business center. With the downtown’s resurgence, there is concern that the existing supply of public and private parking could eventually hinder revitalization efforts or result in demolition of historic buildings to increase the supply of parking. In response to this concern, Hartford’s parking plan will evaluate ways to maximize existing parking resources, make parking more user-friendly, and encourage the use of non-personal vehicle travel to the downtown.

“We are excited to take on this project and develop long-term solutions to the parking and transportation challenges facing the village where we work. It’s a great opportunity to combine the expertise of Vital Communities and RSG with our daily experience using parking and transportation options in White River Junction,” said Aaron Brown, transportation program manager. The project will analyze current town regulations and actual parking use, but will also rely heavily on input from local businesses and residents in crafting solutions for White River Junction’s needs.

“We take pride in researching and designing transportation plans to support vibrant downtowns across the US,” said RSG’s Dr. Erica Wygonik, Senior Engineer. “However, this project is particularly important to us because our headquarters are located in downtown White River Junction. We are honored to contribute to the planning process.”

The White River Junction-based nonprofit Vital Communities, which focuses on catalyzing solutions to regional issues, has advocated for sustainable transportation options since 2002. RSG has specialized in the planning, analysis, and design of transportation systems since its founding in 1986.

Ledyard Bridge Bikes

New Study on Funding Local Transportation

Vital Communities is pleased to release a new study that examines an optional vehicle registration fee used by over a dozen New Hampshire municipalities. The fee, authorized under RSA 261:153 VI, allows municipalities to collect up to $5 per registration to establish local transportation improvement funds for projects as diverse as basic road maintenance, sidewalk construction, and public transit.

Vital Communities Transportation Program Manager Aaron Brown, the report’s author, concludes that a growing number of communities are interested in the fee and that towns and cities have benefited greatly from their local transportation funds.

“The municipalities that collect the fee range in population from under 2,000 to more than 100,000, but they share a common theme: the revenue collected under this program is essential for maintaining good local transportation options.” —Transportation Program Manager Aaron Brown

Representative Patricia Higgins, a Democrat who represents Hanover and Lyme, recently introduced a bill that would raise the maximum amount that a municipality may add to their vehicle registration fee from $5 to $10, but only if the voters of that municipality decide they want to raise more revenue.

“Towns and cities can no longer rely on state funds to meet their important transportation needs, be it repairing a bridge so goods can reach a market, funding public transportation so commuters can get to work, or making a bike route safer for students to get to school. This fee, totally optional, allows localities to identify and solve their own problems. I’m grateful for the work of Vital Communities in educating towns and cities all over the state of the existence of this enabling legislation, and I hope my bill will allow local residents more flexibility to arrive at local solutions.”

Read the full report: A Look at the Municipal Vehicle Registration Fee

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Got 5 Minutes? Chance to WIN $50

Do you live in Bradford, Hartford, Norwich, or Windsor? You have the chance win a $50 gift card to a LOCALLY-OWNED BUSINESS of your choice if you complete a 5-minute transportation survey. Click on your town to be linked to its survey.

          BRADFORD Follow-up Survey 
          HARTFORD Follow-up Survey 
          NORWICH Follow-up Survey
          WINDSOR Follow-up Survey 

This survey follows-up the SMART COMMUTE town transportation survey you may have taken in spring 2014. Smart Commute is a collaboration between the towns of Bradford, Hartford, Norwich, and Windsor and local nonprofit Vital Communities. The aim is to help residents of these towns save money, build community, and lower environmental impacts by making it easier to carpool, take the bus, walk, or bike.

You are encouraged to take the survey whether or not you took your town’s original survey in 2014. Thank you for your input!

Smart Commute Home Edition is a program of Vital Communities and is paid for through the generous support of the Canaday Family Foundation and The High Meadows Fund.

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Office Bike Share

When Vital Communities staff expressed interest in cutting down on car trips to meetings, Transportation Program Manager Aaron Brown found a way to help. He donated an old bike that was taking up space at home and set up an office bike share.

We added rear baskets large enough to fit a laptop and other supplies. Staff can reserve the bike through an online calendar and leave their cars parked for local trips.

Interested in setting up your own workplace bike share? Contact us to learn more.

TMA 13th Annual Meeting & Awards 2015 037

And the Winners Are…

Caption: Paul Coats, director of Recreation and Parks for the City of Lebanon, discusses the Mascoma River Greenway at the TMA 13th Annual Meeting.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Resource Systems Group, Advance Transit, and a Hartland bicycle commuter were honored at the 13th annual meeting of the Upper Valley Transportation Management Association (TMA), a program of Vital Communities. The annual awards recognize organizations and individuals making it easier to bike, walk, carpool, and ride the bus in the Upper Valley.

“This year’s award winners demonstrate our region’s commitment to healthy, affordable, and sustainable transportation options,” said Aaron Brown, Vital Communities’ transportation program manager. “Though we live in a rural region, the Upper Valley serves as a model for providing access to good transportation in small-town America.”

The TMA honored one individual and three organizations:

  • Commuter of the Year: Bicycle commuter Jesse Hills of Hartland was honored for his commitment to biking year-round to his job at Mt. Ascutney Hospital.
  • Large Workplace of the Year: Dartmouth-Hitchcock was recognized for its years of support for public transit and its new sustainability council, which features a transportation team.
  • Small Workplace of the Year: Resource Systems Group was honored for innovative programs including co-locating near transit and offering subsidies to employees who purchase homes close to the workplace.
  • Project of the Year: Advance Transit’s Green Route expansion, which improved service to every 30 minutes and increased the route’s ridership 50 percent.

Keynote speaker Paul Coats, director of Recreation and Parks for the City of Lebanon, discussed the unique fundraising success that will make the Mascoma River Greenway a reality in the coming years.

The Upper Valley TMA is a program of Vital Communities that works to reduce reliance on driving alone. The TMA’s members include local municipalities, transit agencies, major employers, and three regional planning commissions.