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Dirty Hands, Clean Bikes

Maintenance Haven Lisa GI had a lot of fun teaching a Basic Bike Maintenance workshop at the Upper Valley Haven on April 29, ably assisted by Lisa from the Haven!

A dozen community members and Haven staff gathered for hands-on instruction about common bike issues:

  • removing wheels
  • changing a tire
  • troubleshooting shifting problems
  • adjusting brakes
  • cleaning & greasing the chain (and putting it back on when it comes off!)

Though plenty of bike riders never learn these skills, those who do feel empowered and confident! In the words of workshop participants:

“Keep this class coming!”

“I already bike a lot, but this gives me more confidence to fix mechanical issues if they arise.”

“I would probably not repair a flat tire, but if I HAD to, I think I could manage.” 

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Interested in joining a workshop or hosting your own? Check out our earlier post about our Everyday Bicycling workshops. Or contact me at 802.291.9100 x111 or Bethany@VitalCommunities.Org for more info.

We’re able to run these workshops thanks to generous support from Local Motion and Go! Vermont.

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

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Survey Says: Parking and Transportation in White River Junction Are…

Thank you to the more than 500 downtown White River Junction residents, employees, business owners, and visitors who took our survey about parking! We’ve learned much about your transportation and parking needs in this vibrant downtown. You can see full survey results here. Our findings include:

  • White River Junction has a lot going on! Of our 551 survey respondents, 60% enjoy the downtown’s restaurants, half work here, more than a third are Northern Stage patrons, and 40% go to other arts and cultural activities.
  • Nearly 20% of survey respondents said they feel unsafe parking in certain areas of downtown, mainly due to poor lighting. Good news: The town plans to upgrade street lighting near the courthouse, along South Main Street, and in the lot behind the former American Legion.
  • The town is investigating how to best reach residents about parking bans during snowstorms and other emergencies. Our work confirmed the vast majority (75%) would prefer a simple text message.

Didn’t take the survey but have something to say? Please e-mail us to share your opinions on how the town can manage parking and transportation options as development rapidly occurs in the historic downtown.

EverydayBicyclingWindsor

Everyday Bicycling Workshop is a Success

Last month, we led two successful Everyday Bicycling workshops at the Windsor Public Library in collaboration with Burlington-based Local Motion. The first workshop – over pizza in the library’s backyard – went over basic biking safety, what to wear, and how to prepare for “everyday” bike trips to work, school, social events, and more. The second workshop was an on-road practice ride through town. We started the ride with basic bike safety checks, helmet fitting, tire pumping and a little maintenance work on the fly. Several participants hadn’t been on a bike in years, and one said she would have never gotten back on her bike without this workshop! The group hopes to get together for regular rides and maybe even start a Windsor women’s bike club!

To learn more or schedule an Everyday Bicycling Workshop (including basic bike maintenance) in your community or at your workplace, please e-mail Bethany@VitalCommunities.org.
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

office bike share

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.

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Gear Up for Everyday Bicycling

Do you want to bike more? Ready to take the next step, but not quite sure where to start?  Vital Communities can help! In just one short hour, participants in our Everyday Bicycling workshop learn practical tips to stay safe and active on the road:

  • What gear you need (and don’t need) to stay safe and comfortable
  • How to make sure your bike is in good shape for getting to work, school, the grocery store, etc.
  • How to map out a route that fits with your time and comfort level
  • How to “read” the street and ride safely under a range of conditions

These workshops are free thanks to support from Go! Vermont. In addition to these workshops—available to workplaces and community groups—we also help schools organize Bike & Walk to School daysContact us to discuss scheduling a biking event for your group.

Bike-Bus-Car Race 2014 (1)

And the bikes win!

L to R: Charlotte Jeffreys, Bethany Fleishman, Sharon Racusin, Marcia Cassidy, Martha McDaniel, Scot Drysdale, and Hilde Ojibway. Photo: Aaron Brown

A chilly autumn morning greeted 5 volunteers and 3 Vital Communities staff members who met in front of Dan and Whit’s to test an interesting question: Is it fastest to get from Norwich to Hanover during rush hour by taking the bus, riding a bike, or driving alone and finding parking? It was October 21, a normal Tuesday workday, and traffic was thick while the competitors waited for the bus to arrive. Three cyclists with varying levels of equipment were there. Scot sported a recumbent bicycle, which are exceptionally efficient converters of pedal power to speed. On the opposite spectrum was Hilde’s used purple Schwinn, an unassuming but serviceable machine.

Vital Communities Transportation Program Manager Aaron Brown had cyclists and drivers sign a pledge to follow all traffic laws while participating – no speeding cars, no bikes running red lights or stop signs, etc. This would be a fair and legal race. Then the familiar sight of a white and blue Advance Transit bus turned right at the Norwich Inn at little after 8 am.

Valley News reporter James Patterson joined Aaron, Bethany, and Charlotte on the Advance Transit Brown Route bus. The race began when they boarded. The two drivers – Martha and Marcia – headed off in pursuit of the lots where they normally park for work – one at Dewey and the other at Thompson Arena. Riding on the bus, it was hard to keep track of the two cars due to the steady stream of other vehicles in the left lane. The cyclists, however, were easy to spot. Scot blazed ahead with his safety flag flying several feet above his bike.

The bus and bikes traded the lead a few times going down Route 5. But, right after the I-91 northbound exit ramp, the bus hit traffic. It was clear early on that the bikes would win. The bus riders continued to look for the cars but couldn’t see them.

The bus riders arrived at the finish line at the Hopkins Center about 11.5 minutes after boarding at Dan and Whit’s. Scot, Hilde, and the third cyclist, Sharon, were all waiting for them. Scot had arrived there first. His ride took little more than 9 minutes. Hilde barely beat the bus, but she made sure to “keep the results neat and clean” by keeping all cyclists in the winner category.

The group waited for the drivers to arrive. And waited. And waited. Finally, after the 20-minute mark, Marcia emerged from the side of the Hopkins Center, where she had walked from Thompson. The group enjoyed coffee and pastries and waited for Martha to arrive. It took her more than 30 minutes to join the group!

We had guessed that the bikes or bus would win, but we didn’t think the differences would be so drastic. Thanks to good bus service, a separated bike lane, and no need to find parking, biking and taking the bus are the fastest, most convenient ways to get into Hanover at rush hour. Plus, Zipcars are available on Dartmouth’s campus, which means one can enjoy a shorter commute and still have access to a car during the day for meetings or errands.

CitS - Eric Talbot, RSG

Commuting by Bike

Resource Systems Group’s Eric Talbot rides his bike to work approximately 4 out of 5 days a week over the year. In the winter, when the weather is too harsh, Eric walks to work or rides the Green line on Advance Transit to White River Junction. Eric lives about a mile and a half from his office. His main motivations for riding his bike to work are that cars are expensive to own and maintain and he gets great exercise, especially going up a challenging hill on the way home.
Eric finds that most drivers are polite and accommodating to him on his commute. Even on roads without much shoulder, he has not had any problems. Eric mentioned a couple of benefits to working at RSG that help him commute to work on his bike: availability of shower on site and the ability to adjust his hours when the days get short to ride to work and home in the daylight

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