Bike to Work Day at Dartmouth College

20170519_084418Bethany and I arrived bright and early at the Hop at Dartmouth College Friday, May 19, to greet employees and students who arrived that morning on two wheels instead of four. The cyclists were met with a reception of coffee, bagels, and fruit to reward their effort. While some people had never ridden their bike to work before, for others it was a daily ritual. We had a great time chatting with participants, pumping up flat tires, and sharing resources together on a beautiful May morning. About a dozen Dartmouth folks signed up for our Everyday Bicycling workshops — to be held on campus and scheduled for the summer! 20170519_084447

Aside from our hosts from Dartmouth College, we were joined by the Hanover Bike Ped Committee, the student-run Dartmouth Bikes, and Dartmouth’s bikeshare program, Zagster.

New sign-ups to Zagster received a free helmet and other “ZagSwag.” I signed up for the bikeshare, figuring it would be wonderful to have the option to bike around town rather than drive my car on the bustling streets of Hanover.

20170519_084533The process was simple and fast! I downloaded the Zagster app and signed up for an annual membership, which cost $20. The signup process took me less than 5 minutes. Soon enough, I was able to access a bike. The app shows you where there are available bikes and displays their bike number. Unlocking a bike is very easy: you enter the bike number into the app and the app gives you the unlock combination. You enter the unlock code into the keypad on the back of a Zagster bike and the bike automatically unlocks from the docking station.

From there, you can ride for an hour straight (on the weekdays) or for three hours straight on the weekends. The bikes are equipped with locks so you can use the bikes for errands around town without worry. Return the bike within the allotted time and you pay nothing above the cost of the annual membership. For the rest of the month of May, the Dartmouth Zagster bikeshare has a free trial day promotion. Enter promo code: dartmouthbikemonth for a free day trial!

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Even veteran bike commuter Dave Dostal joined Zagster at the event. “I’m 6’2″ and these bikes worked for me!” Though he lives just a half mile from campus, he would still recommend joining the program. “It’s much faster to bike to CVS from the Hop than to walk–even including sign-up time.” Dave thinks the bikeshare would also be useful for people who have to drive into town, because parking can be such an issue. “I only want to have to park once,” and the bikeshare allows him the flexibility to do just that.

Interested in joining Dartmouth’s bikeshare, Zagster? Check out their website.

Interested in hosting a bike workshop at your school or workplace? Contact Bethany at 802.291.9100 x111 or Bethany@VitalCommunities.Org for more information.

 

–Paige Heverly
Energy & Transportation Project Coordinator at Vital Communities

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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.

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Start a Vanpool in Woodstock!

Looking for a better way to get to work? If you have at least 5  people who share a similar commute and schedule, you can create a vanpool!

Vanpool groups in Vermont can use a van provided by Go! Vermont and their partner vRide. Each rider in the vanpool pays a low monthly fee, which covers all the costs—gas, insurance, repairs—everything! No loan or down payment is needed. Plus, the state offers a $700 monthly subsidy to each vanpool!

Sustainable Woodstock, Vital Communities, and Go! Vermont will host a vanpool information session and demo at the Norman Williams Library in Woodstock on Wednesday, October 26, at 6 pm. A light dinner will be served. Please RSVP if you plan to join us.

Learn more about the state program here.
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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.
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Planning the Parking Future of White River Junction

Hartford Awards Grant 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.

Advance Transit Releases Real-Time App

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An increasingly common tool in urban areas, a real-time transit app has come to the Upper Valley. You can now use an iPhone or Android to see where Advance Transit’s buses are located in real time and when a bus will stop near you. Want to plan farther ahead? Once you click on a stop, you can also scroll through the schedule to see when boardings occur throughout the day. Just tap on the estimated arrival time to see a full schedule.

I recently tested the app for a short trip through White River Junction. It was a slightly cold day – perhaps 25 degrees with the wind chill – so I pulled up the app from the comfort of my heated office. I saw I had about fifteen minutes before an Orange Line bus arrived at the closest stop, Bugbee Senior Center, so I waited at my desk. Once I had only six minutes left, I headed to the stop across the street.

A man in his early 20s was already waiting there. I glanced down at my phone and saw an orange bus icon on a map, which showed me that the real bus had made its way to the end of Sykes Mountain Avenue.  I waited and the bus icon sat there. Another man walked up to the stop for the Orange Line. The three of us each stood there and messed around with our smartphones. I started to wonder if the bus got stuck at a long light, but then the estimated time of arrival changed to give the bus two extra minutes and the bus icon moved ahead.

The bus arrived right at the updated time. I showed the driver the app and asked if he was stuck at the light on Sykes. He said he had a stop there connecting to Greyhound. That explained the slight delay. “It works,” I told him. As I rode the bus, I continued to watch my location pin and the bus icon. The blue dot showing my location moved faster than the bus icon, but the two came together when I got off at my stop.

Now that the real-time app is available, Advance Transit is looking for people like you and me to test it and provide feedback. It’s easy to do! Visit the App Store or Google Play for the free download. Search “Advance Transit” (and make sure you filter for iPhone only apps if you’re using an iPad). Use it on a trip. Submit feedback through the main menu.

If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll find yourself realizing that this app could make it quite easy to use Advance Transit for mid-day trips, like a lunchtime run to King Arthur Flour or an afternoon meeting in Lebanon.

Stagecoach Away

More Bus Service for the Bradford Area and I-91

Exciting new bus service improvements from our partner, Stagecoach Transportation Services!
  • Expanded RIVER ROUTE (Wells River-Newbury-Bradford-Fairlee-Thetford TO Hanover-Lebanon-White River Junction)
    • More consistent timing
    • Better connectivity with Advance Transit
    • Late morning and mid-day trips
    • Service to Centerra Business Park, the new State complex in WRJ, and destinations along Rte. 5 including the Haven and King Arthur Flour
    • Reverse commute service – morning northbound and evening southbound trips
    • Eight daily trips to VA Medical Center
    • FARE FREE UNTIL DECEMBER 1, 2015
  • New CIRCULATOR bus provides service around Bradford, Newbury, Wells River, and Woodsville!
    • Runs Mon.-Fri. 8:30 am-4:30 pm
    • Provides access to grocery stores, pharmacy, senior center, Upper Valley Services, and more
    • FARE FREE UNTIL JANUARY 31, 2016

Find SCHEDULES and more info here.

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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