Bike & Walk Funding Available in Vermont!

Are you a Vermonter who would like to see better bike and pedestrian infrastructure in your town? Funding for this is available through the VTrans Bicycle and Pedestrian Program to local governments, transit agencies, school district or schools, and regional planning commissions. Talk to your selectboard, town planning staff, school administrators, etc. and urge them to apply!

The intent of the VTrans Bicycle and Pedestrian Program is to improve access and safety for bicyclists and/or pedestrians through the planning, design, and construction of infrastructure projects. Applications are due by Wednesday, September 30, 1 pm.

The Bike/Ped Program provides funding for either a scoping study or a design/construction project for one or any combination of the following facilities:

  • Bicycle lanes (on-road facility delineated with pavement markings and signs)
  • Shoulders (generally a minimum of 3-feet wide to accommodate bicyclists)
  • Sidewalks
  • Pedestrian crossing improvements, including median pedestrian refuge islands
  • Pedestrian signals
  • Improvements that address requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Shared-use paths (for both bicyclists and pedestrians)

Projects with the following emphasis will be considered favorably if they:

  • Address a documented safety concern such as a high-crash location
  • Connect to existing bicycle and pedestrian networks
  • Are accessible from village centers and downtown areas
  • Serve multiple uses; e.g., access to businesses, homes, and schools

For a copy of the VTrans 2020 Bicycle and Pedestrian Grant Program Guide and to access the application materials, visit the VTrans Bike/Ped Program website.   You may also obtain a copy or ask any questions about the program or application process by contacting Jon Kaplan by phone at (802) 498-4742 or email at jon.kaplan@vermont.gov.

Get Ready for the Upper Valley E-Bike Library!

Do you wish biking was part of your life? E-bikes can greatly increase that possibility. E-bikes (electric bikes) are like regular bikes but with an electric motor in addition to human-powered pedals, a battery to store power for that motor, and a heavier frame to accommodate the increased hardware. The electric assist can help with the physical issues, daunting hills, and the need to haul heavy loads (kids, groceries, or both are easier with a cargo e-bike like the one pictured!) that might otherwise keep you off your bike. This could enable you to replace many car trips with breezy, two-wheel journeys that don’t clog the roads or present parking challenges. 

Worldwide, e-bike sales are booming, and the market is stuffed with different choices on frame, type and size of motor, battery storage —  to name just a few variables. How do you choose?

The first step is to try some models and see what features you like best. Enter Local Motion’s Upper Valley E-bike Library. Organized by eight Upper Valley town energy committees with the help of Vital Communities, this new program of Local Motion is a spin-off of its popular Traveling E-bike Library that visited Hartford and Norwich last summer. 

From Monday, June 29 through the end of October, the library will be stationed in various Upper Valley communities. Residents of each community can borrow either of two e-bike models free of charge for a few days (or an hour) to get a feel for the two-wheel life. 

The library is scheduled to be based in the following locations during the following time periods:

Monday, June 29 – Sunday, July 19: Norwich
Norwich residents can reserve a bike here.

Monday, July 20 – Sunday, August 9: Thetford
Thetford residents can reserve a bike here.

Monday, August 10 – Sunday, August 30: Cornish/Plainfield

Monday, August 31 – Sunday September 20: Hartland

Monday, September 21 – Sunday, October 11: Harford 

Monday, October 12 – Sunday, November 1: Hanover

The coronavirus pandemic delayed the anticipated mid-April launch of the Upper Valley E-Bike Library but Local Motion and local organizers are excited to be able to offer the bikes for the rest of the summer. Each bike will go through a rigorous cleaning protocol after being returned from one borrower and again before being lent to the next one. 

Check back in this blog post for program details and registration information as the bikes move to the next town!

Lend Your Voice to Local/National Commute Survey

The commutes of many Upper Valley residents have changed significantly due to COVID-19, with many shifting to telecommuting. Now that workplaces are starting to open back up, transportation planners are interested in understanding the potential changes in work travel.

Transportation partners across Vermont and the nation invite you to provide feedback on how COVID-19 may impact your commutes to work. Results from the survey will provide important information to transportation providers, policy makers, and employers on how to meet the needs of commuters and help ensure your return to the work site is safe and reliable.

Complete the survey online (takes about 5 minutes) at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ACTcovidCATMA 

The survey is open until July 3, 2020, and as an incentive all submissions received by June 26, 2020 will qualify for a drawing for one of five (5) $100 Amazon gift cards. The survey can be completed by all individuals currently working or planning to return to work in the coming months.

The survey was developed by the Association for Commuter Transportation and Center for Transportation Demand Management, with results being shared with the Vermont Agency of Transportation, Vermont’s regional planning commissions, Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association, and Upper Valley Transportation Management Association. Thanks in advance for your participation.

(photo: Abigail Feldman Photography)

Raise Money while Working from Home

Work from home and help raise $500 for Vermont Foodbank. Simply record your telecommute trips in your Go! Vermont account every day that you work from home and when 500 telecommutes have been recorded, we’ll donate $500 to the Vermont Foodbank.

To record a telecommute, just select “Record a trip” and choose the “telecommute” mode. If you have trips that are automatically being recorded every week, you can update your trip profile and change the mode to “telecommute”.

Not a member? Please consider joining today. Find the app in the App Store or Google Play or use the online platform.

Together, we can help our neighbors and make a difference in Vermont during these tough times!

Dazzlingly Reflective, 80’s Style

We love pairing style with nighttime visibility, so we’ve ordered REFLECTIVE SLAP BRACELETS to reward people who bike or walk to Flavors of the Valley on Sunday, April 7!

If you bike and walk to the event, stop by the Vital Communities corner and let us know. Choose a plain bracelet or you can bedazzle yours with rhinestones for the full effect!

These slap bracelets are for many sizes of wrists and can also work on ankles.

– Bethany & Paige
Vital Communities Transportation 

Get your bike, boots, or shoes ready!

Get your bike, boots, or shoes ready! From our friends at Local Motion comes the Winter Edition of Vermont’s Bike-Walk Challenge, February 1 to 8! Simply record two bike or walk commutes in the Go! Vermont app that week to be eligible to win prizes. “Multi (e.g. walk + transit)” commutes also count if you walk, run, or bike to a bus or other transit mode. Run commuting counts as walking.

Please email ross@localmotion.org with any questions, and check out www.localmotion.org/winterbiking for winter biking advice and tips.

(above photo: Upper Valley year-round bike commuter Steve demonstrates his winter biking gear!)

Donuts & Hogwarts: A Transit Travel Training Case Study

One thing a group of Millennial cartoonists doesn’t need is help using a smartphone app – especially an intuitive one that shows the real-time location of buses in the rural transit system, Advance Transit. No, a lack of tech savvy is not the barrier keeping these students off the bus. It’s more like,

“Cool, there’s an app, but how do I know the name of the bus stop out front?”
“Does the bus go to the theater where Black Panther is playing?”
“I’m just nervous to try the bus—what if it doesn’t show up?” 

Over Vital Communities’ two-year partnership with Advance Transit to promote their real-time bus system, we’ve learned that it often takes a little extra to get people confidently riding transit. “Travel training,” which traditionally only serves people who need special assistance, can be valuable to almost anyone.

Car ownership is low among the several dozen students at the Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) in downtown White River Junction—a Master of Fine Arts program in sequential art. The school has consistently promoted Advance Transit as a way to explore the Upper Valley. But in talking to several alums, we discovered that many CCS students were hesitant to try the free bus, and tended to stay close to campus.

We decided to change this by partnering with a recent graduate now employed by the school –who had never been on Advance Transit either but was eager to help. He distributed a simple graphic flyer (right and below) to students that promised a Friday afternoon bus trip to neighboring Hanover to get donuts from famed Lou’s Restaurant & Bakery and visit Dartmouth’s “Hogwarts-esque” Baker Library.

On a sunny February day, I met a dozen students and alums in the school’s lobby. I prompted them to download Advance Transit’s real-time app and gave them a bus system overview—how to find the bus stops, which routes run where, etc. Then we walked around the block to the bus stop and took the 15 minute trip from White River Junction to Hanover, New Hampshire.

Once in Hanover, we picked up an overstuffed bakery box of assorted donuts from Lou’s and walked across the Green to Baker Library. The students had a great time

digging into the comics and graphic novel section of the library “stacks” and then tiptoeing through the ornate Tower Room.

Many had never been to Baker before—even though CCS maintains a library card there for its students. But now this vast resource is only a short bus ride away.

Aside from giving a few pointers, I didn’t have to do much after the students boarded the bus in White River. That’s just it. Simply getting them on the bus that first time undid the majority of their concerns about the bus. After all, they had watched the bus’s movement on the real-time app while they waited at the bus stop, and then a knowledgeable and friendly driver picked them up on time and took them to Hanover, as promised. Sure, they still had to learn their way around town and get on the right bus, but the bus was now a known and trusted entity. Perhaps Robyn, an alum, put it best: “I just needed someone who knew the system to go with me the first time.” And remembering the impact of a coworker first taking me on Advance Transit almost two decades ago, I think she’s right.

– Bethany Fleishman, Transportation Program Manager at Vital Communities/Upper Valley Transportation Management Association

Buses are FREE Thursday for Dump the Pump Day!

Join people around the Upper Valley and nationwide and take the bus Thursday, June 21 for the 13th annual Dump the Pump Day. Stagecoach and Connecticut River Transit (“The Current”) will be FARE-FREE. And Advance Transit is ALWAYS FREE! 

Need some reasons? Here are a few.

Public Transportation Saves Money

  • A household can save nearly $10,000 by getting rid of one car and taking the bus instead.
  • New Hampshire and Vermont drivers spend more than $1 BILLION annually on fuel and most of those dollars leave the state.

Public Transportation Reduces Gasoline Consumption

  • ​Public transportation saves Americans 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually.

Public Transportation Is Better for the Environment

  • ​Communities that invest in public transit reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually

Public Transportation Is Safer Than Automobile Travel

  • Traveling by bus is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by automobile.

Public Transportation Boosts the Economy

  • Every $1 invested in public transportation generates $4 in economic returns.

Y’all Curbed the Car!

On Friday, May 18, the Upper Valley celebrated its newest holiday: Curb the Car Day.20180518_080014-PH

Riffing off National Bike to Work Day, Curb the Car Day embraces all forms of non-drive-alone commutes: biking, walking, taking transit, telecommuting, carpooling, vanpooling, and more. 

Seven workplaces participated in the event, with participants receiving free breakfast snacks, coffee, and swag. See some event photos below! 

One organizer-participant — Erin from the Upper Valley Haven — penned this poem to rouse interest among her coworkers and other commuters traveling by the Haven’s Curb the Car Day station on Route 5 in Wilder:

Curb Your Car Day is tomorrow,
Ride your bike and you won’t feel sorrow.

Take the bus, walk or carpool,
Trust me, you will be SO cool!
A light breakfast will be served on site,
So come have a little bite.
Afterwards you can take a shower
And bask in all your power.

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Bus-Bike-Car Race Finish

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IMG_20180518_083408880-Linda Gray

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