Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I am emailing you as a Burlington supporter of Local Motion who wants to see our city become a truly great place for people-powered transportation.  Next week -- on Monday, October 6 -- we have the opportunity to take a huge step forward for walking and biking in Burlington, and we need your help.  Read on for details, and click here to RSVP.  

Over the last year or so, Local Motion has been intensively involved in a project to chart a new future for North Avenue, Burlington's longest street and the backbone of the New North End.  With strong leadership from New North End residents, a consensus has emerged around a series of commonsense changes that will make North Avenue safe and accessible for everyone, whether you are walking, biking, taking the bus, or driving.  

On Monday, October 6 at 6 PM, the Burlington City Council will decide whether to approve these important changes to North Avenue.  They need to hear from you!  Click here to join the movement to make North Avenue safe for everyone.  There is a small but vocal minority of residents who do not want any change on North Avenue at all.  The City Council needs to know that support for change is broad and deep.

Will you commit to speaking out at Monday's City Council meeting for a walkable, bikeable, liveable future for North Avenue and for our city as a whole?  Click here to let us know that we can count on you to be there on Monday.  See below for FAQs, talking points, and resources.

Together, we will make North Avenue -- and Burlington as a whole -- the kind of place where everyone feels safe walking or biking anywhere.  

Jason Van Driesche 
Director of Advocacy and Education

New to the North Avenue project?  Need more info?  Here are answers to some FAQs.

I don't live in the New North End.  Why should I care?

Great question!  There are two reasons why the vote on North Avenue matters for the city as a whole.  

First, many of Burlington's most important institutions and destinations are in the New North End, including the high school and one of our two middle schools, three of our four regional-scale parks, and more.  So chances are you or your kids travel to or through the New North End regularly, and making North Avenue safer for walking, biking, and driving would give you more options and some peace of mind.  

Second, North Avenue is the first major corridor that has undergone an in-depth study of this kind since Mayor Weinberger came into office.  This means that the City's decision about North Avenue will send a strong signal about how serious this administration is about improving conditions for walking and biking city-wide.  So if you want Winooski Avenue or Pearl Street or Shelburne Street or anyplace else in Burlington to get a real makeover in the near future, you need to speak out for the same on North Avenue.

I don't know enough about what the recommended changes are.  Where can I learn more?

Here is a very brief overview of the proposed near-term improvements (which means in the next one to three years) as recommended by the Transportation, Energy, and Utilities Committee (TEUC) of the City Council, with a summary of the benefits of each improvement:
  • 4-TO-3 LANE CONVERSION:  With a center turn lane, commuter traffic will flow more smoothly and crashes will be fewer, with the new center turn lane from 127 to Shore Road allowing people who need to make a turn to get out of the travel lane
  • SAFER INTERSECTIONS:  Crash risk will decline at intersections as turning lanes are redesigned to discourage high-speed right turns (particularly at Ethan Allen Parkway and Plattsburgh Avenue)
  • IMPROVED CROSSWALKS:  People will feel more comfortable crossing North Avenue with exclusive pedestrian phases, blinking lights at new mid-block crosswalks, and many other upgrades
  • CONTINUOUS BIKE LANES:  People riding in the new bike lanes along almost the entire length of North Avenue (Washington Street to Plattsburgh Avenue) will have fewer conflicts with motorists, resulting in lower blood pressure and improved safety all around
  • A BUFFER FOR PEDESTRIANS:  People walking to the store or to school will breathe easier as cars are seven or eight feet away from the curb instead of just two -- and as bikes ride in the bike lane instead of on the sidewalk
  • MORE SPACE FOR BUSES:  Buses will integrate more smoothly into traffic with consistent 10.5 foot lanes plus a buffer on either side, which give them a little more room to maneuver than the current 10 foot lanes in the four-lane section
Click here for the full text of the minutes from the final Advisory Committee meeting (where these recommendations were finalized for consideration by the TEUC).


How can I get involved in making other Burlington streets better for walking and biking?

First, join Local Motion if you aren't a member already!  You can join at http://www.localmotion.org/give/members.  Our members fuel our work to make Burlington -- and Vermont as a whole -- a great place to get around under your own power.

Second, sign up to be an advocate for a walkable and bikeable Burlington!  While Local Motion is the hub for making Burlington a great place to walk and bike, you are the spokes -- and the wheel, and the rest of the bike.  Reply to this email to get periodic alerts on opportunities to make a difference for a walkable, bikeable city.

Third, get out on the streets and make yourself heard!  There's a fantastic new group calledBikeable Burlington Now that is organizing rides and other events to highlight the demand for a more bikeable city.  Join in the conversation, and stand up with them for better biking!

Friday, September 19, 2014

New Date for City Council Hearing/Action on North Avenue Corridor Plan: Monday, October 6

Members of the North Avenue Corridor Study Advisory Committee and public meeting attendees were notified on Sept. 18 that the City Council Hearing and Action on the draft corridor plan (scheduled for Sept 22) was RESCHEDULED for  Monday, October 6. Contois Auditorium. Public Forum, 7pm.

At the council transportation committee (TEUC), 19 people advocated for the plan. One person spoke against it, and asked for a delay. We're told the delay was because the Mayor, TEUC, and the City Attorney could not get a resolution written in time for the Sept 22 meeting.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Full City Council Considers Approving North Avenue Corridor Plan Sept. 22 after Council Committee Approval Sept 10

The North Avenue Corridor Plan draft approved by the study Advisory Committee advanced with one minor change to the City Council following a unanimous vote by the Council’s Transportation, Energy and Utilities Committee (TEUC) September 10.

The Burlington City Council will consider adoption of the plan at their Monday, September 22nd meeting.

The TEUC, chaired by Max Tracy, Ward 2, vote took place after 19 residents spoke in favor of the Advisory Plan and one resident questioned the need to move the plan which took 15 months to prepare so quickly to adoption.  About 40 residents attended the meeting.  The hearing and vote was held at the Police Department meeting room and is available on CCTV.

Some amendments were considered by the Committee but eventually withdrawn.  The two-and-a-half hour generally quiet meeting and thoughtfully presented comments limited to two minutes each was broken following the Council approval vote by a burst of applause.  The one change to the draft plan was to retain a 30 mph speed limit between VT 127 and the Shore Rd./Heineberg Rd. intersection.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Join Bike Train 2--7:45 a.m. TEUC Day (Wed Sept 10) starting at Merola's (Plattsburgh Ave/North Ave)

Posted on FPF Sept 3:  FYI

Ride to Support Bike Infrastructure Sept. 10

Event: Sep 10, 2014
Burlington Bike Train
There has been a lot of recent talk of change in the New North End of Burlington, primarily via the recently completed North Ave Corridor Study. The recommended changes will be presented to the TUEC Committee on the evening of this ride. We're riding to show support for real change to the corridor, which is currently very bike unfriendly for most of its length.
What is a Bike Train? A Bike Train is a group ride that obeys traffic laws and practices courtesy by placing space between riders (as opposed to riding en masse) such that other road users may operate around bicyclists as they would normally. The long line of bicyclists shows that BIKES RIDE HERE and that better infrastructure is needed for all road users to operate safely and efficiently.
We'll ride from Merola's at the intersection of Plattsburg and North Ave. all the way down to North St. where the current study ends. The ride will double back along Lakeview to end up at Scout & Company.
Usually, the Mayor is at The Bagel on North Ave on Wednesday mornings, so we might do a quick stop there as well.
Please spread the word, invite your friends to the ride (and to join the group). We're really hoping for a great turnout for this ride, since a strong show of support for much needed bike infrastructure on North Ave will help push City Council to support the changes we all want!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

City Council Committee Final Hearing/Action Wednesday, September 10, 6 p.m. Police Department Meeting Room

The final committee decisions on a draft North Avenue Corridor Plan occur at  the Transportation, Energy and Utilities (TEUC) Committee meeting Wednesday September 10 starting at 6 p.m. at the Police Department public meeting room in the building at the top of Battery Park.

The TEUC meeting it open to all and everyone who attends will be allotted time to speak on the draft plan, Councilor Max Tracy, chair, has assured.  The other two TEUC committee members are Ward 7 Councilor Tom Ayres who also represented the City Council on the study Advisory Committee and Ward 5 Councilor Chip Mason.  The last step in the review process is expected at a late September  City Council meeting.

The major Advisory Committee short term (within three years)  recommendations: (1) a four-lane to three-lane remarking of North Avenue between Shore Rd./Heineberg Rd. and VT 127; (2) establishing bike lanes on the roadway from Plattsburgh Avenue to Washington Street with cycle track (protected bike lanes which in this case will be flexible posts) between VT 127 and Institute Rd (BHS).

The long term vision includes the goal of North Avenue as a "world class" street with the highest level of safety for those who walk, bicycle, and travel by car or transit.   Achieving that goal includes cycle track from end to end of the 2.8 mile corridor (Plattsburgh Ave. to North St.) and three roundabouts replacing traffic signals at VT 127,  Burlington High School (Institute Rd.) and Plattsburgh Ave).  The improvements for North Avenue represent the first transportation investments impacting on North Avenue since the completion of the Bikepath in 1986 and the Beltline in the 1970s.

Replacing Signals with Roundabouts--Routine Now

The City of Cologne replaced 200 traffic signals with roundabouts and another 90 signals scheduled for the scrap heap there, a trend throughout Germany. Surveys show anywhere from 40 to 100 percent of signals can go the way of the dodo bird.  And the German bike federation applauds the trend. 

http://www.thelocal.de/20110311/33651   Article somewhat dated but still topical. 

Burlington has 75 signalized intersection, Vermont about 400.  
The Brattleboro Keene-Turn Roundabout was the first Vermont traffic signal to roundabout conversion in 1999 and injuries dropped 95 percent (five years before, 55, five years after conversion 1).  Montpelier's second roundabout at US 2/302 also replaced a traffic signal.  Manchester Center plans include converting its only two remaining signals to roundabouts (Depot Street).  Brattleboro's Putney Road corridor road re-development plan supported by the Town and Vermont Agency of Transportation converts the three remaining signals from Keeene Turn Roundabout south on US 5 to roundabouts as well as installing both walk and bike mode quality facilities. 

The three signals to roundabouts conversion on North Avenue in the draft plan is just a continuation of the movement to improve intersections with the roundabout reducing delay for all users, saving gasoline and associated pollution (including greenhouse gas emissions), improving scenic quality, and reducing injury and fatality rates for all modes up to 90%.


Saturday, August 16, 2014


In about an hour at an informational session the entire North Avenue Corridor Plan (NACP) process got an overview from Nicole Losch of the Department of Public Works (DPW) and all eight interested City residents, mostly from the Old and New North End commented and interacted with the City Council’s Transportation, Energy and Utilities Committee (TEUC) chaired by Councilor Max Tracy.  The other two TEUC members, Councilor Tom Ayres who also represented the Council on the study Advisory Committee and Chip Mason, also attended the Wednesday, August 13 session, 

An opportunity for all to speak at a public meeting with at least some of the completed draft NACP available will occur in a September (date to be determined) TEUC hearing followed by their changes to the plan, if any.  That TEUC meeting will be held at the Miller Center on Goss Court.  Then a final hearing and decision with changes, if any, occurs at City Council, likely in late September.

The TEUC Wednesday, August 14 meeting held at the Police Department meeting room discussion centered mostly on the Advisory Committee recommendation of a two year “pilot”, a reduction of four lanes to three lanes (the middle lane for turns) between the Shore Rd./Heineberg Rd. intersection and VT 127.  With repaving of that section schedule in about three years to five years a two-year pilot might be possible next year and if found unacceptable to corridor residents, be returned to the current four lanes at no cost as part of repaving at the earliest date of 2017.   The pilot work includes just erasing existing lines and installing the three lane markings, plus marking bike lanes on either side. 

In addition, the Advisory Committee recommendation includes removing parking north of Washington Street and marking bike lanes on either side throughout the corridor north of Washington Street with a demonstration cycle track (protected bike lanes using flexible posts in this case) between VT 127 and BHS.

Advisory Committee NPA member and North End bike commuter RJ Lalumiere asked whether two years is sufficient to determine the three-lane conversion effective.   Tony Redington, another Advisory Committee NPA member pointed to a similar “road diet” conversion in Seattle with the first two years results already showing marked reductions in crashes and injuries for car occupants and pedestrians (down 80 percent) declining significantly and cyclist injury numbers unchanged while bicycle volumes increased 30 percent.  TEUC requested DPW to look into the Colchester Avenue four-to-three lane change and any other examples to give the decision makers some background in addressing this question.  Williston Road from Dorset east underwent a similar conversion in 2013 and reports so far from all users, including cyclists who benefit from marked bike lanes, have been generally very positive.   Redington pointed out the Advisory Committee confidence the pilot would work and obtain community support to be extended.

Phil Hammerslough, a member of the Burlington Walk Bike Council, expressed support for the Advisory Committee recommendations and noted the importance of alternative transportation in the coming years when alternatives of the car become increasingly important to a sustainable community.   Protected bike lanes—cycle track—also was stressed by at the meeting and Mr. Lalumiere noted his own personal bike crash at VT 127—fortunately with only bumps and bruises—while commuting from the North End to his South End worksite.  Two residents expressed doubts about some of the recommendations questioning the quality of public input, the need for the four-to-three lane change, questions about where the funds would come from (mostly from federal highway funds paid by user taxes), and pointing to the Bikepath on the west and the Beltline adjacent bike path for those who bicycle.  Charlene Wallace of Local Motion commented that lack of quality bike infrastructure kept about 60% of the population from bicycling in their community and the presence of lanes and cycle track expands the number of residents willing to take to two-wheelers.  Part and parcel of the pilot would be marked bike lanes from Shore Rd./Heineberg Dr. through to BHS. In addition cycle track would be installed between VT 127 and BHS.

Lalumiere also explained that the others in his family do not bicycle on North Avenue because of safety concerns and getting to the shopping center by bike for them involves an extra mile travel each way—the Bikepath is not an alternative.  

Redington stressed the “try before you buy” approach of the Advisory Committee recommendations of the 4 to 3 lane pilot, and additionally pointed to a letter set to go from the Walk Bike Council to DPW requesting an inexpensive mini-roundabout demonstration at a City all-way stop intersection be installed so everybody gets a chance next summer to drive, walk, and bike though a typical roundabout design.    DPW Director Chapin Spencer and Advisory Committee member and NPA representative Barry Trutor also attended.