Please Show Your Support for Two Bike/Ped-Friendly Bills
Please send an email message to Fran Cerulli (
), the legislative staffer for the House Transportation Committee, in support of the following two bike/ped-friendly bills: (Please "cc" your own representatives on your messages.)
H.209 and H.306
Here's the reason for this request:
H.209 is a bill which builds on the Safe Passing law of 2010. H.209 has been introduced by main sponsor Rep. Jim McCullough after much leg work by citizen advocate Bruce Cunningham. It mandates that a motorist pass a bicyclist (or other vulnerable roadway user) with a minimum of 3-feet clearance and with additional clearance as vehicle speed increases. This bill will provide enhanced safety for bicyclists, pedestrians, and other vulnerable roadway users. Here's a link to the full text of H.209. Click on "Original Version."
H.306 is a bill which doubles the fine for motorists who speed in the immediate vicinity of a school. The bill calls for the monies collected from fines to be dedicated to VT's Safe Routes to School program. Currently, fines are doubled in construction work zones. VT's children (and all others who use roads near schools) deserve the same level of protection. This bill has been introduced by main sponsor, Rep. Mollie Burke, at the request of the VBPC. Here's a link to the text of H.306. Click on "Original Version."
In other legislative matters: Many bicyclists are expressing concern about S.136, a bill introduced on the Senate side that requires bikes to be registered. The VBPC's recommendation is to take no action as this bill is very unlikely to advance. Instead, please focus your time and energy on helping to get H.209 and H.306 voted out of the House Trans Committee. That's the critical next step. There's lots of competition and your voice is needed to demonstrate to lawmakers that Vermonters care about bike/ped safety.
VBPC Supports Expanded Bottle Bill
The following comments were delivered by the VBPC’s executive director, Nancy Schulz, at a public meeting organized by the Agency of Natural Resources on March 12, 2013:
As the executive director of the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, a statewide nonprofit organization, I appreciate the opportunity to speak this evening on behalf of Vermont’s many bicyclists and pedestrians.
One often hears elected leaders and public officials use the word “pristine” to describe Vermont. If you spend any amount of time bicycling or walking on Vermont’s roads, you know that the word “pristine” doesn’t apply. Walkers and bicyclists, by virtue of their slower speed and proximity to the earth, see plenty of ugly trash that is frequently invisible to those zooming along in motor vehicles. Besides being aesthetically offensive, this trash can contaminate our waterways and harm Vermont’s wildlife. It also sends a message that community members don’t care enough about their towns to keep their roadsides clean.
Cleaner roadways are safer roadways. Roadways that are littered with trash, including sharp pieces of metal and broken glass, are hazardous to the category of citizens called “vulnerable roadway users.” This category includes not only bicyclists and walkers but also runners, equestrians, roller skiers, construction workers, and many others.
Almost all Vermonters are pedestrians even if their short walk is from a parking spot to the office or from home to the corner store. Because most of Vermont’s paved roads are not lined with sidewalks, pedestrians are forced to walk on the shoulder or in the travel lane, if a shoulder isn’t present. Under these circumstances, broken glass presents a real danger, especially in low-light conditions.
When confronted by a shoulder littered with broken glass, a cyclist must decide to either risk a flat tire by continuing straight ahead or risk a collision with a motor vehicle by swerving left into the travel lane. Neither choice is a safe one yet bicyclists in Vermont face these choices on a daily basis.
Given that the draft report comparing system costs and materials recovery rates estimates that Vermont saves roughly $850,000 per year as a result of the current bottle bill and that an expanded bottle bill will result in savings of $1.2 million, it would seem that expansion is a wise choice. Expansion would seem to be an especially wise choice when public safety and environmental costs, including those I’ve just described, are considered in the equation. In the 40 years since the first bottle bill was implemented, the amount of litter in Vermont has dropped by one third. Let’s protect citizens and truly beautify Vermont’s landscape by reducing the amount of litter on our roadsides even more. Please support an expanded bottle bill. Thank you.
Progress in 2012
Please consider some of the bike/ped progress that’s been made in 2012:
- Ten thousand copies of a new statewide bike map were published through the collaboration of the VT Bike/Ped Coalition (VBPC) and the Department of Tourism & Marketing with the steadfast project management of VBPC volunteer Lou Bresee. Plans for the next edition are already underway.
- Bike/ped trainings for law enforcement officers, begun at the Police Academy, have spread to municipal departments. The VBPC gave 90-minute trainings in central Vermont and in Bennington in 2012. Barre City is scheduled for January.
- Quarterly meetings with the VTrans management team and the VBPC occurred as well as a VTrans meeting with the state’s bike/ped advocates. The exchange of information and the honest discussion is building mutual trust and understanding, essential to improving bike/ped conditions in Vermont.
- Thanks to our advocacy efforts in Vermont, Amtrak is studying the feasibility of rolling bikes onto trains not only in Vermont but also elsewhere in the country.
- Our campaign to recruit bike/ped-friendly individuals for all Transportation Advisory Committees (TACs) at the Regional Planning Commissions is getting results. The Rutland TAC, for example, established a bike/ped seat with voting authority.
- Our annual Bike/Ped Forum grew for the fourth consecutive year and featured eight breakout sessions. With very positive feedback from the 80+ attendees, the VBPC will continue to grow the Forum in size and influence.
- The VBPC is active in the Infrastructure and Education Committees of the newly-formed VT Highway Safety Alliance (VHSA). The first regional Safety Forum featured a presentation on the VBPC’s programs for law enforcement officers and drivers education students. Three more Safety Forums are planned for 2013.
Please help the VBPC keep the good bike/ped news coming by clicking here. All contributions are tax deductible. Thank you.
Bike/Ped Forum Draws Enthusiastic Crowd
Attendees at the 4th Annual Bike/Ped Forum hosted by the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition on October 24 in Montpelier are shown listening to an update on Amtrak advocacy efforts. (Photo courtesy of Anne Ferguson)
The VT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition (VBPC) held its annual Bike/Ped Forum on October 24 in Montpelier. The event attracted over 80 attendees who participated actively in eight breakout sessions and two plenary sessions. Topics included: What's happening at VTrans and Amtrak, making towns more bike/ped-friendly, working with law enforcement, the new generation of utility bikes, incentives for employees who bike or walk to work, mapmaking, the Complete Streets law, unpaved trails and paths, and the data revealed by the recently completed bike/ped economic study. Attendees included transportation planners, elected state and local officials, members of advocacy groups and bike clubs, owners of bike shops and other bike/ped businesses, law enforcement officers, staffers from colleges and government agencies, bike/ped enthusiasts, and others.
Sponsors of the event included the VT Dept. of Tourism & Marketing, Bike Vermont, Merchants Bank, Skirack, the Old Spokes Home, Onion River Sports, and the Rutland Regional Planning Commission. The Red Hen Bakery, On the Rise Bakery, Hannaford's, The Flynn Center, and Sun Fitness provided donations of food and door prizes. Speakers were from a variety of groups, including the Brattleboro Bike Revolution, the Mad River Path Association, the Vermont Mountain Biking Association, VTrans, the VT Department of Tourism and Marketing, National Life, the VT Rail Action Network, the Windham Regional Commission, the law firm Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, AARP, Local Motion, and Lake Champlain Bikeways.
The next Forum will be shaped by the feedback received from attendees and by the requests that are submitted from members of Vermont's bike/ped community. Topic ideas and miscellaneous suggestions can be sent to VBPC executive director, Nancy Schulz via
The VBPC is a statewide nonprofit organization that works, through education and advocacy, to transform Vermont into a state that is truly friendly to bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages. More information can be found at www.vtbikeped.org
Free Statewide Bicycle Map Released
Thanks to many hours of hard work by volunteer project coordinator Lou Bresee, graphic design skills contributed by students from Champlain College and the cooperation of the state's Department of Tourism & Marketing, a long-awaited statewide bicycle map (in print form) is now reality. The map is entitled "Vermont Bikeways: The Vermont State Roads & Trails Bike Map." You can obtain bulk copies of this free map by contacting
Single copies can be requested via VermontVacation.com Ten thousand copies were printed and the next edition is already being planned.
The VBPC is grateful to Megan Smith, Commissioner of the Department of Tourism & Marketing, for the Department's contributions to this project, particularly the costs associated with printing and distribution. Greg Gerdel and David Burnell (also from Tourism) played key roles in getting the map completed. Thanks, too, to David Lustgarden for involving Champlain's students in this real world experience and to the volunteer bicyclists who recommended the best roads in their regions of the state.
Please note that this map is viewed as a first edition in what we anticipate will be an ever-improving series of maps. You may wonder why certain roads were designated as bike routes and other roads were not. Sometimes it was a result of the input we received from bicyclists who live in the area and who were asked to supply recommendations. Space limitations played a role in certain omissions. There were numerous other factors at play, as well. Most important to note is the opportunity for you to supply feedback for the next edition of this map. Please help us make future maps more accurate, more complete, and better in every way. After reviewing the map, go to VermontVacation.com/Feedback and record your thoughts. Your suggestions will be studied in preparation for the next edition.
In the meantime, please use this new map to explore more of Vermont--safely by bike. Thank you.
Comments Submitted to Transportation Board (November, 2012)
The Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition (VBPC) is a statewide nonprofit organization that works to transform Vermont into a safer and friendlier place for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages. The VBPC appreciates the opportunity to submit comments on behalf of its members and supporters, who wish to see changes in Vermont’s transportation policies.
The Coalition is grateful for the effort that was made by the T-Board to provide advance notice of the 2012 series of hearings. The VBPC is grateful, also, for the positive changes VTrans has made recently, including awarding almost $2.5 million to towns for bike/ped projects, distributing new bike racks throughout the state, agreeing to meet quarterly with the VBPC, and welcoming the VBPC’s request to become involved in the newly-formed VT Highway Safety Alliance (VHSA).
The bike/ped community in Vermont remains concerned about a number of issues including the following:
Shoulders. Many of Vermont’s paved roads that are maintained by the state lack shoulders. In cases where shoulders exist, the shoulders are often in poor condition or are too narrow for safe bicycling. The single most important infrastructure improvement that the state can make for bicyclists and pedestrians is to improve the condition and the width of shoulders. A feedback system might be something that could help VTrans be more responsive to specific notifications of trouble spots. An example of a web site designed for this purpose is: http://www.fixmystreet.com/
Sweeping a shoulder a couple of times a year so that it is relatively free of debris is important, also.
Paving. It’s important for VTrans, as it copes with insufficient dollars in its maintenance budget, to be as creative as possible in finding solutions to paving problems. The VBPC hopes that VTrans will continue to explore the middle ground between mere pothole patching and total repaving of road surfaces. Using dollars efficiently and being more bike/ped friendly do not have to be mutually exclusive goals.
Complete Streets Implementation. The Complete Streets law, which went into effect in July 2011, requires that the needs of all roadway users be considered when new roads are constructed and when existing roads are re-constructed. The rush to re-open bridges and roads after Tropical Storm Irene in August, 2011 caused the Complete Streets law to be ignored. This was understandable given the scope of the damage and the need to speed the recovery. Because scientists tell us Vermont can anticipate more severe storms as a result of climate change, can the administration provide some assurance that the Complete Streets law won’t be ignored each time a major storm destroys existing infrastructure?
Bikes on Trains. Amtrak recently announced that it’s exploring the feasibility of allowing bikes to be rolled onto trains in VT once again. The VBPC appreciates the fact that this announcement followed letters that came from Governor Shumlin and Commissioner of Tourism & Marketing, Megan Smith. It’s important that elected and appointed officials within the Shumlin administration continue to monitor developments and let Amtrak know that they look forward to progress in this area.
To improve the health of Vermont’s citizens, to have cleaner air and water, to curb climate change, chronic disease rates, and health care costs, there are cost-effective methods. There are ways to make it possible for Vermonters to bicycle, walk, and run safely. Other states and countries are making these changes. Vermont can, too.
As you prepare your report for the legislature and for VTrans, the VBPC strongly recommends that you stress the importance of including the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians in all transportation-related decisions. Thank you.
2012 Tour de Farms Was a Great Success:
500 People, 25 Food Stops, One Beautiful Day!
A lively crowd of 500 cyclists and walkers convened on the Shoreham Green on Sunday, September 16th to participate in the 2012 Tour de Farms. The 5th annual cycling and sampling event drew participants from all over Vermont, as well as the greater New England region, and from as far away as California and even London! The Tour featured twenty-five sampling partners from Addison County, including 21 farmers, 3 restaurants, and the local Co-op.
As cyclists traveled from farm to farm under beautiful blue skies, they were treated to samples of hearty minestrone soup from Eagle’s Flight Farm, apples & cider from Champlain Orchards, signature salsa from Singing Cedars, maple-rubbed pork from Vermont Trade Winds Farm, creamy tomato basil soup from Neshobe Farm, farm fresh eggs from Doolittle Farm, pate from North Branch Farm & Gardens, and so much more! In addition to the sampling, cyclists were delighted to find NOFA’s wood-fired oven pizza and Sylvan Shade Farm’s Highland grassfed beef burgers for sale at the Orwell Green.
Following their 5, 10, 25, or 30 mile route, cyclists returned to the Shoreham Green with big smiles, full bellies, and the happy exhaustion that comes with a really good bike ride. The Shoreham Apple Fest was the perfect place to unwind, swap stories, and enjoy some good music and (even more!) food.
In the hours following the Tour, cyclist Ute Talley of Hinesburg VT followed up to say “What a great day and a GREAT event! I'm already inviting people to join us next year!”
The Tour de Farms is an annual benefit for ACORN, Rural Vermont, and the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition. This year’s Tour was generously sponsored by Earl’s Cyclery & Fitness, City Market, Healthy Living, Cabot Creamery, Green Mountain Feeds, the Lodge at Otter Creek, Vermont Sun, and the Addison County Regional Planning Commission.
Please save the date for next year’s Tour de Farms: Sunday, September 15th, 2013. For more information, contact
or call (802) 225-8904.
Ride of Silence Expands to 12 Communities
(Photo courtesy of Anne Ferguson)
An annual ride, designed to honor bicyclists who have been injured or killed in crashes with motor vehicles, has expanded to 12 Vermont communities. The photo shows the participants wearing armbands for prior to the start of the 2012 Montpelier Ride of Silence. The other communities in which rides were organized included Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, Hinesburg, Manchester, Middlebury, Randolph, St. Johnsbury, South Hero, Waterbury, and Woodstock.
Lawmakers Pedal for the Planet
Representatives Jim McCullough, Tom Stevens, Adam Howard, Mike Fisher, Mary Hooper, and Willem Jewett join members of the Killington Racing team, VBPC executive director, Nancy Schulz, and others in an early morning bike ride on April 20 to celebrate Earth Day.
(Photo courtesy of Jeb Wallace-Brodeur)
Law Enforcement Training
On March 30, the VT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition provided a two-hour training to 34 recruits at the VT Police Academy. The Coalition's first such training was offered to 44 recruits in November, 2010. VBPC board president Judy Bond, board vice president Bruce Lierman and executive director Nancy Schulz were impressed with the degree to which the recruits were engaged. Those in attendance contributed thoughtful questions, comments and feedback. The VBPC is offering this free training to police departments throughout VT. If you can help the VBPC make the connection with the PD in your community, please contact
VT Police Academy recruits study the "Share the Road" bumper sticker while VBPC executive director, Nancy Schulz, discusses key bike/ed laws. Photo courtesy of Judy Bond
VBPC board vice president, Bruce Lierman, demonstrates the proper way to wear and adjust a bicycle helmet. Law enforcement officers are sometimes involved with helmet distribution programs for young bicyclists and it's important for them to know how to fit a helmet. Photo courtesy of Judy Bond
Results of Bike/Ped Economic Study
Please click here to view a report on the economic impacts that bicycling and walking have in Vermont. VTrans funded the study, which was generated with the help of a task force, Local Motion, and consultants. The VT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition is pleased that this work was undertaken to generate hard numbers that bike/ped advocates can use to demonstrate the value of these activities in Vermont. Those who participate in bicycling and walking in Vermont benefit the economy in a variety of ways.
Bike Parking Report Is Prepared for Legislature
As a result of legislation that passed in 2011, a bike parking report was created for the 2012 legislative body. Except for the sections on inventory and recommendations, the report was written by the VBPC at the request of the Department of Buildings and General Services (BGS). It's an executive summary that discusses the findings of the bike parking survey conducted by the VBPC in the spring of 2011. In the report, the VBPC makes the point that good bike parking solutions at state buildings are site specific. A cookie cutter, one size fits all approach won't work. The VBPC hopes that BGS will heed the specific suggestions that are made in the bike parking survey relative to sites around the state.
Click here to read the executive summary of the bike parking report and click here to review the bike parking survey results.
Progress in 2011
The following is a partial list of some bike/ped news items and VBPC efforts in 2011. If you would like to build on the progress mentioned below, please consider making a financial gift (if you have not already done so).
Vermont’s own bike/ped program, which is contained within the VTrans budget and which had been closed since 2004, reopened and is expected to accept municipal applications in 2012.
"Bike/ped" was announced by the Shumlin administration as one one of four areas of emphasis within VTrans.
A bike parking bill, sponsored by Rep. Jason Lorber, passed. The bill requires the state to report on current bike racks (number, location, type, accessibility) at state buildings and plans the state has for repair and installation of bike racks over next three years.
71% of Vermonters who took Senator Doyle's Town Meeting survey responded "yes" when asked: "Should VT legislature encourage bicycling and walking?"
Lobbying led by AARP resulted in the passage of the Complete Streets law in VT which requires that the needs of bicyclists, pedestrians, and disabled citizens be taken into account when streets are reconstructed and when new streets are built.
The new Champlain Bridge, complete with 5' shoulders and 5' sidewalks on each side, opened in November.
The bike/ped community was consulted regarding which state road shoulders were most in need of sweeping and repair. The feedback was organized and forwarded to VTrans to use as a guide to which shoulders should take priority over others.
A record high 581 bicyclists participated in the 4th Annual Tour de Farms, an event that celebrates family farms, bicycling, and the beauty of VT's rural landscape through the collaborative efforts of the VBPC, Rural Vermont, and ACORN.
Bike shop and B&B owners, leaders of advocacy groups and bike clubs, staff from Chambers of Commerce and Regional Planning Commissions, representatives from VTrans and the Department of Marketing and Tourism, and other enthusiasts gathered at the 3rd Annual Bike/Ped Business Forum held in October.
StoryWalk®, the project that builds literacy and physical fitness outdoors, has spread to 36 states and two other countries. The Kellogg-Hubbard Library and the VBPC have collaborated to develop the StoryWalk® Project, which was created by Anne Ferguson.
Updated "Share the Road!" Bumper Sticker Now Available!
A new, revised "Share the Road!" bumper sticker is now available. The updated bumper sticker has a summary of Vermont bicycling laws on the back side and the summary includes the changes that went into effect in 2010. The stickers are available singly or in bulk quantities at no charge, but please consider sending a contribution to defray the cost of production and postage. You can direct requests to
Carry a Summary of Vermont's Bicycling Laws When You Ride
For a one-page summary of Vermont's bicycling laws that can be folded easily and carried by a bicyclist,
please click on this link: Vermont's Bicycling Laws. The VBPC thanks Judy Bond for researching the
statutes and creating this document.
Podcast of Mark Johnson radio program on WDEV held on August 3rd, 2011
Discussion of motorist harassment of bicyclists
For 1-1/2 hours the switchboard lit up with a steady stream of callers who wanted to comment on issues surrounding crumbling infrastructure, motorist harassment, registration of bicycles, and more.
Click on the link below to listen.
2011 Earth Day ride
Shown here are 17 of the 25 bicyclists who participated in the 2011 Earth Day ride on April 22. The group included five legislators: Rep. Valerie Stuart, Rep John Bartholomew, Rep. Willem Jewett, Rep Jim McCullough (not shown), and Rep. Chris Pearson (not shown) as well as 9 youth and 3 adults from the Killington Mountain School cycling team. The VBPC encourages everyone to have fun and "Share the Road." (Photo courtesy of Mark Collier)
Which State Road Shoulders Need Work?
Are you aware of sections of road shoulders that are particularly in need of repair and/or sweeping? Your input is being sought now by the Coalition as we work to prepare a list for Vtrans of shoulders that are most in need of sweeping and another list of shoulders that are most in need of repair. For sweeping purposes, VTrans is relying on a list of priority roads that the Coalition created four years ago. It’s time to update the sweeping list using input from VBPC members. Please send your feedback to
Note that VTrans only maintains about 20% of Vermont’s roads. Please don’t submit shoulders that are maintained by municipalities. If you’re unsure, you can find this information on the VTrans web site. It’s important to be as specific as possible. For example, don’t suggest that “all of Route 100” is a high priority for sweeping. Given current budgetary limitations, it will be most effective if you list the sections most in need of attention. Please submit your recommendations by the end of March and please distinguish sections that need repair from sections that need sweeping.
State Announces Bike/Ped Plans
In remarks before the House Transportation Committee on January 27, Deputy Secretary of Transportation Sue Minter outlined the administration's bike/ped plans for Fiscal Year 2012 which begins July 1. Deputy Secretary Minter stated that: "This administration is committed to accommodating needs of bicyclists and pedestrians." This is good news, indeed, and it's news that the bike/ped community in Vermont has waited a very long time to hear.
The following are some of the highlights the Deputy Secretary shared:
The state's FY 2012 bike/ped budget is up 2 percent over FY 2011. In these extremely difficult economic times, this is an indication that the Shumlin administration is acknowledging that bike/ped hasn't received the attention it deserves. (A list of which bike/ped projects are scheduled for construction in FY 2012 is available from VTrans. Please let me know if you are interested in these details.)
In FY 2012, the state will increase bike parking at park and ride facilities, public buildings, downtown areas, and at strategic public transit locations. (At the urging of the VBPC, Rep. Jason Lorber, D-Burlington, is drafting legislation that will increase the availability of bike parking at state buildings. Rep. Lorber serves on the House Institutions Committee. It's gratifying that members of both the administration and the legislature will be addressing this issue. The VBPC also had discussed the need for improvements in this area with Rep. Mary Hooper (D-Montpelier) and Joan Lenes (D-Shelburne). Both serve on the House Institutions Committee.)
Local bike/ped safety education programs will be funded in FY 2012. No details yet as to the dollars available or the application process.
Although the state will re-open the bike/ped program that allows municipalities to apply for funding for bike/ped infrastructure, there will be some research before the door is flung wide open. The plan is to devote FY 2012 to assessing current needs. Part of this process will be an analysis of crash data. Members of the bike/ped community will be included in the conversation and invited to provide input. The VBPC welcomes this openness on the part of the Shumlin administration and we look forward to hearing specifics regarding when these discussions will begin. In FY 2013, the state will undertake a cost/benefit analysis to determine which bike/ped projects make the most sense to advance.
Jon Kaplan, the state's Bike/Ped Program Manager, announced that the first public meeting on the Bike/Ped Economic Study will be held February 16. VTrans has commissioned a study to determine the number of dollars that bicycling and walking generate in the Vermont economy. Public input into this process is welcome.
The VBPC will report updates on the above as info becomes available. Thanks for your support of the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition.
Lance Armstrong led a ride in Waterbury, VT on the afternoon of
October 13. Lance provided short notice via Twitter. The afternoon
was sunny and crisp, perfect for a fall bicycle ride in the Green
Mountain state. Word spread quickly and Lance was met by an
enthusiastic crowd ready to ride. Lance was in Vermont to speak
at a fundraiser for ovarian cancer research.
(Photo courtesy of Kathleen Daye)
"Safe Passing" Bill Becomes Law!
The “Safe Passing” Law: What It Means for Vermont’s Roadway Users New legislation that offers protections to Vermont’s “vulnerable” roadway users was signed by Governor Douglas on May 20. The law, Act 114, defines pedestrians, people in wheelchairs, bicyclists, people on horseback, roller skiers and others as “vulnerable users.” Essentially, those who aren’t completely encased in metal are much more susceptible to injury and are, therefore, in this category of roadway users.
The Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition (VBPC), a statewide nonprofit education and advocacy organization, spearheaded a grassroots effort that resulted in the “Safe Passing” bill clearing key committees and both chambers of the legislature. The full text of the new law can be viewed on the home page of the VBPC: www.vtbikeped.org
In brief, here’s how the law will benefit all bicyclists and pedestrians in Vermont:
- Motorists are now required to pass bicyclists, pedestrians, people on horseback, roller skiers, and other vulnerable roadway users with “due care, which includes increasing clearance, to pass the vulnerable user safely”
- All those in motor vehicles now are prohibited from throwing objects at vulnerable users and from harassing them in other ways, such as approaching them too closely and too rapidly
- Bicyclists may now (legally) indicate their intention to make a right turn by using their right arms
- Bicyclists may now (legally) move to the left to make a left turn, avoid a hazard in the roadway, or pass another roadway user
- Bicyclists, when riding at night, are now required to have a light on the rear (attached to either the bike or cyclist) or at least 20 square inches of rear-facing reflective material/reflectors on the bicycle/bicyclist
All of the above changes will help improve conditions on Vermont’s roadways for those who enjoy bicycling, running, walking, horseback riding, roller skiing, roller skating, and other activities.
Although it’s been a widely-accepted practice that a bicyclist can signal a right turn with his or her right arm, it is now permitted by law. It’s important for a bicyclist to move to the left to prepare to make a left turn or avoid a hazard in the road. Nevertheless, this move has never been described officially in statute and sometimes other roadway users interpret it as inappropriate or illegal.
While the new law offers protections, it also calls upon bicyclists to display a greater degree of responsibility for safety. For the first time, a bicyclist, while riding at night, is required to have a red light on the rear or a minimum amount of reflective material. The light or the reflective material may be mounted on either the bike or the bicyclist. The law gives the bicyclist plenty of flexibility, while at the same time, requiring that the bicyclist be highly visible to other roadway users.
Prior to the passage of this law, if a driver or passenger in a car threw an object at a vulnerable roadway user, the only legal recourse was to charge them with littering. Clearly, harassment and littering are two, very different offenses.
Unfortunately, there are roadways users who are ignorant, thoughtless, and/or arrogant. Some are motorists, some are bicyclists, and some are pedestrians. The VBPC works to encourage all roadway users to demonstrate respect and courtesy for all other roadway users. Bikes were on the roads before cars and horses were on the roads before bikes. Equestrians, bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists will be sharing Vermont’s roads for a long time into the future. With a little mindfulness and consideration, such sharing can be a pleasant experience for all.
The Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition is happy to respond to questions and comments about the new legislation. Feedback may be directed to Executive Director Nancy Schulz at (802) 225-8904
Click here to see a pdf of the new law
Citizen Advocacy Works!
by Judy Bond, VBPC board president
Recently, there have been several great examples of citizen input with great results. Strong bike/ped support shaped the design of the Champlain Bridge to have good sidewalks and bike-friendly shoulders. Hundreds of individually-crafted letters of support influenced the House Transportation Committee to take up H.540. The addition of bike routes to Google Maps was a direct result of the many requests from the cycling community. So to all of you who have written or spoken up: a huge “thanks!” And please know that if you do respond to a VBPC Action Alert, your input is very important.
The Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition is looking for a new home in Montpelier. If you, or anyone you know, might have ideas for a small office space (enough for two work stations) in town, let us know. We need to move by the start of the new year. If you have any suggestions call Nancy at 225-8904 or email
The VBPC is in need of a floor lamp to augment the ceiling light in our "officette." If you have a floor lamp to donate, please call 225-8904 or send a message to
The Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition is a member-supported organization. Please join us, and share the word!