2010: The Year in Review
This past year was full of highlights for the VBPC. The chief accomplishment was the successful conclusion of the three-year lobbying effort to get the “Safe Passing” bill into law. Lead sponsor Mollie Burke (P-Brattleboro) was key to the outcome thanks to her steadfast dedication to the cause. Also essential were the hundreds of email messages that were sent to members of the House Transportation Committee. The third element of success was the openness of House Transportation Committee Chair Rep. Patrick Brennan. Combined with the Coalition’s growing legislative experience, it was enough to put us over the top. Many, many thanks to the Coalition supporters who spoke up! This is your victory.
Another highlight of the Coalition’s advocacy efforts was the decision to construct ample shoulders and sidewalks on both sides of the new bridge that will span Lake Champlain. VBPC board president Judy Bond was the point person on this issue and devoted the time necessary to be sure that bicyclists’ and pedestrians’ needs were met in these cost-conscious times.
Four legislators contacted the Coalition after seeing the news that Vermont had slipped to “34” in the nationwide rankings of bicycle friendliness issued by the League of American Bicyclists. The Coalition will be in contact with these legislators in hopes they will help to advance the Coalition’s 2011 legislative goals.
Judy Bond attended the National Bike Summit in DC in March. VBPC executive director, Nancy Schulz, attended the first New England Bike/Walk Summit in Providence in October. Thanks to VTrans’ Jon Kaplan for providing transportation to and from Providence.
In court, before a three-judge panel of the Judicial Bureau, the Coalition argued strongly for stiff penalties to be imposed on those who violate Act 114, the “Safe Passing” law. The Coalition is satisfied that the penalties that were later announced by the judges will serve as a deterrent.
The Coalition maintained a focus on adult education by teaching the League of American Bicyclists’ Traffic Skills 101 course. The popular bike/ped safety program that targets youth in Driver Education classes expanded to include more high schools in central Vermont.
In collaboration with VTrans, the VBPC stepped up its efforts to curb bad bicyclist behavior by creating a report form that can be completed by those who witness such behavior. VTrans and the VBPC will be collecting and reviewing the reports to determine appropriate next steps.
Bike/ped safety training for recruits in the VT Police Academy was offered by the Coalition for the first time on November 5. Judy Bond and Nancy Schulz had asked to give a presentation and then made arrangements through the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Coalition hopes that this session will be followed by many more in both the Academy and municipal police departments.
The 3rd Annual Tour de Farms attracted a record high 567 participants. This event, which involves bicycling from farm to farm in Addison County and sampling food along the way, is a real crowd pleaser. Proceeds benefit Rural Vermont and the Addison County Re-Localization Network as well as the
Coalition. Thanks to Earl’s Cyclery and Fitness and Sovernet for sponsoring the 2010 Tour.
The 2nd Annual Bike/Ped Business Forum drew 46 participants, up from 18 in its debut year. Representatives from bike shops, touring companies, manufacturers, bike clubs, B&Bs, advocacy groups and state government discussed ways to collaborate so more people can walk, run, and bicycle safely in Vermont. The Coalition plans to continue to expand the Forum by reaching out to more groups and by seeking sponsors.
The Coalition welcomed new board members Roger Bombardier, Alan Boye, and David Ellenbogen. Rick Bragg took over the staff post of Membership and Office Coordinator.
History of Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition
Newly elected Governor Richard Snelling committed $500,000 to the first bicycle and pedestrian program, and three projects were funded through a joint administrative effort of the Recreation Section of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation led by George Plumb, and the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VAOT) led by Secretary Pat Garahan. Michael Frasier from the Recreation Division and a staff person from the AOT actually implemented the program. The projects funded were in Stowe and Essex. All of this came about because Tony Redington, a Senior Policy Analyst, had informed the Vt. Trails and Greenways Council that AOT was returning was not fully using some federal money and that bike paths were eligible to be funded. Rather than not use the funds Gov. Snelling was convinced to use it for this purpose.
The Vermont Trails and Greenways Council (VTGC) organized a three-day program that included two days on bicycle and pedestrian safety and facility design and a third day on traffic calming, featuring the introduction of roundabout intersections treatments. Over 100 attended each day. Tony Redington from the AOT did much of the organizing. This training helped spur Vermont’s bicycle/pedestrian program and the introduction of the modern roundabout in Vermont and the northeast. The training was conducted by then Florida Department of Transportation Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator Dan Burden and Traffic Engineer Michael Wallwork, PE.
Governor Howard Dean, M.D. committed an average of $5.5 million each year to the bicycle/pedestrian facility program. The Recreation Section of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation continued to administer the program
In December the first group of people came together to discuss forming a “friends of bicycle and pedestrian facilities”.
The Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition (VBPC) was formed in January after the Vermont Trails and Greenways Council (VTGC) rejected the recommendation from Chair Anne Lusk to form two distinct groups within the Council: one for the traditional dirt-type trail interests (hiking, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, etc.) and one for the more hardened surface type interests (bicycling, jogging, walking, etc.). The VTGC suggested forming a separate group and offered it one seat. This was formed as the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition (VBPC). Peter Duval served as the first President.
VBPC co-sponsored a one-day roundabout design seminar conducted by “Mr. Roundabout” Michael Wallwork.
The VBPC sponsored a gathering of people interested in promoting bicycling and walking which was held at the Green Mountain Club. This resulted in drawing up the first list of principles and a recommendation that Vermont spend at least 3% of the AOT budget (at that time $6 million) annually on the development of bicycle and pedestrian projects.
The first Bylaws were adopted by the VBPC and the articles filed with the Secretary of State.
At the Annual Meeting in Windsor a resolution was adopted that strongly endorsed the modern roundabout installation in Vermont because of safety and service benefits to bicyclists and pedestrians.
The Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (GCPFS) discussed ways that it could help motivate more people to adopt physically active lifestyles. It was felt that if there was a good “environment” for bicycling and walking more people would participate in these low cost, easy to do activities. George Plumb, a member of the Council, agreed to work on revitalizing the VBPC (which at that point was rather inactive). David Jacobowitz, another member of the Council, agreed to help. Amy Bell, AOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, supplied some potential names and a working group was formed which exhibited a great deal of enthusiasm for moving the advocacy agenda forward. George served as Chair of this working group.
The GCFPS allocated $1,500 to the VBPC for the development and printing of the “Bicycling and Walking” fact sheet which one of the first major projects of the new group. The Vermont Recreation and Park Association appropriated $500.
The first VBPC “Retreat” was held on April 1 at Bethany Church in Montpelier. The GCPFS paid for the cost of the bringing the facilitator, Jeff Miller from the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.
George Plumb became the first Executive Director (volunteer) of the VBPC. Richard Bernstein became President.
The VBPC Bylaws were significantly revised. A board of Directors was established.
The VBPC logo was developed by Eric Scharnberg and adopted.
The VBPC applied for and received IRS 501 (c) (3) status.
The GCPFS allocated $500 to help underwrite the cost of the first Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Summit which was held at Vermont Technical College in Randolph. The summit attracted about fifty people who helped the VBPC establish priorities for the coming year.
The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) conducted the first League Certified Instructor’s Training program in Vermont. Twelve volunteers were trained who who, that spring, went into many schools in Vermont and conducted presentations that resulted in some 2,700 children learning how to be safer bicycle drivers. This program was made possible by a $7,500 grant from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.
The second Bicycle and Pedestrian Summit was again held at VTC drawing about 35 people. The program featured national, regional, and local speakers who focused on advocating for bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
The N.E. Grassroots Environmental Fund provided a grant of $2,500 to help the VBPC develop an office and pay some of the costs of the first part time paid director. Becka Roolf, a bicycling advocate from Portland, Maine, began work in August using office space of Local Motion in Burlington.
VBPC office is moved from Burlington to Montpelier in space rented from Rural Vermont above Angeleno’s Restaurant.
Becka Roolf resigns as the first paid executive director and is replaced by Nancy Schulz.
VBPC office moves to Court St. in Montpelier, renting space from the Vermont Bar Association.
As a result of the VBPC's lobbying efforts, on behalf of the bike/ped community, the State allocated $50,000 to purchase a street-sweeper to better accomodate cyclists and pedestrians in Vermont.
The Better World Club offers bicycle-only and car-and-bike membership, including insurance and free roadside assistance. Better World Club offers VBPC members a 10% discount on new membership. The VBPC receives a donation for every new sign-up.