P.O. Box 1234
Montpelier, Vermont
05601

802.279.7545

info@vtbikeped.org

Share the Word about Share the Road

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Writing letters is an effective way of getting the word out about sharing the road. Follow these three easy steps for success!

  1. WRITE. Look over our sample letters. Pick one you like and adapt if you wish.
  2. SEND. Mail or email your letter to your local newspapers. See list below.
  3. SHARE YOUR SUCCESS. When you see it in print, please send a copy in -- we're trying to get at least one letter in every newspaper in the state!

Write:

  • Be brief, 250 words or less
  • Be positive and supportive; respectful and courteous. Use reason and thoughtful arguments
  • Tell your story! Personalizing makes a big impression.
  • Start by thinking like a motorist. How can you reach a motorist with a positive message about bicyclists & pedestrians on the road?
  • Send copies to more than one paper. Your hometown paper (weekly and daily), plus nearby communities if you like.

Personalized Letters (Samples) - use these to get ideas about what you might say in your own words!

Share the Road (486 words)

Note: this is too long for many larger papers but may be acceptable in a small local paper. Check your newspaper before you write a long letter!

Over the course of the summer, I was witness to many problems between bicyclists and motorists on North Avenue. In nearly all cases, the problem seems to be a lack of understanding about how to share the road. The most common problems concerned:

Speeding motorists. There are simply waaaay too many people trying to travel 40+ on North Ave, and it's not just those coming off 127; as soon as the road widens to two lanes, some northbound drivers seem to believe they've entered a highway. Think about this: a motorist traveling 40mph on North Avenue is (proportionately) equivalent to a motorist traveling 87mph on the interstate.

What lane should the bicyclist be in? Bicyclists should be in the lane that best reflects their travel intentions. That means a northbound bicyclist traveling to the Ethan Allen shopping center should, and has every right to, shift to the left-hand lane to make a left into the shopping center. Likewise, a southbound bicyclist at the intersection for the High School should be in the "straight ahead" lane if they plan to continue on North Avenue and in the right lane only if they plan to make a right.

Lack of communication. Both drivers and bicyclists need to signal their travel intentions and be aware of those signals.

How much of the lane should the cyclist occupy? In an ideal world, road surfaces would be even from curb to curb, but North Avenue can be very rough, especially around the drains. A bicyclist who isn't hugging the curb is simply trying to avoid dangerous swerving around obstacles close to the curb. Recently some of the obstacles have included vehicles annoyingly parking in the bike lanes between North Street and the high school.
Sidewalk bicyclists. Not only does this make the sidewalk unsafe for pedestrians, it is unsafe for the bicyclist, because drivers pulling out of side streets and parking lots are not looking for traffic moving faster than a jogger on the sidewalk (nor should they have to!). It is illegal for bicyclists over the age of 16 to ride on the sidewalk.

Invisible bicyclists. A headlight and rear reflector are an absolute must (under State law, no less!) for evening/night cycling.

In general, bicyclists and drivers need to remember that we're all part of the same traffic system, not separate or competing systems. Obey the rules of the road, be courteous, and be patient!

The Vermont Bike and Pedestrian Coalition (802-279-7545 or www.vtbikeped.org) and the Vermont Driver's Manual (see the DMV) both provide a wealth of information on sharing the road.

Lastly, remember that cycling:

  • is good for your health, both physically and financially (a bike is much less expensive to operate per mile than a car)

  • is good for the planet's health

  • is good for our nation's health, by reducing use of foreign oil

    Alex Reutter, Burlington, VT

A Teachable Moment (266 Words)

On Saturday, as my partner and I were riding our bikes through Bradford village, on our way to the recycling center, a woman in a blue car honked her horn behind us. As she drove past us she rolled down her window and screamed. "Get the f***off the road."

I smiled and waved as she drove by and told myself this was about her not me. Most people that drive by us respect a bicyclist's right to the road but some don't. I suppose this woman might have been angry that she couldn't drive as fast as she wanted but there are many reasons one must slow down in the village: turning cars, pedestrians, school buses or parked cars.

More likely she was angry because she doesn't know that bicyclists have a legal right to the road. Here are some of the rules for sharing the road.

Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles. When you see a bicyclist, reduce your speed and give at least three feet of passing space, just as you would any other slow moving vehicle, and don't pass if oncoming traffic is near. When turning left at an intersection yield to oncoming bicyclists, just as you would to oncoming motorists. When uncertain in any situation, slow down until it's safe to pass.

If people want more information about sharing the road, contact the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition www.vtbikeped.org, P.O. Box 1234, Montpelier VT. 05601 802-279-7545. The Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote bicycling and walking in Vermont.

Kathy Davidow, Bradford


Slow Down for Bicycles (289 words)

I live on Northfield Street in Montpelier, where it seems that many motorists have forgotten the speed limit is 25 mph up to the Econolodge/Indian Restaurant, and only 30 mph until the underpass under I-89.

As you crest the hill, you may see me on my bicycle. I'm often very nervous when cars pass me on the hill, because very few motorists wait until they can see the road is clear. Please slow down and wait until it is safe to pass!

On the way down the hill, you can expect to see me riding in the middle of the lane. I'm usually doing 25-30 mph myself at this point, so please don't try to pass me! The edge of the road is rough, broken pavement so I need to move out to the middle in order to maintain good control of the bicycle.

Don't worry, you'll be able to see me. I dress for visibility, in a bright yellow jacket, and with lights at dusk or at night. A front light is required by state law, but a rear light is smart, too.

I chose to ride my bicycle because it keeps me fit and healthy, and because I feel much happier than sitting in my car. (Did you ever notice how grouchy people when stuck in traffic?) In these days of $2 a gallon gas, I'm also very happy not to be driving my car much.

Maybe you would also like to try bicycling to work, but don't know where to start? If you want tips on clothing or on riding with traffic -- check out the resources on the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition website www.vtbikeped.org or feel free to call me at the office 279-7545.

Becka Roolf, Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, Montpelier, VT


Generic Letters - you can send to your local paper as is, if you wish.

Please Share the Road  (232 words)

Bicycles, joggers, runners, rollerskiers, fitness walkers and dog walkers! It's finally springtime and people want to get outside and active after the winter.

As a member of the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition (www.vtbikeped.org), I want to remind drivers in our area of how to share the road with bicyclists & pedestrians. Drivers sometimes get nervous around bicyclists and pedestrians. Here's some tips!

Bicyclists have a legal right to the road, with the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles. Bicyclists should ride on the right side, but may move out in to traffic to turn left, stay out of a right-turn lane, or avoid obstacles.

When you're driving and you see a bicyclist or pedestrian, reduce your speed and give at least three feet of passing space, just as you would to pass any other slow-moving vehicle. Please don't try to squeeze past at the top of a hill or on a blind corner. When uncertain in any situation, please slow down and wait until it's safe to pass. When turning, yield to bicyclists, who have the right of way, just as you would for motorists. Don't assume that bicyclists are always going slowly – sometime they are going 30-40 mph!

Give children an extra bit of caution. Their perceptions of traffic are different than adults’, and they may behave unexpectedly.

Please share the road – it’s really common sense and common courtesy!

YOUR NAME
Address, Phone, Email

Bicycles are vehicles, too (286 words)

Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles under state law. I'm writing to encourage motorists to share the road. It may take you a few seconds longer to pass a bicyclist safely, but please remember that bicyclists are people – mothers, fathers, fitness buffs, neighbors, senior citizens, kids.

Bicyclists generally ride on the right side of the road, but you should expect bicyclists to signal and move left to make left turns. Expect bicyclists to move to a straight-through lane to proceed straight through an intersection. Bicyclists may sometimes “take the lane” when it’s not safe for motorists to pass. The bicyclist isn’t hogging the road, he or she is sending you a signal that it’s not safe to pass in the same lane. Wait until you can use the adjacent lane to pass. Expect bicyclists to ride 3-4 feet away from parked cars, to avoid car doors opening suddenly.

Please wait until safe to pass a bicyclist, and don't honk your horn. If the bicyclist jumps (a reflex reaction), their surprise could jerk their handlebars to involuntarily swerve into your path.

Maybe you also ride a bike. Please ride with traffic and stop for red lights. It’s also not legal for adults to ride on the sidewalk in some village areas. If bicyclists ride on the same road as cars, we must obey the same rules. How can vehicles safely co-exist on a road if no one can predict what the other will do?

Remember, you can encourage safe bicycling habits whether you're driving a car or a bicycle. Be considerate of everyone on the road -- motorists, bicyclists, walkers, joggers. We all have a responsibility to share our public ways.

YOUR NAME
Address, Phone, Email


Send:

Email, fax, or mail to your local paper, below. Include your full address, phone number, and email for verification. The newspaper is likely to print your town of residence.

After you send, call the paper to find out if they got your letter, and when they will print it. (You don't have to call, but in these days of Internet spam, it never hurts to check.)

Please let us know if you find out that any of this information is outdated. Email any corrections to: info@vtbikeped.org. Last updated 5-24-04.


DAILY NEWSPAPERS

Bennington Banner
425 Main St.
Bennington, VT 05201
442-3413
news@benningtonbanner.com

Brattleboro Reformer
PO Box 802
Brattleboro, VT 05301
257-1305
News@reformer.com

Burlington Free Press
PO Box 10
Burlington, VT 05402
863-3441
Letters@bfp.burlingtonfreepress.com

Eagle Times
11 Main St.
Springfield, VT 05156
603-542-9705
etimes@cyberportal.net

Newport Daily Express
PO Box 347
Newport, VT 05855
334-6568
334-6891
Nde@kingcon.com

Rutland Herald
29 Wales St.
Rutland, VT 05701
775-2423
Letters@rutlandherald.com

St. Albans Messenger
PO Box 1250
St. Albans, VT 05478
527-1948
news@samessenger.com

St. Johnsbury Caledonia Record
PO Box 8
St. Johnsbury, VT 05819
748-8121
FX 748-1613
grayd@caledonian-record.com

Times Argus
PO Box 707
Barre, VT 05641
479-4032
letters@timesargus.com


WEEKLY or MONTHLY NEWSPAPERS

 

Addison County Independent
PO Box 31
Middlebury, VT 05753
388-4944
FX 388-3100
News@addisonindependent.com

Addison Eagle News & Reporter
20 Main Street
Middlebury, VT 05753
Eaglepub@together.net

Barton Chronicle
PO Box 660
Barton, VT 05822
525-3531
FX 525-3200
news@bartonchronicle.com

Bellows Falls Town Crier
PO Box 459
Bellows Falls, VT 05101
463-9591
FX 463-9818
tcrier@sover.net

Black River Tribune
PO Box 156
Ludlow, VT 05149
228-8817
FX 228-8000

Bradford Journal Opinion
PO Box 378
Bradford, VT 05033
222-5281
222-5438
editor@jonews.com

Brattleboro Town Crier
PO Box 537
Brattleboro, VT 05302
257-7771
257-2211
btcrier@vermontel.com

Charlotte News
PO Box 251
Charlotte, VT 05445
425-4949

Colchester Chronicle
PO Box 195
Colchester, VT 05446
865-2324
FX 865-2324
ccpage@aol.com

Connecticut Valley Spectator
PO Box 5484
West Lebanon, NH 03784
603-298-7755
FX 603-298-8772
News@cvspectator.com

County Courier
PO Box 398
Enosburg Falls, VT 05450
933-4375
FX 933-4907
courier@together.net

Deerfield Valley News
PO Box 310
West Dover, VT 05356
464-3388
FX 464-7255
editor@vermontmedia.com

Essex Reporter
PO Box 116
Essex Junction, VT 05452
872-7611
Essexr@together.net

Fairfax News
PO Box 227
Fairfax, VT 05454
849-6323

Five Town News
PO Box 405
Bristol, VT 05443
453-5307
townnews@together.net

Hardwick Gazette
PO Box 367
Hardwick, VT 05843
472-6521

Herald of Randolph
PO Box 309
Randolph, VT 05060
283-232
FX 728-9275
Editor@ourherald.com

Hinesburg Record
PO Box 304
Hinesburg, VT 05461
482-2162
therecord@gmavt.net

Lyndon Independent
PO Box 1396
Lyndonville, VT 05851
626-8481
FX 626-8574
Independent@holdcraft.com

Manchester Journal
PO Box 569
Manchester Center, VT 05255
362-2222
FX 362-5327
Manjourn@sover.net

Message for the Week
PO Box 759
Chester, VT 05143
875-4790
FX 875-4792
message@vermontel.net

Middlebury Valley Voice
656 Exchange St.
Middlebury, VT 05753
388-6366
FX 388-6368
Vvoice@together.net

Milton Independent
PO Box 9
Milton, VT 05468
893-2028
FX 893-2091
indy@together.net

Morrisville News and Citizen
PO Box 369
Morrisville, VT 05661
888-2212
FX 888-2173
Edit@newsandcitizen.com

Mountain Times
PO Box 183
Killington, VT 05751
422-2399
FX 422-2395
visionvt@aol.com

North Avenue News
PO Box 4416
Burlington, VT 05406
864-7530
FX 864-7530
noavenews@aol.com

North Star Monthly
PO Box 319
Danville, VT 05819
684-1056
northstar@kingcon.com

Northfield News
10 East St.
Northfield, VT 05663
FX 485-7909
Nnews@trans-video.net

Seven Days
PO Box 1164
Burlington, VT 05401
864-5684
FX 865-1015
letters@sevendaysvt.com

Shelburne News
PO Box 752
Shelburne, VT 05482
Shelnews@aol.com

So. Burlington Other Paper
PO Box 2032
South Burlington, VT 05403
864-6670
Otherpaper@aol.com

Springfield Reporter
151 Summer St.
Springfield, VT 05156
885-2246
FX 885-9821
Reporter@vermontel.com

Stowe Reporter
PO Box 489
Stowe, VT 05672
253-2101
FX 253-8332
News@stowereporter.com

The Advocate
87 Marshall Street
North Adams, MA 02147
413-458-9000
413-458-5715
news@advocateweekly.com

The Islander
Sunset View Rd.
South Hero, VT 05486
372-5600
FX 372-3025
georgefowler@vermontislander.com

The World
403 US Route 302 Berlin
Barre, VT 05641
479-2582
FX 479-7916
Editor@vt-world.com

Valley News
PO Box 877
White River Junction, VT 05001
FX 603-298-0212
Forum@vnews.com

Vermont Journal - Voice of Central VT
PO Box 2013
Waitsfield, VT 05673
496-6628
editor@vermontjournal.com

Vermont Times
PO Box 940
Shelburne, VT 05482
985-2400
985-2490
Vttimes@bluemoo.net

Waitsfield Valley Reporter
PO Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673
FX 496-4703
news@valleyreporter.com

Williston Observer
PO Box 1158
Williston, VT 05495
879-4839
FX 878-3751
editor@willistonobserver.com

Winooski Eagle
20 West St.
Winooski, VT 05404
655-4184
winooskieagl@earthlink.net

Woodstock Vermont Standard
PO Box 88
Woodstock, VT 05091
457-3689
FX 457-3639
Vstand@sover.net

 

3. Share Your Success:

We want to see what our members have to say. Also, we are trying to get at least one letter in every paper in the state each spring/summer.

Please send the VT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition a clipping of your letter. Mail to: PO Box 1234, Montpelier, VT 05601 or FAX to 223-0269.

THANK YOU!! for helping us Share the Word about Sharing the Road!

Thanks to Steve Pierce, David Jacobowitz, Bunky Bernstein, Kathy Davidow, and other members of the Share the Road project team for their assistance in developing this page. To join the team: contact Bunky Bernstein at: richard.h.bernstein@uvm.edu