Saturday, July 19, 2014

So That’s Why It’s Called “Falls Road”

Perspectives on Sharing the Road: Take 1

It’s difficult sharing the road! Many drivers don’t know what the rules are and many cyclists don’t either. Even when rules are known, they are often not followed.  Most of us know more than a few drivers upset by how cyclists ride and cyclists upset by how drivers drive.  And some of you have perhaps felt frustration sitting in both seats!

Welcome to our first post in our series on sharing the road.  We hope it will help drivers AND cyclists appreciate each other’s vantage points when we use transportation infrastructure together. Our posts will alternate between cyclist and motorist points of view.  Sharing the road, after all, goes both ways.

Let’s start the series off looking at a common issue faced by motorists…

“Grrrr… that cyclist just swerved into my lane! What the HECK! Get off the road if you can’t ride a bike!”

Why do cyclists swerve? Why do they move into the roadway where the cars are? Typically, it is because there is a hazard. These pictures taken on Falls Road show a grate next to a manhole cover both in the lane that a driver might expect a cyclist to stay within. The pictures are very good, but the indentations are even greater than they look. A cyclist sees a hazard and has to quickly maneuver around it. But a driver might not see the hazard at all!

Drivers: be aware, especially around cyclists, of the shoulder conditions.
Cyclists: use a rearview mirror and be aware of traffic.

Other things that cause a cyclist to move left:
  • Potholes
  • Thick sand/gravel built up at the end of a driveway
  • A branch protruding into the road
  • Washed out road edges
  • Passing a slower cyclist 

And just as importantly:
  • Walkers/runners/horseback riders in the shoulder or bike lane – cyclists are expected to move left toward the yellow/white line in the middle of the road to give the on-comer (who will be traveling against traffic) complete control over the side of the road.

  • Cyclist turning left at an intersection – in this situation, cyclists need to command the road. They should position themselves just like a car, and act just like a car. They should be in the middle of the lane, they should signal, wait their turn and then, when it is their turn, proceed through the intersection. When clear of the intersection, they should move back over as far to the right as conditions allow. 

We’re sure, if you’re a cyclist, you can think of more situations. We’re sure, if you’re a motorist, you’re thinking…”what about when cyclists ride two abreast, or just take up the middle….” Don’t worry, we’ll get to those concerns in a later post.

This series is the work of the Friends of Shelburne Paths.  Please share your comments, experiences or sharing the road questions.  Thanks!

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Wheels are Turning at SCS!

Thanks to a collaboration between Friends of Shelburne Paths, Shelburne Community School and Local Motion, SCS has introduced a bike education program into its physical education curriculum.  The program, which ran from May 5 through May 16, was delivered to students in grades 3 and 5 using bicycles provided by Local Motion. According to SCS teacher Jason Lewis, the program went very well and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The students were engaged and enthusiastic.  Not only were students sharing what they were learning at home, but parents reported seeing evidence that they were implementing their new knowledge. Mr. Lewis observed at least two non-riders become riders and three or four others that made great progress toward unsupported riding. 

What's next?  Current plans are to roll out the program to 7th graders after next year, when the current 5th graders get there.  But expect a twist...working with local police, the plan is to create an experiential program that honors the older riders by providing opportunities to implement their learning through local excursions in our village.  We will keep you posted!

In the meantime, please enjoy these pictures of SCS students learning lifelong safe bicycling skills.  And please be sure to check out the 27 second video at the end of the images to see just how far bicycling in our community has come in just a few short years!  Prepare to be amazed!


Video taken on a beautiful Wednesday morning, June 11, just before 8 am.  Students are seen crossing Route 7 to head west on Harbor Road towards the Shelburne Community School.  
(Video credit:  CVU Student Leo Antinozzi)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

BikeFest 2014 Wrap Up

A beautiful spring day helped us celebrate our best BikeFest event yet.  Our volunteers were fantastic and our visitors seemed to enjoy and appreciate the offered events.  While the new DIY Bike Swap had a modest start, one woman sold her bike in under 5 minutes!  We will be trying this event out again next year, so be sure to keep it on your radar!

Here is a quick rundown of how things went:

Number of Bike Tune Ups: 44
Number of Learn to Ride participants: 12ish
Number of Community Ride participants: 25ish
Number of DIY Bike Swap: 5ish
Press: WCAX and Shelburne News
Donations: $140+

Organizers: Friends of Shelburne Paths BikeFest Committee (Sara Blum, Pam Nuovo, Gabriela Meyer, Susan Grasso)
Mechanics: Dave Connery, Matt Wormser, Randy Rowland, Chris Trapeni, Jeff Cohn
Photographer: Jeff Cohn
Registration: Nicole and Daniel Israel-Meyer (CVU students)
Helmet Decorating: Kestrel Grevatt and Kaelyn Kohlasch (CVU students)
Learn to Ride Support Riders: Pam Nuovo, Marc Gamble, Chris Trapeni, Susan Grasso
Bike Helmets and Learn to Ride Instructor: Local Motion Mary Catherine Graziano
Tent and Set-Up: Greg Fecteau and Lee Coleman
Printing Services: Exterus Technology for Business (Wright Caswell)
Complimentary Creemees: Archie’s Grill (Dick Hess)
Community Ride Lead Rider: Officer Clyde Yarnell, Shelburne Police Department
Pre-ride Sidewalk Sweeping: Shelburne Maintenance Department
Community Ride Crosswalk Support: Shelburne Police Department

This event would not have happened without significant assistance from the Shelburne Police and Parks and Recreation Departments (Allen Fortin and Betsy Cieplicki) and the permission of the Town of Shelburne Town Manager, Joe Colangelo.  

The BikeFest Committee thanks everyone for their wonderful support of this event.  We will let the following pictures tell the story of the day (courtesy of Jeff Cohn).

Thursday, May 22, 2014

BikeFest 2014 is Almost Here!

The Friends of Shelburne Paths would like to invite all of you to attend BikeFest on Saturday, May 31 to support our town’s ongoing efforts to provide safe and comfortable cycling experiences for the many different types of cyclists that live in and visit our village.  A list of all the BikeFest events can be found by clicking on the right sidebar link - please take a few minutes to explore it!  We are especially hopeful that you will consider joining us on our second annual Spring ride, the Connected Community Creemee Ride, scheduled at 1 pm.  Led by Shelburne Police Officer Clyde Yarnell, this ride will take us from the Town Offices to Archie’s Grill, for a complimentary creemee, and back (see details below).

Please note that this ride will give Shelburnites the experience of cycling along many different types of environments in our town: sidewalk next to a busy road, neighborhood streets, primitive path through the woods, multi-use bike path and sidewalk through the village center.  We will take our time and make sure that all participants feel safe and comfortable on our ride.  We hope this experience will help Shelburnites think about the types of cycling opportunities they would like to see more of in our village and how our cycling infrastructure can help us become a more connected community!  Please consider joining us on this fun community event, even if only to show your support for more and better cycling in Shelburne!

Thank you for your time, and we hope to see you there!

Friends of Shelburne Paths - BikeFest Committee
Sara Blum
Susan Grasso
Gabriella Meyer
Pam Nuovo

This year's ride will start at the Town Offices, go through the parking lot to the Train Station and out to Harbor Road. A right on Harbor Road will put the group in the best position to turn left onto Route 7 (with a police officer at the intersection to ensure safety). The group will then ride on the sidewalk along Route 7 up to Archie’s Grill. After a creemee break for all participants, we will then head down Longmeadow, take a right onto Deer Run and then another right onto a primitive path that will take us over a small bridge before we enter the Farmstead neighborhood. We'll go through the Farmstead neighborhood and turn right onto the Webster Road bike path, then back to the Route 7 sidewalk to Falls Road.  Crossing at the light in the town center, we will then take the sidewalk around the green, past Jamie Two Coats and the Heart of the Village Inn to end at the Farmer's Market.  We'll cross people who want to cross back to the Town offices.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Over the River and Through the Woods to SCS We Go

If you have or have had students at SCS, then you probably know about Walking Wednesdays, a Safe Routes to School Program that encourages kids to walk to school during the fair weather months. This past fall, in an effort to encourage other auto-independent transportation alternatives, Shelburne’s League of the Traveling Baskets (now known as the Friends of the Paths Committee) promoted the rolling version - Biking Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Of course, kids can walk on Tuesdays and bike on Wednesdays – it’s not the day that matters, but the outcomes: less fossil fuel burned, more exercise, alert brains, greater sense of community...the list goes on. SCS Co-Principal Allan Miller estimates that, on a very good day, the school might see 100 walkers and 75 bike riders, out of a school population of around 760 students.

There are a good many reasons that kids don’t walk to school, and one of the most important ones is safety. Walking school buses (a group of children walking to school with one or more adults) and bicycle trains (the bike version of the walking school bus) are modern incarnations of the traditional walk to school that address safety concerns.

Recently, some of us have been wondering whether walking school buses and bicycle trains have a place in our Shelburne community. Imagine our delight when we learned the story of our own Joplin James, the pied piper teacher who so embraced Walking Wednesdays that he didn’t stop when the weather turned cold. Instead, in a true Vermont variation of the walking school bus concept, every Wednesday for the past two years, Joplin has been leading a group of students in rain or shine through hill and dale to SCS - no campaign or gimmick needed - just the belief that walking is good for us…sometimes all we need is someone to get us started.

As word got out about the weekly trek, Joplin’s group of Wednesday Walkers grew. A few families from Gardenside sometimes joined in from their side of the woods, and another group occasionally came from Rivercrest. This past fall, there were, regularly, 15-20 children, a collection of parents, and some other teachers participating in the walk. Even SCS Co-Principal, Patti Beaumont, joined the group one morning.

As you can see, their hike to school takes them, literally, over the river and through the woods…then into the town center and finally onto school grounds. A 1.5 mile trip each way. Kids feel like Indiana Jones and adults, well, they feel like kids again.

We’re inspired by Joplin and hope that you might be too. If any of you are tempted to start your own walking school bus and would like a little support, let us know! We can help you plan routes, share advice, or even post your schedule on our site to let others know how to find you!

Please share your experiences and your thoughts on walking/riding to school in Shelburne. We’d love to hear it!

Safe Routes to School Walking School Bus Program

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Shelburne’s Dead Ends and Culs de Sac:

Turning a Walker’s Deterrent into an Incentive

A local truism - Shelburne is filled with people who love to walk and hike.  It’s part of our character, and we’re fortunate to have great places in which to stretch our legs-----think Ti Haul path, Bay Park path, Village Center, LaPlatte Nature Park, Shelburne Farms, Shelburne Pond trail, Meach Cove - not to mention all of the unofficial primitive path walking that goes on around here.  In fact, many of us will go out of our way and drive a couple of miles to enjoy one of these beautiful paths. Some of us wonder why the pleasures that we enjoy walking these scenic routes can’t be more easily integrated into our daily living.

Walking is a great thing.  It is good exercise and thus helps keep us physically healthy. It’s good for us mentally too as it provides us with a positive sense of well-being and can help clear our minds when we feel overwhelmed. It often helps connect us socially, whether we walk with a friend, or run into people we know during a solo roundabout.  The slower pace of walking connects us to the physical landscape of our community in a way that is hard to explain unless you have done it.  When walking to run errands, we also help to prevent traffic congestion, reduce air emissions and save on fossil fuel.  All of these things contribute positively to a healthy society.  It’s hard to argue against the benefits of walking.

One thing about walking though – aesthetics matter; hence the reason we often drive to places to walk recreationally. Walking similar distances along soulless suburban landscapes can feel boring at best and depressing at worst.  As walkers we like loops and options, we like beauty and surprises.   Are these contributing factors that limit more “purposeful” walking?

Shelburne has over 40 culs de sac/dead ends that unwittingly create a system of disconnected walking routes. Consider the bird’s eye view of Shelburne’s current connectivity shown in the Shelburne Pedestrian-Bike Map  (You must click on the Community Group Layer.  This map has been generously assembled by local residents Steve Antinozzi and his son, Peter.)  You can see several examples of how our land use development pattern prevents us from easily connecting with points of interest on foot or by bike.  By way of example, the table below presents associated impacts (cost, environmental, health) for three of these disconnected segments (shown in Figures 1-3).  Not only are the currently available routes longer than the proposed connecting paths for these representative segments, they are also less aesthetically pleasing and, in some cases, more dangerous to walk (Bay Road, Spear Street).

Travel Pattern
Distance (miles)

Round trip
Cost (gas and car maintenance, $0.56/mile federal government rate)
Carbon emissions  (lbs)
Calories burned (cal)
Hawley Road to Longmeadow Drive (and back) (Figure 1)
Auto Route
Connector Footpath
Hawley Road to Pierson Road (and back) (Figure 2)
Auto Route
Connector Footpath
Yacht Haven Drive to Archie’s Grill (and back) (Figure 3)
Auto Route
Connector Footpath

Figure 1 Auto Route vs. Connector Path Hawley Road (Boulder Hill) to Longmeadow Drive

Prepared by Peter Antinozzi (CVUHS Freshman)

Figure 2 Auto Route vs. Connector Path Hawley Road (Boulder Hill) to Pierson Road

Prepared by Peter Antinozzi (CVUHS Freshman)

Figure 3 Auto Route vs. Connector Path Yacht Haven Drive to Archie's Grill

Prepared by Peter Antinozzi (CVUHS Freshman)

Public footpaths can provide a dense network of short paths, linking disconnected segments like those shown above and offering a choice of routes to many different destinations.  When done well, they can’t help but draw us out of doors.  Shelburne has a few nice precedents, such as the bridge over Monroe Brook on the footpath between Farmstead and Deer Run.  What is preventing us from creating more?

To whet your appetite and inspire your imagination, take a look at the following slideshow that gives examples of how footpaths can enhance a community.

Let’s face it - the current routes available to us do not encourage us to incorporate walking as a normal transportation mode of choice.  It’s not the weather – as active Vermonters we know how to dress whatever the elements.  The lack of connectivity between Shelburne’s neighborhoods, commercial businesses and recreational resources deprives us of the pleasures and accompanying benefits of walking.  And, as Shelburne continues to develop, we are at risk of creating more and more walking wastelands.  Incorporating charming connecting footpaths into future development projects and retrofitting our existing transportation network to include more connections seems like an idea well worth considering.

Tell us about your own experiences walking around Shelburne.  How do you incorporate walking into your daily life? What would motivate you to walk more?  Where are your favorite/least favorite places to walk in Shelburne?   Which of your Shelburne walks capture Shelburne’s “character” and “sense of place”?  Which ones don’t?  We would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Welcome to Our Blog

Hi everyone, the League of the Traveling Baskets has been playing around with the idea of this website for awhile now. Local Motion's recent invitation to feature it in their December Walk'n Roll e-newsletter has given us the push we needed to launch it into the public domain and see where things take us. So, welcome to our blog and please let us know how we can best make this website of use to you.

What You Will Find Here

  • Where to ride and walk in Shelburne.
  • How to get involved in local work promoting bicycling and walking in Shelburne. 
  • A calendar of bike/walk related events.
  • Information on why bike and walk? 
  • Bike education information and opportunities.
  • Information about Shelburne past, present and future bike/walk projects.
  • Information about local development projects and planning and zoning initiatives that impact Shelburne walk/bike-ability.

What We Hope You Take Away From Here

We hope that:
  • you will try one of our self-guided walks or rides to explore Shelburne (if you haven't already!).
  • you will take a moment to share your thoughts on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and education needs in our community.  What are the physical and/or psychological barriers that are making it difficult for you to safely and comfortably walk and bike in Shelburne?
  • you will consider getting involved in the Bike and Pedestrian Paths Committee, a Town of Shelburne organization fondly referred to as the Paths Committee, or the League of the Traveling Baskets, a group of local residents that support the work of our Pathers.
  • you will give thought to choosing a non-motorized mode of transportation the next time you need to run a local errand!