Trail-building efforts in Addison County: lessons learned
This great summary of the discussion at the June 4th, 2019 meeting of the Walk-Bike Council of Addison County was compiled by Carrie Macfarlane.
Working within existing organizational and/or governmental structures helps to ensure sustainability. It also establishes eligibility for grant funding. For example, in Bristol, the Bristol Recreation Club helps care for the Bristol Trail Network because their mission is to maintain outdoor recreation space.
- Seeking partnerships increases community buy-in and labor supply. For example, in Bristol, the Bristol Historical Society and the Bristol Conservation Commission partnered with the Bristol Trail Network to establish a loop that brings visitors to the foundations of the Bristol Manufacturing Company.
- When landowners are uneasy about allowing an easement, building other segments of the trail first allows them to see how it might affect them. Often, they come to view the trail and its supporters as friendly neighbors, and they get on board. Ultimately though, community building is more important than trail building, so if a landowner says no, alternative routes should be selected.
Creating a vision statement helps with both decision-making and publicity. For example, from Bristol:
- The mission of the Bristol Trail Network is to create and maintain trails around Bristol…
- … to promote access to and appreciation for natural, historical, and cultural resources in the vicinity & to support the recreation and education of residents and visitors alike
- … to foster human connections within our community, tie us all more closely to our landscape, and enhance Bristol’s potential as an all-seasons destination for recreation and tourism
Establishing a maintenance plan is crucial. Without one, a trail will cease to exist.
- Who will keep each segment of the trail clear and inviting? What are the expectations? How often will they check it? What should they do if heavy-duty maintenance is needed?
- In Bristol, trail ambassadors post to Front Porch Forum to announce walks on their segments of the trail. This increases visibility and use.
- The Walk-Bike Council of Addison County and Local Motion in Burlington can provide advice and expertise. In addition, Local Motion can provide technical assistance and infrastructure for communication and fundraising.
VT-17 repaving project feedback
The Walk-Bike Council's Infrastructure and Project Review working group reviewed VTrans' upcoming VT-17 highway paving project and provided feedback on how the project could be tweaked to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
One of the goals of the Walk-Bike Council's Infrastructure and Project Review working group is monitor upcoming infrastructure projects at the local and state levels and provide feedback to municipalities and VTrans regarding pedestrian and bicycle improvements that can be made to their projects before designs are finalized.
The working group reviewed VTrans' upcoming VT-116 highway paving project and provided feedback on how the project could be tweaked to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians. The group reviewed the project's design plans and prepared feedback based on community input, traveling the route and looking at the roadway, and historical personal experience. This feedback was sent to the project engineers on October 1, 2018:
Vergennes Sidewalk Inventory
The Planning Commission in Vergennes completed an inventory of sidewalks on city-owned streets in the summer of 2017. We learned of their good work when we visited a Vergennes City Council meeting, and and we wanted to share it widely so that other communities can be inspired. Their final report makes recommendations to improve walkability and connectivity in Vergennes.
The project was initiated by the Planning Commission, but student volunteers from Vergennes Union High School conducted some of the assessments. “The work was definitely a group effort,” says Planning Commission Chair Shannon Haggett.
Report documents are below, including a list of the areas surveyed, the survey instructions and forms, and the recommendations which were presented to the City Council. The Planning Commission also developed an interactive Google Map to illustrate their findings.
- Condition of sidewalks in the city of Vergennes (interactive Google Map)
- Vergennes sidewalk recommendations (.pdf)
- Vergennes sidewalk survey (.pdf)
- Vergennes sidewalk inventory map (.pdf)
Have you done something to increase opportunities and awareness for safe walking and bicycling in your Addison County community? Please let us know!
Vermont Walk-Bike Summit 2018
On May 4th several members of the Walk-Bike Council of Addison County headed to White River Junction for the 2018 edition of the Vermont Walk-Bike Summit. Claire Tebbs, Bethany Yon, Adam Franco, and Mary Yates presented a three-part session in the "Safe and Healthy Communities" track on the formation of the Walk-Bike Council as well as the successes achieved in the Council's short lifetime.
VT-116 paving review
The Walk-Bike Council's Infrastructure and Project Review working group reviewed VTrans' upcoming VT-116 highway paving project and provided feedback on how the project could be tweaked to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians.Read more
Regional Transportation Plan data collection
In the spring of 2017, members of the Walk-Bike council worked with the Addison County Regional Planning Commission and the Commission's contractor, Dubois-King, on an update to the Regional Transportation Plan's walk-bike section, helping to collect data from the community on infrastructure issues and gaps.Read more