Monday, April 22, 2019

Yes We Can: Winooski Avenue--Burlington's Greatest Street

The current North and South Winooski Ave corridor study seemed at first a challenging triage of a congested, narrow roadway--now it appears the Winooskis really can reach through flexible and unique design its deserving historic role as Burlington's "Greatest Street."

The Winooski Corridor Study may very well achieve a "yes, we can" outstanding urban pathway:
Yes we can--cut carefully some parking which takes away from green space and safe walking-bicycling accommodation.  Yes, we can--serve the neighborhoods first and through traffic second in providing safe walking and bicycling for all ho can (see photo of sidewalk level cycle track applicable from Riverside to the north to at least Main Street).  Yes we can--employ the core safe best practices on our streets--the "intersection safety belt" roundabout and the safe for all ages and skills cycle track (protected bike lanes).  Yes we can--eliminate parking on at least one side of the street except for the central area (Archibald-North Streets) shifting the space to green and bike space use.  And, yes we can: provide a green strip throughout the corridor.  And, finally, yes we can:  strengthen and rejuvenate both the businesses and residential neighborhoods into a more sustainable and livable context.


Sidewalk level "cycle track" shifts the purpose of bike lanes to serving the needs of the neighborhood cyclists to access nearby businesses services and friends--this leaves the through cyclist to a secondary position, still retaining the skilled rider to the vehicle travelways.    Suddenly, all who can--young, old, and in between regardless of skill can bicycle--now only about 10% of the Burlington population bikes much at all.  This photo from Kyoto taken in October.


The intersections?  Again as in the North Avenue Corridor Plan (2014) the all-modes intersections safety belt, is the obvious choice.  (Recent public opinion surveys show about 75% of Americans favor replacing dangerous intersections with roundabouts--plus this is a priority change for GEICO, AAA, AARP and federal highway officials.)

Here is a 2011AARP Pine Street workshop photo from the report recommending roundabouts from stop to bottom of Pine Street in the South End, this engineering base design at Pine and Maple Streets.


Roundabouts  (all one way) are feasible at all the key intersections--they are not only safe (reduced pedestrian/vehicle injuries by about 90% and reduce bicyclists injuries) but the roundabout also cuts delay for all, cuts green house gas emissions by thousands of gallons of gas at busy intersections each year.  In the case of the Winooskis all intersections adjacent to the Marketplace (Pearl, Cherry, Bank, College and Main) are among the "Dirty 17"  City intersections averaging one injury a year--and add North Street/N. Winooski to that list. 

So, the "Greatest Burlington Street"?  Yes, the sacred Winooskis with the historic library and Fire Station, the main access to the City's shopping street (the Marketplace), location of the highest grossing co-op market in America, and the home to the lowest income Old North End neighborhood, the main avenue for the original trolley line from the waterfront to the Winooski manufacturing complexes--yes, the City's Greatest Street!  YES WE CAN!!




Monday, April 8, 2019

Winooski Corridor Study Thoughts Applicable to Obsolete Parkway Design

There follows a number of concepts, cross section alternatives, and areas to seriously explore based on the Winooski Corridor Study advisory committee meeting last week, some discussions with residents and business owners north of Pearl along the corridor and the comment by a consultant team member regarding sidewalk level cycle track. This thoughts almost all directly apply and show why the Champlain Parkway current design is obsolete and environmental document dating a decade ago is no longer valid.
Some Principles and Thoughts Overall
Some key principles and thoughts in considering roundabouts and sidewalk level cycle track in redesign of any busy, urban, all modes street:
  1. “Equality street” is the fundamental principle to be followed—highest level of safety and service for walk, bike, and vehicle modes.
  2. Parking is the least economic use of the street right-of-way (BTV residential parking study)
  3. If retaining parking in a re-design results in significant extra costs to retain a bicycle facility (cycle track, bikeway, etc.), sidewalk and some green strip, then those costs are ascribable to parking as it is an expenditure required to enable parking, not the bike transportation facility. 
  4. One of the key benefits of a single lane roundabout in a narrow urban intersection (or converting to a roundabout) is the fact that roundabouts on all approaches require no turn lanes and generally move crosswalks about a car length away from the vehicle traffic area—this results in documented gains of considerable space which can be allocated to green space, adjacent business space, pedestrian space, accommodation of bicyclists, and even, yes, parking spaces. (Keck Circle in Montpelier freed up space, once used for a turn lane, on the adjacent Worcester Branch Bridge, allowing 3-4 parking spaces.
  5. VT Complete Streets Law requires not just consideration of walk and bike in any transportation investment, but “safe” accommodation! That one word safe almost orders safety/facility treatments like cycle track and roundabouts which cut serious and fatal injuries for both walk and bike modes by a substantial amount.
  6. Unlike signals and stop signs, a roundabout enables pedestrian movement as a priority with almost no delay and pedestrians deal with traffic traveling in only one direction at a time with the presence of a median treatment.
  7. Green New Deal--Climate change dictates two elements for the Winooski corridor: (a) use of roundabouts which cut climate change emissions about 30% at busy intersections; and (b) provision of active transportation, a must for built up urban areas/corridors.
  8. The Winooski Corridor is not primarily a through-corridor for bicycle and pedestrian transportation, but really a series of sections of street where the predominant role is to serve the trips of the neighborhood to and from substantial trip generators—mostly to, from, and via the Riverside-Marketplace and Pearl-Main related sections. 
  9. Our design work take place in a nation and state which has systematically ignored safety a concern for streets and highways leading to the U.S. sinking from first to 20thsince 1990 with 22,000 excess deaths today compared to the fatality rates achieved by the top four nations including our once co-number one, the UK.
  10. Burlington in 2014 adopted one of the first “equality streets” plan, the North Avenue Corridor Plan, which converts key intersections from unsafe traffic signals to safe roundabout and provides cycle track from end to end. 
  11. Safety achievements of other nations generally has begun through a comprehensive “systematic safety” plan and program ranging from licensing, education, enforcement and street design. Our design must reflect “best practices” for safety. 
Two issues emerged from the March 26 PAC meeting of significance: (1) questioning taking parking away from North Winooski, particularly along the mixed residential/commercial sections Riverside-Decatur/N. Union with its two-way traffic and Decatur/N. Union to North Street now southbound traffic only; and (2) a brief mention of cycle track (protected bike lane) placement at sidewalk level or a level midway between sidewalk and road level.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Be Careful Out There! Data shows one bicyclist/pedestrian and two car occupants injured weekly in BTV!

Be careful out there!! Based on 2013-2017 roadway crash data an average of one bicyclist or pedestrian is injured each week in BTV plus two car occupants. So about 50 bicycle/pedestrian injuries occur each year, 100 motor vehicle occupants injuries--150 overall. One fatality occurs on BTV streets every 5-6 years--last six three pedestrians, two drivers, and one cyclist with all but one fatal at one of the City's 75 signalized intersections. Roundabouts cut serious and fatal injuries on average 90%. Cycle track on street sections provide separate and safe accommodation of cyclists between busy intersections.

Safety First! Winooski Draft Material Mirrors Pine Street Re-Design Approach


Clear that Winooski Transportation Corridor Study places safety first! Great news! Winooski study draft plan material adopts Pine Street Coalition Re-design elements for a beneficial Champlain Parkway and basics of the North Avenue Corridor Plan (2014): roundabouts at busy intersections and cycle track end to end. Thank you Winooski Corridor planners! Time now to re-design a proper scale Parkway to incorporate safety and climate change best practices of today not those of 2006! Like the Winooski draft and North Avenue Plan--safe and separate walk and bike facilities and the "intersection safety belt", the roundabout, at busy intersections.

See https://www.ccrpcvt.org/our-work/transportation/current-projects/corridors-circulation/winooski-avenue-corridor-study/#documents Check out the four "Alternatives"

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Three Parkway Tweets--Sully on Safety First, $3.28 Million Contaminated Soils, Climate Change

Hero pilot Sully Sullenberger Saturday on 737 Max 8 crashes: “quality and safety pay for themselves...always better & cheaper to get it right than repair the damage after..." Re-design Champlain Pkwy. group targets no safe walk/bike facilities, no safe intersections


Tweet March 17
BTV facing $3.28 million taxpayer bill for Parkway contaminated soils—figure City Engineer Baldwin revealed at CCRPC Board last month? He says construction start 2019--Pine Street Coalition safety re-design cuts $43 million cost ~$8 million, likely soils too.

The fight to re-design the Champlain Parkway here in BTV from the start included climate change—absence of separate and safe walk and bike facilities, half mile of unneeded street, 1,000s of gallons gas wasted yearly at intersections. Safety 1st of course.

BTV Winooski Corridor Bike/Ped Injury Rates Astronomical Compared to VT Downtown Roundabouts

Data from the Winooski Corridor Transportation Corridor reveals real carnage on Burlington streets in addition to the fatality recorded about every 5-6 years, the latest in December Jonathan Jerome, a pedestrian who died in a crash on North Avenue.
Based on five years of data through 2017, about 150 injuries occur each year on Burlington streets, three per week. About 50 injuries or one a week are bicyclists and pedestrians in roughly equal numbers and 100 card occupants or two a week. 
About 10% of all 150 annual injuries on BTV streets occur on North and South Winooski Avenues.  And 43% of all yearly crashes occurred at intersections.    On the 17 Winooski corridor  intersections 0.21 injuries occurred to bicyclists per year per intersection--no injuries in a half century have occurred at the six downtown VT roundabouts (Manchester Center, Middlebury and Montpelier).  A similar rate for Winooski intersections injuries per year--0.21 pedestrian injuries per year per intersection--occurred for the 2013-2017 survey period.  Comparison the Winooski 0.21 figure compares to 0.0032 injures per year per downtown VT roundabout.For car occupants the Winooski Avenues figure is 0.13 injury per year per intersection (2.8 injuries yearly 17 intersections).  
 Car occupant injuries for the 6 downtown VT roundabouts:  0.013 per year (4 injuries recorded total for lifetime of the six roundabouts through about 2016).
So on the Winooski Avenues, an injury occurs about once every two months--7.2 per year.  For comparison, the six downtown VT roundabouts record an injury about once a decade! 

In addition to crashes involving personal injury, the vast bulk of crashes are property damage only--about 1,200 average yearly, almost ten times the injuries, about 150, recorded.
These are metrics BTV Police Chief Del Pozo would likely love!


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Governor Scott: Stop the Hurtful Parkway!! Start a Neighborhood Roadway Re-Design!!



December 12, 2018

Governor Phil Scott
Pavilion Office Building 
109 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05609 

Dear Governor Scott:

The members of the Pine Street Coalition would like to congratulate you on winning another term as Governor of our State of Vermont. Our Coalition is a grassroots and volunteer citizens' organization with about 100 members dedicated to safe and quality transportation in Burlington's South End neighborhood.

In addition, we thank you, along with Transportation Secretary Flynn for meeting with a delegation of the Coalition May 8 at your Capitol Building office to learn more about our neighborhood concerns over the outdated and unsafe design of the Champlain Parkway. Its last public hearing now dates back 12 years to November 2006.

The Parkway design, a vestige of 1960s thinking, was originally thought of as a segment of a four-lane limited access ring road surrounding the center of Burlington. The public comment on the project ended in 2006 and the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact (FSEIS) issued 2009. The total project cost now estimated at $43 million funding share -- 95% federal, 3% State and 2% City monies.

Since the FSEIS was issued in 2009, the neighborhood has blossomed into the most vibrant section of our City, and major changes in laws and policies affecting highway design have also occurred. The Pine Street Coalition steadfastly maintains it would be best for all if the current obsolete and invalid iteration of the Champlain Parkway roadway design is abandoned and a modern design begun through a new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. A new EIS would be driven in great part by the neighborhood itself whose very economy and safety are at stake. We have suggested Re-Design Guidelines for improvements meeting current and future transportation needs—particularly by providing separate, safe walk and bike facilities totally lacking in the Parkway design. We can meet current and future needs far better and overall at lower cost. Additionally, both safety and climate change emissions now possible through “best practices” were left out of the current design considerations. Using “best practices” serious injuries could be reduced over current levels and significant reductions in climate change emissions achieved.

A re-design certainly will reduce two streets between Home and Flynn Avenues to one street, the most glaring financial waste. As well, connectivity between Burlington and So. Burlington can be preserved instead of severing one of the only two north-south corridors here in the City. Upwards of six acres can be retained for protection and preservation of Englesby Brook, park and open space, and economic development. Again, new regulations require minimizing impacts on our low income Maple/King neighborhood not even considered in the FSEIS process.

This April, the Coalition issued a detailed 240+ page set of documents detailing the changes since the 2009 FSEIS on the ground and in new laws and policies at Federal, State and City levels. This documented challenge to the City, State and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) calling for a new EIS process will be considered by the FHWA in re-evaluation as required in federal law and regulation and
sets the basis of possible subsequent federal court action. Already since spring alleged errors in land taking procedures under State laws by the City lead to the current suits before Chittenden Superior Court.

With City representatives recently stating the project could be tied up in courts for an unknown number of years, we respectfully request it is in the interests of all to stop the Parkway now and start a new EIS. This promises a far better result than the uncertain outcome of years of litigation, increasingly likely to lead to a new EIS as time goes on. This is the same contention put forth by the Coalition to Federal Highway, Vermont Agency of Transportation and local officials in meetings since early last year.

Finally, the Pine Street Coalition respectfully requests your taking action for a new EIS process at this juncture in favor of a quality and safe roadway project. Such a decision promises not only a safe and quality project, but financial savings and certain economic progress for our neighborhood, the City of Burlington, our County and our State.

Yours truly,


Pine Street Coalition

Tony Redington  -  President 
Charles Simpson -  First Vice President
Jack Daggitt - Second Vice President
Steve Goodkind  -  Treasurer
Ib Nar - Secretary


cc Vermont Secretary of Transportation Joseph Flynn
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger
Mathew Hake, P.E., Vermont Division Administrator, FHWA
Members of the Burlington City Council