Sunday, October 15, 2017

1st Burlington Cycle Track (But none for Parkway!)

Just tweeted congrats to DPW on BTV's first cycle track, now in place from Main to Buell on S. Union, set to be completed north to N. Winooski.  The facility to be permanent.   

New BTV Union St (Main-N. Winooski) cycle track scores perfect 10! Treatment cures vehicles invading cycle space. Congrats BTV DPW!

The treatment cures the one major obstacle with the minimum street width--how to keep vehicles from pushing into the cycle lane.  The only question is whether the materials will stand up to plows, traffic, etc.--still no question those issues can be dealt with.   But for $35 million Champlain Parkway no cycle track, no separate walk ad bike facilities (Coalition includes in redesign).  Time now for reopening Parkway design for a new generation! (Last public process 2006.) 


         Sorry, but one cannot help but also point out the sorry state of pedestrian safety and note bicyclists get something first while pedestrian safety and service at intersections gets to eat cake--no best practice roundabouts...yet!

Friday, October 13, 2017

U.S. Highway Safety "Pathetic"

With 20,000 excess highway deaths compared to the safety performance of top nations (US was once number one) consider the following analysis.

This analysis done BEFORE the 14% spike in highway fatalities, largest in half century in 2015-2016, explains how we moved three miles an hour on safety on a four miles an hour treadmill forward set by other modern nations (and no so modern ones too). Really nice charts on U.S. versus other nations over time.  Dove from number one about 1990 to 16th today.

For us here in Chittenden County and Burlington we know, for example, since about 1990 when the U.S. was tied with UK for number one in highway safety there has not been a single safe busy street intersection installed in the County.  Also, the $35 million Parkway not only does not have a single safe intersection, and the addition of six new signalized intersections promises about eight additional injuries per year to neighborhood residents and visitors over today's "best safety practice."  
Numerous comments also of interest. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

City Public Works Leader--Parkway Design Out of Date

Burlington was forewarned about the obsolete Champlain Parkway design at the “public” meeting (none of the public was allowed to speak) November 30, 2015 when Burlington Department of Public Works Director Chapin Spencer told the 100+ attending:

This project would not be designed the way it is today if we were starting from scratch. I will be honest and transparent about this. There are pieces of this project that are vestiges from limited access origins.”
There could not be more forceful words in support of the Pine Street Coalition call for a new redesign that is cheaper, cleaner, quicker and (much!) safer. You can view Director Spencer make this statement at minute 51:00 on Channel 17:

Friday, July 21, 2017

A Roundabout is NOT a "Traffic Circle" or "Rotary" or the Winooski Ovalabout!

Pine Street Coalition proposes roundabouts--not traffic circles (they are large, like the Winooski "traffic circulator" and "rotary" is just another word for "traffic circle").  Roundabouts compared to traffic circles are very small and force vehicles to slow at entry by a curved "splitter island" which stomps down speeds and the tight circular travelway maintains the low speed pressure on the driver. 

You can see these features the photos here:  Pedestrian use crosswalks 25 feet away from the circular travelway and cross one direction of traffic at a time using  the median refuge area.  No pedestrian has yet been killed at the 5,000+ roundabouts in the U.S. and Canada!  During the same period since 1990 and the first roundabout two pedestrians were killed in crashes at the Burlington 75 traffic signals.  Roundabouts cut serious and fatal injuries at intersections by about 90% (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety research).  

See the first photo in this pdf which shows the first NY roundabout, a conversion of a traffic circle (rotary) and see the difference in size!  Check these out:

 Keck Circle, Main/Spring, Montpelier 1st Northeast Roundabout (1995)
The Queen City Roundabout would be about 170 feet in diameter at the bottom of Pine Street.  A mini roundabout at Pine/Flynn would fit in current curbs and have a circular mountable center "speed hump" center to larger vehicles could turn.   
Our first roundabout at the Shelburne "rotary"will be about 120 feet in diameter and you could fit 3+ of them inside the 200 by 500 foot Winooski traffic circulator which is about the size of Thunder Road in Barre. 

Also examples in the AARP Pine Street Workshop report.  AARP, Geico, AAA and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety all advocate replacing traffic signals with roundabouts and only roundabouts for new intersection investments. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Meeting Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe and Engaging Attorney Cindy Ellen Hill of Middlebury

Pine Street Coalition Meets with Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe and Retains Legal Counsel, Attorney Cindy Ellen Hill of Middlebury

A Pine Street Coalition (PSC) delegation met with Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe after the Legislature adjourned in June.  Discussion reviewed the PSC Parkway Re-Design Guidelines for cost savings (less tax money), lower global warming emissions, complete earlier by avoiding legal actions, reduced delay for neighborhood traffic and improving safety for the neighborhood rather then generating more injuries.  Again four principles--cheaper, cleaner, quicker, and much safer.   Asked by Sen. Ashe wouldn't the Parkway current design going ahead be an improvement over what is there?   The response was a strong "no."  The current design lacks satisfactory, safe, walk and bike facilities (detailed by communications of the Burlington Walk Bike Council); there would be increased injuries to residents and visitors alike; increased global warming emissions and gasoline waste rather than reductions; taking away six valuable acres for protection of the Englesby Brook and for economic development--the list of damage to the South End from the current Parkway design goes on and on.  

Middlebury Main Street Roundabout in Front of New Municipal Center

   Attorney Cindy Ellen Hill

The PSC has engaged Middlebury Attorney Cindy Ellen Hill.  Attorney Hill not only has considerable environmental law experience at the State (including Act 250) and federal level (National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA]) but has first hand experience at the municipal level as a Middlebury Selectboard member.  Attorney Hill knows the South End well.  She has taught now for some time as a Professor at Champlain College with courses at the Miller Center on Lakeside Avenue adjacent to the Parkway right-of-way.  Attorney Hill will assist the PSC in seeking a new planning process which can be expected to respond to the Parkway Re-design Guidelines developed at the grassroots level here in the South End.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Pine Street Coalition Meets with State and Federal Transportation Officials

In recent weeks a delegation of Pine Street Coalition members met separately with State and Federal Highway Administration officials in Montpelier to outline the Coalition Champlain Parkway Re-design Guidelines.  The Coalition explained through through new maps and discussions their call for  a "cheaper, cleaner, quicker and (much) safer Parkway design.

The Coalition expressed thanks to Vermont Agency of Transportation Secretary Joseph Flynn for taking time to meet on February 24 and Vermont Division Federal Highway Administration Administrator Matthew Hake who provided time to the Coalition delegation February 23.

At each meeting the Coalition emphasized a substantial amount of change had occurred since the public comment period for the current design closed 11 years ago, that undertaking a re-design along current best practices not only saves money, does more with less, but in the long run saves valuable time should the undesirable path of legal action prove successful. Throughout discussions the importance of maintaining connection to Queen City Park Road and the Kmart Plaza area--since designated by Hannaford for relocation of their supermarket--as well as avoiding 1 1/2 lane miles of roadway and all the environmental impact associated, reducing instead of increasing the number of painful injuries to South End residents and visitors, and provision of safe, separate walk and bike facilities absent from the current design.   Best practices today include separate walk and bike facilities, roundabouts, and conversion where feasible of existing traffic signals to roundabouts.  Gaining six acres of land for economic development and preservation of Englesby Brook also comprise important advantages of the revised design approach advocated by the Coalition.  The Coalition identifies $11.6 million in cost reductions while vastly improving the transportation, safety, and environmental impacts of the Parkway. 

Administrator Hake's office can at any time declare the old Parkway design no longer satisfactory and move a new planning process allowing full neighborhood involvement to complete a modern design which incorporates "systematic safety" and "equality streets," the type of best practices containined in the City's North Avenue Corridor Plan adopted in 2014 and the current Walk Bike Master Plan set for approval by the City Council by the end of April.

The Coalition delegations included Diane Gayer, Mary Twitchell, Charles Simpson, Steve Goodkind, Ibnar Avilix Stratibus, Carolyn Bates, Tony Redington, and Jack Daggett.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

City Council Candidate Scores Parkway Design Woes

This week South District (Wards 5&6) candidate Charles Sampson posted the following on Front Porch Forum:  "In a recent post to Ward 5 FPF, Councilor Mason provided an update on the City’s plans for the Champlain Parkway. He writes: “Potential changes [connecting Pine Street to Queen City Park Road; roundabouts; separate bike and pedestrian paths] may be considered after the project is complete.” The weakness in the City’s approach to this project is glaring. First, the administration proposes spending $44 million in mixed funding to build a road that fails to meet connectivity and complete streets standards, then suggests that later on the City, on it’s own dime, will make the costly corrections
Costs for mismanaging the Parkway project include forcing South End residents to endure truck traffic for 25 years after the C1 [“road to nowhere”] segment of the roadway was completed from Shelburne to Home while it was, and remains, closed. Second, it includes devoting a 1.6 mile swath of our crucial Enterprise Zone--the key to our future as a high tech creative hub--to a redundant highway from Home to Lakeside. Third, if fails to conserve the Englesby Brook ravine as protected natural area helping preserve our lake water quality, instead bottling it up under the new road. Over $11 million in combined federal, state, and local funds could be saved by canceling C2, the segment from Home to Lakeside, even as we open up that area to job creating, tax paying economic development. The hiatus that the City created by dithering for 25 years is what has led to the use of this publicly-owned right of way as car dealership storage and inefficient surface parking.

When you’re in a hole, you don’t keep digging. The public needs to weigh in on alternative designs for this 1960s limited-access highway that we can’t afford and shouldn’t desire. Vote the public interest on March 7. Charles Simpson, Candidate for Council, South District. '