Monday, June 24, 2013


A Vermont Department of Labor (VDL) 2005 study projecting working age populations from 2004 through 2030 pointed to a slowing but positive growth of overall population during the period—but Census reported tiny increase from 2010 to 2010 and an actual decrease in Vermont population for 2012.
Other U.S. Census projections of total population by age generally show little change 2000-2030 in working age population while under age 15 declines slightly and 65 and over population more than doubles.
While the VDL using Census data indicates an annual population growth of about 6,000 a year starting in 2005 slowing to about 2,000 annually in 2030, the State barely gained about a dozen citizens a month 2011-2012 or about 500 for the two year period.   In fact, the Census reported only a 1,700 yearly population increase for the State, 16,900 for the  entire 2000-2010 decade or 2.8% with the 2010 Vermont population 625,741. 
The most difficult estimation in projecting populations comes in determining a number for those who will migrate in and out of a state which comprises the “net migration.”  The other population change can be gained from very accurate data each state records—birth and deaths which provide a base  then adjusted by net migration.
But even more noteworthy in the 2005 study were workforce age population changes centering around 2012 when “Vermont’s working age population [15-65]…is forecast to decline for the foreseeable future.”  That forecast shows working age population in continual decline 2012-2030 though a slower rate toward the end of the period. 
Sharp differences occur in various age groups of the workforce forecast.  From about 2006 through 2022 the 15-19 age group population dips sharply early on and then from a lower base begins to grow in 2022.  About 2015, the 20-34 age group representing the baby boom echo which grew rapidly from the millennium begins a slow by steady decline through 2030 as that echo ages out into the 35-49 age range.  The only group growing rapidly 2016 though 2029 are those same baby boom echo folks which hit the 35-49 ages. Finally, the baby boomers finish exiting out of the 50 to 65 age workforce group into the post-65 retirement category—first they grow the 50-65 age group from 2005 to 2016  followed by moving into retirement, driving down the  50-65 age group population 2017 through 2030.
This report (access it at file:///Users/TonyRVT/Documents/VTdemographic-projections-2004-2030.pdf )  presents in easy to interpret graphs these changes for each of the New England States while highlighting the Vermont data. 

Friday, June 21, 2013


Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) and Rail Passenger Service—Apparently not a Priority
Visited Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) Board meeting and spoke at the beginning of the “public” item on the agenda June 18 where CCTA and many other public boards and commissions allow anyone wishing to speak a chance express their concerns and views.
After introducing myself and explaining I was a member of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) and concerned about lack of connectivity on Saturday and Sundays to the Amtrak Vermonter service at Essex (Monday through Friday connections are excellent), the overall reaction of the Board could not have been cooler.  No response to my concern or even acknowledgement the problem exists was offered.  Connectivity by Vermont’s regional transit agencies to all Amtrak stations is a major problem at a time when every additional Amtrak rider decreases needed State dollars—now budgeted $7 million a year. 
Even though CCTA receives the majority of its funding from State, federal and local tax dollars, CCTA leaders remain clearly unsympathetic to the overall needs of public transportation which includes rail passenger services, particularly in regard to integrated, coordinated scheduling.
The advent of service by Amtrak to Burlington now set for 2017 through extension of the Ethan Allen service from Rutland to Burlington also was stated to the CCTA Board and a flyer on a study of commuter rail feasibility which builds off the success of CCCTA Link, a ten year old commuter service from Burlington to Montpelier, Middlebury and St. Albans now serving about 500 commuters on 50 buses each workday—a clear indication that commuter rail service can be marketed to and from Burlington.  The Board reaction was that commuter rail would be good if it can be shown to be economic, an interesting thought in view of the fact that two-thirds of the CCTA budget comes from governmental sources and its stated mission is support of quality public transportation services.  The Board suggested that ideas about commuter rail be brought to the attention of the CCTA “management.”
It appears clear that federal and State agencies which fund public transit agencies in Vermont represent the only realistic avenue to assure coordination and integration of rail and bus transport services.  However a 2013 comprehensive statewide intercity bus service plan also contains no consideration of rail passenger services much less coordination of existing regional transit to access Amtrak intercity services.   So much for the multi-modal, integrated transportation system first called for at the beginning of the 1990s in both State and federal transportation law.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


    ……..Some Vermont examples
Today an emerging paradigm defining busy urban streets and nodes which safely and comfortably serve all populations who walk and bike can summed up, in addition to the presence of sidewalks: cycle track (protected bicycle lanes) along street segments and roundabouts at intersections equipped with bicycle pathing.
Most busy urban streets can be retrofitted to cycle track and roundabouts with Carmel IN (80,000 population with several freeway exchanges) and Manchester Center, VT well on their way toward all roundabout intersections with a varying potential for further installation of cycle track.  One other variation of the paradigm comes in the form of “shared space”, a European innovation, where for a block or in an intersection all modes intermingle at walking speed (walkers with right of way), perhaps the safest environment for all modes.  Separate street parallel bike or multi-user paths also meet “walkable and/or bikable” which otherwise would be supplied by cycle track and/or sidewalks.  However, to date the bulk of multi-user paths do not connect at busy intersections served by roundabouts thereby their service, safety and accessibility are diminished.   However, cycle tracks just now are being adopted in North America with major investments completed or under way in San Francisco, Chicago (100 miles), Seattle and Montreal. 
The roundabout provides two common elements vital to both modes at intersections—safety and service without delay. The roundabout uniquely provides a high level of safety for those who walk and when properly pathed offers a far higher level of safety and service to those who bicycle versus a signal.  Already the roundabout is the preferred or only intersection treatment for three U.S. departments of transportation (New York since 2005, Virginia and Florida) and two Canadian provincial departments (British Columbia and Alberta).
Applying the roundabout/cycle track criteria to existing American street systems quickly leads to the conclusion the presence of either remains infrequent and the presence of both—something common in many European nations—remains a vision only.  One noticeable missing treatment which does not meet the test of “bikability” is the unprotected bicycle lane or any shared vehicle/bicycle street space.  The problem with simple bike lanes comes from the fact that less skilled bicyclists in general as well as most old and young bicyclists are uncomfortable much less safe—therefore not choosing bicycle for trips on lanes with moderate to high levels of traffic.   When the Dutch retrofitted many of their busy streets with cycle track, already high bicycle volumes increased 25-50%, presumably resulting from lane averse populations.  The Dutch cycle track installations were part of a major bicycle and walking infrastructure investment in response to increasing car traffic sending child bicyclist fatalities to more than 400 annually—and attained a drop to just over a dozen following the major infrastructure investments.
While the term “bicycle friendly” and “walk friendly” remains in common usage, those phrases signify more an attitude than the presence of safe and comfortable infrastructure usable by all populations.
Looking around the State of Vermont there exist a few examples of bikable and/or walkable street segments, short corridors or nodes.
Walkable examples:
1.     Manchester Center  With two new roundabouts completed November 2012, the three roundabout corridor—first in Vermont—along Main Street, one of the two major streets in the upscale shopping area truly deserving its claim “Fifth Avenue of the Mountains.”  The village center roundabout is a mini-roundabout dubbed a “button” by the locals.  This roughly four block long village center and dense retail area completes half of a 1995 town center plan calling for roundabouts on Main Street and the other street leading to the U.S. interchange, Depot Street.  It becomes the first walkable town/city center corridor in Vermont open to all modes.
2.     Burlington Church Street Marketplace   Although a walker plaza, this four-block street turned over to walking only does involve three “shared space” intersection with all modes.  Bicycles are not allowed during the normal retail hours of the day.
Walkable and Bikable Examples
1.     Montpelier  Stonecutter’s Way Winooski West path provides a multi-user pathway along most of its length from the old Montpelier and Wells River station on Main Street east and parallel to the Winooski River with a lumber yard and major food coop on the west end.  It is part of an eventual multi-town multi-user path stretching about nine miles.  A portion of the Winooski East Path from behind Main Street to Montpelier High School via the State House area parking lots also serves a multi-user transportation function.
2.     Burlington  A multi-user path along Riverside Drive from the Winooski River Bridge connecting to the center of Winooski extends about a mile to the Community Health Center near the intersection of US 7.
3.     South Burlington  Burlington and South Burlington possess extensive primarily recreational multi-user path systems mostly located so as to serve a limited  transportation role, although a very important transportation for those who are able to use sections of the paths for transportation purposes.  Two parts of the South Burlington bicycle network qualify for consideration as walkable and bikable, though lack of roundabouts at major intersections limit safe and comfortable connectivity to nearby development which ranges from major schools, government facilities, shopping centers and residential developments.  Kennedy Drive from Dorset to Heineberg Road is served by a multi-user path o the north side.  And Dorset Street is the only joint grade separated  sidewalk/bike track on each side of the street with the walk and bike section distinguishable by pavement coloration.

Certainly there are other examples of nodes, multi-user paths, and roundabout corridors either in place or well along in the development stage.  Brattleboro, for example, screened the bulk of its built up intersections in 1993 for roundabout conversion and the Putney Road corridor (one roundabout in place) has Town and State approval for plans to provide all roundabouts along with walking and bicycling infrastructure which may well be the first both walkable and bikable corridor with full service roundabouts.  Montpelier’s Main Street is another candidate for a roundabout corridor.  And, the Middlebury Town Center roundabout with some calming measures along Merchants Row is a good candidate for retrofitting to a walkable and bikable downtown area.  Depot Street roundabouts along with cycle track in Manchester Center might move that area into the walkable/bikable category.
The next step for walkable and bikable downtowns and village centers require comprehensive planning efforts to identify at the same feasibility and priority for roundabout/cycle track nodes and corridors.  Investment dollars to carry out plans require tens of millions of dollars yearly, but the payoff will be increased walking and bicycling as well as public transit usage.  These changes enhance the value of commercial and retail center areas, and households have long been know to choose their housing in part on the availability of quality walking and bicycling infrastructure. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013


The comments before City Council react to the lack of vision which recognizes the expanding role in urban America and Burlington of public transit (including light rail, commuter rail and Amtrak service) along with the necessary new walking and bicycling infrastructure--protected cycle lanes (cycle track) and roundabouts.

Simply, shoppers, visitors and local citizens going about their daily trips increasingly will travel in modes other than the car.  Car trips already plateaued about 2000 in New England and already an increasing proportion of travel is non-car based.  The comments below reflect this new reality and the need to revise transportation investments to meet this change, change fostered by a number of forces ranging from pressures on resource consumption, stagnant household incomes, economic competition, global warming and the like.

                    REGARDING BURLINGTON PlanBTV

                                    Tony Redington

                                    Burlington, VT                                   

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Final Draft of the PlanBTV aimed at guiding the development of the Burlington downtown and waterfront areas.  This more than year-long process represents my first participation in policy development as a Burlington citizen.

The comments here relate primarily to the transportation sections of which contain serious shortcomings and some clearly misleading.  Most important the transportation elements fail in the mission of any--providing a rational guide to the downtown and waterfront development.  Most of my comments relate to the inadequate walking and bicycling content.

My suggestion is that instead of adopting the Plan BTV as is, that at least the Transportation section, particularly the walking and bicycling material, be re-worked with the cooperation and participation of the Burlington Walk Bike Council (BWBC).  I am sure you would be surprised as councilors to learn that neither the Steering Committee nor the full BWBC meetings (two total monthly included a minute of discussion regarding the PlanBTV materials much less even receiving at any time the three or four pages of draft and then revised PlanBTV material on walking and bicycling.  As a Steering Committee member, perhaps you can understand my submission of these comments following reviewing the draft document in the last few days.

Let me emphasize the fact of rapid change in the marketplace in all modal travel—bus, rail, auto, walking and bicycling.  For example, already the statistic from a year ago of 62% of traveling to work by car in Burlington drops to 54% in the latest Census information—car travel to work surely will continue to move downward and drop below 50% in the near future.  All major roadways accessing the downtown and Marketplace in Burlington show substantial and continuing decreases in numbers since peaking about 1990.  Traffic numbers decline on major streets—Main, Pearl, the Northern Connector, Shelburne, Pine and Northern Avenue—range from 8 to 28 (Pine Street) percent over the past two decades. 

As representatives a ward, one way to think of change is to consider home to work trips each year since 2000--about ten of your constituents switch from car travel to work to another mode every year—bus, walk, bicycle or work at home.  In Vermont car travel to work dropped 3% in the last decade with an estimated 9,000 workers during the period choosing something other than car travel—and the number of car travelers at the end of the decade unchanged from 2000.

But the PlanBTV language concludes: “Shoppers and visitors coming to downtown from afar will likely continue to get here by car.”  Basically we need to recognize that shoppers and visitors increasingly will come by modes other than the car.  Extension of Amtrak service to Union Station is less than three years away, seasonally the Champlain Ferry brings thousands to the waterfront, and commuter rail and even light rail from the waterfront via the Marketplace to UVM and Fletcher Allen Health Care are very likely within a few years.  Finally, PlanBTV cites “convenience” as key to choice of travel—I would suggest that those who quit their cars in droves for the CCTA Link service to Montpelier recognize the up to $7,000 annual after tax saving in their household budget—and that saving is after paying the daily $8 roundtrip daily fare.   Simply, just about any ground mode of transportation is less costly than the private auto.

Note extensive comments I made orally and in written form earlier in this process were almost entirely excluded in any subsequent plan drafts.

Before specific objections

Here are some other specific comments:
1. In the section “crossing to the other side”:  This section fails to mention the only proven method of moving walkers through intersections quickly, safely and comfortably—the modern roundabout.  For some reason City and Regional planners totally fail to recognize the pre-eminence that the Federal Highway Administration places on the use of roundabouts for walker and all other modes safety—or the fact that three states and two Canadian provinces now make the roundabout the default choice for intersections.  Note to date not a single walker fatal has occurred in almost 15,000 roundabout years in the U.S. and Canada. 
2. In the section “1. Bikeways”: This section claims, falsely: “Recent studies have shown the dedicated bike lane can reduce injury for bikers by 90%. “  I must say that this can only be described as untrue based on research and even advisories of the organization sponsored by U.S. DOT note this, ( )

Key here is that a bicycle lane and a protected bicycle lane or cycle track are two totally different treatments—lanes are not particularly safe and cannot be used by all ages or those of all skill levels.  Cycle tracks when connected to proper intersection treatments provide both mobility and safety for all bicyclists.  (my blog posting over the weekend center on this very subject ( see )

Basic bike lanes do not necessarily result in increased safety and certainly do not serve all users (I avoid them except during low traffic periods).  Protected bike lanes, also called cycle track—which I endorse—still have yet to be completely accepted by all elements of the bicycle community.  My blog addresses this overall issue and how truly “complete streets” means cycle track along segments and roundabouts with bicycle pathing at intersections presents the best infrastructure affording mobility and safety for users of all ages and skills.
3. In the section “ 2 Intersection treatments”:  This section does not mention roundabouts and the importance of separate bicycle pathways at a roundabout or other types of bicycling treatment where separate bicycle and walker pathways cannot be provided.  With the new Shelburne Street roundabout coming on line in a year or so, this is not an academic concern.  (Note with a few exceptions most of Burlington arterial streets can be served by single lane roundabouts which do [see Netherlands 1994 research by Schoon and van Minnen] reduce walker injuries by about 90% and bicycle injuries by 60% or more).
4.  In section “Bike Culture”:  A general comment here.  Bicycling and walking in the United States experience crash rates are several times higher than in the Netherlands and Germany per mile of travel (John Pucher and Lewis Dijkstra).  We need in Burlington substantial—tens of millions—in investments in walking and bicycling infrastructure (mostly cycle track/separate bicycle pathways and roundabouts) as a pre-condition to encouraging and achieveving high levels of walking and, particularly, bicycling.  We need to be careful not to put the cart before the horse.
5.  In the section “Cycle track”:  Again, the claim cycle track reduces bicycle injuries “90%” does not find confirmation in research.  Indicator research—cycle track versus riding on normal roadway—done in Montreal found significant decrease in injuries but statistically complete research remains to be done. I strongly support cycle track as the basic infrastructure to provide a safe level for bicycling for all users—but am not ready to quantify in the absence of data the reduction attained over lanes/no lanes.   My current position is that only protected bicycle lanes, cycle track, need be installed and where possible matched with roundabout treatments at intersections.
6.  In the section “Transit ties it altogether”:  This section needs to be totally redone since, as a practical matter, car traffic entering declines—and this includes vacation and visitor travel.  Transit includes the Amtrak service set for 2017.  Transit includes high capacity commuter rail service which can literally deliver thousands of visitors and hour to the waterfront.  Transit includes high capacity light rail which along with commuter rail was studied extensively in Burlington in the 1990s—those plans need to be re-examined and referenced in PlanBTV.  The transit section (including Champlain Ferry as an integral part) really keys the future success of both the waterfront and the Marketplace.  Transit and the promise it provides for low cost access carrying visitors in large numbers needs to key the entire aspect of  bringing folks to and from the future development of the waterfront

One last comment.  PlanBTV fails to acknowledge the Marketplace “plaza” as one of three in the nation and its intersections a rare U.S. example of “shared space” where modes mix at the highest level of safety at the Cherry, Bank and College intersections—shared space which needs to be expanded outward where helpful to retail businesses and replicated in other spots in the community—and probably at spots within the waterfront development.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on PlanBTV.

Sunday, June 2, 2013



Today Vermont and the nation face the reverse dilemma encountered by Western European nations a half-century ago and now only mostly resolved.  Then Western Europe with the bulk of urban trips by foot, public transit and bicycle faced an invasion of cars on street systems which in many cases dated from the Middle Ages.  Europe largely solved their dilemma through innovations ranging from modern roundabouts, traffic calming, cycle track (protected bicycle lanes) and “shared space.”  An equilibrium now exists there in the modal shares with car travel in some areas still a minority of urban trips with walking and bicycling trips even increasing their shares. 

Today Vermont like the rest of the nation operates in the beginning of an urban transportation revolution with rapid growth in walking, bicycling and public transit modes—but from a tiny base shares, less than one percent share for bicycle trips, just over three percent for walking trips, slightly over six percent public transit and overall ten percent for these three modes

Since government controls practically all walking, bicycling, bus and rail passenger infrastructure and investments, the urban transportation customer who demands immediate changes to enable their new choices faces a stodgy, unresponsive governmental landscape.  And too often that landscape set of choices involves increased risk to life and limb.

                        The walking and bicycling infrastructure stovepipes

Two key types of new infrastructure of great benefit to walking and bicycling modes—roundabouts and cycle track—arose from separate and distinct histories.  Roundabouts arose in 1966 in the U.K. primarily as a means of moving more cars with less car occupant injuries—the fact that walker injuries sharply declined and at most a minor gain in bicyclist safety got treated as a side benefit.   Cycle track—now a Western European staple—grew from increased cyclist carnage on busy streets when car travel increased.  Yet, roundabouts and other walking and bicycling infrastructure appeared to develop along separate parallel lines.  The connection between cycle track primarily benefiting cyclists of all skills and roundabout treatments--which one can argue arose primarily meet the safety and service needs of walkers--remained to a great extent evolving within their own separate stovepipe.

So, in a sense there has existed a “roundabout” stovepipe and a “cycle track” stovepipe.  Sidewalks for walkers and cycle track for bicyclists now represent a generally accepted approach for street segments, and several U.S. cities, particularly Chicago now in the midst of installing 100 miles of cycle track leading the development.   Meanwhile, the bicycle community justifiably found the larger earlier roundabouts in the U.K. still highly crash prone and that legacy of concern spread to other nations.  Research finds bicyclists injury rates decrease significantly over alternatives with single lane roundabouts and slight safety increase at smaller two-lane roundabouts.

Roundabouts came to the United States in 1990 and now number about 4,000.  Roundabout performance included an overall reduction in serious injuries and fatalities of about 90%.  But for those who walk and bicycle, safety—particularly at multi-lane roundabouts—remained a concern.  The “roundabout stovepipe” did not address how to serve all skill levels of bicyclists in a comfortable and safe manner.   Only recently has the U.S. design guidance suggested on/off ramps for bicyclists to avoid the roundabout circulating roadway and only then for multi-lane roundabouts.   So, the stovepipes developed—roundabouts serving the needs of cars and in smaller versions the needs of walkers while cycle track helped bicyclists of all skills move with a high level of safety between intersections.

Leave it to the Dutch who experimented with pathways at roundabouts and researching the performance before and after for treatments to find an avenue where all modes can operate with increased safety and efficiency at intersections—in a word to resolve the conflicts between roundabout and cycle track stovepipes.  The Dutch research revealed that a roundabout with a separate bicycle pathway sharply improved safety over alternatives with or without a bicycle pathway.  The bicyclist community cites research which concludes that a separate path (such as cycle track) increases bicycle crashes—but that same study shows the decrease in crashes along street segments provided by the path is overshadowed by increased crashes at intersections—which, no question—would be signs and signals.  The pathway/bicycle facility armed roundabout matched with cycle track seems to be the ready resolution of the dilemma and promises a final erasure of the roundabout and cycle track stovepipes.

Ideally, the busy intersection treatment becomes a roundabout with an cycle track approaches on each leg leading to a separate bicycle pathway more or less in parallel to the sidewalk system and side-by-side crossings with the walker crosswalk.   Of course, not all intersections possess the space for the ideal of separated bicycle and walker treatment so that multi-use pathways or—at worst for the cyclist—the on/off ramp (the minimum treatment) on the sidewalk where, essentially, the bicyclist becomes a walker.

Dutch roundabout intersection designs now are being circulated as models for bicycle treatments.   And, there is no reason why research should not confirm the Dutch experience that properly designed bicyclist treatments at roundabouts along with cycle track along street segments represent the future for urban street design to the meet the needs of bicyclists and walkers.