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Some Highlights from Burlington, Vermont



OUR MEGABUS & FOLDING-BIKE TRIP to Burlington Vermont went really great.  Just look at all the amazing things we did without a car!

We bought our Megabus tickets in March, getting a $15 roundtrip cost for both of us combined.  We connected to the bus by the T train out of Providence.  The bus leaves right out of South Station.  Ironically, it cost us more money to travel the Boston leg of the trip than the Megabus one.

In Vermont, a number of bike paths helped us get around.  CCTA, the local bus service, only runs Monday through Saturday, but the service runs consistently every half-hour from the crack of dawn until 9 PM, and goes all over the northwestern part of the state.  There is also a car-share available on St. Paul Street across from City Hall Park, for the less transit-intrepid.

Things to Do Without a Car:  The Shelburne Museum

ONE OF OUR FAVORITE BUS ROUTES took us right to the door of the Shelburne Museum, going past a lot of employment and shopping for residents along the way.  There's a nice village in Shelburne as well, and a farm museum and other attractions we didn't even get time to see.































Stylish Public Transportation


ALL OF THE BUS ROUTES had these beautiful wooden bus shelters.  They were everywhere!  You never felt like taking the bus meant having to stand in the rain.  Contrast that with RIPTA, which makes you stand in the rain even at centrally-located stops like around the top of the trolley tunnel.  This picture was from the rural outskirts of the system, and there were a few more of these shelters within walking distance along this road.


Cherry Street, near the pedestrian mall in downtown, is Burlington's version of Kennedy Plaza.



Public transit was not without its problems.  Service stops at 9 PM, something we think a college town with plenty of tourists could extend until midnight.  Service also doesn't exist on Sundays.  But services run on a frequent Saturday schedule, are clean, prompt, and pretty effective for use as a commuter to most jobs.  The real question to be asked is not why a rural small town shuts down its buses at 9 PM, but why a major city like Providence stops many of its routes around 10.  

One of the things we liked about CCTA's system was that their bus guide was one big pamphlet.  No more stuffing three and four bus schedules into your pocket!  Every bus that they had running had its full schedule and map included in one booklet.  Admittedly, doing this with the entire RIPTA system might be a bit cumbersome, but RIPTA should consider combining several routes at a time into regional guides, to make the schedules more organized and easier to use.
Bike Valet Done Right

BURLINGTON HAS TWENTY-EIGHT ACRES of parking in it--something that Burlington residents see as a problem.  Like Providence, they have a bike valet program.  Unlike Providence, the city has worked to sponsor the program, as a means of reducing parking demand.  Local businesses have also been pretty enthusiastic to jump on board.  Stu at Local Motion talked to us for quite some time about the exciting things his group is doing in Burlington to make it a Gold Standard biking city.



Burlington meters the parking even in quiet residential areas.  And guess what!?  No one grumbles.  People understand that they either have to pay for parking through taxes on everyone, or charge drivers who use the parking for the expense.



Nightlife

THERE WAS A LOT OF FREE ENTERTAINMENT in the downtown of Burlington at night, including this guy, who stacked five chairs on top of a table and did headstands, juggled, and heckled the audience.  You can really see what making an area walkable does for business.




Bike paths

BURLINGTON AND THE SURROUNDING TOWNS have lots of bike paths.  Sadly, we didn't even discover all of them until we were about to leave, there were so many.  One of the nicer ones is up to the Colchester Causeway, which goes across Lake Champlain to a group of islands in the center.  A hurricane knocked out one of the bridges a few years ago, so it's currently only possible to go most of the way across the lake.

This path was considered mostly recreational, but a lot of paths in Burlington exist primarily as routes for people to get to work.  I was pretty skeptical that people would use them in the winter, but the people I spoke to insisted that "Of course we plow them in the winter".  This might be something RIDOT considers.  The extensive paths we have in Rhode Island are not plowed.  In one case, I asked Kingston officials--who control one of the few paths that is plowed (sort of)--if they would salt the path to keep ice down.  They told me that they couldn't salt the path for fear of disruption to the ecosystem around it.  This never stops the area of salting Routes 108 & 138, though.  None of that nonsense gets peddled in Vermont.  They realize that getting people on bikes is an important part of protecting their ecosystem--and in a place with much worse winters than us.




The Intervale

BURLINGTON HAS A NEAT SECTION of it within town that is called the Intervale.  It's the site of a lot of "urban" farming.  There are bike paths all along it, which parallel the highway, and connect to the other paths.





This picture here was taken from the edge of the Old North End.  Right behind us was dense housing, but the view was of countryside in the Intervale.



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