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Summit seeks better walking and biking connections

How could our region become a better place to walk and bike? We want your input! Residents, planners, and public officials will come together on Saturday, May 12 to identify strategies to improve conditions for walking and bicycling in Chittenden County.The summit, held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the St. John Vianney Parish Hall, 160 Hinesburg Road in South Burlington is hosted by the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO) and Local Motion, and will focus on regional connections. All residents are encouraged to attend the Summit.Attendees will prioritize gaps in the regional pedestrian/bicycle network and develop action plans for tackling the most pressing problem areas. Over the last two decades, there has been a renewed effort within towns to improve conditions for walking and bicycling.New sidewalks, revitalized village centers, and recreation paths have helped foster active lifestyles and healthy communities. While there has been considerable progress within communities, many identified regional improvements have languished.As a result, walking and bicycling between towns is often difficult. In 2003, the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO) adopted a Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan that charted a seamless regional network of hundreds of miles of sidewalk, 309 miles of bike lanes, and 118 miles of multi-use pathways.To date, only 45 miles of the multi-use path network have been constructed, and while communities have advanced many intra-community connections, the inter-municipal connections have languished. The designated regional bicycle/pedestrian connections are: - Route 15 Corridor (Winooski, Colchester, Essex Town, Essex Junction) - Old North End to Downtown Winooski (Burlington, Winooski) - Shelburne Road Crossing (Burlington, South Burlington) -Causeway Bike Ferry (Colchester, South Hero) -Muddy Brook Crossing (South Burlington, Williston) -Champlain Path (Charlotte, Shelburne, South Burlington, Burlington) In a recent CCMPO transportation survey, respondents indicated strong support for walking and bicycling: Only 35 percent of residents said that there are enough dedicated bike paths and/or on-street bike lanes in the countys cities or towns. Seventy-three percent said that they would walk more often if safe sidewalks were provided. Seventy percent rated dedicated multi-use paths as very important in improving biking/walking facilities, and 75% rated them as very important in improving their sense of personal safety. The Summit will also launch Local Motion's five-year "Close the Gaps" campaign which is an effort to assist communities in making the regional walking and biking connections. Understanding the challenges that Burlington and Colchester faced with the 13-year development of the popular Winooski River Trail Bridge, Local Motion knows an organized movement is required to close other gaps in the network.Public support and involvement is vital to achieve a safe and convenient regional bicycle and pedestrian network. Please bring your ideas and action to the May 12 Chittenden County Pedestrian and Bicycle Summit! For more information, check www.ccmpo.org or contact Peter Keating 802.660.4071 x14. or Chapin Spencer 802.652.2453, or chapin@localmotion.org.

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