BRATTLEBORO — For the last eight years a group of volunteers has been meeting in the Hanna Cosman meeting room at the Municipal Center — and during COVID, via Zoom — to work on ways to make Brattleboro a friendly place for people who want alternatives to cars; who want to walk, bike or roll, or take a bus or train instead. The group represents a range of perspectives, with members of the Vermont Dept of Health, Windham Regional Commission, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, VBike, as well as veteran bike advocates and community members. The group works with town administrators, municipal staff, transportation planners and others.
Their mission statement says it well: The Brattleboro Coalition for Active Transport (BCAT) works to promote safe, healthy, accessible transportation for people of all abilities, ages, and incomes. We see tremendous social, environmental and economic value to our community in the normalization of active, non-automobile transportation.
On the BCAT website, hosted by Burlington-based Local Motion, you will find the list of BCAT projects in the works and completed. These range from a bike-friendly road sign on Melrose Bridge and restriping on Cedar Street, to the downtown bike “parklet” you might have noticed outside Vermont Artisan Designs. BCAT also put Brattleboro on the map, earning honorable mention on the League of American Bicyclists list of bike-friendly communities.
Recently, prompted by COVID’s restrictions on in-person gatherings, BCAT replaced its annual Safe Street Forum with a community survey to gather information and feedback about local interest and concerns revolving around walking and biking. With well over a hundred respondents, the survey was deemed a big success and the results were informative and helpful. Because 43 percent of respondents said they turn to the Reformer for information, BCAT has decided to offer a monthly column to keep folks updated on projects and issues related to walking, biking and other forms of active transportation. Furthermore, the survey revealed how few people know of BCAT and its work, and how many people are seeking more information about local initiatives. This column will be a way to help get the information out there.
Respondents of the survey commented on how much they want to commute, exercise, and do errands around town by foot and bicycle, and their hopes for more and safer infrastructure to support the growing number of people who prefer not to drive. Safety is a big concern around town, and many hope the town can provide more and better sidewalks and bike lanes, better maintenance of what is already in place, and more ways to allow bikes and cars to share the road safely (with the recognition that cars can be very dangerous to cyclists and pedestrians).
Then there are the electric bikes you might see around town — more of them all the time. About 46 percent of the participants had an e-bike or e-cargo bike and another 33 percent said that they would ride more if they had one. Watch this column in the future for an installment devoted to electric assist bicycles and the ways Vermont is making them more accessible.
Public input is key to how BCAT comes up with projects to pursue, and how the group gauges interest and energy. BCAT’s current projects include: getting covered bicycle parking in downtown Brattleboro; improving and expanding sidewalks; and working with the town to create devoted bike lanes on Western Avenue.
There are so many ways you can show support for BCAT and get involved in the Brattleboro Active Transportation community. Every time you take to the streets or paths, while walking, biking, in your wheelchair or scooter, or by e-bike, you are part of a growing group of people who are choosing this healthy, community building way of transport.
Want to bicycle more? Contact Windham Regional Commission or our local bike shops for information on bike friendly routes and more: Brattleboro Bike Shop and Burrows Specialized Sports.
Want more information about the Western Avenue bike lane project? Contact Sue Fillion at 802-251-8154 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to give safety feedback about bike or pedestrian issues? Go to Brattleboro.org and fill out the Brattleboro Safety Action Form in the lower right corner of the page.
Want to learn more about BCAT? Go to the website: www.localmotion.org/brattleboro_coalition_active_transportation.
And finally, if you want to become an active BCAT volunteer and join in at a meeting, email BCAT.Bratt@gmail.com to be included in the Zoom call. The group meets via Zoom, the third Monday of the month from noon to 1:30 p.m.
The BCAT team includes Alice Charkes, Kathleen White, Barbara Walsh, Prudence McKinney, Dave Cohen, Shyla Foss, Becky Jones, Kevin O’Brien, Andrew Graminski, Dan Tyler, Elisha Underwood, Leigh Marthe, Lucas Braun, Mollie Burke, Prudence MacKinney, Stephen Dotson, Sue Fillion, Colin Bratton, Martha Ramsey.