Walk-Bike Council promotes people power

ADDISON COUNTY – A new Addison County advisory group has eyes on the road and an ear to the ground when it comes to walking and biking.
Over the last year, the Walk-Bike Council of Addison County was formed with the support of the Addison County Regional Planning Commission (ACRPC) and Local Motion, Vermont’s statewide nonprofit walk-bike advocacy organization. This citizen-led effort aims to advance, support and celebrate safe walking and biking. Members strive to build regional capacity and understanding for everyday walking and biking. With representation from towns including Bridport, Bristol, Middlebury, New Haven, Vergennes, Waltham, as well as organizations including ACTR (Addison County Transit Resources), Safe Routes to Schools, Vermont Department of Health, and Vermont State Police, the council developed a work plan for 2017.
“By sharing ideas and experiences across municipal lines, between agencies and citizen enthusiasm, the region as a whole is gaining momentum and capacity for safer walking and cycling,” said Claire Tebbs, ACRPC planner.
Council members are working on issues they care about and look forward to seeing changes in their hometowns and across the county, as part of four working groups:
1.  Infrastructure and Project Review: to improve on-the-ground conditions for walking and biking.
2.  Municipal and Agency Outreach: to increase public officials’ knowledge of and engagement in walk-bike issues.
3.  Culture Shift and Marketing: to build community acceptance and respect for everyday walking and biking.
4.  Citizen and School Outreach: to increase rates of walking and biking across all ages, abilities and communities.
“It has been a pleasure working with such a committed and capable group of volunteers to launch this county-wide group,” said Jason Van Driesche, interim executive director of Local Motion.
To date, the Walk-Bike Council of Addison County has inspired the start-up of new Safe Routes to School programs in Bristol and Vergennes, a bike safety fair, creation of a walk-bike perception survey, increased collaboration between local, regional and state agencies, and networking across municipal boundaries. “The new council will help position Addison County as a great and safe outdoor recreation destination,” Laura Asermily said.
Those interested in learning more about the Walk-Bike Council can go to its newly launched interactive website at walkbikeaddison.org. Is your town missing from the list of representatives? The council is still recruiting for town and/or region representatives as well as additional community partners for each of the working groups. You can contact the council through the website and keep up with ways to get involved. Or contact the regional planning commission’s Claire Tebbs at 388-3141 for more information.
Council member Lauren Bierman of Bridport explained why she is taking part in this effort.
“Being able to play outside, hike, and bike is so important to me that I want to make that more possible for our entire community,” Bierman said. 

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