Bike Lanes to Heaven

They write letters — this (or, rather, their edit thereof; I have yet to see the final version) ran in our local Valley News Bugle Gazette Herald Times Tribune:

Going across the Ledyard Bridge recently, I pointed out to my 10-year old the freshly striped bike lane leading up the hill to the village of Norwich. “Wow, does that mean it’s finally safe for us to bike to Hanover?” He quipped.

Yes, much safer, thank you. Effectively calming traffic and addressing the need of commuters trying to get to Vermont from Hanover and beyond without adding yet another car to rush hour congestion, that modest bike lane allows kids and adults alike to ride without fear of getting flattened by a logging truck or a car racing to get to the Interstate mere inches from our wheels. Now that it’s finally a paint-on-pavement reality, the notion of dropping a lane appears more than ever to be the right thing to do: one lane of cars comes down from Hanover… one lane of cars goes up to Norwich. With proper timing of the lights, this huge improvement in the safety of bicyclists should come with little impact on vehicular traffic. Models have shown as much, and the some weeks of monitoring will likely confirm it, too.

With the bike lane in place at long last, we now have a safe, properly proportioned connection between the rural New England towns of Hanover and Norwich, one that better reflects the transportation and infrastructure needs of all the Upper Valley’s residents, not just the cars and trucks. (My condolences to drivers who enjoyed using the two lane drag racing strip to break the sound barrier before reaching Route 5.) Our kids will grow up with the freedom to choose how they wish to get around our community, and we are now all more likely to survive if we elect to bike to and from school, college, or work — or simply for exercise or the sheer fun of it.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone in Norwich who worked long and hard to make this happen, and to VTrans, for daring to realize their stated goal of actively accommodating alternative means of transportation in Vermont.

Now, the battle continues. Apparently there’s already a few grumpy drivers in town who refuse to acknowledge that a petty little bike lane really isn’t the end of the world.