Tri-Town Bike Loop Proposal Gets Community Support

By PORTER BOWMAN

MIDDLEBURY — The towns of Middlebury, Bristol and Vergennes have taken a major step this week towards improving the safety and accessibility of cycling paths in Addison County. The three towns submitted a joint proposal for a Municipal Planning Grant for a new tri-town bike loop through the Addison County Regional Planning Commission (ACRPC) in Middlebury. The Triangle Bike Loop would cover 32 miles of existing back roads to the east and west of Route 7, the major roadway connecting Middlebury and Vergennes.

I think this project is fantastic, because bicycling safety can always be improved. We’re lucky in Vermont to have many beautiful roads that are lightly trafficked and often cars pass responsibly”

— KATIE AMAN

According to the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the agency in charge of the Municipal Planning Grant, the project will be considered for up to $15,000 to “fund technical assistance for municipal planning/zoning activities.” The proposal seeks to allow for dedicated routes that prioritize safety for cyclists who wish to travel around Addison County.  

Student cyclist Beckett Nasvik ’21.5 remarked that riding to Vergennes is one of his favorite routes, and the new loop will “only enhance the cycling experience in this area for both Middlebury students and local road bikers alike.” 

Last spring, several Middlebury students created a proposed route in a senior seminar in environmental studies, and Katie Aman ’19, president of the Middlebury Cycling Club, was given the chance to test out the route. Aman was thrilled to hear the progress made on the tri-town proposal, especially for protecting cyclists.

 “I think this project is fantastic, because bicycling safety can always be improved. We’re lucky in Vermont to have many beautiful roads that are lightly trafficked and often cars pass responsibly,” Aman said. “But we still have main roads such as route 116, 7, 17, 22A, 74 and others that pose significant risks because they either lack large shoulders and/or many cars are going by at fast speeds.”  

Over the last several years, creating safer conditions for Addison County cyclists became a major priority, leading to the Vermont Agency of Transportation creating an On-Road Bicycle Plan to make roads safer and address the concerns of cyclists across the state.  

Aman also highlighted the need to educate Vermont drivers on sharing the road with bikes. 

“Even where traffic is lower, some drivers do not follow proper protocol in passing.  It would be awesome to see better or more clear signage on these roads to clearly alert motor vehicle drivers of cycling traffic and the rules they must abide by when passing,” Aman said.   

Signage has already seen success on some routes and has been discussed as a potential addition to the tri-town loop. The signs would inform drivers about the loop’s existence and force them to exercise caution on the proposed roads.  

With potential grant funds on the way and the support of students and dozens of community organizations, the highly anticipated Triangle Bike Loop may soon become a welcomed reality in Addison County. Aman has high hopes for the bike loop. “[The bike loop] will better protect cyclists, encourage more people to commute on these safer roads … and educate motorists about proper etiquette around cyclists,” Aman said.

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Tri-Town Bike Loop Proposal Gets Community Support