Planners seek input for a tri-town bike route


CONSULTANTS ARE DEVELOPING maps — like this one — of a potential “Triangle Bike Loop” that would connect Middlebury, Bristol and Vergennes. Area residents will be able to share their views at a public meeting in New Haven this Thursday, Aug. 15. Plans call for a final route to be solidified by next February. Then advocates will look for funding to make the route a reality. Map courtesy of SE Group
“The long-term vision would be to designate this as a route, put up some signage and use it as an amenity for the people who live here as well as an attractor for people who live outside of the county.” — Mike Winslow

NEW HAVEN — County residents on Aug. 15 will be able to shape a newly proposed bike route that would link Middlebury, Bristol and Vergennes.

The public meeting, to begin at 7 p.m. in the New Haven Town Hall, will be led by consultants from SE Group of Burlington. The company was selected to design the proposed tri-town route that, when completed, “will provide a safe and enjoyable rider experience, increase connectivity between communities along the route (New Haven, Waltham, Weybridge, Ferrisburgh), and establish a sustainable and valued recreation resource,” according to Mike Winslow, transportation planner with the Addison County Regional Planning Commission.

Winslow explained that a group of Middlebury College students did some important, early legwork on the project during the spring of 2018. The students used focus groups and online surveys to gather data from bikers and drivers on road use preferences. They were also asked to recommend infrastructure to accomplish cycling goals. That feedback indicated a preference for a Middlebury-Bristol-Vergennes cycling route.

“The consultants are using that as a starting point,” Winslow said.

SE Group and the regional planning commission have set up a website explaining the planning process for the so-called Triangle Bike Loop. The site, at tinyurl.com/y333tkm9, includes a few proposed routes to serve as conversation starters. The routes take into consideration, among other things, road dimensions and safety, and comfort level for both inexperienced and expert riders.

Planners are trying to stay away from busy thoroughfares, including Route 7, and are instead looking at such roads as:

• Maple Street and Quaker Village Road in Waltham.

• Green Street and Middlebrook Road in Vergennes.

• Plank Road and Carlstrom Road in Bristol.

• Halpin Road, Painter Road, Munger Street and Weybridge Street in Middlebury.

• North Street in New Haven.

“It’s not like people aren’t using these resources already; people already bike on these roads,” Winslow said. “It’s just a matter of making them more comfortable. The long-term vision would be to designate this as a route, put up some signage and use it as an amenity for the people who live here as well as an attractor for people who live outside of the county.”

SE Group is being paid through a $38,500 municipal planning grant awarded the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development to the town of New Haven and the city of Vergennes.

Plans call for additional public feedback sessions this fall, culminating in SE Group submitting a final route proposal next February, according to Winslow. SE Group has been asked to propose potential funding sources for the bike loop.

Consultants at the Aug. 15 meeting in New Haven will have large maps of the area, and are hoping for a lot of input on the route’s path and any historic and/or recreational assets along the way that users could stop and view during their travels. The meeting format will be conducive to folks dropping by for a few minutes to learn about the route and share their ideas.

Route planners are interested in the perspective of cyclists of all abilities, drivers, walkers and joggers.

For more information, or to submit written comments on the Triangle Bike Loop, email Winslow at mwinslow@acrpc.org. Click here to take the Triangle Bike Loop survey.

Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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