May is bike month

May is National Bike Month. Here are seven tips to help get you get a jump on this year’s cycling season.


Friday, May 19, is bike to work day and May 15-21 is bike to work week. Set yourself up for commuting success by scoping out your route and time yourself before you biking on a school or workday.

Even one day a week of non-car use cuts down on traffic and reduces greenhouse gas. To level up, invite or challenge co-workers, neighbors and friends to join you. Beware, the endorphins and joy of regular biking can be habit forming and your car may get left behind.

Family rides

South Burlington Bike and Pedestrian Committee and recreation department members have mapped out three rides for families: The Almost Level Route, Tour du Playground and Bike to Hike. Maps and directions are available on the city website at Pack a picnic or favorite games to enjoy on your outing.

The Almost Level Route is one large 14-mile loop, made of smaller loops of approximately two miles each. To accommodate newer cyclists, stick with the shorter loops.

Tour du Playground links five playgrounds along 6-9 miles, your rest stops are pre-planned for you. Bike to Hike loops through wooded areas in city center and connects to the Awasiwi trail. For extra fun, let kids use the maps and lead adults.


Sharing truly is caring. If you are a cyclist, use hand signals, follow the rules of the road and act predictably. Equip your bike with a bell, rearview mirror and lights to help you see and be noticed and safe. Wear bright colors and a helmet when out on the road and try to make eye contact with motorists before crossing at intersections.

When sharing the road with motor vehicles, cyclists should stay to the right and travel single file, but they are allowed the entire driving lane when they need it such as when turning or navigating unsafe shoulder conditions. If you are driving, expect to encounter people on bikes sharing the road and provide a minimum of three feet when you are passing. You may need to wait a short time before safely overtaking someone who is riding and even slow down.

For cyclists, call out to pedestrians when you are passing or ring your bell. Pedestrians should avoid zoning out with earbuds when on the shared-use path. Listen for the cyclists who call out and kindly move to your right.


Speed is fun, many of us like it, some of us really love it. Part of sharing and safety is being mindful of speed. Cyclists, slow down when you pass pedestrians. This gives pedestrians time to respond to your call and improves their comfort and safety. Drivers should slow down for everyone. A car striking a pedestrian at 40 mph has an 85 percent chance of killing that person, at 20 mph, the chance drops to 20 percent. Slower speeds and attentive driving are literally lifesaving. Drive like your loved ones are the cyclists and pedestrians you share the road with.


South Burlington has approximately 24 miles of shared use path. With the Penny 4 Paths initiative we continue to improve path connectivity, you might be surprised where you can get to by bike. Can you find routes to shopping, dining, Veterans Park or a friend’s house? Feeling more adventurous? Try a trip to Pine Street in Burlington or the Colchester Causeway. Savor the freedom and free parking of being car-less.

Art Hop

Thanks to the work of Katie O’Brien-Barritt and other artists, South Burlington is home to more than 50 decorative utility boxes. The locations of these and other art installations are mapped out for you on the city website Take in a leisurely ride through the city’s outdoor gallery. Pause and admire the art. What details do you see when you have time to stop and look instead of driving past?


The library is sponsoring a do-it-yourself bike maintenance for safe riding event on Saturday, May 20, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This workshop, geared for teens and adults will focus on the mechanical aspects of a bike important for safe riding. There will be a demo and time for questions. In August, the library will host Local Motion’s e-bike lending program for library card holders.

I hope these ideas allow you to create great bike adventures. Happy cycling, be safe and have fun.

Havaleh Gagne is chair of the bicycle and pedestrian committee. She has lived in South Burlington since 2008 and can often be seen biking with her dog Murphy. Clean & Green is a regular feature, initiated and managed by the South Burlington Energy Committee, and will feature a variety of perspectives from members of city committees and commissions, city staff and outside organizations on environmental issues facing the city.

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