This letter is the product of last week's VBPC Working Group meeting. It
provides our most concise statement on sidepaths and shoulders. -Peter
Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition
98 Sleepy Hollow Road Essex Jct., VT 05452-2698 . 802-899-1132 . fax:
January 19, 2000
Rep. Karen Kitzmiller
Vermont House of Representatives
115 State Street, Drawer 33,
Montpelier, VT 05633-5301
Dear Representative Kitzmiller:
At the January 11 meeting of the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian
Coalition Working Group, Amy Bell, Bicycle and Pedestrian
Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Transportation suggested that we
review House Bill H.0211 and provide you with commentary.
During the meeting, we reviewed and adopted this statement, first
drafted in October 1999:
A. VBPC supports the road shoulder policies expressed in the
Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.
(http://www.aot.state.vt.us/planning/BIKEPED.htm#Chapter 3 )
B. VBPC asks the VAOT to gather, as soon as possible, the
following information on an annual basis:
1. The number of miles of road shoulder width increased
from paving projects.
2. The number of miles of road to shoulder width
increased by decreasing (narrowing) the travel lane
3. The number of miles of road shoulder width lost to
guard rail encroachment.
C. VBPC supports shoulder widening on high-volume, high-speed
roads, where appropriate.
D. VBPC is concerned about the dangerous conditions created by
the installation of guardrails where they reduce the usable area
of a paved shoulder.
E. VBPC believes that wider roads increase motorist speed.
Additional VBPC policy information is available on the web at:
We also discussed the issue of surface quality. Cyclists are
particularly sensitive to the quality of pavements. This point is well
demonstrated by VAOT's recent experiment with a coarse recycled
pavement material in Addison County. While it is admirable that
VAOT is working to accommodate equestrian users of the roadway,
this new surface type is not usable by road cyclists.
More work needs to be done on designing shoulders and shoulder
materials that are compatible with all road uses. The bicycle and
pedestrian design manual being developed by VAOT could address
these issues. You might raise the issue of surface quality and
pavement selection with VAOT officials as they visit the Legislature's
The VBPC Working Group appointed me to provide you with a
discussion of the bill and give the recommendation that the bill be
split, or section 2 be deleted:
H.0211 of 1999-2000
House bill 211 has two sections. The first section deals with
eliminating mandatory use of sidepaths, the second addresses the
design of shoulders.
VBPC supports section 1 of the bill, as introduced. The elimination of
"sidepath laws" has long been a goal of cyclists nationwide. It has
been a formal objective of VBPC since 1997
By eliminating mandatory use of sidepaths, section 1 corrects
inconsistency within Vermont law, which correctly grants the "rights
and duties" of vehicles to bicycles
(http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/title23/chap013.htm#01136). It also
conformity with customary rules-of-the-road as defined in the Uniform
Vehicle Code (UVC) and other areas of Vermont law pertaining to
Sidepaths pose hazards to cyclists by bringing them into conflict with
pedestrians along the paths. They also create hazardous conflicts
with other vehicles at intersections and sidepath terminations, where
right-of-way is poorly defined and often inconsistent with customary
Generally, it is best when cyclists ride bicycles as vehicles on the
road. The League of American Bicyclists has long recognized this
approach to bicycle operation as the safest and most consistent
treatment of bicycle traffic.
Section 1 of H.0211 permits consistent road sharing, which is most
compatible with Vermont-style road and street design, where
geography and right-of-way limitations do not allow separation of
modes, and low traffic volumes often do not warrant such
Section 2 of H.0211 as introduced essentially prescribes road
widening for all maintenance and construction projects undertaken by
VAOT. This would significantly alter the manner in which roads are
designed and maintained. The balance between design needs and
cost would be upset. Eliminating cost as a consideration in project
design would likely lead to less than optimal fiscal programming.
If VAOT actually built shoulders specifically for bikes, then all "bike"
funds would be consumed by road widening -- for as long as we can
foresee -- with little real change in the situation on the ground.
Good road design is a complicated matter and is very site specific.
While VAOT can in many cases be faulted for a poor policy and
design process, and for failing to adequately address the needs of
bicyclists and pedestrians, we feel shoulder design and maintenance
can not be legislated. Rather, VAOT needs to improve policy
development and design process.
We do not support section 2.
Rest assured that VAOT will continue to widen roads as much as
possible -- with or with a shoulder paving law. There are many
interests in favor of wide, paved shoulders and VAOT engineers have
had long training in straightening, widening, and flattening. Indeed,
there is a famous list of 22 reasons why engineers like wide, paved
shoulders (http://www.waba.org/wabadocs/shoulder.htm) -- only one is specific
to bicycling. (See also:
We thank you for your long-standing interest in bicycle and pedestrian
issues. We look forward to working with you on biking and walking
Peter K. Duval, President
[log in to unmask]
Peter K. Duval +1 802 899 1132
98 Sleepy Hollow Road fax: 899 2430
Essex Junction, VT 05452-2798 [log in to unmask]
USA (from home) www.uvm.edu/~pduval
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