The First Vermont Walk/Bike Summit took place this past Saturday at the Burlington Hilton, in Burlington, Vermont. Around 250 people registered for the first time event which was right on target with what organizers had hoped for. On Friday, the summit kicked off with professional luncheon with a presentation by Caroline Sampanaro. Caroline is the Senior Director of Campaigns and Organizing at Transportation Alternatives, New York City’s leading transportation advocacy organization, with a citywide network of more than 100,000 supporters committed to reclaiming New York City’s streets for people. Caroline’s presentation touched on how her organization uses a grassroots approach to solve some of the city’s biggest biking and pedestrian issues. The lunch finished with a question and answer period giving local planners and advocates a chance to get some big city insight into how Vermont can move forward with its Bike and Pedestrian projects and infrastructure.
The conference opened the next day and despite some dreary weather, the secured bike parking began to fill early. The conference was opened by Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and then a panel hosted by Burlington Public Works Director Chapin Spencer discussed walking and biking issues faced in Vermont. The panel featured Vermont Agency of Transportation Deputy Secretary Sue Minter, Vermont State Representative Mollie Burke, and Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development Commissioner Noelle MacKay. The discussion explored topics such as funding walk and bike infrastructure, state policy and laws, and was opened up to the crowd to provide questions to the panel.
Various break out sessions covered topics ranging from protecting kids walking to school to setting up your bike properly to discussing how businesses support their employees who walk and bike. Caroline Sampanaro was also the keynote speaker for the conference and at lunch she provided her guidance on how to create grassroots walk and bike initiatives. Her full presentation can be found online. Her speech clearly inspired the audience with people clapping and cheering as Caroline listed off initiatives that were successfully implemented around New York City. In particular, the crowd loved the hint of protest involved in organizing local open streets events and taking the streets back from cars. The afternoon continued with more sessions, networking, and exploring the vendors who were set up around the venue.
The closing message made it clear to all of the participants that this was just the beginning. People now have some new strategies and met some fellow advocates but the work starts now. Chapin Spencer again took the mic with Caroline beside him and asked the audience to provide some of their takeaways from the event and overall the message was that they were excited and that the next conference will be bigger and better.
See Caroline Sampanaro’s full keynote presentation online Other media coverage: Shelburne News:Walk/bike enthusiasts urged to attend Saturday’s Summit Vtdigger.org: FIRST STATEWIDE WALK/BIKE SUMMIT TO BE HELD SATURDAY IN BURLINGTON