Planning underway to help walkers, bikers navigate Winooski safely

Winooski streets can have 20,000 cars a day driving down them, leaving bikers and walkers a bit uneasy.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 5:09 AM EDT
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WINOOSKI, Vt. (WCAX) - Winooski streets can have 20,000 cars a day driving down them, leaving bikers and walkers a bit uneasy.

City leaders said nearly 20% of the residents don’t have access to a vehicle. This conversation comes as more and more communities consider how to make their towns friendly for walking and biking in addition to cars.

Thousands drive through the Winooski Circle daily. But for bikers like Judy Lance of Winooski, “It’s a little scary and you have to plan ahead to what your route’s gonna be.”

“I’ve seen tremendous growth in everyday riders, that’s probably the fastest-growing category. At this point it’s not that the people aren’t there, it’s that the infrastructure needs to keep up,” said Dan Hock with Winooski Wheels.

Drivers say they’ve noticed it can be tricky for walkers to get around town, too.

“I always worry about people who are entering the park. I think that’s the biggest thing,” said one Burlington resident.

From 2018 to 2022 there were 617 crashes in Winooski. Of those incidents, seven were bike vs. car and 11 were pedestrian vs. car, with one death resulting.

“We want to make sure that we’re providing alternatives to driving or other transportation options,” said Eric Vorwald with the city of Winooski.

The city of Winooski and the Chittenden Country Regional Planning Commission are creating a walk/bike plan for the city. There’s been one public meeting seeking feedback so far.

Winooski City Zoning Manager Eric Vorwald and Bryan Davis of CCRPC say locals have provided them with specific spots that could use some work.

“Whether it’s repairing roads, making things more accessible through cuts, ramps, pavement markings, maybe there is a crosswalk but the striping has worn off, or maybe there isn’t a crosswalk, how people are getting to and from school. And so it needs to be safer at a particular intersection,” said Davis.

The Winooski Bridge, which connects Burlington and Winooski, has up to 25,000 cars a day, and more than 500 pedestrians and bike users. A nearly $25 million federal grant is repairing the bridge to make wider lanes for cars and large sidewalks for bikers and pedestrians. Construction is already underway.

“Part of what we’re going to look at this plan is what does that connection look like whenever it is complete?” said Davis.

There is a survey you can take if you’re interested in sharing your feedback. The city says the goal is to have the plan developed and brought to the City Council in November.