Bicyclists in Burlington could get more designated lanes

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Bicyclists in Burlington may soon get their own designated lanes in two sections of downtown.

The Department of Public Works voted unanimously on Wednesday to ban parking alongside Colchester and Flynn avenues to install bike lanes. The recommendations state no vehicle should be parked on the south side of Flynn Avenue between Pine Street and Shelburne Street or on the north side of Colchester Avenue from East Avenue to Barrett Street.

Before voting, commissioners listened to comments from the public. Those in favor of the plan said their top priorities were the safety of bicyclists, equity for low-income people who cannot afford cars and de-carbonizing the air.

“When you’re cycling, you’re worried about parked cars doors opening on one side and moving cars on another,” said one supporter.

People against the idea said they’re already struggling to find parking and losing their few available on-street spaces would be detrimental. Some said they would either have to move, pay more parking tickets, or walk several blocks to get home every night. One man said he lost two parking spaces three years ago and ended up paying $500 in parking tickets.

City Council members Sharon Bushor and Max Tracy were also in attendance. Tracy voiced his support for the bike lanes, saying climate change is imminent and Burlington needs to act quickly to combat it.

"It's a significant sacrifice to sacrifice parking but the sacrifices we will have to make in the future are far greater, far more dramatic, and far more painful than anything we might be dealing with now," he said.

Bushor said she is concerned limiting parking will prevent some residents from being able to have visitors, especially elderly people who cannot walk long distances.

Commissioners unanimously approved an amendment to add more residential parking on Chase, Barrett and Mill streets to accommodate people who are losing their on-street parking.