Colchester Avenue bike plan would reduce resident parking

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Dozens of Colchester Avenue residents would have to find a new place to park their cars under a proposed plan. City officials are looking at a parking ban for the north side of the street as part of an effort to revamp roads and sidewalks along the popular corridor.

Colchester Avenue is constantly bustling with cars, pedestrians and cyclists. And Burlington's Department of Public Works says it's trying to keep all of them safe with a proposal to ban parking on the north side of the street between East Avenue and Greenmount Cemetery.

The corridor is down the street from the University of Vermont and is often lined with college students. The idea is to replace those residential parking spots with a bike lane.

"There is support, and has been support, to make Colchester Avenue a safer way of allowing bicyclists to come in and out of the city, and so I don't see that wavering. I see that growing. I also see the dilemma of -- what do we do with the current parking on the street," said Ward 1 City Councilor Sharon Bushor.

UVM students, like Spencer Rogers, don't share her enthusiasm for the project. "While it's not the end of the world, it definitely complicates things to the point where it's just another thing we have to worry about," he said.

The UVM junior says he and his five roommates already have enough on their plate. As it is, four of his household's six cars rely on that street parking. "Already, it's just a nightmare, so that would make it even worse," he said. But not for every student on this street. "Our neighbors across the street, our neighbors right to the side of us -- cyclists."

"For so many people, it's how we get to work and school. And everyday I see people besides us, riding back and forth on this street, and there's a lot of traffic that rolls through here, so I think it would definitely be useful," said Gennaro Valant, aUVM, Junior.

Useful for the four avid cyclists who live in a house on the south side of the street. They wouldn't lose their on-street parking and say they don't use it anyway. They say the need for bicycle safety on roads like these is apparent. "There's a lot of roads that are really close to campus that don't have bike lanes and that's where everyone is riding," Valant said.

It's a balancing act the city is trying to tackle one road and one sidewalk at a time.

"The challenge is when you live in an older city, how do you accommodate the changes in transportation to make them safe for everybody?" Bushor said.

The Public Works Department will be holding one more meeting before they make their final recommendation.