At 12:15 p.m. today, more than 100 people gathered in Burlington's City Hall Park to rally for "Safe Streets." The event was organized by the local nonprofit Local Motion in response to two recent hit-and-run incidents in which bicyclists were injured.
"This is fabulous," Judy Bond, the newly elected president of the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, said after assessing the size of the crowd. But it's "really unfortunate," she added, that the event had been precipitated by two tragedies.
The first hit-and-run victim, according to the Burlington Free Press, was Rose Long, a 20-year-old University of Vermont student. Long was struck by a red Jeep last Monday while riding down Pearl Street in Burlington. After being transported to Fletcher Allen Health Care, she was treated for "multiple fractures, severe facial lacerations and a collapsed lung." The second bicyclist was hit last Tuesday while riding down Patchen Road in South Burlington and suffered minor injuries, the Free Press reported last week.
Today in City Hall Park, after Mayor Bob Kiss pledged to "do all I can to move forward" on bike-safety issues, Burlington Police Department Chief Michael Schirling said he will work with Local Motion, the Burlington Bicycle Council and the Burlington Walking Work Group to "craft meaningful and new strategies to keep our streets safe" through "engineering, education and enforcement."
During his speech, Local Motion Executive Director Chapin Spencer outlined a Five Point Platform for Safe Streets. The platform calls for "bike/pedestrian safety education," "reporting aggressive driving," lowering speed limits, "targeted" traffic enforcement, and "personal responsibility" on the part of both bikers and motorists.
According to a rep from the UVM Cycling Club who spoke at today's event, Rose Long, the student who was injured last Monday on Pearl Street, is now walking. But, since Long's insurance plan doesn't cover oral surgery, her family and friends are soliciting donations at a website they created.