Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

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24 posts categorized "Outdoors" Feed

July 05, 2011

Bike Maps Are So Hot

Cover What's hotter than West Texas pavement in late July?  How about the new Burlington bike map. Oh, yes. This smoking hot ticket dropped about two weeks ago and can be yours for free. That's right — free.

The new map, which features bike routes in Burlington, South Burlington and parts of Winooski and Colchester, is a revamped version of a previous map. This newest iteration features information about mass transit, recreational areas, environmental sites and other "points of interest," such as my bedroom. I kid. But it is a pretty jazzy work of cartographic excellence.

I promise you if you pick one up, unless you're a Burlington-area geography junkie, you'll find something you never knew about this place. Like the fact that Rock Point is home to a geologic feature called the Champlain Thrust  or that there's a biological waste water facility called the Living Machine in South Burlington. Learning new things — what fun!

On the map, you'll also learn tips for riding in traffic, how to use hand signals and where all the designated bike routes and lanes in the area are, as well as heavily trafficked roads, which you should avoid unless your idea of a good time is losing half of your adult teeth in some SUV's grill. Also included on the map are nifty diagrams on how to navigate various intersections, like the rotary at Shelburne and Ledge roads, and the nightmare that is the intersection at East Avenue, Spear Street and Main Street (Williston Road). 

The map is the work of the Burlington Walk/Bike Council in partnership with the Burlington Department of Public Works. It will be available at the DPW on Pine and Lakeside streets, as well as Local Motion's Trailside Center, tourist kiosks and the local bike shops, among other places. Pick one up. Wear a helmet. Buy some bike lights (they're the law in Burlington for night cycling). And get your hot fanny pedaling. 



June 28, 2011

Outdoor Gear Exchange Fights City Hall for Sign Placement on Church Street

OGE 2The Outdoor Gear Exchange has moved to a bigger space on Burlington’s Church Street, but the store’s signature handmade sign may get lost in the shuffle.

That’s because the Burlington Department of Planning and Zoning has raised objections to the proposed placement of two signs on the former Old Navy building (pictured in renderings at right and below).

The Outdoor Gear Exchange wants to place its painted wooden sign — which depicts the Green Mountains over the motto "Clothing and Equipment for an Active Lifestyle" — above the glass canopy that fronts Church Street. It wants a second oval sign that says “OGE” on the corner tower where Old Navy’s sign once hung.

OGE 1 But city planners rejected the sign placement because it would exceed the zoning ordinance’s 14-foot height limit and would be out of character with the building’s "Googie" space-age style of architecture.

The Outdoor Gear Exchange has appealed the city’s denial, arguing signs have hung there for more than 50 years and that numerous Church Street businesses — such as Macy’s, Starbucks and Borders — have signs higher than 14 feet. City planners counter that most of those are grandfathered in under previous zoning rules.

OGE co-owner Marc Sherman, who crafted the wood sign himself 16 years ago, admits his sign would exceed the 14-foot height limit, but says he can’t fit that sign or any other "decent-sized sign" under the canopy.

"We could put our words under the glass canopy and that’s about it,” Sherman says, noting that most of the grandfathered stores on Church Street are national chains. “The one local business looking to put their sign above 14 feet is being denied."

Continue reading "Outdoor Gear Exchange Fights City Hall for Sign Placement on Church Street" »

June 20, 2011

Stupid Flooding Puts Kibosh on Bike Ferry

Causeway-Flooding-5-7-11-500x253 This just in from the flooding damage desk: No bike ferry this season. Boo. 

Apparently, the damage wrought by Mother Nature during the spring flooding was so severe that both the northern and southern sections of the causeway were largely wiped out. Bitch.

The erosion damage will not be repaired in time for the ferry to begin running, so cross that off your list of summer things you want to do. Also strike from your list sitting on the causeway stone piles and throwing trash at the Québecois McYachts as they motor through the cut. 

The bike ferry, which connects the Island Line Trail in Colchester with its sister trail in South Hero, has been running as a demonstration for the past nine years in some form or another thanks to the efforts of cycling advocacy organization, Local Motion and other partners such as VBT Bicycling & Walking Adventures. But not this year. And that's a huge shame. The volunteer-run service was one of the real joys of a northern Vermont summer. 

Continue reading "Stupid Flooding Puts Kibosh on Bike Ferry" »

June 17, 2011

Bolton Potholes Sees Rising Tide of A-Holes

Bolton photo

It's been more than 20 years since Robert Fulghum's book, All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten was on the New York Times best-seller list. But apparently, it's high time that some visitors to the Bolton Potholes buy a copy, read it — or have someone read it to them — and take its lessons to heart. Among them: Be nice. Play fair. Don't take things that aren't yours. Flush. And, most applicably, clean up your own damned mess!

In July 2010, Seven Days reported on discussions by the Bolton Selectboard to restrict access to the popular cooling-off hotspot, which is located just off the mountain road leading to the Bolton Valley ski resort. In recent years, residents living along the road have experienced growing problems with unruly and inconsiderate visitors to the potholes who shoot off fireworks, urinate on their lawns, defecate in their woods and leave behind cigarette butts, broken bottles, used condoms, poop-stuffed diapers and even dirty syringes. 

Several neighbors have also reported being cursed at and threatened just for asking drivers to move their cars off private driveways and lawns. Both the potholes and the land surrounding them are private property. 

Continue reading "Bolton Potholes Sees Rising Tide of A-Holes" »

June 09, 2011

Dear Guerilla Gardener Seed Packet Person: A Little Help, Please

IMG_5915 The other morning, I was walking my dog when I spotted a weathered poster hanging on a telephone pole. This in itself is unremarkable — I live on the edge of the college ghetto and all of the telephone poles are littered with sun-bleached ads for this jam band or that lost cat. But this poster was different. Attached to the bottom of the paper, which bore only the words "Bee Creative," was a plastic baggie filled with small white envelopes.

I would have taken a picture of the sign/baggie combo, but as this was morning and I was walking my dog, I was in my pajamas, which do not have pockets for things like cameras. Yes, I left the house in my pajamas. But it's ok to do that now, thanks to the pajamafication of America. So stop judging. I was also smoking menthol cigarettes and eating a flaming Whopper with cheese. What of it?

Anyway, I paused at the sign and peered in the bag while my dog rolled in squirrel pee or bird poop or whatever dogs find so appealing in grass that they must coat themselves in it. I pulled out one of the little packets, though, having no pocket in which to put the small sachet, I held it in my hand for the duration of the walk, wondering about the mysteries held inside.

Continue reading "Dear Guerilla Gardener Seed Packet Person: A Little Help, Please" »

June 08, 2011

7 Places to Swim That Are Not Lake Champlain

Huntington Gorge01VT As most of you are by now aware, Lake Champlain is sort of fucked. With all the rain and snow melt, the lake breached its shores big styley and left a whole mess of destruction in its wake. One of the worst parts about all the flooding — besides the whole ruination of homes and livelihoods — is the fact that it effectively put the kibosh on big lake swimming this summer.

First of all, there is hardly any beach left. They're all still submerged in soupy, scumwater. When the water finally does recede, who knows what will remain and if anyone will want to step foot there. Most likely, we'll have to fight for beach space with rusted out carburetors and medical waste. Awesome. 

Secondly, the water is pretty grody right now. It's a stew of phosphorous run-off, tree limbs and doll heads. I pretty much want to swim there never. Champ doesn't even want to float around in the lake anymore and he's been there for like 300 years. The algae blooms are predicted to be overwhelming and the floating detritus (like the remnants of Poppa Neutrino's raft that I swear I saw near Oakledge Park recently) will take a while to clean up.

So what's a little water-baby to do? We suggest you hightail it to one of the many swimming spots in our region that are not Lake Champlain, especially this week, when temps are expected to ring in around 90 degrees. Below, in no particular order, is an admittedly non-comprehensive list of places to cool off in the area. Swim at your own risk. And wear your sunscreen (Dan Bolles). 

Continue reading "7 Places to Swim That Are Not Lake Champlain" »

June 06, 2011

Any Excuse for a Picnic: The Decade Ride


Yesterday afternoon, a crowd of nearly a hundred eclectic Burlington characters gathered in the parking lot of an undisclosed location for a relatively hush-hush cycling event known as the "Decade Ride." The secrecy is just for thrills, but it also ensures that the event grows each year by word of mouth alone. Despite the lack of advertising, the countryside parking lot teemed with spokes and bodies.

The ride didn't start in Burlington itself, so folks filled their truck beds with bikes and made a caravan out of town. There was just one requirement for the ride: To come in costume, be it theatrical feathers and tutus, hipster plaid, or biker-geek Spandex.

Continue reading "Any Excuse for a Picnic: The Decade Ride" »

May 26, 2011

Meet the 7D Marathon Relay Team... and Weep

7dmarathon-back Attention, Burlington Marathon relay teams: Prepare to eat our dust!

That's right. Seven Days is no longer just an awesome source for Vermont news and entertainment. With the debut of our relay team at this Sunday's KeyBank Vermont City Marathon, we are now officially an unbridled athletic juggernaut. And we're gonna waste your pathetic relay team.

Our five-member squad is stacked with elite athletes who've spent months training for this awesome challenge. While the rest of you spent your winters on treadmills with TVs at some cushy, heated health club, the 7D runners were training deep in the Siberian wilderness — sawing logs, lifting bags of rocks and mushing on all fours like freakin' sled dogs.

It's that kind of intensity that's going to propel us to an easy-breezy, chest-slapping finish at Waterfront Park this Sunday. When you're done puking and nursing your sore hammys, come find us. We'll be the ones in the blue 7D T-shirts (designed by our own Don Eggert) kicking back with Gatorade martinis.

Now, let's meet the Seven Days runners.

Continue reading "Meet the 7D Marathon Relay Team... and Weep" »

May 10, 2011

Who Needs Billboards When You've Got Bikes?

Advercycle picture Just when you thought we couldn't have any more bicycle businesses in Burlington, another one pedals on by. This time, it's not a bread delivery bike or a compost hauling bike. Nope, this new biz is a bicycle billboard of sorts. You gotta love the enterprise.

Jen Fabiano, an enthusiastic, car-free 26-year-old, rolled out her new business last weekend. It's called advercycle and it's just like it sounds — advertisements on a bicycle. Particularly, a bike outfitted with a special billboard trailer that can go where traditional advertising might not be able to. The idea came to Fabiano, a UVM grad, after reading an article about a guy who sold advertising on the side of his car. It piqued her interest, but since Fabiano doesn't own a car, the idea wouldn't work for her. Plus, all that fossil fuel-burning wasn't super awesome.

But what Fabiano did have was a bike. After doing some research, she found that advertising by bike is actually pretty popular in Australia and parts of Europe, but it really hasn't caught on here. There are similar businesses in New York City and the Pacific Northwest, but that's about all. Despite that, Fabiano thought the concept would be perfect for Burlington.

"I think Burlington is a great location for it," she says. "It's a really bike-friendly city and this is a completely green business."

Continue reading "Who Needs Billboards When You've Got Bikes?" »

April 19, 2011

Burlington Bike Path Under Water

Burlington-Bike-Path This just in from the good folks at Local Motion

"Lake Champlain’s current high water combined with southerly and westerly winds has damaged two sections of Vermont’s most popular multi-use trail.  In Burlington, the Burlington Bike Path by Perkins Pier is underwater and being eroded.  In South Hero, the northern section of the causeway (the Allen Point Access Area) has also been severely eroded.  Time will tell how bad the damage will be. Stay tuned."

So, if you're thinking of going for a bike ride or a jog on the Burlington Bike Path, think again. Unless you bring your swimmies, a snorkel and some flippers, it's best if you stay well clear of this area until the water has receded and the damage has been repaired. Fingers crossed that the damage is not so bad. The bike path draws scads of tourists to the waterfront and is one of the city's major attractions during the summer. 

If you see other spots on the bike path with similar damage or submersion, let us know. 

Photo via Local Motion.

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