The “winter edition” of a playful, statewide push for Vermonters to walk or bike to work begins this week and runs (or glides) through Feb. 12.

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Logging a modest amount of miles in the next 10 days gives any self-propelled commuter a chance to win outdoor gear in the Vermont Bike-Walk Challenge.

Improved health — at a time of year that inspires so many to seek the easy way out — is one of the goals outlined by Local Motion, a Burlington-based nonprofit that helped organize the challenge. Other benefits include reduced traffic congestion, less fuel burned and better air quality.



a person riding a bicycle on a city street: A cyclist and pedestrian turn south on Winooski Avenue from Grant Street on Nov. 13, 2019. This part of Winooski Avenue is generally considered unsafe for bicycle traffic.


© JOEL BANNER BAIRD/FREE PRESS
A cyclist and pedestrian turn south on Winooski Avenue from Grant Street on Nov. 13, 2019. This part of Winooski Avenue is generally considered unsafe for bicycle traffic.

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Enrolling in the program is automatic with the download of a mobile phone app created by Go! Vermont — a state-funded collaboration with Local Motion and other advocates for alternatives to single-occupancy car commuting.

The Go! Vermont app also serves as a resource for folks inclined to seek out carbon-friendlier commutes such as car-pooling, van-pooling, taking a bus or telecommuting.

The sheer joy of being outside might sway some habitual motorists to hoof it.

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“Give yourself the opportunity to look up and see the beauty all around you,” transportation advocates at the Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association urged would-be walkers.

Winter walking safety tips, courtesy of Winooski-based CATMA, include:

  • Make sure you have a good pair of ice-and snow-ready boots.
  • Take slow, shuffling steps in very icy areas. Curl your toes and walk as flat-footed as possible.
  • Wear bright, reflective clothing — and walk against traffic if you’re in the road.
  • Remember: Heavy snow can muffle the sound of approaching vehicles.
  • Don’t carry heavy, lopsided loads (boxes, bags, purses, etc.) If you’ve got to carry something, be prepared to toss it if you slip.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets for balance and protection against a nasty fall.
  • Try to relax if you fall; roll and fall backwards, if possible.



a person standing on top of a snow covered forest: A couple walks their dog as snow falls on the South Burlington Recreational Path on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020.


© AKI SOGA/FREE PRESS
A couple walks their dog as snow falls on the South Burlington Recreational Path on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020.

Biking in the winter, of course, presents a different set of challenges. Burlington-based Local Motion publishes detailed advice on its website.

Tips that both cyclists and walkers can use: Consult the weather forecast, dress in layers, carry fully charged lights and a cellphone — and make sure you have a backup plan.

Cyclists take note that Feb. 12, the last day of this season’s Vermont Bike-Walk Challenge, is also International Winter Bike to Work Day, also known as “Winterbikealoopza.”  

For more information on powering yourself through winter, contact Sandy Bender at Location Motion: [email protected]

Download the Go! Vermont app at https://govermont.agilemile.com/.

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 802-660-1843 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @VTgoingUp.

This coverage is only possible with support from our readers.

This article originally appeared on Burlington Free Press: Want to get creative with your morning commute? Join the Vermont Bike-Walk challenge

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