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