Guest article by Peter Johnke. Peter Johnke is Deputy Director of Vermont Center for Independent Living (VCIL) and an “external” member of the SILC Transportation Committee. As a person with a disability who is unable to drive, he has authored the “Carless Traveler” column for many years. Peter is an expert on transportation options for people with disabilities. The following is the most recent article in the series.
How interesting it is that this pandemic has, to a large degree, leveled the playing field for carless travelers! I no longer have to think about how I’m getting to work. All I have to do is go into my cluttered den and sit down at the computer and I’m at work. I am going into the office one day a week — with appropriate physical distancing. The neighbor who I usually would rideshare to work with (he’s also working from home) helps with weekly grocery shopping.
Now a shout-out to all the public transit workers who are on the front lines, making sure essential workers are able to get to work. Not only in Vermont, but across the nation. Here is an episode of StoryCorps, from two bus drivers in New York City:
We also have dedicated bus drivers in Vermont, including Farhan Ahmed:
Transit providers are requiring passengers to use face coverings and board the bus from the rear door when possible. There also may be limits to the number of people allowed on the bus.
Other work is still moving forward. I was recently asked to be part of a stakeholders’ meeting to update the state plan for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Even before COVID-19 came along, it was planned as a webinar, so no rescheduling was needed! Electric bikes (e-bikes) are a new aspect that will have to be considered. At the first meeting I pointed out that if a person with a disability is riding a three-wheel e-trike, the current width of bike lanes on roadways (the ones painted green) may not be wide enough. Walking and biking are important modes of transportation in Vermont and must be accessible to everyone.