Burlington, VT

Level: silver
Population: 42,645
Population Density: 1,761/sq. mi.
Pedestrian Plan
Contact: Nicole Losch

Community Highlights

Burlington is designated as a Silver-level community due to its great Complete Streets projects, traffic calming practices, and staff time dedicated to gathering public input. The city also has a 21.5 percent walking mode share and nearly 100 percent sidewalk coverage. Highlights of Burlington’s application include:

  • The City’s first comprehensive plan for walking and biking, planBTV Walk Bike, was adopted in 2017 and lays out strategies to help the City meet its goal of becoming the best small City for walking and biking on the east coast.
  • Burlington’s Complete Streets initiatives have received widespread community support. The city has a guidance document that contains a project reporting form and worksheets for the different street classifications in Burlington. Recent project examples include a roadway reconstruction that enhanced pedestrian safety and mobility, and a roadway repaving project that was used as an opportunity to “test” the Complete Streets design before making the improvements permanent. Making temporary improvements is a great way to gain community understanding and support for a new concept!
  • The City launched a Quick-Build program that can deliver needed improvements at only a quarter of the cost of full construction. As a result they’ve been able to deliver more projects like curb extensions for shortening pedestrian crossing distances and lowering vehicle speeds.
  • To facilitate more community engagement around active transportation, the City developed a program to issue Community Demonstration Permits that allow community members and organizations to build a temporary project for a day or week to demonstrate its value. The City provides guidance for planning and delivering these projects.
  • Burlington proactively reaches out to specific communities within the city and through a variety of avenues (e.g., technology, traditional meetings, and one-on-one feedback). The city has offered expanded business hours for drop-in public comments and, when requested, provides child care or translators. The city also employs an outreach employee who focuses on new residents/immigrants. The amount of dedicated staff time shows Burlington’s commitment to obtaining meaningful public input and participation.
  • The city has a good toolbox of traffic calming treatments and impressive project examples. The city’s website makes the traffic calming process very transparent by including information about current and completed traffic calming requests. In addition to engineering treatments, the city has lowered its speed limits—with a 20 mi/h limit in the downtown and a 5 mi/h limit where cars intersect the pedestrian walkway on the main shopping street.
  • Pedestrian issues receive a significant amount of staff time and effort from Burlington’s public works department. The city also has the support of an advisory council and advocacy group. These groups, along with the mayor, collaborated to develop and sign the Go for Gold blueprint. The contents of the blueprint, and the associated media coverage, help reaffirm Burlington’s commitment to becoming more walkable and bikeable.