VT Legislator, Curt McCormack, sets an example.
After a full day in Montpelier, including a special awards ceremony for K-12 schools, Representative Curt McCormack, Chair of the Vermont House Transportation Committee, glanced at his watch and smiled as we carpooled back to Burlington. While he had planned to ride the LINK Express as usual, he chose to carpool freeing up more time to squeeze in a bike ride and grab a bite to eat at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival.
While Representative McCormack’s normal mode of transportation, back and forth to Montpelier, is on the GMT LINK Express, he was happy to share a ride and catch up on project happenings on the way to his old north end Burlington home. Before accepting an invitation to any event, he makes sure he can make it via the LINK Express bus schedule.
Rep. McCormack doesn’t own a car. Instead, he uses more efficient and less wasteful ways to travel including the local bus, Amtrak, ridesharing, biking and walking.
It was fitting for Rep. McCormack to recognize Vermont’s top performing K-12 schools for their work to encourage school-wide green travel choices. The annual Way to Go! School Challenge Awards Ceremony was on June 5th, the same day the Downtown Historic Preservation Program was celebrating its 20th year. It was a great day to meet at the Statehouse to experience and celebrate the many ways one can travel green and showcase the importance of investing in public transportation for more walkable downtowns and villages.
While congratulating the school award winners, he noted, “We grew up honoring Abraham Lincoln for walking a long distance to school. Today, his parents would be arrested. And the absurdity is, we invented this thing of parents driving kids to school. Twice a day traffic jams occur at most schools in America (and Vermont is no different). This is one more glaring example of what automobiles have become to us. Thank God for these kids!”
During his remarks to school award recipients, students and parent volunteers, Rep. McCormack emphasized that we need to make big changes to meet our energy and climate goals. Vermonters, not politicians, lead. “You are the ones to encourage us legislators to pass laws and to make investments in good public transit.”
As a legislator 20 years ago, first representing Rutland and now Burlington, “I was one of 25 legislators who voted ‘no’ to increase the speed limit on highways from 55 mph to 65 mph.” We need to return. “Going back to 55 mph would save many lives and a lot of fuel,” noted Rep. McCormack.
During the legislative session, the House Transportation Committee reviews, among other things, where to spend the State’s approximately $600M transportation budget. Rep. McCormack is an advocate of walking, biking and public transit. Be sure to let him know your concerns on how and where state funds might be leveraged to sustain and better integrate all modes of transportation.
Deb Sachs is CEO of EcoStrategies, LLC and Director of Net Zero Vermont, which specializes in sustainable development, transportation efficiency, renewable energy, and zero net energy solutions. She lives in Charlotte, VT with her partner, David.