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Department of Public Works

Biking and Walking FAQs

Are vehicles required to stop for pedestrians?

Drivers must yield to pedestrians at unsignalized crosswalks, at traffic-control signals that are not in operation, or when making a turn at traffic-control signals when pedestrians have the "walk" signal. However, pedestrians must yield to vehicles under the following situations: at any unmarked crossing, at unsignalized crosswalks when vehicles are too close to yield safely, and at traffic-control signals when the "do not walk" signal is illuminated.


Can I ride my bicycle on the sidewalks?

Burlington's City ordinance allows cyclists of any age to ride on the sidewalks throughout most of the City. However, only children under the age of 16 are permitted to ride on the sidewalks within the "Inner Fire District." No one is permitted to cycle on the sidewalks within Burlington's City Center, including the Church Street Marketplace. Sidewalk stencils have been placed within the City Center to indicate where bicycles may not be ridden on the sidewalks. If you choose to ride on the sidewalks, please remember that sidewalks are designed for pedestrian traffic, not bicycles. Ride at slower speeds than you would on the street. Be prepared to stop at driveways and intersections, and obey WALK/DON'T WALK lights at signalized interstections. Remember, pedestrians always have the right of way on sidewalks. Be courteous when approaching pedestrians from behind. Alert them to your presence by ringing a bell or saying that you are passing them. Some bicyclists feel safer riding on sidewalks than on the street. While riding on the sidewalk may feel more pleasant than being passed by motor vehicles, conflicts between motorists and bicyclists at intersections and driveways are compounded. Ride defensively, always check for cars entering/exiting driveways, and use caution when crossing the street at an intersection. Riding in the same direction as traffic will improve your chances of being seen by a motorist.


Do I have to use hand signals when riding my bike?

Under Vermont State law, bicycles are considered vehicles and must signal (unless it cannot be done safely) before turning, decreasing speed, or stopping:

  • To make a left turn: extend your left hand and arm horizontally.
  • To make a right turn: extend your left hand and arm upward, bent at the elbow.
  • To indicate a decrease in speed or a stop: extend your left hand and arm downward.

Does my bicycle need lights when I ride at night?

Yes. Vermont State Law requires that bicycles be equipped with a white light on the front, visible from 500' away, and a red reflector on the rear, visible from 300' away. A red, illuminated rear light is not required, but it is suggested for added safety. If a rear light is used, it should be in addition to a rear reflector, not a replacement.


How can I report a dangerous driver? How can I report an accident?

If you witness dangerous behavior or an accident, please record where and when the incident occurred, who was involved (as much detail as you can obtain), what happened, and please be prepared to provide your name, address, and contact phone number. Once you have this information, contact the Police Department at 658-2704


I need help shoveling snow at my home. Can you help?

The Champlain Valley Agency on Aging pairs seniors with volunteers who can shovel walks and drives (no roofs) in the Burlington area.  Call (802) 865-0360 or 1-800-642-5119.  Outside Burlington, call 211 for assistance.


Vehicles frequently block the sidewalk where I walk. What can I do?

Call the Burlington Police Department at 802-658-2704 and ask for Parking Enforcement


What are the laws about wearing helmets?

Wearing a helmet is not required in Vermont, but it is highly recommended for cyclists of all ages. If you are in an accident, wearing a helmet will significantly lower your risk of brain injury or death.