Thanks to a great idea from a local resident and funding from the Mad River Valley Recreation District (MRVRD), many more Valley residents can walk, run or bike on town roads with increased safety. In late November, Kathleen Cosentino, Waitsfield, approached MRVRD to identify a problem and propose a solution. Cosentino had noticed that people walking on the Cross Road, Common Road, Joslin Hill Road and many other places at dawn and dusk were barely visible to traffic. To address this, she suggested teaming up with the MRVRD to distribute reflective vests, for free, to anyone who would like one within the community. She volunteered to research, order, advertise and distribute the vests to increase pedestrian safety and encourage outdoor recreation.
"The response to the reflective vests has been overwhelming and very positive,” said Cosentino. “In just a few hours on December 6 at Waitsfield Common parking lot, I handed out nearly 50 free vests to eager walkers and joggers. Since many folks are still looking for vests, I wanted to let people know you can buy them locally at both Clearwater Sports, Bisbee's and Kenyon’s. Meanwhile, I am ordering more through the MRVRD grant I received and will let people know when they’re available."
"This project is a great example of how the MRVRD operates,” said Liza Walker, MRVRD board chair. “While we have an annual recreation grant program with a deadline of November 1, we also want to support high-quality, citizen-driven projects quickly. The reflective vest initiative increases community safety for all who are trying to get outside and recreate at this time. Many thanks to Kathleen Cosentino for taking leadership to keep us all safe and healthy,” she said.
Each vest comes with recognition of the MRVRD and the towns of Fayston, Waitsfield and Warren for funding the project and a brochure from the state entitled: "SHARE THE ROAD: A guide for sharing Vermont’s roads for bicyclists, pedestrians, motorists and others.” This Agency of Transportation brochure can be accessed online at: https://vtrans.vermont.gov/sites/aot/files/highway/documents/ltf/BikePedShareTheRoad05032011.pdf.
For those seeking off-road options, the Mad River Path offers safe and flat trails, including the West Greenway, Warren Path and the Sugarbush Snowmaking Pond Loop. A map of MRP paths can be found at www.madriverpath.org/maps, or a full valleywide trails map is online at www.madrivervalley.com/trails.