Burlington Segways, Inc. is owned and operated by Rick Sharp and his wife, Ruth Masters. We have taken Segway PT tours of Boston, Las Vegas, Paris, Florence, Queenstown, New Zealand, Sydney, Australia, Athens, Chania, Crete, Madrid, Copenhagen, Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Vienna, Lisbon, Barcelona and Amsterdam. We have incorporated all these experiences into our Segway PT tours downtown.
Rick was instrumental in the creation of the Burlington Bike Path and Waterfront Park in the early 1980s. In response to a proposal to build two 18 story condominium towers on the waterfront downtown in 1980 Rick joined future Governor Howard Dean and UVM Environmental Studies professor, Tom Hudspeth, to form the Citizens Waterfront Group to advocate for the creation of a bike path on the waterfront instead.
This group popularized the concept of the bike path by capturing 75% support from city voters on an advisory ballot item in 1980. In 1984 the Group got a $750,000 bond approved by 2/3s of City voters to fund construction. The path was completed from Oakledge Park in the south to the mouth of the Winooski River in the north in 1989. It is now the #1 rated Attraction for Burlington on Trip Advisor.
Rick was also one of the few voices in opposition to the Alden Plan, a 1983 proposal for a 7 story hotel containing 200 rooms 25 feet from the Lake’s edge just north of College Street. The Alden Plan would have included 300 upscale condominiums, 145,000 square feet of office space, 65,000 square feet of retail space and a 1,200 car parking garage on what eventually became Waterfront Park.
Check out this video of a meeting in opposition to the Alden Plan filmed by CCTV on December 2, 1985, eight days before the Alden vote. Click here to see video.
All the politicians supported the Alden Plan. Mayor Bernie Sanders and 12 out of 13 City Councilors supported Alden. Even Howard Dean supported the plan. Rick argued the land filled into the lake over the past 200 years should be reclaimed under the public trust doctrine instead. Alden needed a 2/3 majority for a $6 million bond in December 1985. The opponents held the majority to 54% and the bond failed.
In 1989 the Vermont Supreme Court agreed with Rick, ruling that the filled land is subject to the public trust. That’s why we now have ample park space, a bike path, a boathouse, a museum, marinas and restaurants open to the public on the filled land in Burlington harbor.
Check out the most recent magazine article about us from the July edition of Business People Vermont Magazine.
All of the hotels and most of the condos were instead located east of Battery Street. For over thirty years the only hotel downtown was the Radisson, now the Hilton. The Marriott was built in 2008. Hotel Vermont opened in 2013 and the Hilton Gardens opened in January 2015. At least two other developers have publicly expressed interest in building additional hotels downtown. Burlington is currently in the middle of a hotel boom that is witnessed in a city of its size perhaps once in 200 years.
As the #1 Attraction in Burlington on Trip Advisor, the bike path has to take a lot of credit for these booming times in hotel rooms. The waterfront is always #2 on Trip Advisor and the Church Street Marketplace consistently scores high on tourist reviews. Many visitors staying downtown pay up to $100 more per night than they would at the Sheraton out by the Interstate. Some come to downtown hotels without cars knowing they can walk to the bike path, the waterfront and the Marketplace.
Burlington has become a destination for tourists from around the world due to our renowned waterfront, bike path and pedestrian downtown district. Public investments made by the City over the past 30 years appear to be paying huge economic dividends as Burlington is truly a flourishing blossom in the early part of the 21st century.
We explain the full history of Burlington on our Segway PT tours at the sites we are talking about.
Rick and Ruth believe Segway PTs can be used as an efficient means of transportation in downtown Burlington, reducing car traffic and the use of fossil fuels, pollution and CO2 emissions, making Burlington a more livable city. Segway PT tours are a good way to introduce the public to the advantages of these eco-friendly, zero emission personal transporters. Please join us on one of our tours soon and see for yourself what a joy these machines are to ride.
Finally, if you would like to learn more about our struggle to bring Segway PT tours to downtown Burlington check out this article entitled Waterfront Warrior Rick Sharp.