Richard Watts


Richard Watts teaches communications and public policy in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Vermont and directs the Center for Research on Vermont. He is also the co-founder of a blog on sustainable transportation.

Watts: One Less Car

Jul 10, 2019
Glenn Russell

I live on a country road in Hinesburg, with a walkability score of zero - meaning there is nothing within walking distance of my house, except a very nice walk - no stores, jobs, or other necessities of daily life. Despite our remote location, we’re a two-driver, one car family. And it works. During the week, my routine varies between pedaling the twelve miles to my job in Burlington or riding into the village, where I mount my bike on a public bus heading into the city.

Glenn Russell

One of the most important bills that passed this session - S-149 – is probably one you never heard of. It's the new law that sets out guidelines for testing autonomous or driverless vehicles.

Glenn Russell

This spring I watched the Vermont Legislature through the eyes of twenty-five college students. Each week students traveled to the state’s capitol to watch and write about how bills become law – or not.

I asked a group of graduating college students their plans recently.

Watts: Vape Tax

Mar 5, 2019
Christa Guzman / The Vermont Cynic

Vaping as it’s called - the act of sucking in flavored water vapor laced with nicotine - has become quite the rage among young people. As I walk across campus, little puffs linger in the air as students’ draw at their e-cigarette devices.

Watts: Bus Service

Jan 29, 2019

Of the many story-lines developing in the Vermont Legislature this session, one of the most interesting is the appointment of Curt McCormack as chair of the House Transportation Committee – because Representative McCormack doesn’t own a car.

courtesy of Stowe Farmers Market

A few years ago the book: Hardwick the Town Food Saved brought national attention to the small Northeast Kingdom Vermont town. The book profiled four entrepreneurs with a shared vision and a commitment to a locally focused ag and food economy.

Richard Watts

The release of a new report on climate change underscores how far we have to go to reduce our emissions - and the kind of innovative thinking that will be needed to bring real solutions.

Peter Miller

I think of the confluence of entertainment and politics as dating back to the 1980s at least, with the election of former actor Ronald Reagan – setting the stage for today with a president who starred in the reality TV show, The Apprentice before playing that same role (tough businessman/great deal-maker) on the national stage.

Lucy Rogers

Vermonter Bill McKibben has received death threats for his work to stop pipeline expansion and clean up the environment. In an on-line forum his address was posted along with a not-so-veiled threat to get him to shut up. Taking pen to paper, Mckibben described the incident. Disagreement is one thing, he wrote, but let’s at least agree not to kill each other.

Richard Watts

In my college town students were not allowed to vote. Heck, they could take over the town, the mayor at the time famously said, and the county election commissioners agreed.

Watts: E-cigarettes

Sep 25, 2018
Neydtstock / iStock

I started smoking when I was 15. By the time I was 16 I was addicted. It took ten years to quit, something some of my teenage friends were never able to do.

Richard Watts

Picture this: a group of news reporters assigned to cover a large rally. Roped off from the event at the back of the room, they type away, writing their news stories until the speaker draws the crowd’s attention to them. Then the crowd turns hostile, chanting, pointing and yelling.

It’s been widely reported that three small Vermont towns issue about one-quarter of all speeding tickets in the state. And the resulting revenue is said to be used to boost town coffers.

The 2018 legislative session will be known as the year that Vermont took an important step towards reducing gun violence.

Watts: Vision Zero

May 11, 2018

Cyclists and walkers are some of the most reliable signs of spring and early summer.

May 1 marks a critical date in the college decision process - as the day by which students and their parents have to plunk down their deposits, essentially making the decision about where they are going to go to school.

Baxternator / iStock

A young Vermont woman recently was pulled over for driving too close to the yellow line. Another driver was stopped for following a car too closely; a third was for driving 26 in a 25 mile per hour speed zone. Their real crime - driving while black.

Before it was invented in a Vermont legislative committee room in the spring of 2000, the concept of Civil unions didn’t exist anywhere in the world.

Watts: Town Meeting

Feb 23, 2018

Legendary Vermont Political Scientist Frank Bryan is fond of saying “Real democracy takes place in small places” and drawing a direct line from ancient Greece to our New England Town meeting.