The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is one of the most effective bicycle advocacy groups in the country. Since its founding in 1992, the Bicycle Coalition has helped improve bike safety education, advocate for better bike laws, increase funding for bike trails and other biking infrastructure and open up more areas for cycling. The coalition also has launched several successful events such the Great Maine Bike Swaps, the Women’s Ride, and the Maine Lobster Ride & Roll.
Here are a few highlights from our history:
- The coalition is born at the Maine Bike Rally in Newport in 1992. A rally on the steps of the Statehouse that year draws about 60 cyclists.
- In 1993, the coalition launches “SpotME” cards to report road hazards to MaineDOT.
- The coalition organizes the first Bike to Work Day in the state in 1993.
- Bike safety education programs begin in the schools in 1994, using curriculum materials developed by the coalition.
- The coalition hires its first staff person, Executive Director Jeffrey Miller, in 1996. He works out of his Bar Harbor apartment until 2000, when the coalition moves its office to Augusta and the staff expands.
- Five pages on sharing the road with bicycles are included in the new Maine Motorist Handbook in 1997, thanks to the coalition’s efforts. That same year, the coalition begins teaching drivers’ ed instructors about bike safety and sharing the road. In 1998, the coalition advocates for adding a bike safety question to the Maine Driver’s Exam.
- The coalition begins providing valet bike parking at the Common Ground Fair in 1998. Many of Maine’s largest events, including the Yarmouth Clam Festival and the Old Port Festival, now provide valet bike parking to reduce traffic and congestion.
- MaineDOT’s shoulder-paving policy is revised in 1999 with significant input from the coalition to provide more paved shoulders on state roads.
- The coalition helps develop and advocate for Maine’s Bicycle Safety Education Act of 1999. In 2000, the coalition begins contracting with MaineDOT to provide its Bicycle Safety Education Program to schools throughout Maine.
- The coalition produces “Share the Road” public service announcements. They air on television and radio stations statewide and they are posted on the web.
- The coalition helps increase mountain bike access to parks and other public lands.
- The coalition secures roll-on service for bicyclists using the Downeaster train in 2001.
- The coalition begins teaching Bicycle Safety and the Law classes for police statewide in 2002.
- The League of American Bicyclists gives the coalition the Bicycle Education Leadership Award at its first National Education Leadership Conference in 2002. The coalition’s Bicycle Safety Education Program reaches thousands of Maine schoolchildren each year, and it grows to include After School Bike Clubs.
- The coalition helps win passage of several state bond referenda that provide funding for biking and walking projects such as trails. The coalition also works with Maine’s congressional delegation to seek federal funding for walking and biking projects and safety programs.
- In 2007, the coalition leads the successful effort to win passage of a major revision of Maine bicycling laws. A key provision requires motorists to give three feet of clearance when passing bicycles.
- The Thunderhead Alliance Benchmarking Report ranks the coalition as the country’s top state bicycle advocacy organization in 2007. Subsequent Benchmarking Report by the group, now called the Alliance for Biking and Walking also give the coalition high marks.
- The coalition partners with MaineDOT to manage the Maine Safe Routes to School program. Since 2004, the program has worked with schools to encourage more children to walk and bike to school through events such as Walk and Bike to School Day. In 2009, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership cites Maine’s program as a national model.
- Maine rises in the League of American Bicyclists’ bike-friendly state rankings from sixth (2008) to second in the country (2011). Media coverage cites the coalition’s work as a major reason for the ranking.
- The coalition launches the Community Spokes program in 2011 and trains the first class of local advocates.
- The coalition makes plans for a week-long bicycle ride across Maine, set to be launched in 2013.
We’ve accomplished a lot since 1992, but we still have much work to do to make Maine better for bicycling. Help us by joining the coalition if you’re not already a member and getting involved. We need volunteers for all of our events, special activities and legislative advocacy.