Advocacy News

Bicycle Coalition of Maine Members, Allies to Engage Legislators In Support of Traffic Safety Education Bill


Proposed Legislation Would Help Reduce Pedestrian and Cyclist Traffic Deaths By Providing One Hour of Traffic Safety Education to Students Each Year

April 7, 2017 – (AUGUSTA, Maine) The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is organizing Traffic Safety Day in Augusta on Tuesday, April 11, to marshal support for proposed legislation that will help cut the number of pedestrians and bicyclists killed each year on Maine roads.

“Too many pedestrians and bicyclists are losing their lives on our roads, and in each case these tragedies are almost entirely preventable,” Coalition Executive Director Nancy Grant said. “The Traffic Safety Education Act will help reduce the unacceptable number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in Maine.”

LD 1130, an Act To Provide Traffic Safety Education To Maine Students, is sponsored by Rep. Matthea Daughtry (D-Brunswick) and would ensure that all Maine children in grades two through 12 receive one hour of age-appropriate traffic safety education each year. The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Legislature’s Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs on Tuesday, April 11, at 1 p.m. in Room 202 of the Cross Building in Augusta.

The Coalition’s Traffic Safety Day is intended to help Coalition members and allies learn how to most effectively communicate the facts about the bill and why it is needed to legislators. The day’s events include:

  • A meeting with the Legislature’s Bike/Ped Caucus at the Cross Café (111 Sewall St., Augusta) at 8 a.m. to discuss biking and walking issues.
  • A brief training session on how to effectively communicate with lawmakers, from 9:15-10:30 a.m.
  • Meetings with legislators from 10:45-11:45 a.m. in support of the Traffic Safety Education Act.
  • The legislative hearing at 1 p.m. in Room 202 of the Cross Building in Augusta.

In addition to communicating support for the bill, Grant said, it is also important to note what the legislation will not do: it will have no fiscal impact on Maine schools or extend the school year, nor will it add to the state’s graduation requirements or increase teachers’ workloads; teachers would have the option of using the Coalition’s curriculum – developed by teachers for teachers – or have one of Maine’s certified Traffic Safety Educators make the one-hour presentation to students.

“The Traffic Safety Education Act will help keep our children safe now, when they’re walking or biking to or from school, home or a friend’s house, and in the future,” Grant said. “Children who’ve grown up learning the rules of the road will be safer around pedestrians and cyclists when they get behind the wheel as adults.”




Play Everywhere Challenge


Grant Applications are Due May 31

KaBOOM! is excited to announce the launch of the Play Everywhere Challenge, a national competition that will award $1 million in prizes for the best ideas that make cities more playable for kids and families.

The Challenge is open to anyone with an idea for creating playful moments in unexpected places – from sidewalks to vacant lots, bus stops to open streets.

For more information and to submit your idea, visit playeverywhere.kaboom.org




Grants and Community Recreation Program – 2017 Awards Now Open


The Grants and Community Recreation Program within the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands is pleased to announce that the application period is now officially open for the 2017 grant awards.

LWCFThe Land and Water Conservation Fund was established to assist federal, state and local governments in the acquisition and/or development of public outdoor recreation facilities. The funding can provide up to 50% of the allowable costs for approved acquisition or development projects for public outdoor recreation.

To learn more about the current LWCF program, to view the updated application materials, or to find contact information for the program manager, please visit the Maine LWCF grant website.




How to make Lewiston-Auburn safer for crossing the street (L/A Sun Journal)


This article originally appeared on sunjournal.com

Amanda Cullen, Staff Writer
Lewiston-Auburn | Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 10:32 pm

LEWISTON — More sidewalks and better bike paths were among the solutions to problems with pedestrian travel offered by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and Maine Safe Routes to School on Tuesday.

Organizers Abby King, Darcy Whittemore, Craig Saddlemire and Chrissy Adamowicz presented the main issues of biking and walking, especially for children, in Lewiston-Auburn.

With five elementary schools and a middle school, a high percentage of students live within a mile of their schools, and could easily walk or bike to school, especially in the warmer months. Unfortunately, the less-than-adequate pedestrian paths hold many people back.

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Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) – Transportation Alternatives Program


The MaineDOT funds large comprehensive road projects that can include bicycle and pedestrian elements like bike lanes and crosswalks through a variety of state and federal sources. But MaineDOT funding for stand-alone bicycle and pedestrian project like a separate sidewalk construction project or multi-use trail are funded differently. These projects are funded by MaineDOT using federal dollars through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). TAP funding is available to municipalities or groups of municipalities for planning or construction of local projects. Applications are taken on a rolling basis.

MaineDOT’s webpage outlines the process communities use to apply for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure project funding through TAP.

  • This program assists with funding sidewalks, pedestrian crossing improvements, off-road transportation- related trails, downtown transportation improvements, etc.
  • The goal of this program is to improve transportation and safety, and promote economic development.
  • MaineDOT receives about $2.3 million in federal funds annually for this program for the entire state.  Each project has a 20% local match requirement.

 




Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) Program


Each year the State of Maine Office of Community Development receives funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to be distributed to eligible Maine communities under the Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) Program. Some of these funds can be used for physical infrastructure safety improvements such as building sidewalks and other quality of place facilities.Contact local municipal staff to learn more about application deadlines. FMI: Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) Program 

CBDG Program Categories:

  • Downtown Revitalization Program – includes sidewalks
  • Public Facilities – includes parks and recreation facilities
  • Public Infrastructure – includes streets, roads and sidewalks, curbs and gutters
  • Maine Downtown Center Assistance – includes planning, capacity building, technical assistance and administration directly related to furthering the Maine Downtown Center’s objectives in building vibrant, sustainable Maine downtowns
  • Economic Development Program – includes streets, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, etc. owned by the municipality or public or private utility and where improvements would support of an identified business which will create or retain jobs in the non-retail sector for low and moderate income persons.

For infrastructure improvement projects in Auburn, Bangor, Biddeford, Lewiston, Portland and anywhere else in Cumberland County (with the exception of Baldwin, Brunswick, Casco and Frye Island) – these areas have a local CBDG funding process.

Letter of Intent Deadlines Vary by program. For More Information see the CDBD Program Statement




Regional Councils of Government (COGs)


All organized towns in Maine are part of a Council of Governments, or COG. COGs also serve as the Regional Planning Organizations for their member towns. These regional entities can sometimes provide funding or technical assistance to municipalities that want to create a bike/ped plan or another type of plan that involves community and/or economic development. Contact the staff at your Council of Government to find out what services or funding they might have available to help plan or construct a bicycle, pedestrian, or other transportation facility.




Municipal Planning Organizations (MPOs)


  • Maine’s four urbanized areas (Portland area, Bangor area, Kittery area, and greater Lewiston-Auburn) are part of Metropolitan Planning Organizations or MPOs.
  • If your community is part of the MPO region it is eligible for planning and construction money through that entity.
  • Municipalities that are part of an MPO can apply to that entity for planning or construction funding.
  • This does not exclude them from applying directly to the MaineDOT for the programs listed in that section.
  • If a municipality applies for funding through the MPO and is accepted, that project will appear on the following year’s Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), which dictates how they will fund projects within their jurisdiction.



Mayor Brennan Accepts U.S. Transportation Secretary’s Challenge


Portland Mayor Michael Brennan recently accepted the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s ‘Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets’ effort, which challenges city leaders to raise the bar for bicyclist and pedestrian safety.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine brought together partners from the Federal Highway Administration, The City of Portland, and the Portland Bike/Ped Advisory Committee to work together on the Mayor’s Challenge. We will be serving on the Mayor’s Challenge Team where we will be focused on helping make the City’s Complete Streets Policy vision a reality.

Click Here to Read the City of Portland’ Press Release




Public Comment on Bangor Waterfront Master Plan


Summary Statement

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is a statewide organization working to make Maine better for bicycling and walking. We support the creation of well-designed bicycle and pedestrian facilities, such as sidewalks, crosswalks, multi-use paths, and bike lanes, wherever possible. Most bike bike riders and walkers prefer using facilities that provide some measure of separation from cars.  These types of facilities lead to an increase in trips made on bike or foot, and therefore improve safety.

Project Comments

These conceptual plans provide a vision of a nicer concert venue and some improvements to pedestrian amenities.  I like the conversion of Railroad Street into a woonerf, although I do wonder if it will fly, as that road seems to be the primary route to the parking lot down by the river.  (Maybe that lot should also come out and be converted into greenspace. . . ?)

I could not find a single reference to “bicycles” anywhere in the plan, and barely any reference to pedestrians.  Ease of access to the site for walkers and bicyclists is not mentioned in any of the project critera (p. 18), although it is implicit that pedestrians are being considered in the woonerf, wayfinding, and pathways in the conceptual design.  I think that the designers should be asked what they are doing to accommodate persons riding bikes to the concert venue, and to the Park in general.  Will the wayfinding extend beyond the immediate area of the concert venue?  

As for bike facilities that I would suggest being included in this project:

  1. Covered bike parking at convenient locations to supplement the existing 14 should be considered.  (The locations of those existing racks should be reviewed, too–are they in good spots?  are they getting used?  Maybe a work station, too?
  1. Main pathways in the park should designed at 10-12 ft widths to accommodate shared use.
  1. Bike lanes should be considered for Rt 202/Main Street, which is currently 5 lanes wide (two travel lanes with a center turn).  Does the AADT really require that much capacity?  Or perhaps a multi use side path, 12 feet wide, running on the park side of Main Street from Tim Horton’s to RR street, which would also provide improved capacity for the ped bridge over the tracks?  

Public Comment from Jim Tasse, Bicycle Coalition of Maine

Reference File: https://www.dropbox.com/s/5oobu86p645ihbf/BWF_Master%20Plan_Final_revised.pdf?dl=0




Maine Cycling Club Supports Bicycle Safety in Lewiston/Auburn


We’re happy to share this Guest Post from Joe Pelliccia, A Bicycle Coalition of Maine Community Spoke and Board Member of the Maine Cycling Club, based in Auburn.

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Maine Voices: Recent pedestrian deaths remind us roadways are full of vulnerable users (PPH)


This opinion piece originally appeared on PressHerald.com

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Lauri Boxer-Macomber, attorney at law, and James Tassé, assistant director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, are both members of the coalition’s Bicycle Law Enforcement Collaborative.

The recent tragic and avoidable deaths of two pedestrians in Maine remind us that safety on Maine’s public ways is something we all need to work toward.

Regardless of whether we are operating a logging truck, walking with our children, jogging with our dogs, driving to the dentist, hauling our boats to camp or commuting to work on our bicycles, we are all part of how Maine law defines “traffic.” As such, we all have important obligations to understand the rules of the road and the rights and duties owed to ourselves and other traffic.

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Project envisions city becoming bike-friendly (KeepME Current)


This article originally appeared on KeepMECurrent.com

The city of South Portland was chosen by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine to be the inaugural community in its new “Imagine Bikes Here” campaign, which creates temporary bicycle lanes on municipal streets to show how communities can become more bike-friendly.

Last week, with the blessing of city officials, the coalition installed a temporary, 6-foot wide bike lane on Cottage Road, between Walnut and Mitchell streets, in the Meetinghouse Hill neighborhood.

On July 22, coalition staff and volunteers created the first in what will be a series of temporary demonstration biking and walking facilities that will be installed in various communities throughout the year, according to Jim Tassé, assistant director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

He said the goal of these demonstration projects, which are being funded with a grant from People for Bikes, is “to show the public and municipal decision makers that improving bicycling and walking conditions can often be inexpensive and incredibly simple.

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2015 Legislative Wrap-Up


We’ve wrapped up an intense and productive legislative session at the State House this year. Thanks to the support of our members and partners we have four big victories to report. (more…)




Bicycle Coalition talks safety with Bethel residents (Oxford Hills Sun Journal)


This article originally appeared on SunJournal.com

MATTHEW DAIGLE, Staff Writer | Oxford Hills
Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 6:15 pm

BETHEL – The assistant director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine advised selectmen and other residents Monday night that there needs to be some give and take between motorists and bicyclists.

Jim Tasse was invited to address the board after it approved three signs last month for the beginning of Vernon, North and Intervale roads, warning drivers to keep 3 feet away from cyclists. A month later, the board voted 4-1 to reconsider its vote, after residents said some cyclists ride side-by-side or three abreast at times, which makes it difficult for motorists to pass them or give them space.

Tasse said he heard that “there is some heartburn in the community about group rides using narrow roads in the area”
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MaineDOT Accepting Applications for Free New 3-Foot Passing Signs


Car drivers must give at least three feet of distance when passing a bicyclist in Maine. To help educate drivers about this law, the MaineDOT is accepting applications for free 3-foot bicycle passing law signs from municipalities that would like to install them on state roads or state aid roads in their community. (more…)




Maine Bike Advocates Applaud Passage of Safety Bill (MPBN)


AUGUSTA, Maine – Advocates for Maine’s bicyclists and pedestrians are celebrating one of the rare examples of political harmony in Augusta: passage of a bill designed to make Maine roads safer for those who are traveling on two wheels or by foot.

The junction of Franklin Arterial and Marginal Way is Portland’s busiest intersection. Twenty lanes of traffic converge on the edge of the downtown district of Maine’s largest city. To miss a green light here can be frustrating, especially if you’re in a hurry, says Brian Allenby.

Allenby is with the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, a strong supporter of LD 1301 – An Act To Improve the Safety of Vulnerable Users in Traffic and To Clarify the Responsibilities of Bicyclists and Pedestrians.

Click here to read more…




Road Diets Across Maine


 

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine and our network of local advocates are becoming increasingly involved with “road diets” or reconfigurations that reduce the number or width of vehicle lanes on roads across Maine. Want to learn more about what a road diet is and how it benefits safety for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists, and helps improve local economies? Check out this video from our friends at Streetfilms.

Moving Beyond the Automobile: Road Diets from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.




BikeShare Taking off in Norway Maine


bikeshare_rack2

Community Spokes Scott Vlaun and Seal Rossignol are pleased to report that a new BikeShare program run by the Center for an Ecology Based Economy is taking off in Norway, Maine. Scott, Seal,and their partners are co-founders of the Center for an Ecology Based Economy, or CEBE, based in Norway Maine. Their organization works to engage the community in developing practical, ecological solutions to perennial needs.

CEBE BikeShare is an effort to reduce carbon emissions by offering alternative transportation for utilitarian riders in the downtown Norway, South Paris, and Oxford area. By offering free use of cargo bikes, CEBE will promote a healthier, more sustainable mode of transport. This program also helps to support the local economy by providing transportation for community members to shop and run errands, as well as promote bicycling for the local bike shop.

The program has over 40 registrants and has just received a grant from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund to help keep the project going. Bi-weekly Skillshares are being held to prepare the bikes for being road ready! Visit http://ecologybasedeconomy.org/transport.html for more information.




Press Release: Governor signs bill to protect walkers, bicyclists and other vulnerable users


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Brian Allenby
Communication Director
Bicycle Coalition of Maine
207.623.4511 (office)
207.252.8688 (direct)
brian@bikemaine.org
bikemaine.org
 

Governor signs bill to protect walkers, bicyclists and other vulnerable users 

June 19, 2015 – Portland ME – On Friday, June 12th, Governor LePage signed a bill into law that will improve the safety of bicyclists, pedestrians, and other ‘vulnerable users’ on Maine’s roads. The bill, LD 1301, was sponsored by Senator Amy Volk (R- Scarborough) and supported by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. According to the Governor’s Office, fewer than sixty bills have been signed into law by Governor LePage so far during this legislative session.

“We very much appreciate the Governor’s support of safer walking and biking on Maine’s roads,” said Nancy Grant, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

As a result of this legislation, Maine law now defines a “Vulnerable User” as a person on the public way who is more vulnerable to injury than a person in a motor vehicle. This definition includes pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair users, those driving tractors, and others. Studies have shown that these vulnerable users are far more likely to be injured or killed in a collision with a motor vehicle.

The new law also strengthens Drivers Education programs by requiring courses to include increased instruction on protecting the rights and safety of vulnerable users.

“Teaching students about the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists, walkers, and other vulnerable users is an important part of any Drivers Ed curriculum,” commented Ric Watkins, owner of Belfast Driver Ed and President of the Maine Driver Education Association.

The new law also increases protection for walkers, runners, and wheelchair users attempting to cross the street by requiring that drivers yield to pedestrians who are attempting to cross the street at a marked crosswalk. Before this change, drivers only had to yield when pedestrians at a marked crosswalk stepped out into the road.

Kriss Evans’ father, David Grant, was killed while crossing the street in a marked crosswalk in Brewer this past December.  She is grateful for the stronger crosswalk law.

“My family is still grieving the loss of our dad, who did everything right and was  still hit and killed by a car while crossing the street right in front of his barber shop. Anything we can do to make people safer when walking across the street is a step in the right direction. I hope this law will prevent more avoidable deaths like my father’s.”

In addition to the added protections for pedestrians and all vulnerable users, the new law also clarifies the responsibilities of bicyclists; namely their duty to obey yield signs, stop signs, one-way streets, and traffic lights.

 

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The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is the statewide voice of cyclists and pedestrians. Since 1992, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine has led the effort to make Maine better for bicycling and walking by protecting the rights and safety of cyclists and pedestrians through education, advocacy, legislation and encouragement.  We support biking and walking for health, transportation and fun. For more information: bikemaine.org.  




Woolwich Goes On A Road Diet


woolwich road diet

Advocates in the small town of Woolwich, Maine worked with residents, neighbors and advocates in neighboring communities, town officials, and the MaineDOT to put Route 1 on a road diet. A road diet reduces the width or number of travel lanes for cars, and thus creates space next to the curb for facilities such as shoulders or bike lanes. A road diet can be a very low cost improvement that improves safety for all users – drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike.

After months of meetings, gathering input, measuring traffic speeds and movements, and weighing options, everyone was able to agree on a new striping plan for the stretch of Route 1 between the Sagadahoc Bridge and Taste of Maine. The new striping pattern on this section has narrowed travel lanes for cars and created more space in the shoulders for bicyclists.

The local bike/ped champions we work with in Woolwich and Bath are reporting that the new Route 1 is bringing great results.

“Yesterday I rode my bicycle across the Sagadahoc bridge going North, and for the first time in 19 years that I have lived in Maine, I felt confident that I could ride through the commercial section without being squeezed into the granite curb on the right.” Said local bicycle commuter Mark Wheeler. “My thanks to…the Maine DOT for listening to the concerns of the citizens and implementing changes that will contribute to the safety of all folks passing through and using the businesses in this area.”

Congratulations to the advocates in Woolwich and Bath whose dogged advocacy turned a challenge into an opportunity – Mark Wheeler, Ben Tipton, Robert McChesney, and many more. We are proud to have been able to help with this effort!




Coalition Provides Testimony In Support of Funding for Bicycle/Pedestrian Projects


 

Testimony in SUPPORT of LD 193 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects

June 2, 2015

Good Afternoon Senator Hamper, Representative Rotundo, and distinguished members of the Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs. My name Abby King. I am a resident of Portland and I represent the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today in support of funding for walking and biking infrastructure projects in any transportation bond passed this session.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine and our 5,000 members across the state urge you to support direct funding for infrastructure projects like sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, and multi-use paths. These projects are fundamentally about transportation choice, safety, access, and equity. They deserve to be funded directly in the transportation bond. Ultimately, biking and walking infrastructure is about the safety of Maine people and the economic vibrancy of Maine towns and cities.

Every year, hundreds of people walking and biking on Maine roads are hit by cars and injured or killed as a result. Over 1,300 pedestrians and over 1,000 bicyclists were hit by cars in Maine from 2009 – 2013. In 2014 alone, 15 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed on the road when hit by cars.

Providing walkways separated from the travel lanes could help to prevent up to 88 percent of pedestrian deaths that occur when the pedestrian is walking in the road. Study after study has shown that people will leave the car at home and choose to ride and walk if they have well-designed streets, sidewalks, and multi-use paths available for them.

We have not prioritized funding for transportation projects that would reduce these needless deaths and debilitating injuries. Each year, MaineDOT can only meet, at most, 10% of the demand for stand-alone biking and walking projects from the towns and cities that apply. In 2012, 92 communities applied for a competitive grant for bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure projects. None of those projects were funded due to the already long list of backlogged projects.

LD 193 would fund the construction of 39 backlogged biking and walking infrastructure projects. This bond would leverage 20% of all planning and construction funds from the local communities. This backlog is real and it’s affecting communities all over the state. All of the 39 projects on the list in front of you have been approved and deemed “eligible and worthy” for design, construction, or both by the Maine DOT, yet they continue to wait for funding.

This list represents projects all over the state, from Waterboro to Presque Isle, that would keep children, seniors, families, and all Mainers safe, and that would benefit local businesses and revitalize Maine downtowns. In the case of many of these projects, the plans have been approved and the communities have devoted their share of the local match funding. They are simply waiting for the State to devote its share of the funds that have been promised. The list before you contains dozens of shovel-ready projects all over our state that would provide jobs, make Maine children and families safer and healthier, and help revitalize struggling Maine downtowns.

Biking and walking encourage economic development by increasing foot traffic to local businesses, by attracting a young people (who increasingly want live downtown and enjoy a short, active commute to work) to move to Maine, and by serving our seniors who want to Age in Place and continue to participate, shop, volunteer, and engage in their community. Construction of biking and walking projects will create much-needed jobs in our state. An average bicycle project creates 3.6 more jobs per $1 million invested than a car-only project. And small projects like sidewalks and bike paths are labor intensive and more likely to be contracted to local construction companies rather than larger out-of-state firms.

If we had funding to build these shovel-ready projects, the safety of all road users would improve, and our transportation network would be accessible to all Mainers including the 24% of Maine residents who don’t drive. For the sake of our economy, our safety, our health, and our environment, and because all people in Maine deserve an equal opportunity to get from place-to-place safely in their communities, please support funding for biking and walking projects.




Coalition Provides Testimony In Support of The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act


Testimony in SUPPORT of LD 1301
An Act to improve the Safety of Vulnerable Users in Traffic and to Clarify the Responsibilities of Bicyclists and Pedestrians

Good Afternoon Chairman Collins, Chairman McLean, and Members of the Committee. My name is James Tassé and l am here on behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and our 5,000 members. l urge you to vote in SUPPORT of LD 1301.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is the statewide organization that advocates for bicyclists and pedestrians. We work to make Maine better for bicycling and walking.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine believes that this bill will improve the safety of our public ways for pedestrians, bicycles and motorists. In my testimony today, l will discuss some of the core provisions of the bill, and explain how this bill will improve safety for lvlainers of all ages and situations.

But let me begin by acknowledging what might be a shocking fact to all of you: bicyclists sometimes break the rules. So do pedestrians. And believe it or not, this probably bugs the Bicycle Coalition of Maine more than it does you, because we are trying hard to educate cyclists and walkers that the safest and most courteous way to behave on roadways is also the LEGAL way. Let me admit that the changes to l\/laine law that LD 1301 would enact are not going to solve every problem that exists on the roads with walkers and bicyclists, any more than any one motor vehicle law is going to stop cars from speeding or failing to yield or texting. Alas, the roads are used by humans, and we are all imperfect—motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair operators. We’ve all seen faulty behavior on the part of all these users.

That all being said, we firmly believe that LD 1301 is balanced, fair and effective in its approach to increasing accountability on the part ofall users. And in doing so, LD 1301 will improve safety.

LD 1301 does three critically important things: .

1. LD 1301 clarifies the operational responsibilities of bicycles and makes it easier for law enforcement officers (LEOs) to issue citations for bicyclists who flagrantly blow through stop lights and signs without consideration of other users, or who operate against the traffic flow on one~way streets, or who fail to yield to pedestrians. Current gaps in language and differences in how the law is interpreted complicate efforts to police these dangerous practices. LD 1301 will make it easier for LEOs to know that they are on solid ground when writing tickets to bicycle riders. The bill adds references to bicycles in the specific sections of the traffic code that regulate traffic control devices (§2057) and one way streets (§2059), and includes a requirement for bicycles to yield to pedestrians.

2. LD 1301 helps clarify and improve the rules concerning a motorist’s responsibilities to pedestrians in crosswalks. In changing §2056, the bill proposes a full stop, rather than just a yield, to people in crosswalks. The bill also spells out exactly which lanes are obligated to stop as a pedestrian is crossing a roadway. And most importantly, the bill improves and clarifies the “trigger moment” when a motorist has to stop. Current law requires that a walker be in the street and in harm’s way, before traffic must yield. Current law requires, for example, that an elderly woman venture into the roadway and be “within a marked crosswalk” before her right of way is triggered and traffic must yield to her. LD 1301 better protects people crossing streets by clarifying that their right of way can be asserted before they have to step into traffic, as soon as they show a desire to cross. LD 1301 requires that motorists must come to a full stop as soon as a pedestrian indicates an intention to cross by doing something as simple as waving their hand or their cane over a marked crosswalk. The clarity of these new rules will help guide motorist behavior, and remove ambiguities that make enforcement of pedestrian law difficult.

3. LD 1301 protects a category of roadway user called ”Vulnerable Users” that includes anyone who is not in the protective metal shell of a motor vehic|e—walkers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, horseback riders, ATV operators, roller-skiers and so forth. By introducing a Vulnerable User law, LD 1301 expresses our state’s commitment to protecting children, senior citizens, the disabled, and anyone else who uses Maine’s roadways without being a car. We’ve all been on a walk or bike ride when a car passed too close, or too fast, for comfort. The goal of LD 1301’s Vulnerable User provision is to emphasize that it is the motorists’ responsibility to drive safely near people who are not in cars. The bill creates this emphasis by both education and enforcement. The bill would require that all Maine driver’s ed programs include 30 minutes of education about driving conduct near vulnerable users. The bill also creates a category of traffic infraction that is punishable by fines and other penalties if warranted. This law provides a simple option for LEOs to reference when a motor vehicle operates unsafely near a variety of unprotected users, and it prohibits harassing or menacing behavior as well. The fines are the same as those in the §2119, which prohibits texting while driving—we think that driving a car too close or to too fast by a person who is, say, out walking under physician’s orders, deserves at least the same penalty as texting while driving.

In addition to these three critically needed changes to l\/laine law, LD 1301 makes a modest revision to the 3 foot passing law by clarifying that three feet is a minimum distance, and that it may be “reasonable and proper” to leave more space in some situations. 3 feet may be ok at 25 miles per hour, but that distance feels mighty close if the car or truck is moving at 55mph.

In closing—|’d like to emphasize that the changes LD 1301 makes to l\/laine traffic law are neither new nor untested. 11 other states, including New England states Vermont and €onnecticut, have VU laws similar to the one proposed in LD 1301. The language for the pedestrian section is based on Oregon law and was developed in part with reference to templates provided by America Walks, a national pedestrian advocacy group; our law is most closely based on language from Oregon. The measures proposed in LD 1301 are consistent with national best practices for improving the safety of roadways for non-motorized users.

We believe that LD 1301 will do very positive things for Maine roadway safety. And we are not alone: 64 other organizations in Maine signed a letter of support for this bill, which I will submit as part of my testimony. We feel that this bill is needed, effective and balanced, as it clarifies expectations for bicycle, pedestrian, and motorist behavior in a fair manner. We ask you to support LD 1301.

Thank you, and I’d be happy to answer any questions.




Community Spokes Training – May 20


 

The Community Spokes Program is the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s effort to create a statewide network of bicycle and pedestrian advocates at the local level. We empower Mainers to become champions of better biking and walking through advocacy training, education, and ongoing technical support.

Our next round of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s Community Spokes Training (free! breakfast and lunch included!) will take in just a few short weeks at the Auburn City Hall on May 20th from 8am-4pm.

We are excited to grow our network by twelve to fifteen more local champions of biking and walking and would welcome any Maine resident who want to become stronger advocate to join us.

More information about the Community Spokes Program can be found HERE. Anyone who would like to register to attend can do so HERE.

For More Information, contact Abby King, BCM’s Community Advocacy Coordinator at abby@bikemaine.org or 207.956.6538.




BCM Comments on Kittery Neighborhood Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan


The Kittery Area Comprehensive Transportation System (KACTS) and the Town of Kittery are working together, with consultants Sebago Technics and Alta Planning + Design, to develop a long-term vision for improving bicycle and pedestrian safety and study bike/ped accommodation along the Route 1 Bypass from Memorial Circle to the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine presented formal comments on the study on April 22, 2015

To the Town of Kittery

RE: Kittery Neighborhood Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan

On behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, I would like to offer the following preliminary comments regarding bike/ped conditions and opportunities within the project area described in Sebago Tech’s progress report on the Kittery Neighborhood study. Please note that we have only ground-truthed a limited number of the roads in the study area. I would be happy to work more closely with Sebago and Alta with suggestions.

Pedestrian Accommodations

  1. As Sebago’s preliminary report indicates, the study area does have some sidewalks and shoulders, but there are discontinuities in the sidewalk system. Apparently, at least one sidewalk is budgeted for Old Post Road.
  2. If the Rt 1 ByPass is envisioned as a commercial or residential area in the future, sidewalks may to be a desired feature. There are no sidewalks currently on the ByPass.
  3. The lack of a sidewalk on the Sarah Long Bridge is suboptimal for pedestrian safety.

Bicycle Accommodations

  1. The following comments assume that the width information provided in Sebago’s report refers to usable pavement in the travelled way.
  2. As a general rule, to optimize bicycle functionality, we recommend travel lanes less than 11 feet, and shoulders or bikelanes 4-5 feet wide. A documented benefit of narrowing travel lanes is better compliance with posted speed limits and reductions in crashes; wider shoulders also provide space for bicycles and/or pedestrians. MaineDOT supports reductions down to 10.5 ft even on some arterials (including Rt 1). Shoulders in areas where bike traffic is expected should be considered for bike lane stenciling.
  3. On all roadways in the study area where the posted speed limit is 30 mph or less and the total cross section of the traveled way is 28 feet or more, 10 ft travel lanes and 4ft minimum shoulders (wider is preferred) should be considered. This includes Old Post Road, Cook Street, and Bridge Street.
  4. On all roadways in the study area where the posted speed limit is 30 mph or less and the total cross section of the traveled way is less than 28 ft, SLMs (sharrows) placed 4-6 feet from the curb, with Bicycles May Use Full Lane and new MaineDOT 3 Feet Minimum to Pass signage should be considered. This includes South Eliot Road and Old Post Road south of Rt. 103 (i.e. between 103 and Bridge St).
  5. For a more innovative treatment that will calm traffic and improve bicycling conditions on the slower, narrower roads mentioned above, consider removing the centerline and using advisory bike lanes 5ft wide on either side. MUTCD authorizes removal of centerlines on roadways with fewer than 6000 cars per day; see MUTCD, 2009 edition, Section 3B-01, pg. 349.
  6. On all roadways in the study area where the posted speed limit is greater than 30 mph and the total cross section of the traveled way is 30 ft, or more, ≤11 foot travel lanes and shoulders of 5 or more should be considered. The higher the posted speed, the wider the shoulder. This includes Dennett St and the Bypass. It appears that these recommendations are currently met in some places on these roads.
  7. The ByPass is posted as a 35mph road, but the geometry and striping of the road seems to invite speeds of 50 mph or better. Shoulder width is inconsistent, especially near the bridge. Narrower travel lanes and consistent 6 foot shoulders on this road should be considered through the study area to improve speed compliance and to provide consistent accommodation for non-motorized users.
  8. The shoulder chokes off on Dennet St at intersection with 103. Consider repurposing pavement currently painted with yellow diverge/taper markings to create room for continuous shoulders through intersection and proceeding southbound.

Thanks for the opportunity to provide comments.

Regards,

James Tassé

Assistant Director

Bicycle Coalition of Maine




3 Feet – It’s The Law


monmouth signs2

Throughout 2014, communities across Maine have been installing local and state road signs to educate motorists about the law requiring cars to give a minimum of 3-feet of space when passing bicycles and pedestrians. Most recently, four signs were installed in Monmouth – two on local roads and two on Route 132. The signs pictured are approved by the MaineDOT. In Monmouth, the project was recommended by the Monmouth Conservation Commission with funding provided by Monmouth Dept. of Public Works. For more information about 3-Foot law signs, see the resources from this 2014 Community Spokes Webinar, Mutual Aid Call: ‘3-Feet-Please’ Signage Campaign in Brunswick




Coalition Provides Testimony In Support of Study on Transportation Funding Reform


Testimony in SUPPORT of LD 706 – Resolve, To Establish a Commission To Study Transportation Funding Reform

Abby King, Advocacy Coordinator

Bicycle Coalition of Maine

April 14, 2015

Good Afternoon Chairman Collins, Chairman McLean, and Members of the Committee. My name is Abby King and I am here on behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and our 5,000 members. We work to make Maine better for biking and walking through education and outreach, events and encouragement, and advocacy. I urge you to vote in SUPPORT of LD 706.

The lack of adequate transportation funding in Maine affects all users of the roads. We often think of this problem only in terms of its impact on car and truck traffic, but all types of users are affected by roads that need to be maintained or redesigned. People walking and biking are often at extra risk of being injured or killed in a crash due to roads that don’t take their needs into consideration. A study commission transportation for funding reform will bring forward solutions that will allow our road network to better serve the needs of all Mainers – not just those in cars.

We hear a lot about the need for additional funding to make sure highway and bridges are repaired and improved. We also know that Maine’s supply of funds for stand-alone bicycle and pedestrian transportation infrastructure – projects like sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, paved shoulders, and multi-use paths – is wholly inadequate to meet the growing demand across the state. Each year, MaineDOT can only meet, at most, 10% of the demand for stand-alone bike/ped infrastructure projects. In 2012, 92 communities applied for a competitive grant under the Transportation Alternatives program. Those 92 proposed projects totaled $45 million. Yet MaineDOT receives only $4.5 million every two years in federal funds for these types of infrastructure projects.

Lawmakers in states across the country are putting politics aside and figuring out how to pay for the upkeep of deteriorating and underserving infrastructure. We can work together here in Maine to come up with new revenue streams and restructured policies that will help balance transportation funding shortfalls. As we study best practices we’ll need to make sure the voices of all road users are represented. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is committed to helping. I urge you to support LD 706 so that the best minds in Maine transportation can come together to do their homework and bring viable solutions back to this committee.

Thank you for your time and I would be glad to answer any questions.




Coalition Provides Testimony In Support Of Transportation Funding


Testimony in SUPPORT of LD 901 – An Act To Ensure Sustainable Infrastructure Funding

Abby King, Advocacy Coordinator

Bicycle Coalition of Maine

April 7, 2015

Good Afternoon Chairman Collins, Chairman McLean, and Members of the Committee. My name is Abby King and I am here on behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and our 5,000 members. We are the statewide organization that advocates for bicyclists and pedestrians. I urge you to SUPPORT LD 901.

Like many other states, Maine faces increasing road maintenance costs at a time when highway fund dollars are in decline. The challenge of maintaining thousands of miles of rural roads and bridges is one that is critical to the success of our economy and lifestyle. And while we often think just in terms of the impacts on motorized traffic that poor roads have, roadway maintenance has a huge impact on all users of Maine’s road system. Crumbling shoulders and bumpy roads put walkers and bicyclists at extra risk by forcing them further into the roadways. We must find a way to pay for repairs to our transportation infrastructure system so that it can serve the needs of all. Tying the fuel tax to efficiency standards is part of the solution to this problem.

Safe, equitable roads are a fundamental public good – no one is going to repair potholes, repave or rebuild streets, or build sidewalks and multi-use paths if the government doesn’t. States across the country are adjusting their fuel taxes to pay for the upkeep of deteriorating roads. Raising fuel taxes to boost spending on roads is fiscally responsible because as transportation facilities deteriorate it becomes more expensive to repair and replace them. Fixing our roads will never be cheaper than it is right now.

Nationally, an average of 90% of all trips between one and three miles are taken by car[i]. About 43% of trips made in a car are three miles or less, and 20% are one mile or less[ii]. Maine would be well served by a policy that would help to reduce the number of short car trips, which are costly for drivers, and costly to the road system (causing wear-and-tear and contributing to traffic congestion). If we could increase the number of trips made safely by foot and bike, which do not tax the system the way car trips do we would save additional dollars down the road.  Tying the gas tax to fuel standards is such a policy – it creates disincentives to drive and encourages people to carpool, take the bus, bike, or walk.

Tying fuel taxes to efficiency standards is a fair way to increase the highway fund revenues we need for maintenance, and to reduce maintenance costs in the future by reducing the number of unnecessary car trips. Without this increase, we will not be able to make smart investments in a transportation system that serves all users.

For these reasons I urge you to support LD 901. Thank you for your time and I would be glad to answer any questions.

[i] Rails to Trails Conservancy, “Active Transportation For America” http://www.railstotrails.org/atfa

[ii] NHTS 2009, FHWA Office of Policy. www.advocacyadvance.org/docs/nhts09.pdf




Coalition Provides Testimony In Support Of Common-Sense Traffic Laws for Bicyclists


Testimony in SUPPORT of LD 903 – An Act To Allow in Certain Circumstances Two-wheeled Vehicles To Proceed through Red Lights and Make Right Turns on Red in Contravention of Posted Prohibitions

Abby King, Advocacy Coordinator

Bicycle Coalition of Maine

April 7, 2015

Good Afternoon Chairman Collins, Chairman McLean, and Members of the Committee. My name is Abby King and I am here on behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and our 5,000 members. We are the statewide organization that advocates for bicyclists and pedestrians. I urge you to vote in SUPPORT of LD 903.

There are two types of devices that have the potential to actuate traffic signals for motor vehicles and bicycles. One is a loop that is embedded in the pavement; the other is a monitor that is installed on the traffic signal itself. There are many reasons that even supposedly bicycle-sensitive devices would not detect a bicycle or motorcycle. (ex. broken wires in the ground, loops that aren’t configured to be sensitive to vehicles of various shapes and sizes, a monitor that cannot detect a bicyclist because of fog or bad weather, etc.)

Non-responsive traffic signals are a significant problem for people on bicycles, mopeds, or motorcycles. Despite obedience to the traffic control device, an undetected two-wheeled vehicle could be stuck at intersections indefinitely until the operator finally chooses to proceed against the signal when it is safe to do so.

This bill simply authorizes an action that motorcyclists and some bicyclists already have to resort to when traffic signals fail to operate correctly. This bill does not legalize disobedience to signals or “blowing through” stop lights. This bill still requires a stop, and it places the responsibility to yield squarely on the shoulders of the bicyclist or driver, who must not interfere with the right of way of other vehicles that may be proceeding with green lights.

We believe that bicyclists, mopeds, motorcyclists and automobiles must obey traffic control devices, and we support strengthening the language that requires compliance. But when a part of the traffic system does not work for an entire class of users, the law needs to be flexible enough not to turn a common sense action into a traffic violation.

I urge you to build this common sense flexibility into Maine traffic law.

Thank you for your time and I would be glad to answer any questions.




Coalition Provides Testimony In Support of Transit


 

On March 31, 2015, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine provided testimony before the Maine State Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Transportation in support of two bills that would improve transit and public transportation in Maine.

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Coalition Provides Testimony In Support Of Pedestrian Safety


Testimony in SUPPORT of LD 788 – An Act To Improve the Health of Maine Citizens and Safety of Pedestrians

James Tassé, Assistant Director

Bicycle Coalition of Maine

March 31, 2015

Good Afternoon Chairman Collins, Chairman McLean, and Members of the Committee. My name is James Tassé and I am here on behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and our 5,000 members. I urge you to vote in SUPPORT of LD 788.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is the statewide organization that advocates for bicyclists and pedestrians. We work to make Maine better for bicycling and walking.

LD 788 would make what seems obvious into law—if a car hits a pedestrian who is lawfully on the street while passing, the car did not give the pedestrian enough space. If passed into law, LD 788 would treat such a collision as prima facie evidence that the minimum three feet distance required by law was not provided and simplify the issuing of a citation, at least. Passing this law would not legalize jaywalking or crossing against the signal, as existing law provides prohibitions against those activities, but it would “add more teeth” to the requirement that motorists give a minimum of three feet when passing walkers.

According to the Maine DOT, in the period between 2009-2013, there were 1346 crashes involving pedestrians. In the majority of cases, the motorist was at fault. Out of those 1346 crashes, there were 55 pedestrian fatalities. 13 more people died in 2014. There have already been 3 pedestrians killed in 2015. We feel that passing this bill will help impress on motorists the urgent need to give pedestrians adequate space while passing, and will thereby improve roadway safety.

Two years ago, in 2013, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine supported a bill focusing on bicycle law that made the collision of a bicycle and a motor vehicle prima facie evidence of a violation of the so called “Three Foot Law” Title 29-A, Chapter 19, §2070.   The idea was simple: if a car hit a bicycle, the driver did not give the bicyclist the space required by law, and barring some extenuating operational error on the part of the bicyclist, a driver that collided with a bicycle should be found in violation. That bill became law, and we are pleased to note that this change has made it easier for law enforcement to issue three-foot violations in situations where an overtaking car hits or “clips” a bicyclist. It is a common sense law that provides common sense protection.

Today, we are returning to support a bill that addresses the need to extend this same common sense protection to pedestrians in Maine.

Thank you for your time and I would be glad to answer any questions.




Coalition Provides Testimony In Support of Local Road Assistance Program


Testimony in SUPPORT of LD 505 – An Act To Increase the Funding Level of the Local Road Assistance Program

James Tassé

Assistant Director Bicycle Coalition of Maine

March 25, 2015

Good Afternoon Chairman Collins, Chairman McLean, and Members of the Committee. My name is James Tassé and I am here on behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and our 5,000 members. I urge you to vote in SUPPORT of LD 505.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is the statewide organization that advocates for bicyclists and pedestrians. We work to make Maine better for bicycling and walking.

This bill would increase annual funding dedicated for the Local Road Assistance Program from 9% to 10% of the Highway Fund allocation to the Department of Transportation. We feel strongly that providing these funds to the municipalities that maintain local roads will help keep our transportation system in good condition for all users, including walkers and people on bicycles, and will help stimulate and support economic activity and improve safety.

For these reasons I urge the committee to support LD 505. Thank you for your time and I would be glad to answer any questions.




Coalition Provides Testimony in Support of Safer Driving


 

On February 27th, 2015, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine provided testimony before the Maine State Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Transportation in support of two bills that would limit the use of cell phones while driving.

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COMMUNITY SPOKES CHAMPION EDUCATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF MAINE’S 3- FOOT LAW


 

In 2007, Maine’s “3-Foot Law” went into effect. The law requires cars to pass bicyclists with “due care” by giving them at least three feet of clearance when passing. In 2013, The Coalition worked with state legislators to pass a bill to strengthen the 3-Foot Law. Under the new law, any crash involving a motor vehicle and a bicyclist is automatically considered evidence that the driver violated the 3-Foot Law.

This critical statute can only be effective in improving the safety of bicyclists if drivers are educated about the rules and law enforcement officers thoroughly enforce the law. Community Spokes and other local advocates have been working hard to ensure that drivers are aware and obedient of the 3-Foot Law.

BATH

Community Spoke Robert McChesney chairs the Bath Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee. Since 2012, he has been working to implement an education program for motorists around the 3-Foot Law with the help of the chief of police, Michael Field and the Sagadahoc County sheriff, Joel Merry. “It’s a very rare conjunction of the planets when a bicyclist, a police officer, and a motorist violating the 3-foot law are all together at the same time and place. So instead we focus on education,” says Robert.

In Bath, if a driver passes too close to a bicyclist, the bicyclist reports the incident to the police and provides as many details as possible, most importantly the driver’s license plate number. Both the police and sheriff’s department have a designated officer who then calls the motorist, warns them of their violation, and explains the requirement to give three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist. If a motorist is reported to have violated the law more than once, law enforcement will issue a summons. Feedback from law enforcement so far is that most motorists respond positively to a warning phone call, give the response that they were unaware of the law, and pledge to obey the law in the future.

 BRUNSWICK

Too often, families, individuals, and groups of riders in the Brunswick region feel unsafe on the roads due to cars passing too close to them. As a result, The Merrymeeting Wheelers Bicycle club, based in Brunswick, has been working since 2012 to develop and implement a 3-Foot-Law education and signage program throughout the region. In order to educate drivers about the law, the “Wheelers” have been working with the local Police Departments and Public Works Departments to install “3-Feet Please: It’s the Law” signs on highly traveled bicycle routes in Brunswick and beyond.

After soliciting donations from Center Street Cycle, Midcoast Triathalon Club and Gritty McDuff’s for the program, the Wheelers successfully designed and commissioned the signs, and donated them to be installed along roads all over the region. The group has supplied nine signs to the Town of Brunswick, six to Topsham, seven to Bath, three to Harpswell and twelve to Freeport. As of Spring 2014, many have already been installed in Brunswick, Topsham, Harpswell, Bath and Freeport.

The Wheelers have also been working with Police Departments in all the towns that have received the donated signs to increase enforcement of the law. Additionally, all the municipalities will be showing the Coalition bicycle safety Public Service Announcements on local television and distributing the Coalition educational literature to drivers. Next year and beyond the Wheelers hope to incorporate Durham, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Richmond, Dresden, Woolwich, Phippsburg and West Bath into the program.

FREEPORT

Community Spoke Anne-Marie Davee chairs the Freeport Active Living Task Force, a committee of residents and organizations working to make Freeport a more inviting place for biking, walking and any physical activity. There are four additional trained Community Spokes serving on the Task Force. Thanks to the generosity of the Merrymeeting Wheelers Bicycle Club from Brunswick, the Freeport group was recently able to work with the Town Engineer to install “3 Feet Please” signs at each of the roadway entrances into Freeport, in conjunction with the speed limit signs.

“These bicycle safety signs are amazing!” says Anne-Marie, “They put the emphasis on the speed limit and the importance of bicycle safety.” The installation of these signs is one of the first elements of Freeport’s recently adopted Active Living Plan to be implemented.




Western Maine Active Communities Conference (WMACC) Coming Soon!


unnamedDo you like biking and walking and you live in Western Maine? We want to meet you at this awesome upcoming FREE conference! The Western Maine Active Communities Conference is for business owners, town managers and planners, school board members and faculty, transportation, public health or public works professionals, or just about anyone else who is interested in improving their community!

Learn more and register here.




Public Comment: Falmouth Route 1 Plan


Nathan A. Poore, Town Manager
Town of Falmouth
271 Falmouth Road

Nathan:

On behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, we’d like to thank you for meeting with members of our staff on Thursday, November 7th to discuss Falmouth’s plans for Route 1 between Route 88 and Bucknam Road. As Route 1 is one of the most important transportation corridors in the state, and as the segment in Falmouth you’re working on sees a large amount of bicycle commuter and tourist traffic, your actions will not only impact local riding conditions–it will set a precedent for how other communities develop and maintain the Route 1 corridor. As such an important corridor, Route 1 should always be developed and maintained according to Complete Streets principles.

After reviewing the plans and speaking with you, we wanted to put in writing our initial impressions and recommendations. It is our hope that you will share these with the Council, the designers, and the public before going out to bid. We will also be sharing this letter with the MaineDOT and PACTS.

Initial Impressions:

  1. The Coalition feels that many elements of the plan will help make this segment of Route 1 feel more “small town” and less strip-like. We think that the landscaping and the lighting changes will make this strip of roadway more attractive in general for all users.
  2. The inclusion of eight-foot multi-use paths (presumably with ADA compliant tip downs and state of the art crossing signals) will help encourage pedestrian traffic. While there is good reason to question the wisdom of encouraging bicyclists to use sidepaths (such facilities have high crash rates, and the ones proposed in Falmouth have multiple intersections to negotiate) these wide paths may also provide travel conduits for inexperienced and young bicyclists.
  3. This project will have no appreciable impacts on improving the bikeability or the bicycle safety of this busy stretch of roadway. The proposed plan makes no significant changes to the current on-road conditions, and appears to simply maintain the existing and unsatisfactory shoulder conditions (which vary from about four feet to nothing).
  4. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is frankly disappointed that the plan authorizes approximately $6 million to bury the utilities, but fails to include approximately $2 million to improve the drainage and widen the road enough to provide for the AASHTO minimum standard 5 foot bike lanes next to the curb throughout the corridor. Cost appears to have been the driving consideration to reject the creation of bike lanes, but funds apparently are available for burying utilities?

We feel that the question of cost is not in this case a valid criterion for saying that safe bicycle accommodation is not feasible. The decision to bury utilities rather than provide for excellent bicycle accommodation is, in our view, one that prioritizes aesthetics ahead of safety.

In light of these impressions, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine offers the following Recommendations:

  1. Falmouth should reopen the conversation to widen Route 1, and should pursue revisions in the plan that would permit consistent five-foot bicycle lanes designed as per AASHTO national and PACTS regional standards throughout the project corridor. We are hopeful that you will reconsider prioritizing bicycle safety ahead of underground utilities. This is a critical transportation corridor in the region, and it should provide at a minimum the standard bike lane facilities that many lesser roads provide.
  2. In the event that the roadway is not widened to permit bike lanes, a minimum four-foot shoulder should be maintained throughout this corridor to provide a safer place for bicyclists to ride in this area. This shoulder should not be stenciled as a “bike lane”, as a four-foot shoulder next to a curb does not comply with AASHTO design recommendations for a bike lane in such locations. Attaining this minimum four-foot shoulder will probably require repurposing some of the space in the currently designed travel lanes.
  3. If a four-foot shoulder cannot be maintained through the corridor, the plan should consider Shared Lane Markings and Bicycles May Use Full Lane throughout the corridor to alert drivers that bicyclists could be in the travel lanes.
  1. To improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists,the radii of all intersections should be as short as possible to force cars to slow down as they leave/enter Route 1. It also shortens the crossing distances for users of the multi-use paths. If the Town reopens the discussion of widening the roadway, changing the turn radii could be addressed as part of that project.
  2. Any drainage structures which are in the shoulder should be installed at grade, and include wheel safe grates.
  3. Traffic signals should include bicycle detection devices and appropriate signage.

The Coalition appreciates your willingness to consider our input on this project at this late juncture. In general, we feel that this plan could have done more to make this critical transportation corridor a more complete street that takes into account the needs of all the users of the roadway. We are happy to take part in any conversation about improving the walkability and bikeability of your town, our region, and the whole state.

Thanks for your time and consideration, Regards,

Nancy Grant, Executive Director
James C. Tassé, Ph.D, Education Director Jennifer W. Ladd, Board Member

 




ALLEN AFIELD: Give cyclists room (Morning Sentinel)


This article originally appeared in the Morning Sentinel

 

July 12 

ALLEN AFIELD: Give cyclists room 

BY KEN ALLEN

In June, a truck hit and killed a Massachusetts bicyclist during the Trek Across Maine, making an enormous impression on me for two reasons:

* The incident occurred on Route 2 just north of my home, a delightful rural highway that I pedal often.

* In my humble opinion, a Maine bicycling law encourages motor vehicles to come too close to bicyclists, creating a danger that could lead to fatalities. More on this point in a moment.

First, let me say that I have bicycled seriously for 24 years (like most days from April through early December) and find the sport safe and most drivers cooperative. When motor-vehicle operators do something annoying or dangerous to me, it’s usually from ignorance, not intentional meanness.

That fatality in the Trek Across Maine caught my attention, though, mostly because the incident reminded me of a pet-peeve. Maine has a law that prohibits motor vehicles on highways from coming within three feet of bicycles, which — in my opinion — encourages driver to pass pedalers too closely on roads with a 55 mph speed limits.

A 3-foot prohibition might work in cities with a 25 mph limit, but on a road like Route 27 or 2 with an often-broken 55 mph, I do not want a vehicle passing me three or even four feet away, traveling at 62 mph or more.

For starters, if my wheels hit a small rock or crack, and I fall left as a motor vehicle speeds past too closely, then I have a good chance of getting run over. When lying on the ground after a fall from a 58cm road bike, I’ve measured from the wheel track to the top of my head — 6-feet, 2-inches.

In fact, when I’m pedaling on Routes 27, 2, 3 or 17, my usual roads with breakdown lanes, motorists give me a much wider clearance than 3-feet, often well beyond 6-feet. Even on narrow highways, vehicles often pass well beyond me. So motor-vehicle operators know more than legislators, who passed the 3-foot law that may encourage drivers to come too closely.

Here are other salient points about bicycles on public highways:

People occasionally tell me that bicycles should be prohibited from public highways, and when someone utters this claim, I explain that in my opinion, the 14th Amendment would prohibit a bicycle ban — the part that says “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

In short, the Constitution says that I cannot be denied privileges extended to other citizens until I’ve done something to lose the privilege. My comment needs testing in the Supreme Court for a definitive conclusion, and no, I wouldn’t debate this point with anyone, because I’m no attorney.

Second, bicycles predate motor vehicles. Long before the very invention of motor vehicles, walkers, runners, horseback riders, horse-drawn wagons and then bicyclists used public byways — a precedent.

Third, most bicyclists drive vehicles, so they pay gasoline taxes that help build roads and bridges, and I’m a good example. I drive a half-ton, 2-wheel pickup and have occasionally given gas money to two daughters and to Jolie, my intrepid companion, so I have bought gasoline for four people, which has paid for my road use.

I also bicycle for three-season transportation, which lessens harmful pollution — my contribution to the environment.

I cannot leave this bicycling topic without mentioning an incident that occurred to me on Route 2 in July 2011, but I am not suggesting a correlation between the Trek Across Maine fatality and the following anecdote from two years ago. My story just involved a threatening comment aimed at me while I was bicycling Route 2:

I was pedaling east from Farmington Falls a mile or so west of down-town New Sharon, and a large trailer truck blocked the breakdown lane. There were no approaching vehicles, so I pedaled into the travel lane and started by the parked truck just as the driver crawled from beneath the trailer in front of the eight back wheels. He looked hard into my eyes and said, “You shouldn’t bicycle on this road. People will run right over you!”

The tone of his voice did not suggest a friendly warning; however, I have bicycled this road for 12 years with no memorable events marring my day, so the comment shocked me into silence for several seconds, quite a feat, because I’m normally a quick-mouthed smart aleck. Finally, out of morbid curiosity, I blurted out, “Why would anyone do that?”

The man had no satisfactory answer.

I continued toward New Sharon and to Route 27 and home, but his comment has stuck with me, a memory that crosses my mind each time I pedal this rural highway.

Ken Allen, of Belgrade Lakes, a writer, editor and photographer, may be reached at KAllyn800@yahoo.com




Cyclists say there’s a pro-motorist bias when tragedy strikes (BDN)


This article originally appeared in the Bangor Daily News.

Cyclists say there’s a pro-motorist bias when tragedy strikes

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted June 25, 2013, at 4:46 p.m.
Last modified June 25, 2013, at 7:15 p.m.
 

BELFAST, Maine — Two weeks ago on a stretch of U.S. Route 2 that runs through the tiny western Maine community of Hanover, tragedy struck.

A cyclist in the annual Trek Across Maine charity ride was killed when he lost control of his bike as a tractor-trailer passed him. So far, the driver of the truck has not been charged by police in connection with the accident. But other cyclists, many in Maine and others from as far away as Oregon, said they believe that the way Maine law enforcement officers handled the death of David LeClair shows a pro-motorist bias.

“Essentially, the police are motorists. They’re not cyclists. The motorists come up with a version of the events that put the blame on the cyclist who’s not there to defend themselves,” said Bob Mionske of Portland, Ore., a former professional cyclist and attorney specializing in bicycle law. “Who’s to say any different?”

But in LeClair’s death, it’s different because there were witnesses, Mionske said on Monday. The 23-year-old from Watertown, Mass., was pedaling with half a dozen of his athenahealth cycling teammates on the first morning of the 180-mile ride to raise money for the American Lung Association. They were among more than 2,000 cyclists who had left Sunday River Resort in Newry, just 10 miles to the west, earlier that day.

When LeClair grabbed his water bottle to take a drink, he and his teammates were passed by a tractor-trailer from Quebec that was hauling corn to Augusta. Lt. Walter Grzyb, a Maine State Police commander, said later that the draft created when Michel Masse-Defresne, 24, of Quebec, drove by caused LeClair to lose his balance and fall over. The cyclist hit his head and was partially run over by the truck, Grzyb said.

The trucker kept going, telling police who stopped him six miles down the road that he had passed hundreds of bikes and hadn’t noticed anything unusual.

Police investigating the accident have not lodged any charges against Masse-Defresne, whom other cyclists said passed them with three and a half to four feet to spare. Maine law requires that motorists give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing. Maine State Police Spokesman Stephen McCausland said Tuesday that there is little likelihood charges will be lodged against the trucker. Police looked at physical evidence at the scene and on the truck and interviewed witnesses to the accident.

“This was thoroughly investigated,” McCausland said. “There is nothing to indicate the truck driver was in any way at fault here, and he had passed hundreds of bicyclists at that point.”

Nancy Grant of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, an advocacy group which works to make Maine better for cycling, said she’s not surprised to see police take the side of the motorist when accidents happen.

“Very often, the motorist has made an obvious mistake, and yet the police officer who is creating the report does not give a citation,” she said. “We’ve had cyclists call us to say police officers told them [cycling] is simply too dangerous — they should stay off the road.”

She said that although a lot of law enforcement officers and drivers “get it,” there are still some that don’t, but concern around LeClair’s fatal accident might help change that.

“One of the terrible realities of bicycling accidents are that the cyclists are very often really damaged, especially if there’s a car involved. More especially if there’s a giant truck involved,” Grant said. “The fatality was so tragic and the whole accident was so sad, I do think it’s been a huge wakeup call for both cyclists and motorists.”

John Parke, president of the Augusta-based industry group Maine Motor Transport Association, said that it’s every truck driver’s obligation to drive professionally and safely. He also said that truck drivers and cyclists need to work together for roadway safety.

“We think that the vast majority [of truck drivers] take that responsibility very seriously,” Parke said. “Do I think that every single truck driver is 100 percent in the right, 100 percent of the time? No. Do I think that every cyclist is? No.”

Grant said she believes that new laws may come about in the wake of the accident. In other states there is legislation on the books that increases the distance between cyclists and motorists depending on the speed of the passing vehicle. In those states, she said, at 30 miles per hour, the clearance is three feet, but it’s four feet at 40 miles per hour and five feet at 50 miles per hour.

Mionske said most states don’t have a range of legal consequences for drivers who operate carelessly or dangerously. There’s vehicular manslaughter, which requires gross negligence such as driving drunk or going 100 miles per hour in a neighborhood. But for drivers in violation of the three-foot passing law, the legal consequence might be just a $100 ticket — even when a cyclist’s life is lost.

“In Oregon, we have a vulnerable user law, which tries to fill in that gap. It has higher consequences for seriously injuring or killing someone out on the highway,” he said. “A vulnerable user is someone who’s not encased in a metal cage.”

In Europe, many countries take an even stronger pro-cyclist tack, Mionske said.

“They have a presumption of guilt on the driver. The presumption is you shouldn’t have done it,” he said. “[In the U.S.], what happens is there are no witnesses and the cyclist is dead. In practice, what happens is the police don’t charge.”

Matthew Littlefield is an avid cyclist from Waldo who has ridden in the Trek Across Maine before. He said that he, too, has noticed that motorists are generally more accepting of cyclists, but he’s had some close calls with what he calls the “truck suck” — the wall of wind caused by a truck passing fast and too close.

He said he knows truck drivers are doing a job, but taking 30 extra seconds to safely pass a cyclist is worth it.

“It is getting a lot better, but for every hundred motorists out there that wave to you, smile and do what they’re supposed to do, there are those who honk and pass too close,” he said Tuesday. “All it takes is one person to make a bad decision, and someone gets hurt.”

 
 



Urge your State Senator and Representative to support bike & pedestrian funding!


 

Background

The Appropriations Committee is currently looking at 30 bonds to issue.  A number of them focus on transportation.  LD 16 asks for $100 million for transportation infrastructure including $5 million for bike/ped projects.  One other proposed bond specifies funding for bike/ped, but only $1.5 million.  None of the others mention bike/ped.  All the transportation bonds will most likely be combined into one bond and we want to ensure that 5% of the total amount to be dedicated for bike/ped projects.

 

WHY do we need a bond to fund bike/ped projects?

Last spring (2012), when the MDOT opened the biennial Quality Communities Program (QCP), which funnels federal funding for biking or walking projects to Maine towns, 92 communities applied for funding, for projects adding up to $45 million.

In June 2012, Congress finally passed the federal transportation re-authorization. This law cut dedicated funding for walking and biking projects in Maine by 47%.  The result is that the MDOT has only $6.6 million in 2013-14 to fund the QCP projects.  Because of a huge backlog that already existed, all of the funding for the 2012 Quality Community Program will be used for construction of previously approved projects that have completed preliminary design.  That means that NONE of the 92 towns that submitted applications will be funded this cycle.

Clearly, we need another source of funds to support this demand and this is why dedicated funding for walking and biking projects is essential.

Need more reasons to support this bond?  The folks at the Maine Better Transportation Association shared this:

  1. MaineDOT will have to cut projects from Its work plan without a bond
  2. We need a bond to help fIx our brIdges
  3. MaIne needs the Jobs
  4. WIthout a bond, MaineDOT’s projected annuaL shortfall grows by $50 million
  5. Critical projects that are brIngIng new busIness to Maine will be put on the back burner
  6. Our towns and cities will come up short
     


Take Action Now!

  1. Call your legislator!  Phone call is best, even if you have to leave a voicemail.  Paper letter is next best.  Email is ok but the legislator may never get to it.
  2. You can find out your legislator and their contact info here.  Enter your town, street number and street name.  Click the “Submit” button.  At the next screen, click the “Elected Officials” tab and scroll down to “Maine Senate” and Maine House of Representatives”.
  3. Ask them to include dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the new transportation bond!
  4. If your legislator is on the Appropriations Committee, it’s even more important to call them–they have extra power in the bond decisions.  If your legislators aren’t on the committee, but you like making these calls, please call the chairs of the committee (Dawn Hill, York; Peggy Rotundo, Lewiston).

Please share this extra information with your friends.  Again, the more calls, the more likely the final version of the bond will specify dedicated funding for bike/ped.




Coalition Announces Community Spokes Training


The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is going to be offering its “Community Spokes” training on November 13, 2012.  Would you or someone you know like to join us for a day of fun, learning, and planning for a more bike-and walk-friendly Maine?

Simply put, the Community Spokes are people who are interested in promoting bicycle and pedestrian access and safety in Maine.  They are people who work to create “Active Community Environments”, which encourage physically active lifestyles and stimulate economic vitality. 

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s training seeks to provide community volunteers (and interested professionals) with more knowledge about bike/ped/trail facilities, funding, programming, and processes, as well as with the advocacy techniques that help to mobilize people in support of more walkable and bikeable towns.   The Community Spokes multiply the power of the bike, trail, and pedestrian advocacy movement in Maine by making things happen right down at the grassroots level, town by town.  

The training on November 13 will include information about bike/ped facilities, and will include a bike/ped audit so you can begin developing an idea for what is possible in your community.  It will also include brainstorming on possible projects in your community—and practice developing a message and pitching it to a potential stakeholder. 

If you’d like to become “Community Spoke”, please drop an email to Jim or Nancy and we’ll send you registration form. We will be running a full-day training for our Spokes on November 13 in Augusta.  

Thanks for your interest in and dedication to the bicycle movement!




The Importance of Sharing the Road


An article in the Bangor Daily News about the importance of bicyclists and motorists sharing the road.

We all need to share the road

By Julia Bayly, BDN Staff
Posted July 26, 2012, at 1:08 p.m.

FORT KENT, Maine — Those of us who enjoy being active in the outdoors know that with that joy can come great risk.

Last Sunday’s horrific bicycle-vehicle collision in the middle of the Presque Isle Time Trials was a pretty good reminder of that fact.

Thad LaVallee, one of the top time trialists in New England, continues to recover at The Aroostook Medical Center where friends say he has undergone surgery for multiple broken bones, fractures and a deep laceration to his thigh.

Time trials are shorter-distance races — the one in Presque Isle was 14 miles long — during which the riders go as hard and as fast as they can, leaving the start in 30-second intervals.

A friend of mine decided to participate and before I quite knew what was happening, I’d entered along with him.

An aside — averaging just under 16 mph over the 14-mile course, I surprised myself and won my age division. OK, so maybe it should not have come as such a surprise given I was the only one in my age division, but why focus on details? I did get a shiny medal for my efforts.

I’m not sure if LaVallee rode out ahead or behind me, but either way he was in front of me by several minutes (as were most of the riders) when the accident occurred around Mile Six of the race along the Parsons Road.

The incident remains under investigation by the Washburn Police Department, as we had crossed that town line by that time, but what seemed pretty clear to those of us who saw the aftermath is somehow LaVallee came into head-on contact with a pickup truck facing the wrong way in the right-hand lane.

Fellow teammates of his say it’s quite likely he was traveling close to 30 mph at the time.

The impact tossed LaVallee — and his high-end carbon bike — onto the opposite side of the road. There is no need to go into details except to say the result was not pretty.

However, what is even less pretty has been the reaction among some drivers around the state who have seen fit to use this accident as a springboard to condemn our sport.

As cyclists — especially those of us who ride on the roads — we are well aware of the risks that come with sharing space with 5,000-pound machines that average speeds in the high double digits.

We mitigate those risks as best we can by always being aware of our surroundings, riding as far to the right as we can, wearing helmets and — this is key — riding defensively.

“Cars and bicycles are supposed to share the road and cars are legally required to give all cyclists three feet of space,” Nancy Grant, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, said this week. “For their part, cyclists are supposed to stay as far to the right as is practicable — and this is different from ‘practical.’”

Maine roads often lack wide, paved shoulders, especially the farther north you go, so riders can’t always hug that right hand side as much as some motorists feel we should, thus, Grant said, we try to stay as far over as is safe.

The tires on my road bike are race-thin and, like my fellow road cyclists around the state, if I am forced off the tar and onto a soft shoulder, I’m looking at a pretty good fall.

Though not legally required to do so, my cycling friends and I keep to a single file as we pedal along the paved highways and byways of northern Maine.

“No law says you can’t ride two or more abreast,” Grant said. “But a lot of motorists and police think it’s against the law to ride more than single file.”

Likewise, many motorists believe we cyclists should be off the road altogether and up on sidewalks.

“That is against the law,” Grant said. “Sidewalks are for pedestrians.”

As cyclists, we are bound to the same rules of the road as motorists and Grant said getting that message out — especially to newcomers to the sport — can be a challenge and remains one of the coalition’s primary missions.

“At the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, we have tons of printed and online materials to teach Maine bike laws and how to ride safely,” she said. “Right now there are so many new cyclists and an explosion of new learners.”

Grant asks motorists to be as patient with new cyclists learning the rules of the road, as they would be fellow new drivers.

“When you have 5,000 pounds of steel up against a biker, it will often be a fatality,” she said. “Drivers need to understand that.”

Recently a cyclist was struck by a car on Union Street in Bangor, and just this past week a top runner and road cyclist in Colorado was killed when a car turned in front of him.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Just ask Mark Rossignol, a longtime Aroostook County cyclist who has logged thousands of miles across two continents.

“In Italy and around Europe, they expect to see cyclists on the road,” he said. “They have respect for the cyclists and treat them like another automobile.”

I got to see that firsthand last fall when riding with Mark and his Freshtrails Adventure group around Tuscany.

No matter how slowly I was pushing my way up the hills — and let me say, it got pretty darn slow at times — never once did a driver crowd me, honk at me or otherwise invade my cycling space.

Rather, they slowed and waited for a mutually safe time and place to pass, often with a wave and smile of encouragement.

“I don’t know why people in this country resent waiting for five or so seconds to pass us,” Rossignol said. “Especially in northern Maine there is not that much traffic [and] they can wait and go around us.”

That being said, Rossignol agrees with Grant that cyclists must take responsibility for their safety.

“Cyclists should use every precaution,” he said. “Pay attention, don’t use iPods while riding, have a helmet and be aware of traffic.”

In the event of an accident, as became clear last Sunday, cyclists should carry some form of identification and emergency contact information.

A contact number for LaVallee’s family was found only after friends went through his cellphone — which was in his car back at race registration.

To get a decent workout on our bikes, we need to be on the roads. Bike paths or parks simply don’t offer the miles needed for those of us looking to log 20, 30 or even 100 miles in a day.

“Following the same rules as motorists will cover 90 percent of the issues between cyclists and drivers,” Grant said, and encourages drivers who may have lost touch with the joys of two wheels to get back out there.

“Jump on a bike,” she said. “It’s all kinds of fun and you can see things from the perspective of a cyclist [and] please give us room. It’s very scary when a car gets too close, or a driver throws something or yells at us.”

Biking is fun, but as cyclists like LaVallee know all too well, not without its dangers.

From all of us: Please share the road.

Julia Bayly of Fort Kent is an award-winning writer and photographer who writes part time for Bangor Daily News. Her column appears here every other Friday. She can be reached by email at jbayly@bangordailynews.com.




PPH Reports Portland Leads Decline in Car Ownership


 

Portland at forefront of decline in car ownership

Many do it out of necessity, others by choice, but the trend is steady.

By Tom Belltbell@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – Three years ago, Janet Burgess was several months behind in the car payments for her Ford Taurus when it was totaled in a collision. She decided to use her insurance settlement to become debt-free rather than buy another car.

Burgess, 55, said she misses the convenience her car provided but not the bills that came along with it.

“It’s time-consuming getting around, but I don’t have to spend that money,” she said while riding a bus from the Hannaford supermarket on Forest Avenue to her apartment in the Portland’s West End. “Knowing that it’s good for the environment makes it easier to accept.”

After steadily increasing every year since the end of WWII, car ownership in the United States declined for the first time in 2009 and again in 2010, the most recent year for which federal data is available. In Maine, the number of passenger vehicles has declined slightly each year since 2009.

The trend is more pronounced in Portland, one of the few communities in the state where it’s feasible to live without an automobile.

From 2004 to 2011, the number of registered passenger vehicles in the city plummeted from 49,900 to 38,200, a 23 percent drop. Traffic congestion has also declined, reversing an upward climb that had been the norm for generations.

From 2005 to 2011, the number of vehicle miles traveled annually on Maine roads and highways declined by more than 600 million miles, a decline of 4 percent, according to an estimate based on Maine Department of Transportation traffic surveys. In the Greater Portland area, excluding the interstate highways, the number of vehicle miles traveled annually declined by 79 million miles a year, a 7 percent decline during the same period.

At the same time, Portland’s Metro bus system, which now has a ridership of about 1.4 million passenger trips annually, has seen its ridership grow 3.55 percent in the first six months of 2012. The service has seen steady but modest ridership growth since 2000.

The statistics reflect two apparent trends: Families hit hard by the Great Recession and higher gas prices have cut back on spending by driving less or not at all. Selling a car brings in immediate cash, lowers debt and cuts monthly expenses. It costs nearly $9,000 per year to own a car, including monthly payments, fuel, maintenance and insurance, according to a study by the American Automobile Association.

In addition, the lure of the automobile as a symbol of freedom appears to have faded for many young people, according to national surveys. A growing number of young adults who could afford to own a car don’t want to and are moving to cities that offer other options.

“You are seeing two trends: One of necessity and one of choice,” said Nancy Smith, executive director of GrowSmart Maine, an anti-sprawl advocacy group based in Portland.

Young adults in America are driving a lot less than they did a decade ago.

For the nation’s 16- to 34-year-olds, the total amount of miles traveled declined by 23 percent from 2002 to 2009, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation survey of household travel patterns.

Nearly half of 18- to 24-year-olds would pick Internet access over having their own car, according to a survey released earlier this year by the Lempert Report, a marketing trend newsletter. The study speculates that the availability of virtual contact reduces the need for actual contact.

The decline in car ownership — particularly in new car purchases, which fell 33 percent in Portland from 2004 to 2011 — cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in lost excise tax revenues during the recesssion.

But the decline of car ownership presents opportunities for the city’s economy. Its high population density, mix of services and retail stores, access to public transportation, car sharing services and extensive bicycle network have made it not only possible to live without a car but made the city a magnet for those who want to.

In Bangor, a person without a car is a “bum or something,” but the car-free lifestyle in Portland is embraced by the environmentally conscious middle class, said Jessie Lacey, 30, who grew up in Piscataquis County town of Brownville Junction and later lived in Bangor. She moved to Portland six years ago.

Her daily commute consists of a 10-minute walk from her Grant Street apartment to her job as creative director of a Web marketing firm on Exchange Street, and she usually brings her dog to work.

Three years ago, she sold her Chevrolet Cavalier because she was tired of keeping up with the paperwork that went along with owning car, such as registration and insurance. She shops for groceries at the farmer’s market and Public Market House on Monument Square and sometimes takes a cab to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s for bigger shopping trips.

“I could never have imagined not owning car until I was in Portland,” she said.

Eric Blumrich moved to Portland from New Jersey in 2010 after his research on the Internet led him to conclude that he could live in Portland without a car. An animator for a multimedia firm in New Jersey, he works at home and could live anywhere in the country.

He said it was difficult to live in New Jersey without a car because public transportation was so poor and services were so spread out. Staying there and buying a car would have amounted to a 20 percent cut in pay, he said. Moving to Portland, where the cost of living is lower and it’s easier to get around on foot, amounted to a 10 percent pay increase.

Blumrich, 42, who lives in the Parkside neighborhood, said Portland has a variety of interesting neighborhoods, small businesses and a bus system that is better than any system in New Jersey. For relaxation, he rides the ferry to Peaks Island and walks to the undeveloped side of the island.

Tim Schneider, 31, a Portland attorney, keeps a log of his transportation expenses.

He bikes to work most days, and uses a car-share service occasionally. Last year, he spent $600 on his bicycle, bus fare and car rental payments. That’s a big savings compared to what he would have spent on a car, he said.

The trends in car ownership have implications on city land use and transportation policy, said City Councilor David Marshall, who last week proposed that the city examine the feasibility of a streetcar or light rail system that would run through downtown.

Marshall, the only city councilor who does not own a car, noted that the council’s decision in 2008 to reduce from two spaces to one the number of parking spaces required for each new housing unit on the peninsula appears to be paying off. It has lowered development costs, and developers are now doing planning work for projects that will bring more than 700 units of housing on the peninsula, he said.

Marshall noted that Portland apartments are in high demand. In February, the city’s apartment vacancy rate of 2.5 percent was tied with Minneapolis as the nation’s second lowest, behind only New York City, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors.

While the millennium generation is now flocking to cities like Portland, the baby boomers will also gravitate to cities like Portland as they downsize from their suburban houses and seek neighborhoods where can live without driving a car, he said.

“Take these two gigantic generations, and you will see both are heading to urbanized areas,” he said. “Portland is in a strong position to capitalize on this trend.” 

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

tbell@pressherald.com

Twitter: TomBellPortland




Tips on Sharing Multi-Use Paths


Blood on the bike path: What a tragic accident teaches us about safely sharing the trails

By Joel Gwadz

A few weeks ago, just outside of Washington, D.C., a woman was hit and killed by a man on a bicycle while walking on a paved multi-use trail, aka a “bike path.” It was a tragic accident. My heart goes out to any and all that knew and loved her. It also distressed me to read the anti-cyclist reaction in the comment sections of local online news sources and neighborhood forums, when all of this could have been avoided with a few simple precautions.

When various news sites reported the story online, the comments were predictably absurd. There were all sorts of attacks on bikes that reflected more on anti-bike sentiment than on the incident in question. “The path is for everyone not a bunch of spandex wearing Armstrong wannabes,” wrote one commenter. A member of the Fairfax Underground forum posted a story about the incident under this headline: “Bicyclist Mows Down Old Lady and Kills Her.” “Kill all cyclists,” replied a second member, “problem solved.”

A little more attention to the specifics, and the authors of these remarks would have known how off-base they were. The bike rider in this incident was a man in his early 60s. He was riding an $88 department store bike, a NEXT Power Climber. I doubt that he was training for a race. He claims he gave both a ring of his bell and an audible, “on your left,” to the elderly pedestrian. But apparently the alert caused her to step in front of him rather than out of his way. The collision knocked her backward onto the pavement, according to the police report, where she struck her head.

Clearly, there are things both people could have done to avoid the accident. But it is largely the responsibility of bicyclists to avoid collisions like this. Bikes yield to pedestrians — even on bike paths. Just as downhill skiers are expected to anticipate and react to other skiers below them on the slope, it is the responsibility of the cyclist to avoid collisions and expect the unexpected when overtaking other trail users.

It is important to keep in mind that “bike paths” are generally not solely for bikes. They are shared spaces that usually accommodate an assortment of people on foot; runners, hikers, dog walkers, nannies pushing strollers, kids walking home from school. Then there are the rollerbladers, roller skaters, skateboarders, people with their dogs on those nearly invisible extendable leashes, power-walking moms with wild toddlers that should be on leashes, and a long list of other potentially menacing variables.

Bicyclists should act accordingly. Here are some things to consider:‪‬

  • Be considerate of other trail users! Give the person you’re passing a warning either by bell or mouth — a gentle “on your left” usually does the trick. Give them a chance to react, then make a good, clean pass. Pay extra attention to small children and dogs.‬
  • Travel at a reasonable pace. This is not the place to try to set the land speed record. Need a workout? Keep your chain out of the “big ring” and work on high cadence at lower speeds.
  • Slow down in areas that are commonly occupied by slower-moving trail users. Knowing your trail allows you to know what to expect.
  • Obey the traffic laws. Some multi-use trails have speed limits. Most intersect with roads. Be aware of car traffic when you encounter it.

What do these things tell us about the tragic incident outside of Washington? From the reports I read, this rider did everything he should have done. The police apparently agree; he is not being charged with any crime.

So while we are trying to educate cyclists on how to behave more safely on the bike path, why not give a few tips to other trail users?

  • Be aware of other trail users by simply looking and listening. An occasional glance forward and an occasional glance backwards should tip you off that there is a cyclist approaching.
  • Walk on the right-hand side of the trail. If walking in a group, don’t block the whole trail. Pinch in and walk single file when faster trail users approach. Glance back for approaching trail users before U-turning on the trail.‬
  • Understand that the Bike Path is basically a roadway for bicycles and other trail users.

Which brings me back to all the hate that was unleashed on cyclists after the accident outside of Washington, D.C.

It intrigues me that there are so many people who are anti-cyclist. Do they feel this strongly about cars? Cars are bigger, heavier, and move faster. There are more cars than bike on the roads, and they kill more pedestrians. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration [PDF], 4,280 pedestrians were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2010. Another 70,000 were injured. Statistics about pedestrians killed or injured in crashes with bikes are hard to find.

What so many people fail to understand is that most cyclists are hyper alert and super cautious. A collision on a bike, whether with a car or a pedestrian, puts the cyclist at risk.

And yet, when we see a tragedy like this, instead of viewing people on bikes as individuals, the haters have clumped a very complex subculture of many groups and subgroups into one simple identity — those evil “spandex wearing Armstrong wannabes.” They seem to love to take their show-and-tell experience of being buzzed by a cyclist as the general behavior of all cyclists.

In the end, it is a matter of common sense and common courtesy.

Is this accident a wake-up call for bicyclists to be more careful and more considerate? Yes, but this notion of being more considerate of others should apply across the board. It’s certainly something I would love to see from the car drivers as they approach pedestrians and cyclists on the road.

Joel Gwadz bikes and blogs in Washington, D.C. His 7-year-old son has accused him of being obsessed with bikes, and he admits that bicycle grease pumps through his veins. Read more of his rants on bicycling and see his photos on his blog, Gwadzilla.



Bicycling Editorial in Bangor Daily News


Are conservatives engaged in a war on bicycling?

By Matt Bernier, Special to the BDN

My family has been bicycling a lot lately. For my lovely wife and me, it has been about losing weight and getting in shape to more smoothly round the curves of middle age. My 12-year-old daughter — still cool with activities with her parents — has graduated to a “grown up” bike (with gears) and is learning about the rules of the road and simple mechanics, skills that we think will serve her well throughout life. For us, bicycling is as natural as cooking and sitting down to a healthy meal together.

We’ve trekked through beautiful places in Maine and never pedal into places where we feel unsafe or unwelcome. The laws of physics are not on a bicyclist’s side, and sharing the road with summer traffic is a small act of courage. However, I never thought of bicycling as a political act. Then I read about the new transportation bill that Congress just passed. Touted as a rare example of bipartisan compromise in an election year, the $120 billion bill wobbled over the finish line, breathing hard and sweating profusely, after debate on whether a state can redirect funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects toward other highway projects. In case you missed it, states can opt out of funds for dedicated lanes where Dorothy could pedal down a bike path, Toto in a basket, and divert the funds to build a Yellow Brick Road for trucks. Overall, there will be a 30 percent cut in the funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

To me, the act of bicycling — moving one’s legs round and round — is neither a Republican nor Democratic activity. How depressing is it that a bill on essential highway spending was nearly scuttled along party lines about bicycling? Only Congress could make politics more exhausting than a slog around Cape Jellison in a heat wave, stuck in low gear. The opt-out for bicycle and pedestrian projects was a partisan demand, even though nonmotorized projects made up a miniscule amount of the $120 billion.

I never thought I’d ask this, but are conservatives engaged in a war on bicycling? To me, bicycling seems more or less a conservative ideal. Someone down on their luck, out of work, could pedal off to find a job rather than rely on government benefits. They wouldn’t even be using gas, thereby lowering demand (and gas prices) for the rest of us commuters. Their healthy lifestyle would result in fewer claims for expensive health care. I don’t get it.

For insight, I searched out the comments sections of several online newspapers that reported on the transportation bill. While I expected most of the consternation to be about the $120 billion price tag of the bill, it was disproportionately — you guessed it — about bicyclists. (Or as one commenter referred to us, “liberal bicyclists.”)

In the end, conservatives’ views of bicycling appear to be as inscrutable as the Congressional Record. While there is no formal declaration of war on bicycling, there is no shortage of hostility. Mostly there is an overarching resentment at slowing down and swerving around bicyclists on Maine roads, who may or may not be Communists pedaling toward a proletarian paradise in Portland. Bike lanes also exist in Europe, where socialists can pedal from one small, godless country to another. Terrorists can silently slip into Maine towns on bike paths. Bicycling is part of first lady Michelle Obama’s plot to get people to eat broccoli and exercise. If we didn’t spend money on bicycle lanes, we wouldn’t have potholes. Bicyclists do drugs. And many bicyclists are illegal immigrants, whom the government should arrest for violating traffic laws (speeding?) and deport.

All of this makes me sad. A kid pedaling down a leafy lane, relatively free of traffic, should be an American ideal, out of the reach of lobbyists and Congress. So here’s my proposal. Let’s make bicycling apolitical by agreeing on seven basic principles:

  1. The American president most closely identified with bicycling was George W. Bush. Therefore all bicyclists are not Communists.
  2. Most bicyclists are gainfully employed and are not pedaling to the post office to collect welfare checks.
  3. Most bicyclists stay so far to the edges of Maine roads that they might as well be picking raspberries, not hogging the road.
  4. The Supreme Court will never, ever, debate a law mandating that people ride bicycles or face a penalty or tax. The idea is ludicrous.
  5. Bicycling is not a political statement about climate change and a carbon tax, nor a judgment on the weight of people who drive cars.
  6. Bicyclists are expected to obey traffic laws and motorists are expected do the same.
  7. Roads with bicycle lanes or wide shoulders are better roads for everyone.

There are no bumper stickers on bicycles. So ride safe, drive safe and share the road. Otherwise, leave bicyclists out of politics, especially the middle-aged guy in the yellow T-shirt who looks like he needs the workout, trailing his wife and daughter.

Matt Bernier is a civil engineer who lives and occasionally bicycles in Pittsfield.




Check out the Coalition’s Bike Rodeo at the Celebrate Portland Festival this weekend!


Grab your bikes and join us for the final stop of The 2012 Community Tour at the Celebrate Portland Festival in Payson Park on July 7, 10am-2pm as we say thank you to those who give their hearts, time and skills to strengthen communities. Admission is free.

You’ll find lots of great on-your-feet activities for the whole family, including a Bike Rodeo for Kids, where they’ll have a blast and learn some bike safety tips, too! 

Be there to welcome our riders as they conclude the 2012 Community Tour to hear about all the twists and turns of the entire 2,300 mile trek, with a thrilling recap of the Tour’s highlights.

Prefer to join rather than watch the riders as they enter their final event?  Grab you bikes and join part of the final ride.  Choose from 3 ride options, including a family friendly Miles of Smiles Ride.  Meet at the corner of Baxter Blvd and Bates Road at 11:15am for a ¼ mile Grand Entrance with our Tour Riders into Payson Park.  Ride options include:

  • ¼ mile Miles with Smiles ride into the grand finale. Meet at the corner of Baxter Blvd and Bates Road at 11:15am
  • 7-miles roundtrip to Payson Park.  Meet at Ocean Gateway Terminal, approx 11:00-11:15 am
  • 15-miles roundtrip to Payson Park.  Meet at Wainwright Sports Complex, approx. 10:15 am
  • 49.9 miles roundtrip, beginning at the Maine Bike Rally in Biddeford, 8:30 am



Dave Richard, President of Central Maine Cycling Club, talks about the Trek and the Coalition on TV


As someone who rode the Trek this year with his whole family, Dave, President of Central Maine Cycling Club, knows all about bike safety.  Check out this video where he shares his experiences on the Trek and talks about the Coalition’s work.  Thanks Dave!




Volunteer for Bike Valet at LL Bean’s 100th Anniversary Saturday July 7th


The Coalition will be managing bike valet parking at LL Bean’s 100th Anniversary Hometown Celebration from 10am – 6pm.  Please help us promote bike commuting by volunteering at the event!  Shifts are 2 – 4 hours in length and food and drink will be provided.  So come enjoy a great festival and promote biking all at the same time!

Email John Brooking (bike@mainebrook.com) for more details.




A Great Bike Blog: Pedal On


If you love all things biking and looking for information, events and fun bik-related stories (have you seen the Green Man pedicab driver?) check out, MaineToday’s Bike Blog, PedalOn: http://www.pressherald.com/blogs/pedalon




Bike To Work. Once a Week. For the Planet.


Now that NOAA has officially announced March 2012 the warmest on record, climate change is getting harder and harder to deny. Even skeptics can’t ignore the most obvious evidence of our altered climate: the record-breaking number of extreme weather events in 2011. Last year surpassed all previous years in terms of disaster costs, with ten events costing the country over $1 billion each – hurricane Irene, of course, being the record-breaker.

While we may not be able to pin this record-breaking March or growing number of disasters directly on global warming, the obvious meteorological changes are a wake-up call for many. Whether or not you blame the human race, the climate is warming, a trend that undeniably mirrors our consumption habits, especially when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions.

This can be a daunting realization. But rather than dwelling on the negative, climate change superheroes like Bill McKibbin repeatedly use obvious physical changes, such as this warm winter, as a call to action. “My only real fear,” he states in the preface of his 2010 book Eaarth, “is that the the reality described in this book, and increasingly evident in the world around us, will be for some an excuse to give up. We need just the opposite – increased engagement…We have no other choice.”

This engagement can come in many forms. A term often thrown around when it comes to fighting climate change is “carbon footprint” – the amount of carbon you, as an individual, emit. There are thousands of websites, books, flyers, and people who can tell you ways to reduce your carbon footprint. And this can be overwhelming. But, since this is a bicycle blog, we’ll stick with a simple, do-able challenge. Bike to work once a week.

Changing your mode of transportation, even just one day a week, can make a huge difference. We can do some simple math to find out just how much. Using a commute distance of 5 miles (a 2009 DOT survey found that 50% of trips made in the US are under 3 miles – while many commutes are longer, we’ll use the ride-able average of 5 miles) we can calculate using a simple equation from the website “What’s my Carbon Footprint?”

If you bicycled to work an average of one day per week throughout a year, you would save over 400 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Considering the average American emits between 11,000 and 21,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year, that’s reducing your emissions by between 2-3%, just by cycling to work once a week. And now imagine increasing that number to twice a week, or convincing a few friends to do the same. You CAN have an impact, and pretty easily.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has some great tips for using your bike as transportation, from choosing a durable bike to dressing for the commute. In Maine and all over the world, more and more people are embracing bicycles as a viable mode of transportation. Since 2000, the number of bicycle commuters in the United States has risen over 40% and continues to rise each year. Bicycle commuters tout not only the environmental benefits, but the health, fitness and convenience ones as well – as cycling can often be quicker than driving to work, especially in cities. 

So try it. Start with one day a week, and maybe that will turn into two, or three, or maybe you’ll become a bicycle-commuting convert. Maybe not, but I challenge you to try. Now that the weather is getting nicer, do your part for the planet.

Written by Hannah Orcutt, a 2011.5 Middlebury College graduate, Mainer, and longtime cyclist. Hannah is currently living in Burlington Vermont where she works with the Orton Family Foundation to expand the influence of their work in community-based, small town planning.



 




Governor LePage Proclaims May as Bicycle and Pedestrian Month


Governor Paul R. LePage proclaimed the month of May as Bicycle and Pedestrian Month in Maine, and urged all citizens to recognize this observance.  This official proclamation signed by the governor recognizes that bicycling and walking are key components of economically vibrant communities; they are safe, healthy and enjoyable forms of exercise; bicycling and walking are low cost and accessible forms of transportation; and we are working to make our communities safe places that encourage bicycling and walking to improve our quality of life. The proclamation also recognizes that Maine is considered one of the most bicycle and pedestrian friendly states in the nation – last year, the League of American Bicyclists ranked Maine second in the nation for bike friendliness.

Students in over 40 schools from Fort Kent to York and from Sebago to Houlton will be celebrating Maine Bicycle and Pedestrian Month as they commute on foot or by bicycle.

Parents, teachers, students, and volunteers at each school have organized events such as “walking school buses” (children walking with adult supervision) and walking field trips, “bike trains” and “bike trek” field trips (groups bicycling with adult supervision), as well as bike safety rodeos and after-school bike clubs.  May is also National Bike Month and a number of schools will hold bike to school events to celebrate the first-ever National Bike to School Day on May 9.

Throughout the year, Maine’s federally funded Safe Routes to School Program — a program of the Maine Department of Transportation, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and communities throughout the state — supports local efforts to improve safety and increase walking and bicycling to school and after-school activities. Two of the major goals of the Safe Routes to School Program are improved safety, including building life-long transportation skills, and increased physical activity to fight childhood obesity.  Emerging brain science demonstrates the benefits to children who walk and bike before the beginning of the school day.  “There’s a big boost in academic performance and improved classroom behavior.  So this program is very much a win-win for students, families and school staff,” said Nancy Grant, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

Since Maine’s program began in 2001, more than 150 schools have become involved.  Using federal funds, more than 50 communities have been approved for infrastructure improvements to make walking and biking safer near schools.  “These federally funded safety improvements have been extremely helpful in creating safer pedestrian and bicycle travel and reducing traffic congestion around schools in communities throughout the state,” said Sarah Cushman, Southern Maine Planner for the Maine Safe Routes to School program.

###

Communities already registered to participate in walk and bike activities this spring include Augusta, Bath, Biddeford, Buckfield, Buxton, Byron, Camden, Canton, Carthage, Dixfield, Fort Kent, Freeport, Greenville, Hanover, Hartford, Houlton, Kennebunk, Limestone, Lincolnville, Madison, Mexico, Monmouth, Naples, North Berwick, Norway, Oakland, Peru, Pittsfield, Portland, Raymond, Richmond, Roxbury, Rumford, Scarborough, Sebago, South Portland, Strong, Sumner, Topsham, Westbrook, Windham, Woolwich, and York.  It is likely that additional schools also will participate.




Bicycle Coalition of Maine highlighted in a Bangor Daily News column


A fun column from the Bangor Daily News referencing the great work of the Coalition:

Cycling equals freedom and an excuse to dine well

There are many things, people say, that are “just like riding a bicycle.” Among them, happily, is riding a bicycle.

Who among us does not remember that first bike of our youth? Or that feeling of independence that came when our worlds expanded to include everything within pedaling distance from home?

I’ve been riding bikes off and on for close to four decades now and I have to say, with the coming of spring, the anticipation of exploring northern Maine’s highways and byways on two wheels is as high as it ever was.

These days I alternate between a nice carbon-fiber road bike on tires that always look as thin as dimes and a rugged mountain bike, depending on my cycling mood on any given day.

Do I want to head into town for a cup of coffee in the morning? Or maybe a ride around Long Lake? If so, out comes the road bike, a model far more suited to pavement and tar than the dirt and gravel of the St. John Valley’s back settlements.

When it’s dirt I desire, the mountain bike rolls out and I’ll spend hours cruising past the ponds, potato fields and old farms of the settlements.

It wasn’t always like this. Back when I learned how to ride, the notion of having one bike for every type of riding conditions was unheard of.

Instead, I and my friends cruised around on Schwinn or Huffy bikes tricked out with banana seats and “sissy-bars” — those high rising, metal loops attached to the seat or rear fender.

Really cool kids had three-speed bikes, though most of us had what my mother referred to as a multispeed — as many speeds as you could pedal.

Brakes were certainly never on the handlebar — they were part of the pedals and stopping was achieved by backpedaling, which locked the back tire. Really good backpedalers could brake and lay down an impressive skid mark at the same time.

My first bike was a beast of a machine. A green Schwinn at least three sizes too big for me with a metal basket on the front, massive balloon tires and a bell.

It cost $10, weighed a ton, had the turning radius of an aircraft carrier and I loved it from the moment the older brother of one of my friends taught me how to ride one summer day.

I’ll never forget hearing Tony running along beside me, assuring me he was holding on to the bike and all I had to do was pedal.

After a moment, I could no longer hear his footfalls, so — still pedaling for all I was worth — I turned my head and saw him standing back in the road, arms crossed and grinning ear to ear as I accomplished my first ever unassisted bike ride — directly into a tree.

Eventually over that summer the elements of balance, momentum, turning and braking all came together and a cyclist was born.

About 10 years ago I got back into cycling with serious commitment and — as happens with so many activities — discovered there are a number of like-minded people.

These are folks who agree a bad day on a bicycle is better than the best day at work.

(It should be noted that, while I agree with that premise, in the winter months I swap out “dog sled” for “bicycle.”)

There are no official records on how many bicyclists there are in Maine, but according to Nancy Grant, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, 6,000 of them are registered with her group.

“We feel that number is way lower than the actual number of people who enjoy bicycling in Maine,” Grant said.

As a card-carrying BCM member, I look forward to the annual sign of the start of the cycling season — the arrival of the coalition’s rides and events calendar in the mail.

From Portland to Fort Kent and all points in between, organizations and clubs sponsor fun rides, charity rides and races throughout the summer and fall.

Since I tend to be a somewhat goal-oriented individual, I’ve found signing up for one or more of those rides is the kick in the bike shorts needed to keep focused on training rides.

This year the goals include the 62-mile Tour de la Vallee Ride in Fort Kent, benefiting the local Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund; and the 70-mile Dempsey Challenge, benefiting the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer, Hope & Healing.

Cycling can be a solitary endeavor, but sharing the road with fellow two-wheelers has afforded me the opportunity to meet some of the most inspirational people I know.

There’s Penny McHatten, a longtime cyclist from Presque Isle who puts more than 1,000 miles on her bike every summer.

Though Penny suffers from asthma and other health concerns that would keep a lesser woman home and sedentary, the only thing that keeps her beloved bright pink Trek road bike in the garage is heavy rain.

“Rain,” she will tell you, “is what you get caught in, not what you ride in.”

Every August, Penny marks her birthday with a special ride covering one mile for each year. Last year she turned 65 — it’s pretty easy and pretty impressive math to do.

I’ve had some great rides with Penny who not only knows some of the best routes in central Aroostook County, but also the best places to grab lunch.

“Ride to eat” is her oft-spoke motto.

Of course, that does not always play out so well.

Several years ago Penny, I and another friend planned a 50-mile ride in the St. John Valley.

Halfway through we stopped for what we considered a well-earned breakfast.

OK, so no one forced us to pile on the omelets made-to-order, home fries or French toast, but man oh man was it ever tasty!

Ever ridden 25 miles on a full-to-bursting stomach? It’s not pretty.

Now we gorge at the end of the rides.

Through Penny I’ve met the members of Spokes for Hope, a collection of cyclists from around northern Maine who, each Labor Day Weekend, pedal from Fort Kent to Kittery to bring attention to cancer and support for finding a cure.

Grant feels cycling is growing in popularity around Maine and said the activity is exploding in southern Maine.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine annually works to provide education and resources for riders and drivers reminding people that the roads are there for motorized and nonmotorized travel.

This week I was reminded how simple and deep the joy of cycling is when a friend bought a new bike — her first in many, many years.

Coming in from taking one on a test drive outside the shop, she beamed and announced, “Wow, that was really fun.”

Who knows, maybe the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s membership just jumped to 6,001.

This year I have a bit of a learning curve ahead of me as I finally bowed to peer pressure and put new pedals on my bike — the kind you “clip” into and thus become one with the bike.

Of course, if you don’t clip out in time, there is the danger of tipping over and being one with the bike in a heap on the ground.

Everyone who already has them tells me how simple they are to use.

Apparently, it’s just like riding a bike.

Information on the Bicycle Coalition of Maine is available on its website at www.bikemaine.org.

Julia Bayly of Fort Kent is an award-winning writer and photographer who frequently submits articles to the Bangor Daily News. Her column appears here every other Friday. She can be reached by email at jbaylybdn@gmail.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/04/19/living/cycling-equals-freedom-and-an-excuse-to-dine-well/?ref=regionaroostook




Bath Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee are helping people Rediscover Cycling


A great article from The Midcoast Forecaster about the work the Bath Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee is doing to encourage more cycling in the Bath area.  The ‘Rediscover Cycling’ class mentioned in this article now has a waiting list!

Bath group encourages adults to return to bicycling

BATH — Your destination is a mile away; should you get in your car or hop on your bike?

The people behind an upcoming six-week “Rediscover Cycling” course hope you’ll choose the latter, given strides to make Bath more bicycle friendly.

“One of the things I hope people will get out of it is a sense of the utility of the bicycle as a means of transportation, not just as recreation,” Robert McChesney, chairman of the Bath Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, said Tuesday.

Often, he added, the cyclist is portrayed as someone young, wearing spandex, racing along the road. But McChesney’s committee and other groups are trying to convey that cycling can be a cost-saving tool if substituted for driving a motor vehicle on errands within a mile or two away.

The Bath Parks & Recreation Department is working with the Bath Area Family YMCA and Bicycle Coalition of Maine to offer the course, which will run from 6-7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, April 25 to May 30. The $20 registration fee includes a tool kit; call the YMCA at 443-4112 or the Parks & Recreation Department at 443-8360 to register.

The course is geared toward adults who can ride a bike, but haven’t been on one in a while. It covers areas such as rules of the road as they pertain to bicycles, safe riding strategies and bike repair and maintenance. The class wraps up with two on-the-road lessons.

“We think the city is perfectly set up for more bike transportation, with secure bike racks and all retail and service facilities from soup to nuts concentrated in one small area,” McChesney said earlier this month in a press release.

He noted that the East Coast Greenway, a trail system planned to span nearly 3,000 miles from Calais south to Key West, Fla., runs through the city:

Coming from Woolwich on the Sagadahoc Bridge, a bicyclist would take the off-ramp into Bath and turn right onto Front Street, then right onto Lambard Street, left onto Commercial Street, right again onto Front, left onto North Street to the “five corners” area, right onto Oak Grove Avenue and then left onto Old Brunswick Road, leading to Brunswick.

“Given rising gas prices and the fact that 40 percent of all destinations are less than two miles from home, which is a very bike-able distance and can often be done faster on a bike than by car, we think this course comes at a very good time for people who are looking for ways to beat the gas prices and maybe get some health benefit in the process,” McChesney said.

http://www.theforecaster.net/news/print/2012/04/18/bath-group-encourages-adults-return-bicycling/120330




Maine Bicycle Delegation Takes Washington DC by Storm


Guest poster Jim Fisher is a regional planner for Hancock County, serving 37 towns and attended his first National Bike Summit this year.

A delegation led by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine descended on Washington, DC for the 2012 National Bicycle Summit on March 21. Spring is in like a lion with cherry blossoms at their peak and congress gearing up for November elections. 

More than 800 people from 49 states came together for the summit with the mission of saving cycling in the face of a brutal house transportation bill that would, if passed, put an end to dedicated federal funding of Transportation Enhancements (primary funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects) and the Safe Routes to Schools program.

The crowd was electric with ideas for turning this potential bike-wreck into a renewed focus on grass roots programs to create safe and energy efficient transportation solutions using bicycle trails, shoulders and innovative programs for bike sharing.

Keynote presentations by long time bicycle leaders including Representative Earl Blumenauer (Oregon)  and Secretary of Transportation Roy LaHood  launched the summit in high gear. The core messages were for the U.S. House to take up and pass the two-year Senate Transportation Bill, dubbed MAP-21, or if not, to pass a clean, un-amended extension of the current transportation authorization. Failure to pass either may result in a shut-down of transportation construction projects this spring and summer.

Core sessions on how to communicate with congressional leaders and priorities for sustaining recent progress in making America a model for bicycle transportation provided the steady message.  Maine’s favorite son, Jeff Miller, gave a dynamite presentation on the economics of cycling along with academics and local leaders.

Maine delegation in front of Capitol building 

A charismatic lunchtime presentation provided some ABC’s of communicating with Gen Y.  There was no shortage of representation of all generations at the conference, but the goal of bringing out message to the next generation of bicycle advocacy leaders hit home.

Thursday has been dedicated to communicating with our elected leaders from around the country, and for us that means visits to the offices of Representatives Pingree and Michaud as well as Senators Collins and Snowe. We are pleased to be presenting Senator Snowe with a bicycle gear-clock for her steady support for cycling in Maine.

It ends this evening with a reception and a hasty return to Maine in time for the annual arrival of the black fly.




Snowe Receives Award from League of American Bicyclists


Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) received an award Thursday at the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. in recognition of her longtime support of bicycling legislation and her many years as co-chair of the Senate Bike Caucus. 

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s delegation to the National Bike Summit presented the award to Snowe’s legislative assistants at her Capitol Hill office.

“Senator Snowe has been a leader in supporting funding and policies that encourage more bicycling and walking,” said Nancy Grant, the Bicycle Coalition’s executive director.  “She recognizes the important role that biking and walking can play as viable transportation options that reduce childhood obesity, cut greenhouse gases and create more liveable communities.”

Snowe, who is retiring at the end of this term, has supported funding for bicycle and walking infrastructure and the Safe Routes to School program.

During the summit, the coalition’s delegation met with all four of Maine’s congressional representatives and their staff members to discuss the federal transportation reauthorization bills now before Congress

A House-passed bill would eliminate dedicated funding for bicycling and walking infrastructure and safety and education programs.  The Senate bill supported by Snowe and Collins retains bicycle funding.  The current transportation authorization expires at the end of March and congressional action on the bills is expected in the next two weeks.

In addition to Grant, the Maine delegation to the National Bike Summit included Darcy Whittemore and Jim Fischer of the Maine Safe Routes to School program, Charley LaFlamme, a coalition board member, Larry Rubinstein, the coalition’s president, Bob Bruce, who teaches bicycle safety to students in the Brunswick area through a program managed by the coalition, Paul Niehoff, senior transportation planner at PACTS (Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System) and Tony Barrett of Harpswell and Henry Heyburn of Brunswick, coalition members.