We work at the local, state, and federal levels to improve the bicycling and walking conditions of Maine communities. We advocate for changes that protect the rights of people who walk and bike, increase their safety, and encourage more to join their ranks. These efforts help Maine sustain a vibrant economy, a clean environment, and a healthy workforce.
Walking and biking improve Maine’s economy, environment, and health.
- Safe, inviting biking and walking conditions have a well-documented impact on improving local property values, encouraging small business investment, and driving tourism.
- Walking and biking are low-cost, environmentally-friendly activities that Mainers of all ages can use for transportation, recreation, or health.
- In the long run, getting more Mainers to walk or bike will help reduce the statewide economic impacts of chronic disease associated with obesity and an inactive lifestyle.
Support Bike/Walk Friendly Legislation in 2015
Maine people want laws that protect and encourage biking and walking for transportation, recreation, and health. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine will be working with the 127th Legislature to adopt a legislative package that will improve safety for all road users. We support a package containing these four elements:
Improve Safety For ‘Vulnerable Users’
Vulnerable users of our shared roadways, such as wheelchair users, bicyclists, pedestrians, construction workers, and farm workers face higher risks on the road. A “vulnerable user law” will:
- Define vulnerable users as a group
- Update Drivers Education Materials to reflect the needs of this newly defined group
- Increase monetary penalties and/or require driver re-training for motorists who hit vulnerable users.
Keep Pedestrians Safe When Crossing the Street
Maine’s law should be changed to improve protection for people when crossing the street by requiring drivers to stop, not just yield, for pedestrians trying to cross the street in a marked crosswalk.
Clarify the Responsibilities Of Bicyclists
It’s not a one-way street! Maine law should make it easier for law enforcement officers to issue tickets to bicyclists who operate unsafely, in particular when they:
- Run through a red light.
- Run through a stop sign.
- Ride against traffic.
- Fail to yield to pedestrians.
Protect Bicyclists Who Pass Cars on the Right
- Current Maine Law permits a bicyclist to pass a vehicle on the right “at the bicyclist’s own risk,” but it is unclear exactly what this means.
- Some lawyers have recently interpreted it to mean that bicyclists passing on the right cannot bring a lawsuit under any circumstances.
- The law needs to be changed to clarify liability in this context.
- This change will make the law more fair for bicyclists and motorists, and reduce confusion in the courts.
Support a Transportation Bond that Funds Bike/Walk Projects
- Demand in Maine is at an all-time high for bicycle and pedestrian facilities, but existing sources of funds are wholly inadequate to meet this demand.
- In 2012, 92 Maine communities applied to the MaineDOT for a competitive grant for bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure projects. These proposed projects totaled $45 million.
- In that same year, the U.S. Congress cut dedicated funding for walking and biking projects in Maine by 47%. The result is a huge backlog for funding for this type of project.
- Maine’s 2015 Transportation Bond must dedicate funds for bicycle and pedestrian transportation infrastructure projects like sidewalks and bike paths.
- This bond will help put Mainers to work, improve safety for all road users, and attract businesses.
Strengthen the Highway Fund by Re-Indexing the Gas Tax
- Maine’s roads and bridges are falling apart.
- State funding for the construction of road projects comes from Highway Fund dollars, the majority of which come from gax taxes.
- Historically, Maine’s gas tax was adjusted for inflation, but in 2011 the legislature halted that practice. As a result, there is less money in our highway fund.
- We need to restore the indexing of Maine’s gas tax because we need funds to pay for our failing transportation infrastructure.
Complete Streets Across Maine
In June 2013, the Maine Department of Transportation adopted a Complete Streets Policy. The intent of the policy is to “help ensure that all users of Maine’s transportation system—our customers—including bicyclists, pedestrians, people of all ages and abilities, transit users, and motor vehicle users, have safe and efficient access to the transportation system.” We need to make sure this policy translates into action. The agency needs to bring other policies in line with Complete Streets, train engineers, project managers, other staff, and contractors that the planning and construction of road projects must “consider the needs of all users.”
Allow Bikes on Board
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has been engaged with the rail authority – NNEPRA, Amtrak, and many other stakeholders as part of a campaign to increase roll-on/roll-off access for bicycles along the Downeaster at all stations. Currently, only Brunswick and Portland accommodate this type of service for passengers with bicycles. At the other four stations in Maine (Wells, Saco, Old Orchard, and Freeport) you may not bring your bike on or off the train unless it’s boxed up. We have been working with a coalition of groups across the country. Learn more about our participation in a national campaign to improve Amtrak’s Bikes on Board Policy here.