2013 Bicycle Coalition of Maine Annual Appeal
At a time when increasing numbers of Mainers and Americans are embracing bicycling for health, transportation, and recreation, your commitment to the Bicycle Coalition of Maine is more important than ever. The need for consistent law enforcement, safe infrastructure that encourages all types of riders, and a culture inclusive of biking are crucial for the growth of cycling in our state.
While interest in bicycling is high, the obstacles to getting on a bike can be foreboding. Too many Mainers would like to bike more but are simply too afraid. Many bicyclists feel that there is no protection by law enforcement, especially after a crash. They want more bike infrastructure such as paved shoulders, bike lanes, and separated facilities, like multi-use paths. They feel unsafe sharing the road with speeding and increasingly distracted drivers who don’t understand what it’s like to ride a bike among cars. While we have made progress in making Maine better for bicycling, we need your help to address these challenges.
At the Coalition we work year round to improve law enforcement around bicycling, increase safe bicycling infrastructure, and to promote bicycling as a viable transportation mode. Here’s what we’ve accomplished in the past year, and where we hope to go in 2014 with your support.
In the past year, the Coalition has formed a Law Enforcement Committee that includes three bicycle riding police officers, and is tasked with strengthening our relationship with all levels of law enforcement and the judicial system to ensure that bicycle law is understood, enforced, and applied to both cyclists and drivers. Our interactions with law enforcement have included bike safety and bike rodeo trainings for police, conversations around specific bike crashes or incidents, meetings with groups of police chiefs, and partnering with many police departments to distribute free bike lights as part of our Bike Brightly campaign.
These efforts have reaped some rewards, but we need your help to further strengthen our relationship with the law enforcement community. We plan to develop a series of training and educational tools highlighting the changes we made to Maine’s bike law during the 2013 legislative session. This information would then be included in mandatory training requirements for law enforcement officers and would compliment an increase in bicycle education in the criminal justice curriculum.
Finally, in an effort to give the law enforcement community the power they need to ensure that proper punishments are doled out to offending motorists, we hope to introduce a Vulnerable User bill during the 2015 legislative session. Such a law would classify pedestrians and cyclists as vulnerable participants in traffic and create a real penalty when careless driving by a motorist contributes to serious injury or death of the vulnerable user.
This year, the Bicycle Coalition has led the effort to encourage the MaineDOT to adopt a Complete Streets policy. A Complete Streets policy ensures that every time transportation dollars are spent, all users’ safety and needs are factored into the planning, design, construction and maintenance of the street.
While our work with the MaineDOT is ongoing, unfortunately the current source of funding—dedicated federal dollars—is shrinking and has created a backlog of unfunded projects all over Maine. We have convened a committee to identify and develop a sustainable source of funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in Maine. In the coming year we plan to convene a task force of leaders from all over the state to expand the conversation on this topic and identify and implement a new funding source. We need your help to keep this work on track.
The bicycling movement is continuing to gain traction but we are at a cultural crossroads and the result is often polarizing—an “us” against “them” scenario. This approach is not only counterproductive, but further hampers our ability to creative a positive and inclusive culture on the road. The Coalition will continue to host events like The Great Maine Bike Swaps (providing affordable bikes to all Mainers) and our rides—Women’s Ride, Lobster Ride, BikeMaine—that celebrate and promote all types of biking in Maine, but we have more work to do in the coming year.
Our most powerful tool in the struggle to adopt a positive bicycle culture is the Coalition’s Community Spokes advocacy program. We have now trained almost 70 “Spokes” in 40 communities, and we’re primed to leverage our Spokes’ ability to create more bike/ped-friendly communities around the state. We need your help to support to these champions as they transform their communities.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is working hard every day for safe cycling for you and your family. At this time, please consider a special, tax-deductible year-end gift that will help ensure that we can continue to make Maine better for bicycling.