Project envisions city becoming bike-friendly (KeepME Current)
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.
In addition, as part of the South Portland installation, the Bicycle Coalition will collect feedback from the public, including both bicyclists and drivers, through an online survey.
Tassé said the temporary bike lanes, are designed to “test the dedicated bicycle infrastructure and traffic calming measures” that would be easily available to communities throughout Maine.
He said the “Imagine Bikes Here” demonstration projects would stay in place for between
four and 30 days with the ultimate goal being to “encourage changes to the built environment by providing real, tangible proof (of the possibilities) to decision makers and the public at large.”
Tassé said the “Imagine Bikes Here” campaign is important because even in places where there is interest in creating bike-friendly facilities “the design and decision-making process to actually get things built is still laborious and slow. It is (often) difficult for decision makers to invest in or re-direct funds to bicycle facilities, and it is hard for leaders and the public to really understand what re-purposing 6 feet of pavement on both sides of a wide road might feel and look like by just reviewing paper plans.”
He said the ultimate goal of the Bicycle Coalition is “to build support for investing or repurposing funds to install facilities that will calm traffic, improve riding conditions and increase safety.”
Tassé said the reason South Portland was chosen for the kick-off event is because thecoalition has a “great relationship” with the city, which also “has an active bike-ped committee and great planning and public works departments that are willing to try new approaches to traffic planning and management.”
He also called the section of Cottage Road chosen for the first “Imagine Bikes Here” demonstration project “perfect, as it is an important bicycle route and a very wide road.”
Tassé said the kick-off event last week “went very smoothly” and that the demonstration bicycle lane is already “getting a lot of use.”