NEWS

Maine Records Its First Bicycling Fatality of 2018


August 9, 2018 (Portland, ME) –  Maine recorded its first bicycle fatality of 2018, when Laila Al-Matrouk, 15, was hit and killed in a motor vehicle/bicycle crash on Sunday, August 5, in Belfast. 

“The Bicycle Coalition of Maine extends its deepest sympathies to Laila’s family and friends, and we remind all users to watch out for each other, and to drive, walk and bike in a safe fashion,” Bicycle Coalition of Maine Assistant Director Jim Tasse said.

As the state’s leading group promoting bicycling and walking safety, the Coalition routinely monitors crash reports for incidents that involve bicyclists or pedestrians. According to Coalition records, this is the first fatality of a person on a bike in Maine in 2018. There were two bicycle fatalities in 2017.

The Coalition does not have all the details on this incident, and cannot comment on it specifically. However, in general these kinds of incidents should remind all users of Maine’s roads to watch for other users at all times, drive at a reasonable and safe speed for conditions, obey traffic laws, and never drive, walk, or bicycle distracted or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

The Coalition will continue to monitor the circumstances surrounding this incident for information that will improve roadway safety for all users.  

 

Citing Concerns For Rider Safety, Bicycle Coalition of Maine Cancels 2018 Maine Lobster Ride


Forecasts Calling for Heavy Rains, High Winds, Low Visibility and an Increasing Chance of Lightning Forced the Difficult Decision

July 20, 2018 – (PORTLAND, Maine) – Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of the riders who signed up to participate in this year’s Maine Lobster Ride, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s ride.

“We’ve been watching the forecasts closely, hoping that conditions would improve, but instead they’ve gone the other way,” Coalition Executive Director John Williams said. “We cannot, in good conscience, put riders in harm’s way and that’s what we’d be doing if we went ahead with the Lobster Ride, given the forecasts.”

This year’s Maine Lobster Ride – which was to be the final Lobster Ride hosted by the Coalition – was scheduled for Sunday, July 22, at the Camden Snow Bowl, with the first riders departing at 7 a.m. The National Weather Service forecast is predicting heavy rains with the strong likelihood of a thunderstorm for Sunday.

Camden/Rockport Police Chief Randy Gagne called the decision to cancel difficult to make, but one that he fully supports.

“The safety of all riders is the top priority,” Gagne said. “The potential for accidents would increase with the inclement weather. Visibility would be severely limited for both bicyclist and the motoring public. I believe fully this is the right call.”

Nonetheless, Williams said, the decision was not easily made.

“We were looking forward to ending our participation in the Lobster Ride on a high note,” Williams said, “but the safety of the riders is absolutely our highest concern and we simply cannot afford to ignore these warnings and hope things blow over. It’s a difficult decision, but based on the facts that we have in front of us, one that we have to make.”

 

How Do We Get More Women to Ride Bicycles? Plus, US Bike Route One, Some Changes at the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, the Maine Lobster Ride and #BikeJoy


Bicycle Coalition of Maine Podcast hosts Kierie Piccininni and Frank Gallagher in the studio.

In this free-flowing episode, Frank and Kierie talk about the most fun they had on a bicycle this week, explore the notion of how – and why – to encourage women to get into cycling, contemplate riding the length of US Bike Route One in Maine, and take a deep dive into the history of American roads, which were ultimately co-opted by motor vehicles when cars came on the scene.

 

Alternative Bike Route for Route 1 Yarmouth During Bridge Construction


As construction continues on the replacement of the Route 1 bridge that spans Main Street in Yarmouth, MaineDOT and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine are recommending an alternative route that takes bicyclists away from construction directly under the bridge.

Bicyclists should consider this recommended alternative route until the project is completed next year. 

This $4.1 million bridge replacement is expected to be completed in the summer of 2019 and will feature a 5-foot paved sidewalk on the east side of Route 1 and a new 10-foot multi-path use on its west. New lighting, railings and illuminated crosswalks will be installed to ensure safety. The new bridge will also have an extra foot of clearance underneath on Main Street.

 

Bicycle Coalition of Maine Names 2018 BikeMaine Grant Recipients


The Bicycle Coalition of Maine today announced Main Street Skowhegan, Mahoosuc Pathways, and Kingfield Trail Builders as the recipients of this year’s BikeMaine Grants, funded by the proceeds from the organization’s annual cycling tour, BikeMaine.

“BikeMaine was conceived as an event that would use cycling as an economic benefit tool for local communities,” BikeMaine Ride Director MaryBeth Luce said. “The BikeMaine grants will directly support these organizations’ efforts to make their communities more bike and pedestrian friendly.”

Main Street Skowhegan will receive $10,000, Mahoosuc Pathways will receive $3,250, and Kingfield Trail Builders will receive $3,025 to fund their projects.

Main Street Skowhegan will use the funding to expand a 5-kilometer loop in the Run of River Whitewater Recreation Area so it can accommodate cyclists as well as pedestrians and become suitable for four-season use. Main Street Skowhegan Executive Director Kristina Cannon said the newly expanded loop will eventually incorporate a robust network of single-track off-road trails for mountain bikers, as well.

“Trail development is a major part of the proposed Run of River Recreation Area, and our intention is to grow our downtown trail system to 300 acres, an effort that will complement the future whitewater park in the Kennebec gorge,” Cannon said.

Mahoosuc Pathways Executive Director Gabe Perkins said his organization, based in Bethel, will apply the funding to the improvement of mountain bike trails at the Crescent Park School.

“We can’t think of too many elementary schools with sustainably designed and built mountain bike trails and that’s what made this project so attractive to us,” Perkins said. “Not only will it be a well built trail for students and community members, but it could also attract more people to our community who are looking at trail-based recreation as a deciding factor in where to relocate.”

Kingfield Trail Builders plans to use the grant money to improve non-motorized trails and trail connections, install shared bike-lane markings, and add bikes racks in key locations around Kingfield.

“Kingfield Trail Builders is thrilled to receive this grant from the Bicycle Coalition of Maine,” spokesperson Polly MacMichael said. “We are excited to partner with the Kingfield community as we work toward our goal to make Kingfield a safe and fun place for bicyclists and pedestrians alike.”

BikeMaine is a week-long celebration of Maine’s people, places, culture, and food, and moves to a different region of the state each year. BikeMaine 2018, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s signature event, takes place from Sept. 8 to Sept. 15. Dubbed Acadia In the St. John Valley – La Terre Entre Deux, this year’s event begins and ends in Presque Isle, with overnight stops in Caribou, Madawaska (two nights), Fort Kent (two nights), and St. Agatha.

The 2018 awards represent the third year of BikeMaine grant funding. The Town of Gardiner received the inaugural BikeMaine Grant, in the amount of $12,300, to fund the extension of the Cobbossee Trail, which connects the Kennebec River Trail to the town’s historic Cobbossee Corridor. The Washington County Council of Governments and the City of Bath received last year’s grants, which helped to fund bike repair kiosks along the Bold Coast Bikeway and a pump-track for Bath students, respectively.

Skowhegan and Kingfield were host communities for last year’s BikeMaine event, and Bethel was a BikeMaine host community for the 2015 BikeMaine event.

 

2018 Maine Women’s Ride – Sunday, June 10, 2018 – Freeport, Maine


On Sunday, June 10, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine hosted the 2018 Maine Women’s Ride.

The weather was fantastic. The rides were amazing. The food was great, and the power of nearly 600 women and girls riding en masse was in full effect.

Photographer Bill Muldoon, who’s also a member of the Coalition’s Board of Directors, documented the event and was kind enough to share his images with us.

 

 

Maine Police to Target Drivers Who Put Cyclists, Pedestrians At Risk


WHO: Southern Maine Law Enforcement Agencies and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine

WHAT: 2018 Vulnerable User Enforcement Day targeting drivers who put others at risk

WHEN: Wednesday, June 13

WHERE: Various locations throughout southern Maine

WHY: 2017 was a deadly year for pedestrians in Maine. To help reduce the number of crashes that kill or injure pedestrians, bicyclists and other vulnerable users of Maine roads, southern Maine law enforcement agencies will carry out a coordinated operation tomorrow targeting drivers and cyclists who put others at risk. The operation will specifically focus on motorists speeding, driving distracted, ignoring crosswalks or the “3 foot rule,” as well as vulnerable users riding the wrong way, ignoring stop signs and other traffic control devices, or jaywalking. Participating agencies include: Auburn, Falmouth, Portland, Scarborough, South Portland, and Westbrook Police Departments, as well as the Maine State Police.

Vulnerable User Enforcement Action Plan

Vulnerable User Enforcement Reference Guide

Results from 2017 Vulnerable User Enforcement Action

 

Self-driving cars: killers on the road? Plus, 10 minutes with the League of American Bicyclists’ Bill Nesper, Idaho Stop the insanity, ME Gov. Paul LePage is an avid cyclist, and how to find your perfect ride!


Self-driving cars have been hailed as modern-day saviors for our overcrowded roads, but does the reality live up to the hype? Bicycle Coalition of Maine Podcast hosts Kierie Piccininni and Frank Gallagher look past the tech-bro, hard sell and take a thoughtful look at what’s really going on with Automated Vehicles.

The League of American Bicyclists has been on the front line, advocating for bicyclists and anybody who might want to start riding, for more than 100 years. Kierie and Frank caught up with Bill Nesper, the League’s Executive Director, at the New England Bike/Walk Summit in Boston to talk self-driving cars, national bike policies, and much more.

Mention the Idaho Stop, and you’ll almost certainly get a visceral reaction, no matter who you’re talking to. Kierie and Frank take a look at this controversial tactic and what it means for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage is a lightning rod for controversy. He’s also an ardent cyclist, but that hasn’t necessarily translated into cyclist-friendly policies in his home state. Kierie and Frank explore what needs to change to make Maine better for bicycling.

Finally, learn how to find your perfect ride in Maine, using the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s new Where To Ride tool.

 

This will be the last year the Bicycle Coalition of Maine will host the Maine Women’s Ride and the Maine Lobster Ride


Perhaps you’ve heard that this is the last year that the Bicycle Coalition of Maine will hold the women’s ride.

That is true.

When we founded the Maine Women’s Ride 17 years ago, there were relatively few opportunities to participate in organized road rides in our state. Today, that landscape is very different, and in that sense Maine is measurably much better for bicycling today that it was. On any given summer weekend there are now several riding events.

So, we have decided to say goodbye to the Maine Womens’ Ride and the Maine Lobster Ride, and refocus our efforts wholeheartedly on how best to deliver on our mission for as many people, in as many parts of the state, as possible. We will have a presence at many other events statewide, and will continue to hold our signature event, BikeMaine. We will also recommit to our role as the leading advocacy and education organization for biking and walking in Maine.

While the Bicycle Coalition will no longer be holding the Women’s Ride, we recognize that there are still few events that are women-centric. We are looking at other opportunities to promote riding for women and children, including working with others who might be willing to host a women-only event in future years, with our help. If you would like to learn more, or offer your thoughts, please email us at info@bikemaine.org.

If you’ve been thinking that this is the year you’re going to ride the Maine Women’s Ride, register now. The final BCM Maine Women’s Ride is just around the corner – Sunday, June 10, in Freeport, Maine – so there’s still time to sign on. Come ride with us, and help us make our final Women’s Ride the best one ever.

We also need volunteers to help us make the final ride a success. We need help in every area, including:

  • Pre-event setup
  • Route setters
  • SAG vehicle drivers
  • Ride leaders
  • Rest stop attendants

Volunteers at the Women’s Ride get a cool t-shirt, free lunch, coffee, and the satisfaction of actively supporting this amazing event.

Whether you’re riding or volunteering, the Women’s Ride is always a lot of fun for everybody. Sign up here to volunteer! And if you have friends who might enjoy the experience, please forward this link to them.

 

On Bike to Work Day, News Breaks That Maine Gov. Paul LePage Was Hit By a Car While Biking in Florida


Today was Bike to Work Day, and Maine Gov. Paul LePage revealed that he needs shoulder surgery after being struck by a car while he was bicycling in Florida.

When the news broke this morning that Gov. Paul LePage would need shoulder surgery because he’d been hit by a car while bicycling in Florida, our entire staff was out celebrating National Bike to Work Day, encouraging and supporting people who made the choice to commute today by bike instead of driving.

We were, each of us, stunned – and thankful that he wasn’t hurt more seriously. And we were struck by the obvious: this news was breaking on Bike to Work Day.

Gov. LePage is an experienced cyclist. We know this because we’re publishing an interview with him in the next issue of our membership magazine, The Maine Cyclist, in which he talks about how and why he loves to ride.

Beyond that, at the beginning of April the governor recognized us with the Maine Office of Tourism’s Originality Award, and he was on hand at the awards luncheon in Portland to personally bestow the honors. The award recognized our BikeMaine event for its success in boosting economic development by promoting Maine as a destination for bicycle tourism. Before things got underway, we got a chance to chat with him a bit about cycling.

 

Maine Gov. Paul LePage presents the Maine Office of Tourism’s Originality Award to MaryBeth Luce, the Coalition’s BikeMaine Event Director, at the Governor’s Tourism Conference in Portland in April 2018.

He warmed to the topic, and talked in detail about how he loved riding in Jackman when he was younger. But it wasn’t just what he said that rang true, it was how he said it. He got that look in his eye, you know the one; the one that all cyclists get when they’re talking about their favorite rides with someone who’s actually interested and gets it. For the governor, it’s clear that cycling is a very personal thing, and that he is a committed and experienced cyclist.

So here’s our takeaway from all this: if an experienced cyclist like the governor, who apparently was not riding in anything other than a completely legal fashion, can be so casually knocked off his bicycle by a passing motorist, perhaps we’re not doing everything we can to protect cyclists, pedestrians, and other vulnerable users of our roadways.

Right now, our transportation infrastructure overwhelmingly favors the automobile, to the point where other modes of transportation seem to be little more than eccentricities that are benevolently indulged by planners and policy makers.

And yet, time and time again, it’s made clear that people value communities that are bikeable and walkable, qualities that are often at the top of the list when they’re looking for a place to live or work. The crash that injured the governor happened in Florida, but similar crashes happen all too frequently in Maine because the fact is, our transportation infrastructure does not reflect that priority.

We can do better. And if we’re truly committed to making our state a destination for bicycle tourism – if Maine truly is open for bicycle tourism business – we must.