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March 2012

BCM Education Training Schedule 2012

By | Events, Featured Posts, Stay Safe

The Maine Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Education (BPSE) Program, a partnership of the Maine DOT and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, is pleased to announce its schedule of trainings for Summer, 2012 Some trainings are available on demand—FMI, jim@bikemaine.org

April

April 12, Yarmouth. Basic Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Education Presenter training on Thursday, April 12, from 6-9 PM at the Yarmouth Fire House.  This training prepares you to present Maine’s nationally recognized curriculum on the basics of bike/ped safety for a variety of audiences.  The training includes info on choosing and fitting a helmet, dressing for cycling, conducting a quick ABC mechanical check on your bike, and following the rules of the road, as well as tips on pedestrian safety and a brief review of bike/ped law.   No cost.  Please RSVP to jim@bikemaine.org .  Training limited to 12 participants.

April 20, Orono.  Basic Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Education Presenter training on Friday, April 20, from 6-9 PM at the University of Maine, ORONO (room TBD, stay tuned).  This training prepares you to present Maine’s nationally recognized curriculum on the basics of bike/ped safety for a variety of audiences.  The training includes info on choosing and fitting a helmet, dressing for cycling, conducting a quick ABC mechanical check on your bike, and following the rules of the road, as well as tips on pedestrian safety and a brief review of bike/ped law.   No cost.  Please RSVP to jim@bikemaine.org .  Training limited to 12 participants.

April 21, Orono.  Basic Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Education Presenter training on Saturday, April 21, from 9AM to 12 PM at the University of Maine, ORONO (room TBD, stay tuned).  This training prepares you to present Maine’s nationally recognized curriculum on the basics of bike/ped safety for a variety of audiences.  The training includes info on choosing and fitting a helmet, dressing for cycling, conducting a quick ABC mechanical check on your bike, and following the rules of the road, as well as tips on pedestrian safety and a brief review of bike/ped law.   No cost.  Please RSVP to jim@bikemaine.org .  Training limited to 12 participants.

April 21, Orono.  Basic Bicycle Tech training on Saturday, April 21, from 2-4 PM at the University of Maine, ORONO (room TBD, stay tuned).  This training provides you some basic info for bike maintenance and diagnosis of common issues. Learn how to fix a flat and how to diagnose (and perhaps repair) common problems.  Bring your own bike to get a free inspection.  No cost, no limit on participants.

May

May 5, Lincoln.  Lincoln Bike Rodeo Event Training.  Join us at the Lincoln Bike Rodeo at to see how to set up a “continuous loop” skills course as well as the other stations for a successful bike rodeo. No cost.  Please RSVP to jim@bikemaine.org

May 18 and 19th Traffic Skills 101 Friday night, May 18 will cover the classroom part of the class, 5-9pm.  Saturday afternoon, May 19 will cover the on-bike segments of the course, 2-6pm.   Cost of the class is $50.  This course is a required prerequisite for the LCI seminar (see below).  Class will need at least 5 participants to go forward.  

May 19, Portland. Ocean Ave Elementary School Bike Rodeo Event Training.  Join us at the OAES Bike Rodeo at to see how to set up a “continuous loop” skills course as well as the other stations for a successful bike rodeo. No cost.  Please RSVP to jim@bikemaine.org

June

June 2 Portland.  Longfellow School Bike Safety Rodeo Event Training. Join us at the Longfellow Bike Rodeo at to see how to set up a “continuous loop” skills course as well as the other stations for a successful bike rodeo. No cost.  Please RSVP to jim@bikemaine.org

July

July 27, Presque Isle.  Basic Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Education Presenter training/refresher on Friday, July 27, from 6-9 PM at the Nordic Heritage Center (room TBD, stay tuned).  This training prepares you to present Maine’s nationally recognized curriculum on the basics of bike/ped safety for a variety of audiences.  The training includes info on choosing and fitting a helmet, dressing for cycling, conducting a quick ABC mechanical check on your bike, and following the rules of the road, as well as tips on pedestrian safety and a brief review of bike/ped law.   No cost.  Please RSVP to jim@bikemaine.org .  Training limited to 12 participants.

July 28, Presque Isle.  Basic Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Education Presenter training/refresher on Saturday, July 27, from 9AM to 12 PM at the Nordic Heritage Center (room TBD, stay tuned).  This training prepares you to present Maine’s nationally recognized curriculum on the basics of bike/ped safety for a variety of audiences.  The training includes info on choosing and fitting a helmet, dressing for cycling, conducting a quick ABC mechanical check on your bike, and following the rules of the road, as well as tips on pedestrian safety and a brief review of bike/ped law.   No cost.  Please RSVP to jim@bikemaine.org .  Training limited to 12 participants.

August

Traffic Skills 101.  Time and place TBD.  For more info, contact Charley LaFlamme at chazbikeed@maine.rr.com

September

September 7-9 South Portland. League Cycling Instructor Seminar.  The League Cycling Instructor certification is the only national bike safety education credential available.  With this credential, you can offer your own bike safety classes, either on your own or through the Maine Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Education Program.  TS 101 is a prerequisite for the class.  Cost is approximately $200, plus TS 101 and League Membership.   Please RSVP/FMI to jim@bikemaine.org .

Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Education Presenter Trainings, Youth Bicycle Club Trainings, Bicycle and the Law seminars, and in some cases, Traffic Skills 101 classes can all done on an as needed basis.  If you would like more information, please contact Jim Tasse at jim@bikemaine.org.

Maine Bicycle Delegation Takes Washington DC by Storm

By | Events, Speak up for Biking

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.

First-Ever National Bike to School Day is May 9! Plan to Bicycle to School with Your Child!

By | Events, Featured Posts

New this spring is the first-ever National Bike to School Day Celebration, Wednesday, May 9th – part of 2012 National Bike Month and a wonderful addition to Maine’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Month!   A newly designed national website,  www.walkbiketoschool.org  will be available with more information about Bike to School Day and new event planning resources and tools, including a  GIS-powered walking and bicycling route mapping tool.  A “Win a Bike Rack” contest is also being planned to help build excitement and encourage registration of local events for this inaugural celebration.

Start planning for Bike to School Day:

The Maine Safe Routes to School Program invites you to walk and/or bike to school all spring.  Join the many communities and schools across Maine that plan walking and biking to school activities

We hope to see you biking to school on May 9th!

Kids biking to school

Snowe Receives Award from League of American Bicyclists

By | Coalition News, Speak up for Biking

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.

Bicycle Coalition of Maine Announceds 2012 Super Raffle Winners

By | Coalition News, Events, Travel

Rich Cromwell’s wife convinced him to buy a ticket in the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s 2012 Super Raffle because of the grand prize – a cycling vacation in Tuscany donated by VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations.  Valued at as much as $3,145, the 10-day trip includes accommodations, sightseeing and Italian cuisine.

Cromwell, who lives in Brunswick, has taken long, unsupported bike rides in Third World countries, sleeping in schoolyards or the homes of villagers.  The Tuscany trip offers an entirely different experience.  When his wife, Christina, heard about it, she told him, “That’s a trip I would do.”

Rich Cromwell is the lucky winner of the Super Raffle’s grand prize.  Of the 238 tickets sold, his was selected on the first day of spring, March 20.  “That’s unbelievable,” he said, adding that he couldn’t wait to tell his wife. 

Four other people also won great prizes in the Super Raffle.

John Wilson of Pinckney, Michigan won the second prize, a Trek 1.1 road bike valued at $679 that was donated by CycleMania.  He purchased his raffle ticket in November, not long after returning from the Tuscany trip that his wife, Gina, won in the Bicycle Coalition’s 2011 Super Raffle.

Ethel Whitcomb of Belfast won the third prize, a Specialized Hardrock Disc 29 mountain bike valued at $559 that was donated by Gorham Bike and Ski.

Dana McEwan of Portland won the fourth prize, a Thule bike rack valued at up to $500 and donated by Rainbow Bicycle & Fitness.  “Nice!” she said, when called with the news.  “I never win anything!”

Jeanne Peckiconis of Kennebunk won the fifth prize, a Specialized BG (Body Geometry) Fit valued at $300 and donated by Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop.

All proceeds from the sale of the $50 tickets benefit the Bicycle Coalition’s work to make Maine better for bicycling. Thanks to all of the businesses that generously donated prizes to our raffle.  And thanks to everyone who purchased a ticket.

Bike-Pedestrian Funding Opportunity Soon to be Announced by MaineDOT!

By | Featured Posts, Funding Sources

If you think improvements such as sidewalks, crossing improvements, traffic calming, improved signage, bike lanes, etc. would increase safety and get more students walking and biking to school or after school activities in your community, please contact Maine Safe Routes to School Program staff now to learn more about MaineDOT’s Quality Community Program (QCP)!  The Quality Community Program, which includes federal Safe Routes to School and Transportation Enhancements funding on a two year cycle, offers opportunities to improve community transportation-related facilities through bicycle and pedestrian, safety, environmental, scenic, historic, and other quality community improvements. The next round of applications are expected to be released this spring to compete for funding available in fiscal years 2014-2015 – with a Letter of Intent to apply likely due from municipalities this May and applications likely due July 1, 2012.

crosswalk and light

We can share additional details about this opportunity and arrange a site visit from the Maine Safe Routes to School team and MaineDOT engineers to evaluate needs in your community.  These meetings are very helpful in pulling the right people to the table and conducting a site walk to evaluate potential solutions to improve safety.  Learn more here about tips for preparing for this next QCP/SRTS funding application process.  For inspiration about what safety improvements can mean for schools, read about a few communities that were awarded funding in past rounds.

Bicycle Coalition’s Great Maine Bike Swap Comes to Portland, Orono

By | Coalition News, Events, Featured Posts

Augusta – The Bicycle Coalition of Maine will hold the Great Maine Bike Swap on April 22 at the University of Maine’s Student Recreation and Fitness Center in Orono and on April 29 at the University of Southern Maine’s Sullivan Gym in Portland. 

Both swaps are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Those wanting to sell bicycles should drop them off on the Saturday before the swaps between 6:30 and 8 p.m. or on the morning of the swaps between 8 and 9:30 a.m. 

The swaps offer a way for people to buy affordable, used bicycles and/or to sell bicycles that they no longer need.  Hundreds of bicycles of all types will be for sale, including mountain bikes, road bikes, classic cruisers, kids’ bikes and hybrids. 

A large test riding area will allow shoppers to try out bicycles.  Knowledgeable advisors will be on hand to help with pricing and bike fit.  View our  video to see how the swaps work.

The swaps will feature refreshments, information about Maine biking events and displays by local bikes shops and community organizations.  The Portland event is sponsored by the Bicycle Coalition in partnership with USM’s Office of Sustainable Programs.  The coalition is partnering with the University of Maine on the Orono swap.

Admission is $3, with free admission for USM and UMaine students as well as children 12 or younger.  A $3 charge per bike sold and a 15 percent commission on proceeds from bike sales will support the coalition’s work to improve bicycling in Maine.

Anyone who would like to donate bikes to the Bicycle Coalition of Maine for sale at the swaps should call Fred at 712-2645 before April 16.  Donated bicycles should be in decent condition.  All proceeds from their sale will go to the coalition. 

For more information about the swaps, please visit https://www.bikemaine.org/events/bcm-events/great-maine-bike-swap or call (207) 623-4511.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has been working since 1992 to make Maine a better place to bicycle.  The coalition advocates for Maine cyclists at the Legislature and in Washington, D.C., teaches bicycle safety to thousands of Maine schoolchildren each year, partners with state agencies on a Share the Road media campaign and serves as a resource on local bicycling issues. 

A Rant on Risk

By | Equipment, How To..., Stay Safe

I am what I suppose you could call a low level extreme athlete. I like to do sports that involve risk, because I believe that danger is a delicious gravy to life. I paddle whitewater kayaks in ocean surf, I do some rock climbing, and I happily seek out and ski off-piste terrain that most people would consider highly challenging, on non-releasable telemark bindings. And naturally, I ride bikes on trails and roads in all kinds of conditions. I have a pretty high tolerance for risk, but I am not foolhardy. I try to manage the risks I take.

So I’m always a little amazed at the unnecessary risks that I see people taking when they ride their bikes.

One cannot really remove risk from activities like bicycle riding, but one can be educated about managing risk. From an operational perspective, managing risk on a bike begins with following basic rules of the road, and doing things like riding with traffic and stopping at stop signs and lights. But one see cyclists with an alarming frequency riding against traffic, despite the fact that it is both illegal and statistically one of the riskiest things one can do on a bike. Likewise, one sees cyclists treating stop signs and stop lights like decorations that do not have to be obeyed.

Crashes that happen as a result of these behaviors are not “accidents.” They are the result of bad operational decisions. And besides the physical danger one puts oneself in by choosing to disobey traffic law, a bicyclist also increases their legal risk by doing so. Violating traffic law means you will probably lose in court if a crash does happen. Breaking the rules of safe operation is actually taking on extra, unnecessary risk. I am always baffled by such behavior, which seems gratuitously dangerous and rude.

Operational considerations aside, there also are a number of decisions a bicyclist makes before they start riding that can increase or decrease their risk. And again, I’m astounded by how willing some folks are to make decisions that unnecessarily expose themselves to easily avoided risks.

One such decision concerns wearing a helmet. Yes, if you operate safely, you may not crash. But if you do crash, and you don’t wear a helmet, you greatly increase your likelihood of suffering a brain injury. Even worse, not wearing a helmet could, again, jeopardize your legal rights if another vehicle or insurance company lawyers are involved. Not wearing a helmet can sometimes be considered “culpable negligence”, meaning that you were negligent in failing to protect yourself as much as you could have. As with obeying traffic law when you ride, wearing a helmet helps manage both physical, and legal, risks.

Another decision concerns your clothing choice. In our education classes, we tell folks to dress “bright and tight”, which means that you should dress for visibility and so you don’t get tangled in your bike. What you wear while you ride is a two second choice that can make a huge difference in how you’ve managed the risks of road riding.

The decision to be visible is even more significant for nighttime riding. You can be following all the rules of the road, wearing your helmet, using signals, but if drivers can’t see you, you’re toast.

I am always astounded when I see folks riding their bikes after dark without bright and reflective clothing or lights on their bikes. I personally run two headlights and taillights, and wear the most hideously bright neon clothing I own when I ride after dark. And my commuter bike (which is the bike I’m most often on after dark) is covered with reflective tape. I’m not afraid of traffic. I’m just trying to manage some of the extra risks inherent in nighttime riding by making it easy for other traffic to see me.

The League of American Bicyclists website mentions these “Five Steps to Riding Better : 1. Follow the Rules of the Road, 2. Be Visible, 3. Be Predictable 4. Anticipate Conflicts, 5. Wear a Helmet.

The League’s Traffic Skills 101 Curriculum also mentions these five, which do overlap a bit: 1. Know how to Control Your Bike, 2. Obey the Rules, 3. Choose the Right Lane Position 4. Learn Hazard Avoidance Moves and 5. Wear a Helmet.

I think that these points are a recipe for sensible risk management on a bicycle.

Jim Tasse, Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s Education Director

 

 

Crashes with Cars: Before the Crash

By | How To..., Stay Safe

This article is adapted from the Winter 2012 “Ask the Experts” column of BCM’s newsletter, “Maine Cyclist”. In this first part of a two-part series about crashes with cars, we discuss preventative measures, both to avoid having a crash at all, as well as making sure you are not limiting your options should you get into on.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine frequently fields questions from cyclists who have been in a collision with a car. Since it’s obviously preferable not to have a crash in the first place, let’s focus first on proactively minimizing your physical and liability risk, followed by what to do if you get into a crash.

(A quick note on terminology: We prefer to use the word “crash” or “collision”, not “accident”. Although according to the dictionary, accident is actually appropriate when there is a lack of intent, or when the incident was through no fault of the injured person, common everyday usage also often implies a lack of cause or avoidability. “It was just an accident” sometimes implies that it was no one’s fault, not just that it was unintentional. However, almost all crashes are the result of one or both drivers either doing something illegal or at least with inappropriate caution. Accordingly, they almost always could have been avoided by one or both parties. So to avoid this confusion, even though “accident” may be correct according to the dictionary, we still prefer to use “crash” or “collision”.)

When riding on roads, driving your bike largely as you would drive a car is the best way to stay safe. Follow the rules of the road; that keeps you visible and predictable. Drivers will know better what to expect from you, especially at intersections where most crashes happen.

Another important reason to ride legally is your liability should you get into a crash. If you were not riding legally at the time of the crash, you almost certainly will be assigned the blame. You will have little chance of recovering any money from the motorist’s insurance company, and you may find yourself sued for his or her damages! (See this column for more about insurance and liability

Here is a quick summary of your legal responsibilities as a bicyclist:

  • Follow all rules of the road for vehicles, especially riding on the right side, obeying all traffic signs and signals and using the appropriate intersection lane.
  • Maintain working brakes.
  • Signal your turns and stops.
  • Do not ride in pedestrian facilities.
  •  At night, use lights and reflectors.
  •  Do not carry passengers or cargo in ways the bicycle is not designed for.

 In addition to those legal requirements, we also strongly advise you to:

  •  Wear a helmet even if you are an adult. (Maine law says children under 16 must wear helmets.)
  •  Wear bright, visible clothing, or
  •  Use more than the bare legal minimum of lighting.

Although this last set are not legally required, law enforcement and insurance companies may consider your failure to do any of the above as “contributory negligence.” A lawyer may be less willing to take your case because of the decreased chance of success. Unfortunate, but true.

Next time: What if, despite your bests precautions, you are hit?