Dear Friend of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine:
As we enjoy all that summer has to offer, like me, you most likely have a list of ideas for making Maine better for bicycling. Your wish list might include fewer close calls with distracted or dangerous motorists, fixing the potholes and cracks on your favorite roads or adding some shoulders to those narrow country lanes. Or maybe you’re frustrated because it’s unsafe for your children to ride their bikes to school or the ball fields. At the Coalition, we share your concerns and work to address them on a daily basis.
At this time of year we invite you to give to our Summer Appeal Fund because these donations are critical to ensuring that the rights and safety of bicyclists are valued and communicated throughout Maine. Your membership to the Coalition is greatly appreciated, but it is only part of the financial picture. Additional contributions to the Summer Appeal Fund are one way the Coalition raises vital donations to meet the operating expenses of this organization.
There are more cyclists on the road than ever before. On a daily basis, we are inundated with questions and requests for information from all corners of the state. These questions come from a range of constituencies: Mainers interested in health and wellness, economic development, tourism and transportation. While we’re making progress, we continue to face many challenges and we know that there is still much work to be done.
In the wake of the tragic fatality at the Trek Across Maine in June, the altercation between a cyclist and motorist on the Martin’s Point Bridge (Falmouth), and the passage of our new bike law, the Coalition has been involved in myriad conversations and articles about the rights and safety of cyclists. While we were gratified by the compassion, empathy and appreciation from cyclists like you, we also heard feedback from all over the state indicating that bikes simply don’t belong on the road. We also saw many comments in local media with the misconception that bicyclists don’t contribute financially to the construction and maintenance of roads and therefore shouldn’t be allowed on them.
Comments like, “You choose to bike on a busy highway built for high-speed automobile and truck traffic and you take your chances” and “Bicycles are a danger to everyone on a public road, not just themselves” recently appeared in the comments section of the Bangor Daily News website. These statements illustrate the hostile feelings of many Mainers toward bicyclists.
Responsibility for safety on the roads also lies with those riding two wheels. As the overall number of bikes on the road continues to grow, there is an increasing number of cyclists riding with no knowledge of the laws, or worse, with complete disregard for the law, who give law-abiding cyclists a bad name.
Here’s where we need your support. Additional efforts are needed to educate the public and law enforcement that bikes belong on and have legal rights on the roads. We believe the solution is three-fold:
- The first undertaking is an Internet and TV mass-media campaign, focusing on highlighting the rules of the road for BOTH cyclists and motorists. These public service announcements will be purposefully even-handed, pointing out the responsibilities of both parties in an attempt to discourage the partisan rhetoric that often divides cyclists and motorists and causes the underlying message to be lost.
- Secondly, we will strive to make the road a comfortable place to ride for cyclists of all ages and abilities. While the Coalition asserts cyclists’ rights to the road, we also support more bike-friendly infrastructure on Maine roads. The Coalition is working hard to ensure that the next federal transportation law better supports biking and walking infrastructure, that the 2013 state transportation bond includes dedicated funds for biking and walking projects, and that in the future, accommodations for biking and walking will be integrated into all state road projects.
- Lastly, the Coalition also needs your help to create bicycle law and safety training for new cyclists, especially in the urban areas. These areas feature a larger population of bike commuters and often contain more challenging navigation for novice bikers.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine needs your continuing support so we can educate all Mainers–cyclists, motorists and law enforcement–about cyclists’ rightful place on the road. With these essential contributions, we will continue to develop innovative new programming and expand our work around the state.
Please visit the Summer Appeal page and give now.
Executive Director, Bicycle Coalition of Maine