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September 2013

Thanks, Orono (BDN)

By | BikeMaine, Coalition News


This letter to the editor originally appeared in the Bangor Daily News.

Thanks, Orono

I was a rider in the inaugural BikeMaine ride. I live north of Chicago, Ill. This was my first time in the state of Maine. The hospitality I received was overwhelming. I want to thank the community for hosting us. The young men and women who helped unload our luggage from our cars were so friendly and helpful. The kindness and friendliness of the people I met was heart warming.

Thank you to the high school, middle school and elementary school for opening your doors to us for camping, dinner and breakfast. Thank you to all the behind-the-scenes people who helped make our stay in Orono so enjoyable and to the bike mechanics for volunteering their time to fix any and all bike problems.

My experience was incredible. The memories I have of this trip and everyone involved will be with me forever.

Pat Brummet

Wilmette, Illinois

Deirdre Fleming: Law can provide a yardstick to gauge safety for Maine cyclists

By | Coalition News, Stay Safe


This article originally appeared in the Portland Press Herald.

Deirdre Fleming: Law can provide a yardstick to gauge safety for Maine cyclists

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine (BCM) touts our state as having some of the nation’s most bike-friendly laws. One of the more recent is the “three-foot” law. But is it working?

This summer two cyclists were killed after being hit by motorists and a third could have easily suffered the same fate after getting struck by a passing tractor had a nurse not appeared on the scene.

Since Maine’s three-foot law went into effect in 2007, the coalition has lobbied to have it more strictly enforced, and hopes to expand it so that more room is given for cyclists.

But does it help? Or does it provide a false sense of security?

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Parking spaces give way to artistic whimsy in Portland (PPH)

By | Coalition News, Events

This article originally appeared in the Portland Press Herald.

Parking spaces give way to artistic whimsy in Portland

By Gillian Graham
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – Cars and delivery trucks passed within feet of her workbench Friday morning as Rebecca Smith bent over the portrait she was sketching.

Taking place in nearly 200 cities around the world, people take over parking spaces for to hang out and have fun.

Smith was lost in concentration as her subject, Maine College of Art student Jodi Ferry, enjoyed a brief break in a miniature park that temporarily took over a small patch of asphalt on a busy stretch of Congress Street.

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Portland celebrates PARKing Day – VIDEO (WCSH6)

By | Coalition News, Events, Featured Posts


This article originally appeared on

Portland celebrates PARKing Day


PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Parking is at a premium in Maine’s largest city, with many commuters paying for spots in lots and visitors pumping meters full of change.  But on Friday, just for one day, PARKing Day, several of the spaces on the city’s streets became elaborate parks complete with books, benches and even bicycle powered blenders.

“The idea originally was just sort of to encourage people to think about how we use our public space,” explained Sarah Schindler, a law professor who encouraged the city to try the experiment of letting businesses and people occupy a parking spot for a day. 

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Bicycle Coalition does PARK(ing) Day the two-wheel way (PPH)

By | Coalition News, Events


This article originally appeared on

Bicycle Coalition does PARK(ing) Day the two-wheel way

Friday September 20, 2013 | 09:09 AM

Employees and volunteers for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine were out and about in front of the 34 Preble St. Portland location bright and early this morning to get ready for PARK(ing) Day. What they accomplished by 8 a.m. was to make the two vehicle parking spots in front of their office worth a visit today for anyone who has an interest in bikes – or milkshakes.

In case you’re not familiar, PARK(ing) Day is an international event when businesses, artists and regular citizens turn metered parking spaces into temporary public parks for a day. About 20 such “parks” are expected to be set up in Portland today. (To see Shannon Bryan’s slideshow on click here.)

The BCM’s park includes a make-your-own-milkshake opportunity for anyone who wants to spend a few minutes expelling the energy it takes to get the pedal-operated blender to churn. BCM’s Brian Allenby warns that it isn’t easy but an extra incentive is that riders will be blending away with Mount Desert Island Ice Cream.

Other reasons to stop by are a tune-up station where cyclists can get tires checked and chains greased, a living room complete with a bike seat chair and plenty of bike-related reading material, bike-part sculptures and the chance to hang on a great day with the cool folks from BCM.

They’ll be there until 5 p.m. today and here’s betting you can already tell that today’s a day you’ll want to escape the office a little bit early.

Parking spaces will become mini parks Friday in Portland

By | Coalition News, Events


This article originally appeared in the Bangor Daily News.

Parking spaces will become mini parks Friday in Portland

Courtesy of Stephen Davis. The VIA Agency took over a parking lot in front of their Congress Street headquarters in Portland for Parking Day last year. Friday the city partakes in the international event again.

By Kathleen Pierce, BDN Staff Posted Sept. 17, 2013, at 12:46 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Think it’s hard to find parking in Portland? Wait till Friday.

A slew of artists, designers and architects are taking the streets back for PARK(ing) Day one spot at a time.

The goal: to demonstrate alternative visions for civic spaces taken for granted by a car culture.

For the second year in a row, Portland will participate in the worldwide event where metered parking spots are temporarily turned into parklets, lounges and community zones for the day.

“The idea is to foster discussion on how we use our public space and how much is dedicated to people, cars and housing,” said Sarah Schindler, an associate professor at the University of Maine School of Law who is orchestrating PARK(ing) Day in Portland to explore “all the different possible ways we could use space owned by us.”

So far, seven spots are slated for transformation from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On Congress Street, The VIA Agency will change a spot and a half into an art and copy garden outside its headquarters. There will be typewriters, so “people can bang away,” and easels with canvases and paper to encourage creativity, said Stephen Davis, a senior copywriter for the advertising agency.

In addition to working outdoors with co-workers and meeting neighbors, the goal of the interactive space is to inspire “new art pieces, beautiful poems, whatever people want to write,” said Davis, who set up a lounge with Astroturf and hip furniture for the event last year. “We want people to be more involved this time.”

And so does Abby King at the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. Around the corner, the organization is taking over two spaces on Preble Street to spread the word about commuting by bicycle.

There will be an outdoor living room where people can eat their lunch, and a bike repair station for safety checks, said King, the coalition’s community advocacy coordinator.

But hands down, the highlight will be the bicycle-powered milkshake machine. Free shakes and tuneups for all.

“It’s a fun way to demonstrate what kind of alternative uses we can think of. And think about our streets as community spaces,” said King. “This 8 by 20-foot piece of pavement has a lot more function than just storage for an individual car.”

And for the coalition that encourages people to leave their cars at home, the event is a perfect opportunity to raise awareness.

“It’s a great way to let people know we are here in Portland and this is what it’s all about,” said King.

It’s also a good way to promote a new business. The Portland Gear Hub, a new enterprise that will rent and sell low-cost skis, bikes and outdoor gear is setting up outside Nomads on Commercial Street.

This venture, which is set to open in the basement of the YMCA in October, debuts at PARK(ing) Day. It’s supported by the Community Bicycle Center in Biddeford and Camp Ketcha in Scarborough.

“It’s a wonderful way to get folks out and talking with each other, making sure that we are connecting with our community and are aware of our sense of place and our surroundings,” said Brooke Burkett, who is spearheading Portland Gear Hub.

Her parking spot will have a tent with Adirondack chairs fashioned from old skis, and a stack of outdoor magazines to get people in the mood to get outdoors.

“These spaces will allow people to take a breath during the day. It’s a parking space but something else is happening,” said Burkett.

Taking over valuable parking space may sound contradictory in an “open for business” economy, but companies such as Nomads are sponsoring the parklet outside their door. And city officials are on board.

“We have over 1,500 metered parking spots; in the big scheme of things it’s not a big impact,” said John Peverada, the city’s parking manager. “There were some complaints last year, but it was minimal.”

And with the recent announcement that a portion of Congress Square Park is being sold to private developers, the concept of communal space is all the more pertinent. On Friday, The VIA Agency’s park will sprout just a block away from Congress Square.

“They are shutting down the public park in Congress Square, so this is a way to have more public spaces,” said Davis. “It’s a nice thing to do.”

The deadline to participate in PARK(ing) Day is Wednesday at 12 noon. To sign up for the event, email Sarah Schindler at

Bicycle group’s ‘rolling exploration of Maine’ wraps up weeklong tour (BDN)

By | BikeMaine, Coalition News, Featured Posts


This article originally appeared in the Bangor Daily News.

Bicycle group’s ‘rolling exploration of Maine’ wraps up weeklong tour

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 14, 2013, at 11:10 a.m.
Last modified Sept. 15, 2013, at 5:54 p.m.

EASTBROOK, Maine — More than 250 bicyclists from 34 states and three Canadian provinces braved the rain Friday as they pedaled from Bar Harbor to Camp Jordan in Ellsworth via scenic roads through eastern Hancock County.

The event was the seventh day of the inaugural BikeMaine 2013, an eight-day biking tour for experienced cyclists that was organized by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. The Bangor Daily News is a media partner for the tour, which is expected to end Saturday in Orono.

Tour participants began the trek Saturday, Sept. 7, in Orono and, while biking in a continuous counterclockwise loop, made overnight stops in Dover-Foxcroft, Belfast and Castine before arriving in Bar Harbor on Wednesday. Riders had a rest day in Bar Harbor on Thursday before resuming the trip Friday morning.

The bicyclists, who traveled alone or in small groups along the marked route, stopped at Cave Hill School on Route 200 to eat lunch and meet with schoolchildren to talk about cycling before resuming their wet ride.

Mark Ishkanian, vice president of the group’s board of directors, said Friday that by stopping at places like Cave Hill School, the group can connect cyclists on the tour with communities they pass through. Additionally, they can help spread the word to children that bicycling is a fun, healthy and practical activity.

On Friday, the group held a bike rodeo for pupils in the parking lot of the elementary school, teaching them about riding safety and techniques. They donated helmets to students that needed them as permanent gifts and, with the support of Anthem Blue Cross, provided the children with free bicycle lights and bells.

“Events like this are great because you get kids on bikes,” said Jim Tasse, the coalition’s education director. “These kids are so stoked about cycling. I don’t even think they’re aware it’s raining out.”

Ishkanian said the coalition plans to organize and stage a different weeklong tour in Maine every September. The 2013 tour had 258 registered riders, 114 of whom were from Maine, but he expects the number to grow as the coalition learns the ropes of staging such an annual event.

He said he wasn’t sure how big it would become, but the coalition hopes to find the “sweet spot” of just large enough to maximize the economic impact it will have on host communities while keeping the number of participating bicyclists at a manageable level, both for the coalition and the communities that host it. He said the coalition also hopes to start a grant program to help fund bicycle-related projects in communities that host the annual tour.

“We have to find that balancing point,” Ishkanian said of the tour’s potential growth. “More than anything, it’s a rolling exploration of Maine.”

He added that, though Friday was pretty wet, the group has had decent weather on other days. He pointed out that there has been pretty smooth riding for a first-year event.

“It’s been one high after another,” Ishkanian said. “I’ve not heard many complaints about the weather.”

Sean McCallum, a cyclist from Alexandria, Va., who has ridden in other organized recreational tours around the country, said he would give the coalition a B+ grade for the 2013 event.

“They’ve done a good job,” he said. “Maine is a beautiful state that has a lot of rich natural resources. I’ve really enjoyed and been impressed with this state here.”

Brad Smith, a cyclist on the tour from Jaffrey, N.H., said that he’s had a fun week. The group has had good weather on other days, he said, and are not just fair-weather cyclists. Everyone on the tour has had a fair amount of bike trekking experience, he said, and so are used to dealing with the elements.

“It’s been a fabulous week,” Smith said. “As long as you can get a hot shower at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what’s going on outside.”