In 2007, Maine’s “3-Foot Law” went into effect. The law requires cars to pass bicyclists with “due care” by giving them at least three feet of clearance when passing. In 2013, The Coalition worked with state legislators to pass a bill to strengthen the 3-Foot Law. Under the new law, any crash involving a motor vehicle and a bicyclist is automatically considered evidence that the driver violated the 3-Foot Law.
Community Spoke Robert McChesney chairs the Bath Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee. Since 2012, he has been working to implement an education program for motorists around the 3-Foot Law with the help of the chief of police, Michael Field and the Sagadahoc County sheriff, Joel Merry. “It’s a very rare conjunction of the planets when a bicyclist, a police officer, and a motorist violating the 3-foot law are all together at the same time and place. So instead we focus on education,” says Robert.
After soliciting donations from Center Street Cycle, Midcoast Triathalon Club and Gritty McDuff’s for the program, the Wheelers successfully designed and commissioned the signs, and donated them to be installed along roads all over the region. The group has supplied nine signs to the Town of Brunswick, six to Topsham, seven to Bath, three to Harpswell and twelve to Freeport. As of Spring 2014, many have already been installed in Brunswick, Topsham, Harpswell, Bath and Freeport.
The Wheelers have also been working with Police Departments in all the towns that have received the donated signs to increase enforcement of the law. Additionally, all the municipalities will be showing the Coalition bicycle safety Public Service Announcements on local television and distributing the Coalition educational literature to drivers. Next year and beyond the Wheelers hope to incorporate Durham, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Richmond, Dresden, Woolwich, Phippsburg and West Bath into the program.
“These bicycle safety signs are amazing!” says Anne-Marie, “They put the emphasis on the speed limit and the importance of bicycle safety.” The installation of these signs is one of the first elements of Freeport’s recently adopted Active Living Plan to be implemented.