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April 2015

Walking school bus newest way to get to school in Ellsworth (Ellsworth American)

By | Coalition News, Featured Posts
This article originally appeared on ellsworthamerican.com


ELLSWORTH — It was cool and overcast on the city’s streets early Wednesday morning, but that didn’t discourage the riders and crew members onboard the walking school bus.
It marked the first run for the bus, which could be called a BINO — bus in name only — because there is no actual vehicle. Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School (EEMS) students instead transport themselves to school using their feet, under the watchful eyes of trained volunteers.
“It’s just a wonderful day,” said Paul Markosian, a parent and School Board member who got his son Felix on the “bus” and joined the caravan himself. “I’m so happy.”
Walking to school is not a new thing for the Markosians, and Paul helped to make the new program a reality in Ellsworth.
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Hundreds hunt for bargains on wheels at the Great Maine Bike Swap (PPH)

By | Coalition News

 
This article originally appeared on PressHerald.com
Alex Klein and Justin Fenty sat in chairs at the head of the line as hundreds of people waited for the annual Great Maine Bike Swap to get rolling Sunday.
The two friends from Portland had arrived at 8 a.m., two hours before the doors were to open, to make sure they were well-positioned in their quest for the perfect two-wheeled vehicle. With 902 bicycles to choose from, they had a lot to consider.
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Coalition Provides Testimony In Support of The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act

By | State House Watch

Testimony in SUPPORT of LD 1301
An Act to improve the Safety of Vulnerable Users in Traffic and to Clarify the Responsibilities of Bicyclists and Pedestrians

Good Afternoon Chairman Collins, Chairman McLean, and Members of the Committee. My name is James Tassé and l am here on behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and our 5,000 members. l urge you to vote in SUPPORT of LD 1301.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is the statewide organization that advocates for bicyclists and pedestrians. We work to make Maine better for bicycling and walking.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine believes that this bill will improve the safety of our public ways for pedestrians, bicycles and motorists. In my testimony today, l will discuss some of the core provisions of the bill, and explain how this bill will improve safety for lvlainers of all ages and situations.
But let me begin by acknowledging what might be a shocking fact to all of you: bicyclists sometimes break the rules. So do pedestrians. And believe it or not, this probably bugs the Bicycle Coalition of Maine more than it does you, because we are trying hard to educate cyclists and walkers that the safest and most courteous way to behave on roadways is also the LEGAL way. Let me admit that the changes to l\/laine law that LD 1301 would enact are not going to solve every problem that exists on the roads with walkers and bicyclists, any more than any one motor vehicle law is going to stop cars from speeding or failing to yield or texting. Alas, the roads are used by humans, and we are all imperfect—motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair operators. We’ve all seen faulty behavior on the part of all these users.
That all being said, we firmly believe that LD 1301 is balanced, fair and effective in its approach to increasing accountability on the part ofall users. And in doing so, LD 1301 will improve safety.
LD 1301 does three critically important things: .
1. LD 1301 clarifies the operational responsibilities of bicycles and makes it easier for law enforcement officers (LEOs) to issue citations for bicyclists who flagrantly blow through stop lights and signs without consideration of other users, or who operate against the traffic flow on one~way streets, or who fail to yield to pedestrians. Current gaps in language and differences in how the law is interpreted complicate efforts to police these dangerous practices. LD 1301 will make it easier for LEOs to know that they are on solid ground when writing tickets to bicycle riders. The bill adds references to bicycles in the specific sections of the traffic code that regulate traffic control devices (§2057) and one way streets (§2059), and includes a requirement for bicycles to yield to pedestrians.
2. LD 1301 helps clarify and improve the rules concerning a motorist’s responsibilities to pedestrians in crosswalks. In changing §2056, the bill proposes a full stop, rather than just a yield, to people in crosswalks. The bill also spells out exactly which lanes are obligated to stop as a pedestrian is crossing a roadway. And most importantly, the bill improves and clarifies the “trigger moment” when a motorist has to stop. Current law requires that a walker be in the street and in harm’s way, before traffic must yield. Current law requires, for example, that an elderly woman venture into the roadway and be “within a marked crosswalk” before her right of way is triggered and traffic must yield to her. LD 1301 better protects people crossing streets by clarifying that their right of way can be asserted before they have to step into traffic, as soon as they show a desire to cross. LD 1301 requires that motorists must come to a full stop as soon as a pedestrian indicates an intention to cross by doing something as simple as waving their hand or their cane over a marked crosswalk. The clarity of these new rules will help guide motorist behavior, and remove ambiguities that make enforcement of pedestrian law difficult.
3. LD 1301 protects a category of roadway user called ”Vulnerable Users” that includes anyone who is not in the protective metal shell of a motor vehic|e—walkers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, horseback riders, ATV operators, roller-skiers and so forth. By introducing a Vulnerable User law, LD 1301 expresses our state’s commitment to protecting children, senior citizens, the disabled, and anyone else who uses Maine’s roadways without being a car. We’ve all been on a walk or bike ride when a car passed too close, or too fast, for comfort. The goal of LD 1301’s Vulnerable User provision is to emphasize that it is the motorists’ responsibility to drive safely near people who are not in cars. The bill creates this emphasis by both education and enforcement. The bill would require that all Maine driver’s ed programs include 30 minutes of education about driving conduct near vulnerable users. The bill also creates a category of traffic infraction that is punishable by fines and other penalties if warranted. This law provides a simple option for LEOs to reference when a motor vehicle operates unsafely near a variety of unprotected users, and it prohibits harassing or menacing behavior as well. The fines are the same as those in the §2119, which prohibits texting while driving—we think that driving a car too close or to too fast by a person who is, say, out walking under physician’s orders, deserves at least the same penalty as texting while driving.

In addition to these three critically needed changes to l\/laine law, LD 1301 makes a modest revision to the 3 foot passing law by clarifying that three feet is a minimum distance, and that it may be “reasonable and proper” to leave more space in some situations. 3 feet may be ok at 25 miles per hour, but that distance feels mighty close if the car or truck is moving at 55mph.
In closing—|’d like to emphasize that the changes LD 1301 makes to l\/laine traffic law are neither new nor untested. 11 other states, including New England states Vermont and €onnecticut, have VU laws similar to the one proposed in LD 1301. The language for the pedestrian section is based on Oregon law and was developed in part with reference to templates provided by America Walks, a national pedestrian advocacy group; our law is most closely based on language from Oregon. The measures proposed in LD 1301 are consistent with national best practices for improving the safety of roadways for non-motorized users.
We believe that LD 1301 will do very positive things for Maine roadway safety. And we are not alone: 64 other organizations in Maine signed a letter of support for this bill, which I will submit as part of my testimony. We feel that this bill is needed, effective and balanced, as it clarifies expectations for bicycle, pedestrian, and motorist behavior in a fair manner. We ask you to support LD 1301.
Thank you, and I’d be happy to answer any questions.

Editorial – Better biking, walking conditions offer older Mainers a chance to age in place (BDN)

By | Featured Posts

This article originally appeared on bangordailynews.com

Better biking, walking conditions offer older Mainers a chance to age in place (BDN)

Posted April 23, 2015, at 11:56 a.m.
Making communities more livable is a goal that every urban, suburban and rural community in Maine can adopt. Achieving this goal requires reflecting the needs of the entire community, including older adults. By better integrating decisions, policies and actions, Maine communities can become more livable and sustainable, a positive achievement for residents of all ages.
It is well known that Maine is the oldest state in the nation. Half of Maine’s population is over 44 years old, and nearly 18 percent of the state’s residents are older than 65. This presents our state with some great opportunities and resources. For example, the biggest percentage of new businesses in Maine have been created by people over the age of 50. However, an aging population also presents Maine with challenges. Many of these challenges concern the long-term care needs of older adults, which can be particularly expensive if residents need to move into institutional settings instead of remaining in their own homes and communities.
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Community Spokes Training – May 20

By | Coalition News, Featured Posts, Speak up for Biking

 
The Community Spokes Program is the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s effort to create a statewide network of bicycle and pedestrian advocates at the local level. We empower Mainers to become champions of better biking and walking through advocacy training, education, and ongoing technical support.
Our next round of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s Community Spokes Training (free! breakfast and lunch included!) will take in just a few short weeks at the Auburn City Hall on May 20th from 8am-4pm.
We are excited to grow our network by twelve to fifteen more local champions of biking and walking and would welcome any Maine resident who want to become stronger advocate to join us.
More information about the Community Spokes Program can be found HERE. Anyone who would like to register to attend can do so HERE.
For More Information, contact Abby King, BCM’s Community Advocacy Coordinator at abby@bikemaine.org or 207.956.6538.

BCM Comments on Kittery Neighborhood Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan

By | Our Position, Speak up for Biking

The Kittery Area Comprehensive Transportation System (KACTS) and the Town of Kittery are working together, with consultants Sebago Technics and Alta Planning + Design, to develop a long-term vision for improving bicycle and pedestrian safety and study bike/ped accommodation along the Route 1 Bypass from Memorial Circle to the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine presented formal comments on the study on April 22, 2015
To the Town of Kittery
RE: Kittery Neighborhood Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan
On behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, I would like to offer the following preliminary comments regarding bike/ped conditions and opportunities within the project area described in Sebago Tech’s progress report on the Kittery Neighborhood study. Please note that we have only ground-truthed a limited number of the roads in the study area. I would be happy to work more closely with Sebago and Alta with suggestions.
Pedestrian Accommodations

  1. As Sebago’s preliminary report indicates, the study area does have some sidewalks and shoulders, but there are discontinuities in the sidewalk system. Apparently, at least one sidewalk is budgeted for Old Post Road.
  2. If the Rt 1 ByPass is envisioned as a commercial or residential area in the future, sidewalks may to be a desired feature. There are no sidewalks currently on the ByPass.
  3. The lack of a sidewalk on the Sarah Long Bridge is suboptimal for pedestrian safety.

Bicycle Accommodations

  1. The following comments assume that the width information provided in Sebago’s report refers to usable pavement in the travelled way.
  2. As a general rule, to optimize bicycle functionality, we recommend travel lanes less than 11 feet, and shoulders or bikelanes 4-5 feet wide. A documented benefit of narrowing travel lanes is better compliance with posted speed limits and reductions in crashes; wider shoulders also provide space for bicycles and/or pedestrians. MaineDOT supports reductions down to 10.5 ft even on some arterials (including Rt 1). Shoulders in areas where bike traffic is expected should be considered for bike lane stenciling.
  3. On all roadways in the study area where the posted speed limit is 30 mph or less and the total cross section of the traveled way is 28 feet or more, 10 ft travel lanes and 4ft minimum shoulders (wider is preferred) should be considered. This includes Old Post Road, Cook Street, and Bridge Street.
  4. On all roadways in the study area where the posted speed limit is 30 mph or less and the total cross section of the traveled way is less than 28 ft, SLMs (sharrows) placed 4-6 feet from the curb, with Bicycles May Use Full Lane and new MaineDOT 3 Feet Minimum to Pass signage should be considered. This includes South Eliot Road and Old Post Road south of Rt. 103 (i.e. between 103 and Bridge St).
  5. For a more innovative treatment that will calm traffic and improve bicycling conditions on the slower, narrower roads mentioned above, consider removing the centerline and using advisory bike lanes 5ft wide on either side. MUTCD authorizes removal of centerlines on roadways with fewer than 6000 cars per day; see MUTCD, 2009 edition, Section 3B-01, pg. 349.
  6. On all roadways in the study area where the posted speed limit is greater than 30 mph and the total cross section of the traveled way is 30 ft, or more, ≤11 foot travel lanes and shoulders of 5 or more should be considered. The higher the posted speed, the wider the shoulder. This includes Dennett St and the Bypass. It appears that these recommendations are currently met in some places on these roads.
  7. The ByPass is posted as a 35mph road, but the geometry and striping of the road seems to invite speeds of 50 mph or better. Shoulder width is inconsistent, especially near the bridge. Narrower travel lanes and consistent 6 foot shoulders on this road should be considered through the study area to improve speed compliance and to provide consistent accommodation for non-motorized users.
  8. The shoulder chokes off on Dennet St at intersection with 103. Consider repurposing pavement currently painted with yellow diverge/taper markings to create room for continuous shoulders through intersection and proceeding southbound.

Thanks for the opportunity to provide comments.
Regards,
James Tassé
Assistant Director
Bicycle Coalition of Maine

Press Release – Bicycle Coalition of Maine Adopts New Mission: Making Maine Better for Bicycling AND Walking

By | Coalition News, Featured Posts

Bicycle Coalition of Maine Adopts New Mission: Making Maine Better for Bicycling AND Walking

Advocacy organization supporting new legislation to ensure safety for bicyclists and pedestrians

Portland, ME — For 23 years, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine has been the statewide leader advocating for the rights and safety of bicyclists.  In early April, the Board of Directors formally adopted a change to the organization’s mission to include supporting walking and pedestrian issues as well. The mission now reads “Making Maine better for bicycling and walking.” Read More

Legwork: Seeking safe passage in Maine crosswalks, on foot and on wheels (PPH)

By | Coalition News, Featured Posts

This article originally appeared on pressherald.com

Legwork: Seeking safe passage in Maine crosswalks, on foot and on wheels

A bill in the Legislature would require drivers to stop for ‘vulnerable users’ at marked crossings.

Do you remember Michael, the policeman who brought Boston traffic to a screeching halt for a family of mallards in the children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings”?
I long for Michael every time I cross Portland’s Brighton Avenue at Wayside Street. I press the button that makes lights flash by the big, yellow pedestrian sign hanging over the painted crosswalk. I thrust out my arms with authority, just as he did. Then I pray that cars flying down the hill will pay attention.
A crosswalk should be a safe haven for pedestrians. But too often, it is the place where they get hit. More than a quarter of all Maine crashes involving pedestrians occur in crosswalks or at intersections with red lights where the pedestrian has the right of way, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.
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