Community Spokes Scott Vlaun and Seal Rossignol are pleased to report that a new BikeShare program run by the Center for an Ecology Based Economy is taking off in Norway, Maine. Scott, Seal,and their partners are co-founders of the Center for an Ecology Based Economy, or CEBE, based in Norway Maine. Their organization works to engage the community in developing practical, ecological solutions to perennial needs.
CEBE BikeShare is an effort to reduce carbon emissions by offering alternative transportation for utilitarian riders in the downtown Norway, South Paris, and Oxford area. By offering free use of cargo bikes, CEBE will promote a healthier, more sustainable mode of transport. This program also helps to support the local economy by providing transportation for community members to shop and run errands, as well as promote bicycling for the local bike shop.
The program has over 40 registrants and has just received a grant from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund to help keep the project going. Bi-weekly Skillshares are being held to prepare the bikes for being road ready! Visit http://ecologybasedeconomy.org/transport.html for more information.
Governor signs bill to protect walkers, bicyclists and other vulnerable users
“We very much appreciate the Governor’s support of safer walking and biking on Maine’s roads,” said Nancy Grant, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.
As a result of this legislation, Maine law now defines a “Vulnerable User” as a person on the public way who is more vulnerable to injury than a person in a motor vehicle. This definition includes pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair users, those driving tractors, and others. Studies have shown that these vulnerable users are far more likely to be injured or killed in a collision with a motor vehicle.
The new law also strengthens Drivers Education programs by requiring courses to include increased instruction on protecting the rights and safety of vulnerable users.
“Teaching students about the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists, walkers, and other vulnerable users is an important part of any Drivers Ed curriculum,” commented Ric Watkins, owner of Belfast Driver Ed and President of the Maine Driver Education Association.
The new law also increases protection for walkers, runners, and wheelchair users attempting to cross the street by requiring that drivers yield to pedestrians who are attempting to cross the street at a marked crosswalk. Before this change, drivers only had to yield when pedestrians at a marked crosswalk stepped out into the road.
Kriss Evans’ father, David Grant, was killed while crossing the street in a marked crosswalk in Brewer this past December. She is grateful for the stronger crosswalk law.
“My family is still grieving the loss of our dad, who did everything right and was still hit and killed by a car while crossing the street right in front of his barber shop. Anything we can do to make people safer when walking across the street is a step in the right direction. I hope this law will prevent more avoidable deaths like my father’s.”
In addition to the added protections for pedestrians and all vulnerable users, the new law also clarifies the responsibilities of bicyclists; namely their duty to obey yield signs, stop signs, one-way streets, and traffic lights.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is the statewide voice of cyclists and pedestrians. Since 1992, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine has led the effort to make Maine better for bicycling and walking by protecting the rights and safety of cyclists and pedestrians through education, advocacy, legislation and encouragement. We support biking and walking for health, transportation and fun. For more information: bikemaine.org.
Advocates in the small town of Woolwich, Maine worked with residents, neighbors and advocates in neighboring communities, town officials, and the MaineDOT to put Route 1 on a road diet. A road diet reduces the width or number of travel lanes for cars, and thus creates space next to the curb for facilities such as shoulders or bike lanes. A road diet can be a very low cost improvement that improves safety for all users – drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike.
After months of meetings, gathering input, measuring traffic speeds and movements, and weighing options, everyone was able to agree on a new striping plan for the stretch of Route 1 between the Sagadahoc Bridge and Taste of Maine. The new striping pattern on this section has narrowed travel lanes for cars and created more space in the shoulders for bicyclists.
The local bike/ped champions we work with in Woolwich and Bath are reporting that the new Route 1 is bringing great results.
“Yesterday I rode my bicycle across the Sagadahoc bridge going North, and for the first time in 19 years that I have lived in Maine, I felt confident that I could ride through the commercial section without being squeezed into the granite curb on the right.” Said local bicycle commuter Mark Wheeler. “My thanks to…the Maine DOT for listening to the concerns of the citizens and implementing changes that will contribute to the safety of all folks passing through and using the businesses in this area.”
Congratulations to the advocates in Woolwich and Bath whose dogged advocacy turned a challenge into an opportunity – Mark Wheeler, Ben Tipton, Robert McChesney, and many more. We are proud to have been able to help with this effort!
Testimony in SUPPORT of LD 193 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects
June 2, 2015
Good Afternoon Senator Hamper, Representative Rotundo, and distinguished members of the Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs. My name Abby King. I am a resident of Portland and I represent the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today in support of funding for walking and biking infrastructure projects in any transportation bond passed this session.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine and our 5,000 members across the state urge you to support direct funding for infrastructure projects like sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, and multi-use paths. These projects are fundamentally about transportation choice, safety, access, and equity. They deserve to be funded directly in the transportation bond. Ultimately, biking and walking infrastructure is about the safety of Maine people and the economic vibrancy of Maine towns and cities.
Every year, hundreds of people walking and biking on Maine roads are hit by cars and injured or killed as a result. Over 1,300 pedestrians and over 1,000 bicyclists were hit by cars in Maine from 2009 – 2013. In 2014 alone, 15 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed on the road when hit by cars.
Providing walkways separated from the travel lanes could help to prevent up to 88 percent of pedestrian deaths that occur when the pedestrian is walking in the road. Study after study has shown that people will leave the car at home and choose to ride and walk if they have well-designed streets, sidewalks, and multi-use paths available for them.
We have not prioritized funding for transportation projects that would reduce these needless deaths and debilitating injuries. Each year, MaineDOT can only meet, at most, 10% of the demand for stand-alone biking and walking projects from the towns and cities that apply. In 2012, 92 communities applied for a competitive grant for bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure projects. None of those projects were funded due to the already long list of backlogged projects.
LD 193 would fund the construction of 39 backlogged biking and walking infrastructure projects. This bond would leverage 20% of all planning and construction funds from the local communities. This backlog is real and it’s affecting communities all over the state. All of the 39 projects on the list in front of you have been approved and deemed “eligible and worthy” for design, construction, or both by the Maine DOT, yet they continue to wait for funding.
This list represents projects all over the state, from Waterboro to Presque Isle, that would keep children, seniors, families, and all Mainers safe, and that would benefit local businesses and revitalize Maine downtowns. In the case of many of these projects, the plans have been approved and the communities have devoted their share of the local match funding. They are simply waiting for the State to devote its share of the funds that have been promised. The list before you contains dozens of shovel-ready projects all over our state that would provide jobs, make Maine children and families safer and healthier, and help revitalize struggling Maine downtowns.
Biking and walking encourage economic development by increasing foot traffic to local businesses, by attracting a young people (who increasingly want live downtown and enjoy a short, active commute to work) to move to Maine, and by serving our seniors who want to Age in Place and continue to participate, shop, volunteer, and engage in their community. Construction of biking and walking projects will create much-needed jobs in our state. An average bicycle project creates 3.6 more jobs per $1 million invested than a car-only project. And small projects like sidewalks and bike paths are labor intensive and more likely to be contracted to local construction companies rather than larger out-of-state firms.
If we had funding to build these shovel-ready projects, the safety of all road users would improve, and our transportation network would be accessible to all Mainers including the 24% of Maine residents who don’t drive. For the sake of our economy, our safety, our health, and our environment, and because all people in Maine deserve an equal opportunity to get from place-to-place safely in their communities, please support funding for biking and walking projects.