(PORTLAND, Maine) June 16, 2020 – The Bicycle Coalition of Maine announced the launch of a new anti-speeding campaign on Tuesday to coincide with the unveiling of the organization’s new five-year strategic plan effective through 2024.
The new campaign, entitled “Slow ME Down,” broadly aims to both change people’s attitudes about speeding in cars and send a message to drivers, state and local officials, and roadway designers that their help is needed in making this behavioral change. The BCM plans to achieve this by creating a visible group of Mainers committed to slowing down when they drive and encouraging others to do the same.
Driving 10 mph over a posted speed limit in Maine seems to be the norm—even in residential areas posted at 35 mph or less—which can lead to fatal consequences, according to the Coalition. There have already been five vulnerable-user deaths in Maine this year in Rumford, Bangor, Orrington, Falmouth, and Liberty. Eight additional crashes across the state have left cyclists and pedestrians injured.
“Data shows that even small increases in speed increase the lethality of a crash with a vulnerable user,” says BCM Assistant Director Jim Tassé. “And speed affects everything from how fast a car can come to a stop to how quickly a moment of distraction becomes a disaster.”
According to data collected by AAA Safety Foundation, in collisions at 30 miles per hour, about one in five pedestrians will not survive. These numbers are amplified for older victims, and the risk of death continues to rise dramatically as speeds exceed 30 mph. Additionally, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, 37% of the vulnerable-user fatalities on local U.S. roads were directly attributable to speed.
The BCM says it will provide anyone who joins the campaign with a Slow ME Down action kit that includes a sticker identifying them as a person who supports safe speeds in residential contexts, a postcard to send to local officials, and other ways to take action.
“The idea is to empower people to drive below posted speed limits in these low speed contexts,” Tassé adds, “and to help build solidarity around compliance with speed limits—at least in residential and business contexts.”
Slow ME Down is just one part of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s new five-year strategic plan effective from 2020 through 2024. This strategic plan centers on four goals and objectives:
- Leadership – Through the Coalition’s leadership, elevate Maine’s reputation as a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly state, as well as an extraordinary place to bike and walk.
- Education – Educate people of all ages and abilities on how to safely bike and walk for transportation, recreation, and health.
- Advocacy – Advance Complete Streets principles by using policies, programs, and projects that balance the needs of bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.
- Mission Advancement – Provide direction, vision, and funding for completion of the organization’s mission using effective planning, development, and communication.
The full 2020-2024 strategic plan is available on the BCM’s website: https://www.bikemaine.org/strategic-plan/
“Now, more than ever before, the people of Maine are choosing to walk and ride bikes for recreation, fitness, and transportation,” says the introduction to the strategic plan, written by BCM Executive Director Jean Sideris and Board of Directors President Tina West. “We at the Coalition envision a future where Maine’s roads, public ways, and trails are safe, accessible, and well-used by everyone—resulting in cleaner travel options, improved health, and stronger economic benefits for Maine communities.”