MOUNT VERNON — Traffic delineators were temporarily installed on three Mount Vernon roads last Thursday in an effort to slow traffic at the center of town.
The installation was the result of a collaboration between the town’s Aging In Place Committee and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s “Imagine People Here” program.
Matt Sulem, communications manager at the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, said a total of 10 delineators were installed July 29 on three inbound lanes in town. Two were placed on Main Street, four on Belgrade Road, and four on North Road.
“Sandy Wright of Mount Vernon’s (Aging In Place Committee) has been the champion of this project and deserves the most credit for getting this done,” said Sulem. “She initiated the outreach, kept the planning process moving, and even helped with the actual installation.”
Wright first reached out to the Maine Department of Transportation, who then contacted organizers of the BikeMaine organization. Both BikeMaine and MaineDOT visited the site, after which a plan was developed and the delineators were installed on July 29.
“We try and involve the towns in this,” he said. “Somebody comes from the town and we work with Maine DOT and locals to evaluate the best treatment for that situation, and all of the timing and actual infrastructure that goes into it.”Advertisement
Altogether, Sulem said it only cost about $600 to install the delineators, which are poles that go along a road and guide traffic into slower areas. The crew on Thursday consisted of two members of BikeMaine and two local volunteers.
Sulem on Tuesday said he hasn’t heard any feedback from the town, but that he and other volunteers immediately saw results after installing the delineators.
“They make people feel like the road is narrower, but we don’t shrink the size of the road at all,” he said, adding that cyclists are still able to safely ride on the roads.
The “Imagine People Here” program focuses on the installation of temporary projects to improve safety and access for pedestrians and cyclists in Maine. It is the fourth project in the state through the program this year, following installations on Diamond Street in Portland on May 20, in downtown Augusta on July 13, and in Portland’s Woodfords Corner on July 16.
In Augusta, members of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and local volunteers installed 3-foot-high poles at both ends of most of the crosswalks on Water Street. They also marked parts of the crosswalks on both sides of the road with red paint. The poles and paint will delineate spaces, called bump-outs, on both sides of the road.
Volunteers with the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and the town of Mount Vernon install four delineators July 29 on the Belgrade Road. The project was part of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s “Imagine People Here” program. Photo courtesy of Bicycle Coalition of Maine
Since it was established in 2015, examples of the program’s success include three crosswalk enhancements installed in Bangor, which resulted in reducing average travel speeds by 11% and 85th percentile speeds — the speed at or below which 85% of motorists drive on a road that’s not affected by inclement weather or slow traffic — by 9%.Advertisement
In North Yarmouth, two gateway treatments, three crosswalk enhancements, and 2.25 miles of shared lane markings were added, which reduced average traveling speeds by 12% and 85th percentile speeds by 13%.
Looking ahead, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine is planning installations in Brooklin, Islesboro, Millinocket, Saco, and South Portland. Its most recent project was Aug. 5 on Main Street in Ogunquit.
Sulem said the project volume ramped up last year during the pandemic, as it allowed them to be safely socially distanced outside.
“It’s a little bit safer and we really enjoyed doing it,” he said, “because it’s real, tangible work. It’s a local person coming to us with an issue, and then us being able to make that road safer in an easy, quick, and inexpensive way.”
Sulem said all of the installations are temporary, because they want to ensure that the changes yield positive results.
“If something doesn’t work, we’re totally fine with changing it,” he said. “We want to make sure we get feedback from pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike to see if it’s working for everybody. And if it does, then we encourage the towns to make these installations permanent.”Advertisement
The Mount Vernon delineators, according to Sulem, should be up until the arrival of winter weather.
“It generally ends up being about mid-November,” he said, “but you know Maine, we could get a snow storm at the end of September. But generally they’re up until November.”