Bicycle Coalition Comments on Statewide Active Transportation Plan
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine (BCM) is excited that the draft Statewide Active Transportation Plan has been completed! After about a year of hard work, the plan has been released for public comment, which will be received until January 30, 2023. We were proud to have led the public outreach and meeting facilitation for the plan process, which involved hundreds of people at meetings and thousands leaving comments!
BCM is grateful that MaineDOT has put the effort into creating this plan. As with any new initiative, there are things that are great about this plan, and things that still need some improvement.
Things we like about this plan include that:
- It exists! This is a first for Maine, and it will help guide the build out of active transportation facilities for years to come.
- It makes a strong statement on the importance of AT in the state
- It had a robust stakeholder and public input process, and captures specific desires on the part of the public
- It is honest–acknowledging funding constraints, and that some MaineDOT policies may have hindered implementation of some active transportation projects
- It acknowledges and leans on work already done that showcases the potential rail trail and other corridors have to be transformative active transportation resources.
- It covers a good mix of infrastructure, policies and programs, and educational efforts, and offers a well-rounded approach to improving active transportation in Maine.
- It identifies good goals for the department to pursue
Areas where the BCM feels more work is needed include:
- The development of a timeline. When will the Complete Streets policy be revisited? When will the speed limit policy be reviewed? When will the High Priority Active Transportation Corridors be identified? The Plan needs clearer process steps tied to a timeframe. Without a schedule and performance targets, it risks being only aspirational
The plan needs to include a timetable and deliverables, or it needs to direct MaineDOT to create one within one year of the SATP’s finalization.
- The development of specific performance measures. How will success be measured?
The plan should set targets linked to the timeframe for policy reviews, and for specific infrastructure improvements like miles of bike lanes built, miles of shoulder on High Priority Active Transportation Corridors, etc. In its current form, all of the goals are purely aspirational, and lack specific mechanisms to be achieved–or even pursued.
- The development of a funding plan. The Plan notes in several places that MaineDOT operates under “financial constraints,” and that the goals of the SATP cannot be achieved with current funding. The plan needs to include funding targets as well as a calendar and plans for hitting them.
- The inclusion of more on- and off- road facilities that go beyond the Plan’s emphasis on more shoulders. The plan needs to recognize, and plan for, the public’s stated desire for more separated facilities. These can include buffered and delineator-separated bike lanes and sidepaths, available for use in VPI and other projects, in addition to shoulders and sidewalks.
We have shared our perspective on the Active Transportation plan with MaineDOT and the team that drafted it. The BCM plans to carefully monitor progress on all the deliverables mentioned in the Plan, and to regularly remind MaineDOT that the public has loudly asked for more, better, and safer bicycle and pedestrian accommodations in the transportation system!
You can read the Active Transportation plan, as well as the Rail, Transit and Aviation elements of MaineDOT’s “Family of Plans” here: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/27763afe326645c285cb1d726ee68cae