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The Maine Walking School Bus Program Awards 3 New Schools!

By | Funding Sources, SRTS


The Maine Walking School Bus (WSB) Program – a partnership of the Maine Center for Disease Control, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and the Maine Department of Transportation – is excited to announce that Vine Street (Bangor), Abraham Lincoln (Bangor), and Farwell (Lewiston) elementary schools have been selected to receive grants for the 2017/18 school years! Congratulations!!
The WSB Program provides local schools with the opportunity to start or build on their own daily walking school bus programs, with technical and financial assistance from the statewide program. The funding supports a WSB Coordinator within the school, safety equipment, marketing materials and ongoing guidance from program staff.
Vine Street, Abraham Lincoln, and Farwell will join five other schools across the state of Maine that are already running WSB Programs: Portland’s East End Community School, Norway’s Guy E. Rowe School, Ellsworth’s Elementary-Middle School, Waterville’s Albert S. Hall School, and Bangor’s Downeast School.
To learn more please visit the Maine Walking School Bus website.

People For Bikes – Community Grant Program

By | Funding Sources

PeopleForBikes generally holds 1-2 open grant cycles every year. PeopleForBikes will fund engineering and design work, construction costs including materials, labor, and equipment rental, and reasonable volunteer support costs. For advocacy projects, we will fund staffing that is directly related to accomplishing the goals of the initiative. PeopleForBikes accepts requests for funding of up to $10,000.

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Coastal Community Grant Program

By | Funding Sources

This is a planning assistance program only. Funds may be used for planning, development of regulatory and non-regulatory policies and programs, project implementation, outreach and education. Funds are not available for land acquisition or construction. This program awards $185,000 in funding each year; maximum award is $50,000. Towns have used this program in the past to fund pedestrian trails that increase access to coastal areas. For example, the Town of Yarmouth was awarded funding in 2012 to undertake a feasibility study to identify opportunities for reestablishing pedestrian connections between Main Street, Town Landing and the marinas. Eligible entities include towns in Maine’s coastal zone, groups of towns in Maine’s coastal zone; coastal Regional Planning Commissions; and coastal Councils of Government. You can access the list and a map of eligible coastal communities HERE.

DOT Municipal Partnership Initiative (MPI)

By | Funding Sources

The state funding contribution for a project will be capped at $500,000 and generally have a state share of 50% or less. This means the municipality has a higher local match. These projects will not go through the normal planning process. Municipalities request an eligible improvement or an addition to the scope of an existing MaineDOT Project.
Shortly thereafter, the Region Engineer meets with the municipal official to scope out the project.  The scoping, approval, agreement, and development processes will be as lean and simple as possible so that a Cooperative Agreement can be signed within 2 months if all goes well.

Play Everywhere Challenge

By | Funding Sources, Speak up for Biking

Grant Applications are Due May 31
KaBOOM! is excited to announce the launch of the Play Everywhere Challenge, a national competition that will award $1 million in prizes for the best ideas that make cities more playable for kids and families.
The Challenge is open to anyone with an idea for creating playful moments in unexpected places – from sidewalks to vacant lots, bus stops to open streets.
For more information and to submit your idea, visit playeverywhere.kaboom.org

Public Comment on Striping Changes on Washington Ave and Forest Ave

By | Our Position

Dear Members of the Portland City Council,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed striping changes along Forest Avenue from Morrill Street to Pleasant Avenue and along Washington Avenue from Ocean Avenue to Presumpscot Street.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is a statewide organization that works to make Maine better for bicycling and walking. We support projects and polices that create safe and welcoming places for those traveling on foot or bike.
We are writing to support the proposed changes to the road configuration, parking, signage, and pavement markings. These changes will improve safety for all road users on two important travel corridors. Washington Avenue and Forest Avenue are critical missing sections of Portland’s bicycle network. The changes proposed will increase transportation options on a major travel corridor at minimal to no cost, since they are being done in conjunction with city paving and striping projects this summer.

Our members and supporters want streets in their neighborhood that are friendly and welcoming to bicyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair users, car drivers, children on their way to school, older adults who need more time to cross the street, and families that want the streets near their homes to balance the needs of all users – not just prioritize motor vehicle traffic speed and capacity.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to comment. Sincerely,
Jim Tasse
Assistant Director
Bicycle Coalition of Maine
Abby King
Advocacy Manager
Bicycle Coalition of Maine

Grants and Community Recreation Program – 2017 Awards Now Open

By | Funding Sources, Speak up for Biking

The Grants and Community Recreation Program within the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands is pleased to announce that the application period is now officially open for the 2017 grant awards.
LWCFThe Land and Water Conservation Fund was established to assist federal, state and local governments in the acquisition and/or development of public outdoor recreation facilities. The funding can provide up to 50% of the allowable costs for approved acquisition or development projects for public outdoor recreation.
To learn more about the current LWCF program, to view the updated application materials, or to find contact information for the program manager, please visit the Maine LWCF grant website.

Recreation Trails Program – Applications Due Sept 30 2016

By | Funding Sources

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is a program of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (DACF).  RTP funds are available once per year, they are used for trail construction and maintenance. The application deadline for this round of all grants available under RTP is 5pm Friday, September 30, 2016.

  • RTP funds three types of projects: motorized trails, non-motorized, a combination of these two, and educational elements to trail projects. 30% of total program funds are for non-motorized uses.
  • This is federal transportation funding. It requires a 20% local match. The local share may consist of cash or state-approved donations of labor and/or materials.
  • For much more information and to apply for funding, visit http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/grants/recreational_trails_program.shtml
  • More info is also attached.  For Questions about this funding stream, contact: Doug Beck, (207) 287-4962Doug.Beck@Maine.gov

Letter of Support for Swift River Bridge Project

By | Our Position

Doug Beck
Outdoor Recreation Supervisor
Bureau of Parks and Lands
124 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333
Dear Mr. Beck,
On behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, I am writing to support the Rumford/Mexico Active Community Environment (ACE) Team’s application for Recreational Trail Program funding to build a bridge over the Swift River.  We have been involved with local active transportation and recreation efforts throughout Oxford County, including in Rumford/Mexico, since October 2012 and we have long-standing, trusted relationships with a number of members of the ACE Team.
The proposed bridge will connect a residential neighborhood near Mexico’s downtown with the Swift River Walking Trail, Hosmer Athletic Complex, and Mountain Valley High School in Rumford. This will create a valuable link for biking and walking between the two towns. It will welcome and invite more high school students to walk or bike to school and keep them safer. It could encourage more use of the many fields and playing courts at the athletic complex and the popular walking trail, leveraging the value of those assets to the community.  
As you know, Oxford County struggles with low physical activity rates, which are linked with low access to physical activity resources. Projects like the Swift River Bridge will increase the access to walking and biking facilities in the area that will help improve health and wellness in the region. This project will support biking and walking as healthy behaviors for all community members, and especially for high school students who could build physical activity into their daily schedules with an active commute.
As Advocacy Manager at the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, I am committed to helping promote the Swift River Bridge project through our website and social media outlets to our members and supporters in order to increase awareness and use of the bridge.
Thank you very much for considering this proposal for RTP funding from the Rumford/Mexico Active Community Environment Team. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine supports the proposal and believes it will significantly benefit the local community and the overall health and well-being of the people of Oxford County.
Sincerely,
Abby King
Advocacy Manager

Public Comment Regarding: Ocean Street/Rt 77 Striping Plan

By | Our Position

Summary Statement

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is a statewide organization that works to make Maine better for bicycling and walking. We support well-designed development and streets that create environments that are safe and welcoming for those traveling on foot or bike.
We are writing to provide follow up comments on Sgt. Adam Howard’s letter regarding the striping plan on Ocean Street. Sgt. Howard raises concerns that the proposed design, and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s recommended revisions to it, may create situations in which bicycles are routinely passed closer than Maine Law permits. We respectfully contend that is not the case for the following reasons:

  1. An average 8 foot vehicle centered in a 10 ft travel lane passing a 2 ft wide bicycle in a 5 ft bicycle lane can safely do so with at least three feet of distance. See diagram in Project Discussion, below.
  2. Maine State Law permits passing a bicycle in a no passing zone if it is safe to do so; hence a larger vehicle crossing a double yellow to create additional space is not prohibited by state law. See MRS 29-A §2070 (1-A). This reading of the law is consistent with the interpretation of it by the MaineDOT, as their website states explicitly that “Motorists may cross the centerline in a no passing zone in order to pass a bicyclist if it safe to do so” (http://www.maine.gov/mdot/bikeped/safety/laws.shtml).

Project Discussion

In his letter regarding the Ocean St. Striping project, and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s recommended revisions to the plan, Sgt. Howard raises concerns that the proposed plan creates travel lane widths that are too narrow to permit safe passing of bicycles by motor vehicle traffic and that the design of the lanes would create conflicts with the law. We respect his concerns and seek to address them here.
Regarding the questions concerning the proposed lane widths in response to both the BCM Comments and the revised plan submitted by Sebago Tech, it should be noted that the design proposed meets all regional, state and federal design parameters.
Informing our discussion here is recent FHWA Guidance (March 2016) regarding including bike facilities in repaving projects. That guidance can be found here:
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/resurfacing/page03.cfm

This road is a Maine DOT Priority 3 Corridor with approximately 12000 AADT. Federal guidance on lane widths does not automatically require 11 foot lanes on such roads unless heavy vehicle traffic is >8%, which in the case of Ocean Street would mean approximately 960 heavy vehicle trips per day. We have seen no data documenting that percentage of use by heavy vehicles on this stretch of roadway, and do not feel that 11 foot lanes are warranted.
It should be further noted that an 8 foot vehicle centered in a 10 foot travel lane can pass a bicycle rider in a 5 ft lane with at least 3 feet of space. And given the available cross section of the roadway, there would be no more nor less violations of the three-foot law with the bike lanes than without, as no additional width is proposed for the roadway. See the diagram below:
In the absence of parked cars or other hazards, bicyclists will usually ride to the right of center in a bike lane, and this practice is even more likely for the less experienced the proposed bike lanes are intended to aid. Riding two feet from the curb or edge of pavement, a bicycle will be passed by a typical motor vehicle centered in the travel lane with at least three feet. Motorists could create even more space by moving slightly to the left. Operational position in lanes is always variable, Operational position in lanes is always somewhat variable, and more or less space could be created by different positions in the lanes. It is impossible and impractical to engineer roads and lanes that create maximum distances between users in all cases.
Regarding the point of law that Sgt. Howard raises, that it is not legal to cross the double yellow line to pass a bicycle, Title 29-A, Chapter 19, §2070 (1-A) states explicitly that a bicycle may be passed in a no passing zone if it is safe to do so, with no additional restrictions. Our interpretation of that law is that there are no restrictions on passing a bicycle in a no passing zone beyond that it must be safe to do so, and that crossing the double yellow to do so is permitted.
This reading of the law is consistent with how the MaineDOT interprets §2070, as their website states explicitly that “Motorists may cross the centerline in a no passing zone in order to pass a bicyclist if it safe to do so” (http://www.maine.gov/mdot/bikeped/safety/laws.shtml).
Permitting bicyclists to be passed on narrow roads is a common sense provision of Maine law. Many roadways in the state have travel lanes of less than 14 feet, which is the minimum width necessary for a bicycle and typical vehicle to share a lane. Without this provision, as Sgt. Howard points out, it would be necessary for vehicles to remain behind a bicyclist in all cases unless the lane width (or lane plus shoulder width) expanded to a minimum of 14 feet total.
It should be further pointed out that whether or not the bicycle lanes are installed, the existing road geometry on Ocean Street would still require a large vehicle to move slightly left of the center line to safely pass a bicycle. The proposed bike lanes are simply demarcating where bicycle riders already operate, and neither increase nor decrease the available cross section of the roadway. Widening roadways is an expensive option that can make conditions worse (e.g. by encouraging speeding), and so Maine state law’s provision to permit the passing of bicycles in no passing zones where it is safe to do so is a simple, cost effective solution to this issue.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss our recommendations in more detail with city staff, public safety personnel, elected officials and Sebago Tech staff.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment. Sincerely,
James C. Tassé, PhD Assistant Director
Bicycle Coalition of Maine