Founded in 2012, BikeMaine was organized by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, an advocacy group that has led the effort to make Maine better for biking and walking since 1992. BikeMaine was founded to promote Maine as a bicycling destination and to use cycling as an economic development tool for local communities. Proceeds from the event support BikeMaine host communities and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s cycling and pedestrian initiatives.
The inaugural BikeMaine event was held in September 2013, attracting 251 riders from 37 states and Canadian provinces, and generating an estimated $235,000 in direct economic impact. The economic boost to host community businesses and community organizations from riders, volunteers, and family members can be significant, along with the continuing benefits from increased community visibility. In 2018, BikeMaine’s total direct economic impact from the event to-date surpassed $3 million.
In 2016, following the completion of BikeMaine’s three-year start-up phase, BikeMaine awarded its first grant in support of biking infrastructure to the City of Gardner (2014 Host community). Gardiner used the $12,300 grant to attract matching funds to complete a connector trail from its downtown to the Kennebec River Trail. The second round of grants were awarded in 2017 to Bath (2014 Host Community) and the Washington County Council of Governments (2016 Region).
Bath was awarded $2,705 to construct a pump track in a vacant lot between Bath Middle School and the Bath Skate Park. A pump track is a small, looping course of banked turns and other features, designed to be ridden without pedaling. Instead, riders gain momentum by pumping with up and down movements on the bicycle. The track has been equipped with 30 high-quality bicycles and helmets, as well as tools and supplies for maintenance. The Washington County Council of Governments was awarded $4,000 to place public bicycle repair tool kits at automobile service stations along the Bold Coast Scenic Bikeway, a new, world-class, 300-mile bicycle route that winds through 30 communities from the Schoodic Peninsula to Eastport, and connects via the East Coast Greenway and US Bicycle Route 1 to Calais and the Canadian Maritimes.
In 2019, a total of $15,000 was awarded to four communities: $3,750 to the town of Fort Kent (2018 host community) for the installation of two flashing pedestrian crosswalk lights, which enhance the connectivity of the Fish River Greenway multi-use path; $2,500 to the town of Pittsfield (2017 host community) for five bike racks throughout the town as part of a larger effort to promote new bicycle events and usage by residents; $5,000 to the Washington County Council of Governments to complete installation of signage for the 350-mile Bold Coast Scenic Bikeway, the first fully signed scenic bikeway in Maine; and $3,750 to Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust (2017 host community) to help improve a section of the Hatchery Brook trail, making it suitable for mountain biking.
The Community Grant program continues to be at the foundation of BikeMaine, serving as a guiding principle in our mission of economic development across the state.
BikeMaine would not be possible without the support of its many generous sponsors and partners.