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On Bike to Work Day, News Breaks That Maine Gov. Paul LePage Was Hit By a Car While Biking in Florida

By | BikeMaine, Coalition News, Featured Posts, Our Position

Today was Bike to Work Day, and Maine Gov. Paul LePage revealed that he needs shoulder surgery after being struck by a car while he was bicycling in Florida.

When the news broke this morning that Gov. Paul LePage would need shoulder surgery because he’d been hit by a car while bicycling in Florida, our entire staff was out celebrating National Bike to Work Day, encouraging and supporting people who made the choice to commute today by bike instead of driving.
We were, each of us, stunned – and thankful that he wasn’t hurt more seriously. And we were struck by the obvious: this news was breaking on Bike to Work Day.
Gov. LePage is an experienced cyclist. We know this because we’re publishing an interview with him in the next issue of our membership magazine, The Maine Cyclist, in which he talks about how and why he loves to ride.
Beyond that, at the beginning of April the governor recognized us with the Maine Office of Tourism’s Originality Award, and he was on hand at the awards luncheon in Portland to personally bestow the honors. The award recognized our BikeMaine event for its success in boosting economic development by promoting Maine as a destination for bicycle tourism. Before things got underway, we got a chance to chat with him a bit about cycling.
 

Maine Gov. Paul LePage presents the Maine Office of Tourism’s Originality Award to MaryBeth Luce, the Coalition’s BikeMaine Event Director, at the Governor’s Tourism Conference in Portland in April 2018.

He warmed to the topic, and talked in detail about how he loved riding in Jackman when he was younger. But it wasn’t just what he said that rang true, it was how he said it. He got that look in his eye, you know the one; the one that all cyclists get when they’re talking about their favorite rides with someone who’s actually interested and gets it. For the governor, it’s clear that cycling is a very personal thing, and that he is a committed and experienced cyclist.
So here’s our takeaway from all this: if an experienced cyclist like the governor, who apparently was not riding in anything other than a completely legal fashion, can be so casually knocked off his bicycle by a passing motorist, perhaps we’re not doing everything we can to protect cyclists, pedestrians, and other vulnerable users of our roadways.
Right now, our transportation infrastructure overwhelmingly favors the automobile, to the point where other modes of transportation seem to be little more than eccentricities that are benevolently indulged by planners and policy makers.
And yet, time and time again, it’s made clear that people value communities that are bikeable and walkable, qualities that are often at the top of the list when they’re looking for a place to live or work. The crash that injured the governor happened in Florida, but similar crashes happen all too frequently in Maine because the fact is, our transportation infrastructure does not reflect that priority.
We can do better. And if we’re truly committed to making our state a destination for bicycle tourism – if Maine truly is open for bicycle tourism business – we must.

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

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

BCM Public Comment on PACTS Long Range Transportation Plan

By | Our Position
Dear Mr. Eppich,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed PACTS Long-Range Transportation Plan: Destination 2040. 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 express general support for the proposed plan. We are pleased to see the agency embrace concepts of Complete Streets, multi-modal safety and accessibility, public engagement, coordination with smart growth land use planning, and more.
We were, however, concerned with a number of projects listed on “Other Major Projects Under Consideration in the PACTS Region” (Table 2, page 15) in the Executive Summary. The list seems to emphasize turnpike expansion and additional turnpike interchanges: a turnpike spur to Gorham; new turnpike interchanges in Saco/Scarborough, Biddeford, and Cumberland; and a new interchange at I-295 exit 4 in South Portland.
As we’re sure you are well aware, transportation experts have repeatedly found that building new roads inevitably encourages more people to drive, which in turn negates any congestion savings. We would urge PACTS policy-makers and planners to re-think spending such a large amount of public dollars on infrastructure projects that will only invite and create more cars, traffic, and congestion. Were major new funding sources to become available during the next 20 years, we hope that they would be spent in the same fashion as other PACTS projects that have consistently emphasized the needs of all users, not just car drivers.
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

Public Comment: Scarborough Pine Point Road Complete Streets Improvements Proposal

By | Our Position

March 22, 2016
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 express general support for improvements to Pine Point Road that will enhance bicycle access and safety, and to recommend minor changes that will further extend those enhancements.
Project Discussion
In an informal discussion with Dan Bacon, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine learned of plans to add bicycle lanes to Pine Point Road.  In the course of that conversation, we learned that the plan was to use 11 ft traffic lanes with one 4 and one 5 ft bike lane on each side of the street. While we in general support the addition of the bicycle facilities, we feel that Scarborough should take this opportunity to narrow the travel lanes to 10 or 10.5 feet and to create bike lanes of a consistent width of 5 ft.
FHWA has ample documentation of the benefits of narrower lane widths for speed limit compliance without decreases in safety, and they also note that narrower lanes creates space for other users.  They recommend that striping reconfigurations be considered in all resurfacing projects, but their comments are germane to any re-striping or lane reconfiguration project.   We refer you to the FHWA publication accessible here: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/resurfacing/page03.cfm
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our concerns in more detail.  Again, thank you for the opportunity to comment.
James C. Tassé
Assistant Director
Bicycle Coalition of Maine

Public Comment Regarding: Old Orchard Beach Dunkin’ Donuts Proposal

By | Our Position

 
Reference File: (Traffic) Peer Review 12-17-15 provided by Gorrill Palmer.
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 express our concerns that a Dunkin Donuts at the intersection of Smithwheel and Ocean Park Roads may create safety hazards for foot and vehicle hazards.
 
Project Discussion
We were contacted about this project by a local group whose goal is to make Old Orchard Beach a pedestrian and cycling safety-conscious community. We have worked with this group in the past to help provide bicycle and pedestrian safety education to J-1 students that relocate to Old Orchard Beach each summer. Many of these J-1 students walk and bike along Ocean Park Road to get to and from Old Orchard Beach and Saco.
We have not been able to review any design documents for this proposed project, but we have received comments from the local group and we have reviewed the Gorrill-Palmer engineering review.
Based on this information, we are concerned that a Dunkin Donuts at this location may create safety hazards for foot and vehicle traffic. There are several issues with this location that we feel warrant more careful consideration, including:

  • The existing intersection at Smithwheel Road and Ocean Park Road is already a safety concern for bicyclists and pedestrians. Between 2011 and 2013, 2 crashes involving bicyclists and 1 crash involving a pedestrian occurred at this location.
  • It should be expected that a Dunkin Donuts at this location will result in significant foot traffic both from the nearby residents as well as from the large campground across the street.
  • The site is located at the on/off ramp for I-195, and traffic should be expected to exceed the posted speed limit of 30 mph, as the road has most of the characteristics of an interstate almost right up to the proposed location.
  • The crossing distance is approximately 48 feet, which an average person will traverse in about 11 seconds—which is a long time in traffic moving more than 30 mph.
  • While there are sidewalks on the south side Ocean Park Road, there are none on the north side in the immediate location of the project, so pedestrians approaching the site do not have a safe place to walk.
  • While it appears that there were once crosswalks on both the east and west side of Smithwheel Road, our understanding is that only one crosswalk across Ocean Park Road will be permitted after the project is finished.
  • The Dunkin Donuts will be a trip attractor and the additional vehicle traffic and queuing may create additional safety and traffic hazards on both Smithwheel and Ocean Park Roads.

Locations like this are inherently problematic for vulnerable users.  In other locations where a crosswalk directs pedestrians across a street where motor vehicles are traveling at high speeds on the way to or from a highway, there have been recent crashes. By way of example:

  • In October 2015, a bicyclist attempting to make a left turn across Baxter Boulevard onto Bates Street in Portland was hit by a car that had just exited Interstate 295 southbound.
  • In June 2014, a pedestrian was attempting to cross the street where southbound cars are exiting off the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge onto Route 1A in South Portland. The intersection includes chicanes designed to slow down exiting traffic off the high-speed bridge, a crosswalk, and a flashing beacon (RRFB). A vehicle stopping to permit the pedestrian to cross was rear-ended by two cars.

In our opinion, locating a Dunkin Donuts at this site appears sub-optimal from a bicycle and pedestrian safety perspective.   We recommend that either an alternative site for this popular business be identified, or that very robust pedestrian safety measures be included in this project.  In addition to the RRFB and pedestrian refuge island mentioned in the Gorrill-Palmer review, the BCM urges the designers for this project to include:

  • Sidewalks on the north side of Ocean Park Road extending west from Smithwheel approximately 400 feet.
  • A crosswalk across Smithwheel from the existing to the new sidewalk recommended above.
  • A continuation of the sidewalk on the west side of Smithwheel all the way to Ocean Park Rd.
  • A raised crosswalk to encourage drivers to slow down as they leave I-195

We also urge the designers to consider additional traffic calming measures that might include chicanes, rumble strips, and warning signs at this location.
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our concerns in more detail.  Again, thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Sincerely,
James C. Tassé, PhD                                                                                                                       Assistant Director                                                                                                                          Advocacy Manager
Abby King
Bicycle Coalition of Maine                                                                                                        Bicycle Coalition of Maine
 

Public Comment Regarding: Falmouth Rt 26/100 Bike/Ped Accommodations

By | Our Position

Summary Statement

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is a statewide organization working to make Maine better for bicycling and walking. We support the creation of well-designed bicycle and pedestrian facilities, such as sidewalks, crosswalks, multi-use paths, and bike lanes, wherever possible. Most bike riders and walkers prefer using facilities that provide some measure of separation from cars for safety, comfort and convenience. The Town of  Falmouth’s proposed changes to Rt. 26/100 will somewhat improve conditions for bicycle riders and pedestrians by providing 5 ft shoulders and sidewalks in much of the project area. However, the treatment of intersections in the current draft of the plan puts a “shared use shoulder” to the right of a combined through/right turn lane and will encourage bicyclists to assume a lane position that may expose them to conflicts with turning traffic. The shoulders as designed are NOT bicycle facilities, but may be incorrectly construed as such.

General Design Discussion

1. Rt 26-100 is currently a moderately significant bicycle route due its being crossed by two routes that are rated as moderate and high use by bicycles.

  • Rt. 26/100 from Presumpscott River to Libby Bridge BAADT is generally 1-25 (low use), excepting segment from the exit at West Falmouth Crossing to Leighton Rd, where BAADT is 25-50 (moderate use). This segment’s higher use may be linked to off road trail use in the immediate vicinity.
  • Leighton Road BAADT on both sides of Rt. 26 intersection is estimated at 25-50 (moderate).
  • Mountain/Falmouth Road BAADT on both sides of Rt. 26 intersection is estimated at 50-100 (high use)*NOTE: *All BAADT (Bicycle Average Annual Daily Traffic) range estimates are based on PACTS Strava Data analysis. Ranges of “low” (1-25 riders), “moderate” (25-50 riders) and “high” (50-100) were developed by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine using PACTS data. http://www.pactsplan.org/long-range-transportation-planning/mapping-data/strava-data/ To see the Strava map, visit http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=504725bb706047a1b4e59e6e7c316854&extent=- 70.5398,43.5115,-70.0327,43.7351

2. The placement of large shoulder “lanes” (which in earlier versions of the plans were stenciled as bikelanes) to the right of combined thru/right turn lanes at the major intersections with Leighton and Mountain/Falmouth Road raises concerns about motorists “right hooking” bicyclists at these locations. The proposed shoulder markings at these intersections will encourage bicycle riders to assume lane positions to the right of cars that might be turning right, putting bicyclists squarely into a conflict area. Alternative designs might include:

  • A dedicated right turn lane, with a bike lane to the left of it
  • An advisory bike lane with/without green conflict paint running in the center of the combined right/thru lane.
  • Terminating the shoulder stripe 50-200 feet prior to the intersection and using SLMs centered in the combined lane.

Project Comments

RTE 26/100 NORTHBOUND LANE (south to north)

Entrance from Rt. 26/100 into W. Falmouth Crossing

  • Wide shoulder appears to narrow dramatically, creates mixing area for northbound bike/auto traffic. Minimum 4 feet shoulder width is recommended at this location; 5 ft is preferred. 5 is indicated in “typical road cross section” document. If these shoulders are planned for designation as bikelanes, dashed advisory bikelanes should be painted across driveway openings, with green conflict zone paint considered.
Entrances/exit from Rt. 26/100 into Mercy Primary Care

  • Sidewalk appears to encroach on shoulder/bikelane space. Minimum 4 feet shoulder width is recommended at this location; 5 ft is preferred. 5 ft. is indicated in “typical road cross section” document.
Rt 26/100 Intersection with Leighton Road

  • “Bike lane” shoulders placed to right of a combined thru/right turn lanes. This design increases the likelihood of right hook crashes. Consider ending shoulder line prior to intersection and placing SLM in center of lane to provide safe lane placement guidance for non-turning bicycle riders.

Rt 26/100 Leighton Rd to Libby Bridge Segment

  • Assuming “typical road cross section” of 5 ft shoulder with 11 ft. travel lanes; this is a satisfactory bicycle accommodation.

Rt 26/100 Intersection with Mountain/Falmouth Road

  • “Bike lane” shoulders placed to right of a combined thru/right turn lanes. This design increases the likelihood of right hook crashes. Consider ending shoulder line prior to intersection and placing SLM in center of lane to provide safe lane placement guidance for non-turning bicycle riders.
  • Shoulder paint stripe is also continued along the radii of the turns onto Falmouth and Mountain Roads, creating a potentially confusing area for non-turning bicycles. Consider terminating shoulder stripes prior to intersection.

RTE 26/100 SOUTHBOUND LANE (south to north)

Rt 26/100 Off/on ramps to I-95 at W. Falmouth Crossing

  • Minimum 4 feet shoulder width is recommended at this location; 5 ft is preferred. 5 is indicated in “typical road cross section” document. If these shoulders are planned for designation as bikelanes, dashed advisory bikelanes should be painted across driveway openings, with green conflict zone paint considered.
Rt 26/100 Intersection with Leighton Road

  • “Bike lane” shoulders placed to right of a combined thru/right turn lanes. This design increases the likelihood of right hook crashes. Consider ending shoulder line prior to intersection and placing SLM in center of lane to provide safe lane placement guidance for non-turning bicycle riders.
  • Turn from Leighton onto 26/100 south bound has shoulder paint stripe continued along the radii of the lane creating a potentially confusing area for non-turning bicycles on Leighton. Consider terminating shoulder stripe prior to intersection.

Rt 26/100 Leighton Rd to Libby Bridge Segment

  • Assuming “typical road cross section” of 5 ft shoulder with 11 ft. travel lanes; this is a satisfactory bicycle accommodation.

I Rt 26/100 ntersection with Mountain/Falmouth Road

  • “Bike lane” shoulders placed to right of a combined thru/right turn lanes. This design increases the likelihood of right hook crashes. Consider ending shoulder line prior to intersection and placing SLM in center of lane to provide safe lane placement guidance for non-turning bicycle riders.
  • Shoulder paint stripe is also continued along the radii of the turns onto Falmouth and Mountain Roads, creating a potentially confusing area for non-turning bicycles. Consider terminating shoulder stripes prior to intersection.

LEIGHTON ROAD WESTBOUND (west to east)

Leighton Road is a “moderately-used” bicycle route, with BAADT estimated at 25-50 riders daily.* The “typical section” of Leighton Rd. with sidewalk has 11 ft travel lanes and a 2 ft shoulder. Consider 10 ft travel lanes with 3 ft shoulder—or consider not striping as per MaineDOT LCP Policy guidelines; consider SLMs . 4-5 ft shoulder preferred.
Leighton Road Intersection with Rt. 26/100

  • “Bike lane” shoulders placed to right of a combined thru/right turn lanes. This design increases the likelihood of right hook crashes. Consider ending shoulder line prior to intersection and placing SLM in center of lane to provide safe lane placement guidance for non-turning bicycle riders.

LEIGHTON ROAD EASTBOUND (west to east)

Leighton Road is a “moderately-used” bicycle route, with BAADT estimated at 25-50 riders daily.* The “typical section” of Leighton Rd. with sidewalk has 11 ft travel lanes and a 2 ft shoulder. Consider 10 ft travel lanes with 3 ft shoulder—or consider not striping as per MaineDOT LCP Policy guidelines; consider SLMs . 4-5 ft shoulder preferred.
Leighton Road Intersection with Rt. 26/100

  • “Bike lane” shoulders placed to right of a combined thru/right turn lanes. This design increases the likelihood of right hook crashes. Consider ending shoulder line prior to intersection and placing SLM in center of lane to provide safe lane placement guidance for non-turning bicycle riders.
  • Shoulder paint stripe is also continued along the radii of the turn onto Rt 26/100, creating a potentially confusing area for non-turning bicycles. Consider terminating shoulder stripes prior to intersection.

MOUNTAIN ROAD WESTBOUND LANE (west to east)

Overall

  • Mountain Road is a “highly-used” bicycle route, with BAADT estimated at 50-100 riders daily. * The “typical section” of Mountain Rd. is not illustrated; we assumein examination of the plans that a cross section with sidewalk has 11 ft travel lanes and a 2 ft shoulder. Consider at least 10 ft travel lanes with 3 ft shoulder— or consider not striping as per MaineDOT LCP Policy guidelines; consider SLMs . 4-5 ft shoulder preferred.

Mountain Road Intersection with Rt. 26/100

  • Shoulder paint stripe is also continued along the radii of the turns onto Rt 26/100, creating a potentially confusing area for non-turning bicycles. Consider terminating shoulder stripes prior to intersection.

MOUNTAIN ROAD EASTBOUND LANE (west to east)

Overall

  • Mountain Road is a “highly-used” bicycle route, with BAADT estimated at 50-100 riders daily.* The “typical section” of Mountain Rd. is not illustrated; we assume in examination of the plans that a cross section with sidewalk has 11 ft travel lanes and a 2 ft shoulder. Consider at least 10 ft travel lanes with 3 ft shoulder— or consider not striping as per MaineDOT LCP Policy guidelines; consider SLMs . 4-5 ft shoulder preferred.

Mountain Road Intersection with Rt. 26/100

  • Shoulder paint stripe is continued along the radii of the turns onto Rt 26/100, creating a potentially confusing area for non-turning bicycles. Consider terminating shoulder stripes prior to intersection.

FALMOUTH ROAD WESTBOUND LANE (west to east)

Overall

  • Falmouth Road is a “highly-used” bicycle route, with BAADT estimated at 50-100 riders daily. The “typical section” of Falmouth Rd. assumes a cross section with sidewalk has 11 ft travel lanes and a 5 ft shoulder. This is a satisfactory bicycle accommodation.
  • Shoulder paint stripe is also continued along the radii of the turns onto Rt 26/100, creating a potentially confusing area for non-turning bicycles. Consider terminating shoulder stripes prior to intersection.

FALMOUTH ROAD EASTBOUND LANE (west to east)

Overall

  • Falmouth Road is a “highly-used” bicycle route, with BAADT estimated at 50-100 riders daily. The “typical section” of Falmouth Rd. assumes a cross section with sidewalk has 11 ft travel lanes and a 5 ft shoulder.
  • Shoulder paint stripe is also continued along the radii of the turns onto Rt 26/100, creating a potentially confusing area for non-turning bicycles. Consider terminating shoulder stripes prior to intersection.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments. We are happy to offer additional comments as needed.
Jim Tasse
Assistant Director
Bicycle Coalition of Maine
Reference Files: http://www.falmouthme.org/sites/falmouthme/files/uploads/portland_line_to_leighton_road.pdf http://www.falmouthme.org/sites/falmouthme/files/uploads/leighton_road_to_libby_bridge.pdf http://www.falmouthme.org/sites/falmouthme/files/uploads/leighton_road.pdf http://www.falmouthme.org/sites/falmouthme/files/uploads/falmouth_road.pdf http://www.falmouthme.org/sites/falmouthme/files/uploads/typical_sections.pdf
*All BAADT (Bicycle Average Annual Daily Traffic) range estimates are based on PACTS Strava Data analysis. Ranges of “low” (1- 25 riders), “moderate” (25-50 riders) and “high” (50-100) were developed by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine using PACTS data. To see the Strava map, visit http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=504725bb706047a1b4e59e6e7c316854&extent=- 70.5398,43.5115,-70.0327,43.7351

Franklin Street Feasibility Study—Phase 2

By | Our Position

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is pleased to offer the following comments on the Franklin Street Feasibility Study-Phase II.

  1. In general, the primacy and importance of motor vehicle travel seems implicit throughout this document.
  2. In general, especially in the opening sections of the study, the deficiencies of bicycle and pedestrian accommodation in the corridor seem under-stated. For example, on page 23, under the description of Bike/Ped Accommodations under Roadway Characteristics Section 2.4, there is no mention of the lack of bike facilities or even shoulders on Franklin Street; the first mention of those deficiencies is page 29.  The Bayside Trail Crossing is not called out as a completely deficient bicycle crossing (and frustrating pedestrian crossing) due to the two phase crossing and the smallness of the midpoint refuge.  It is not until page 30 that the study acknowledges that “the character of the roadway is generally felt to be appropriate only for experienced, confident cyclists and pedestrians” –this statement should lead the section on Bike/Ped Accommodations on page 23.
  3. The methodology for arriving at the count values for bike/ped usage in Section 2.5.3 is not mentioned. Electronic counts?  Manual?
  4. Regarding specific design features for the proposed reconstruction:
    1. We applaud the inclusion of bicycle lanes on the redesigned roadway, but we have some concern over whether a 5 ft bike lane with a 3 ft buffer may be treated like an additional lane by aggressive drivers. Some sort of vertical buffer treatment (e.g. tubular markers, or flexible wands like those at the Westbrook St./Rt 295 exchange) would provide an extra measure of separation and comfort for less experienced people on bikes.
    2. We have concerns over the location of a bicycle lane to the right of lane where right turns are permitted. We generally prefer bike lanes to the left of right turn only lanes, or on street guidance (SLMs, advisory bike lane) that encourages bicyclists to take a more centered position in combined through/right turn lanes.  Although the proposed design puts bicyclists ahead of motor vehicles by using bike boxes, the bike lane is still to the right of the combined lane and such a configuration puts the bicycle rider in a position where right hook collisions are possible (see, for example, the proposed design of the bicycle lane at the intersection of Franklin and Cumberland). We recommend a loop sensor in the bike lane that would activate a sign reading “Turning Traffic Yield to Bicycles”.  “No Turn on Red Signs” should be posted all locations where bike boxes are used to prevent motorists from entering the bike boxes before the signal turns.  For a possible alternative treatment, see the PACTS Guide on “Bike Lane Transition Through Turn Lane”, page 44.
    3. We have reservations about the use of bicycle boxes at intersections, as it is not clear how the problem of vehicles proceeding as a rider attempts to enter the bike box just as a signal changes will be addressed. These bike boxes are also of no help for left turning bicyclists, as vehicular cyclists will use the left turn lanes and no cyclist should make a left turn from a right lane.  We wonder if two stage turn boxes (aka “queue boxes”) might be considered for less-confident cyclists who wish to make left turns.  “No Turn on Red Signs” should be posted all locations where bike boxes are used to prevent motorists from entering the bike boxes before the signal turns.
    4. The BCM welcomes any design that can safely separate bicycle traffic from motor vehicle traffic, which we feel will have the most utility to less-experienced and less-confident bicycle riders.
    5. We applaud the re-connection of streets throughout the corridor.

 

Public Comment Yarmouth: Feasibility of Bicycles in the Pratt’s Brook Park

By | Our Position

Summary Statement

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is the statewide organization working to make Maine better for bicycling and walking. After a site walk in the park on November 4, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine finds that there are no insurmountable design or construction problems in Pratt’s Brook Park that would preclude bicycles from using the park. We believe that the permitting the use is feasible, and would have multiple benefits to the town with manageable downsides.

General Observations

The Pratt’s Brook Park in Yarmouth is 220 acre park with 7 miles of trail open to walking and cross country skiing. The trails that were observed on a site walk on November 4—Moose, Raccoon, Bear and part of Deer– were primarily “double-track” trails that averaged about 10 feet wide, and appear to have been maintained with a tractor equipped with field (rather than turf) tires and a brush-hog mowing deck. Some of these trails, at least, appear to have originally been roads at one time. These trails were in generally good condition, and exhibited typical features of established “legacy” trails in this part of Maine—some root elevation, some wet spots, some fall-line alignments etc. Soils appeared to be loamy or clay like.
The park is currently closed to use by bicycles and ATVs. It is our understanding that the prohibition on these uses is a discretionary management policy.

Feasibility Considerations

In assessing the feasibility of opening Pratt’s Brook Park to bicycles, whether just to create a single off-road connection between Granite Street and North Road, or to permit use of the park trails in general, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine considered conditions and potential impacts on representative trails of the park trail system. In general, there appears to be no compelling resource protection reason to ban bicycles in this park. The trails are currently maintained with large motorized vehicles that have compacted the treadways of most of the trails without visible damage. Using bicycles on the trails, even with higher frequency, is unlikely to cause more damage than tractors running field tires. From a resource protection perspective, we do not believe that permitting bicycles on trails such as the ones we examined during the site walk would adversely impact the park. Similar trail systems open to bikes exist on similar landforms throughout the region, e.g. Pinelands.

Limited Resource Impacts

Any negative effects resulting from opening trails to bicycles would be limited to impacts in a few wet areas and possibly some fall-line trail segments. The wet areas identified on the site walk were limited in size and would be easily improved with some trail hardening (techniques for which Yarmouth has considerable expertise in as a result of the town’s work on the West Side Trail). We recommend some hardening of treadways whether the policy regarding bicycles is changed or not. We also recommend that fall-line sections that exceed 10-15% grades (e.g. the steep slope down the bridge on the Bear Trail) be rerouted with climbing turns to reduce damage from erosion, which is already occurring.

Limited User Conflicts

Given the width and straightness of some of the trails in Pratt’s Brook, some user conflicts caused by speeding riders may occur, but with signage and some changes in trail design, these conflicts can be minimized and managed. Furthermore, because the trails are generally wide and smooth, they will be most appealing to newer off-road riders, who are unlikely to be riding too fast, and less appealing to faster, high skilled riders who prefer more narrow and technical trails.

Other Considerations

Beyond the inherent feasibility of permitting and managing bicycles in Pratt’s Brook, there are additional compelling reasons for the town to consider a change in management policy to open the park to bikes. The terrain in Pratt’s Brook is ideal for families and newcomers to explore off-road riding, which is a fun, healthy activity that builds bicycle-handling competencies useful for utilitarian and recreational on road riding. Yarmouth is currently engaged with encouraging and supporting bicycle use in town; opening Pratt’s Brook would be consistent with that effort.
Opening the trails at Pratt’s Brook to bikes would also help to disperse some of the concentrated use of the West Side Trail and thereby help protect and preserve another important town open space resource. In its current state, however, we feel that Pratt’s Brook Park is unlikely to be an important destination for higher skilled, faster riders, who prefer more challenging trails, so we do not anticipate that there would be significant user conflicts from this group.

There is a great need for introductory trails in the area, and if Pratt’s Brook Park was open, it is likely that both the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s Off Road Education Program and the local chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association, Greater Portland NEMBA, would become available as an additional maintenance resources. These organizations could commit funds, tools, and volunteer time to help preserve and improve the riding conditions to the benefit of all users, and at reduced costs to the town.
Should the management policy on bikes in the park change, BCM would be willing to offer Yarmouth two “Cyclists Must Alert When Passing” signs to post on the Moose Trail, which appears to be the primary route between North Road and Berryfield Road. These signs could help kick start the education process for this new user group in the park.

Recommendations

    • Inventory all areas in the park that require hardening and plan to address wet spots, whether or not the park gets opened for bicycles.
    • Inventory all areas in the park where trail alignments are causing erosion, and plan to reroute to mitigate such problems, whether or not the park gets opened for bicycles.
    • Open the Moose Trail as an off-road connection between North Road and Berryfield Rd.
    • Open the trails to bicycles on an interim basis for one season to assess impacts.

Thank you.
James C. Tassé, PhD

Assistant Director
Bicycle Coalition of Maine
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