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Public Comment: Yarmouth Route 1 Bridge Bike/Ped Accommodations

By | Our Position

Summary Statement

It is the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s position that the Town of Yarmouth’s proposed bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on the replacement Route 1 Bridge and adjacent roadways are warranted and will create major improvements in the safety and utility of this road segment for non-motorized vulnerable users.

The current conditions of Route 1 in this area of Yarmouth are neither human scale nor accommodating for bicycle or pedestrian usage. Shoulders do not exist on the bridge, which is narrow and required the Beth Condon Pathway to depart from the Route 1 ROW, where it currently terminates in a parking lot. This situation compromises the Path’s utility as a transportation facility for thru bicyclists. There are no sidewalks on this stretch of Route 1. Posted speed is 40, and traffic likely exceeds that limit regularly. The roadway does not feel in any way safe or inviting to bicycle or pedestrian use.
The proposed facilities for this stretch of roadway and bridge in the center of the town will address all of these deficiencies, and vastly improve the access, safety and comfort of non- motorized users.
It is the BCM’s position that the accommodations proposed by the Town of Yarmouth meet the bicycle and pedestrian needs of the residents of the town, as well as the principles of Complete Street design adopted by the MaineDOT (which the Town is also in the process of adopting locally). We urge you to approve their application.

Design Discussion

After some decades of decline, bicycle and pedestrian behavior is now again becoming more prevalent in the United States and Maine, and as result, it is important to anticipate and accommodate walking and biking in transportation projects that will impact and shape communities for the next 50-100 years. In particular, roadway transportation projects in the immediate vicinity of village areas, schools, neighborhoods and businesses should be designed with the expectation that users besides motor vehicle operators will be present, and should provide vulnerable users with safe and convenient access to public roadways. This line of thinking informs transportation planning from Federal Highway down to the local level, and is increasingly institutionalized in Complete Streets policies adopted by Maine towns and cities, as well as by the Maine Department of Transportation.

Project Comments

The replacement of the Route 1 Bridge in Yarmouth is a project squarely in the heart of the village. It is located at the juxtaposition of a classic New England Main Street and a commercial strip along Route 1, and is adjacent to residents, schools, businesses, restaurants, a library, the town offices and police station. Given the project’s location in the town center, the Town of Yarmouth is proposing to include approximately 1000 feet of multi use path and nearly 1700 feet of sidewalk to accommodate foot and bicycle traffic that will inevitably be present in this downtown area. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has reviewed the application of the town and finds the facilities proposed are warranted and reasonable, and will address deficiencies in current conditions.

Thank you.
James C. Tassé, PhD
Assistant Director
Bicycle Coalition of Maine
Reference File: Town of Yarmouth “TA APPL Rt One Bridge Ped Imp’s 11-6-15”
 

Kittery Rt. 1 Bike/Ped Accommodations from Memorial Traffic Circle to Adams Road Intersection

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 proposed Route 1 shared use sidepath in Kittery, even with the design exception discussed below, will be a major improvement in the safety and utility of this road segment for non-motorized users.
The project discussed extends from the Memorial Traffic Circle to the intersection of Adams Road with Route 1. Contact Brian Keezer to see plans, Brian.Keezer@maine.gov.

Design Discussion

AASHTO generally does not recommend sidepaths along roadways for a variety of reasons, including issues with contraflow movements, proximity to roadway traffic, intersections, etc. Where they are used, AASHTO recommends a path 10ft wide, with a 5 ft or greater separation from the roadway. Where that amount of separation is not available, AASHTO notes that the installation of a “physical barrier or railing should be provided between the path and the roadway” (AASHTO Guide, 5-11). Narrower path widths are permissible in constrained situations.
AASHTO’s guidelines for sidepaths along roadways acknowledges that while a sub-optimal solution, they may be appropriate where:

    • “the adjacent roadway has relatively high-volume and high speed motor-vehicle traffic that might discourage many bicyclists from riding on the roadway”
    • “the sidepath is used for a short distance to provide continuity. . .”
    • “the sidepath can be built with few roadway and driveway crossings”
    • “The sidepath can be terminated at each end onto streets that accommodate bicyclist, onto another path, or in a location that is otherwise bicycle compatible.”

AASHTO is further clear that “provision of a pathway adjacent to the road is not a substitute for the provision of on-road accommodation such as paved shoulders or bike lanes, but may be considered in some locations in addition to on-road bicycle facilities” (AASHTO Guide 5-8).

Project Comments

The Kittery Sidepath Project includes a number of deviations from standard AASHTO design guidelines that the BCM agrees are justifiable due to the constraints of the project. The proposed project we are commenting on includes:

  • Changes to Rt. 1 that would narrow the travel lane to 11 feet, with a 4 foot shoulder
  • A sidepath not less than 8 ft wide, with an esplanade of not less than 2 feet, extending fromnear the Memorial Traffic Circle to Adams Road.
  • Shared Lane Markings on Adams Road spaced no further than 250 ft apart, as per MUTCDguidelines.
  • A multi-use path around the Memorial Traffic Circle of not less than 8 ft wideThe Bicycle Coalition of Maine supports these design components, which include exceptions to AASHTO standards, because the roadway in its current state:
    • is not inviting to bicyclists
    • has discontinuous, inconsistent accommodation for bicyclists and pedestrians
    • does not have an excessive number of driveway and roadway crossings
    • will connect to another bicycle facility at one terminus, and to a low volume street on the other.

It is the BCM’s position that even though the Kittery Sidepath Project will not meet optimal recommended AASHTO standards, it will nonetheless significantly improve the level of service for bicycles and pedestrians along this stretch of roadway.

In Addition

  • BCM strongly recommends that, as per AASHTO guidelines, a low fence or other form of physical barrier be put on the road side of the path where the separating esplanade is less than 5 ft wide.
  • BCM recommends that a short sidewalk be constructed around the radius of the landscaped berm on the north side of the intersection of Adams to provide continuous pedestrian access onto Route 1.
  • BCM recommends that a bicycle corral be considered at the intersection of Adams Road and Route 1 in order to provide convenient bike parking at the point where the road conditions become less safe for bicycle riders, to encourage riders to park and access the Outlet area by food.
  • BCM recommends that the MaineDOT consider a future road-diet lane reduction treatment for Route 1 from Adams Road northbound (AADT <17000) in order to create space for better bicycle accommodation.

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

Public Comment on Bangor Waterfront Master Plan

By | Our Position, Speak up for Biking

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 bike riders and walkers prefer using facilities that provide some measure of separation from cars.  These types of facilities lead to an increase in trips made on bike or foot, and therefore improve safety.
Project Comments
These conceptual plans provide a vision of a nicer concert venue and some improvements to pedestrian amenities.  I like the conversion of Railroad Street into a woonerf, although I do wonder if it will fly, as that road seems to be the primary route to the parking lot down by the river.  (Maybe that lot should also come out and be converted into greenspace. . . ?)
I could not find a single reference to “bicycles” anywhere in the plan, and barely any reference to pedestrians.  Ease of access to the site for walkers and bicyclists is not mentioned in any of the project critera (p. 18), although it is implicit that pedestrians are being considered in the woonerf, wayfinding, and pathways in the conceptual design.  I think that the designers should be asked what they are doing to accommodate persons riding bikes to the concert venue, and to the Park in general.  Will the wayfinding extend beyond the immediate area of the concert venue?  
As for bike facilities that I would suggest being included in this project:

  1. Covered bike parking at convenient locations to supplement the existing 14 should be considered.  (The locations of those existing racks should be reviewed, too–are they in good spots?  are they getting used?  Maybe a work station, too?
  1. Main pathways in the park should designed at 10-12 ft widths to accommodate shared use.
  1. Bike lanes should be considered for Rt 202/Main Street, which is currently 5 lanes wide (two travel lanes with a center turn).  Does the AADT really require that much capacity?  Or perhaps a multi use side path, 12 feet wide, running on the park side of Main Street from Tim Horton’s to RR street, which would also provide improved capacity for the ped bridge over the tracks?  

Public Comment from Jim Tasse, Bicycle Coalition of Maine
Reference File: https://www.dropbox.com/s/5oobu86p645ihbf/BWF_Master%20Plan_Final_revised.pdf?dl=0

Conversion of High and State Streets to Two Way Traffic

By | Our Position
To the City of Portland,
On behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, I would like to offer the following comments for the record regarding the considered conversion of High and State Streets in Portland from one-way to two-way traffic. We believe that, all things considered, there are more benefits than drawbacks in the plan for all users, and we therefore support the conversion.
  • Regarding the impact of a conversion on motorized users, there is academic debate over the impact of one-to-two-way conversions on the level of service (LOS) for motorized traffic.* Based on our research, we do not find the argument that the LOS for cars would be negatively impacted a compelling reason against the conversion, as it is possible that some configurations would maintain or even improve LOS.
  • Regarding the impact of a conversion on non-motorized users, there are both benefits and drawbacks:
    •  Benefits for Bicyclists—better traffic flow and circulation, slower traffic, improved safety.
    • Benefits for Pedestrians—slower traffic, more stopped traffic, improved safety, improvements in economic activity and growth in the number of street level shops and services.
    • Drawbacks for Bicyclists– a one-to-two-way conversion means more potentially turning vehicles and thus more potential conflict zones. The loss of a lane of travel also means it is more difficult for motorists to change lanes to pass cyclists, which could increase “level of stress” (see http://www.ssti.us/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Draft-bike-ped-PMs-for- PWPBPP.pdf) on these roadways, especially on uphill segments.
    • Drawbacks for Pedestrians–two way travel means that a pedestrian now has to monitor vehicles moving in two directions.
  • We would recommend that if this conversion occurs, that SLMs and BMUFL signs be used to indicate to motorists that they should expect bicycles in the travel lanes.
  • We recommend the development and signing of preferred bicycle routes across the peninsula that may bypass the uphill legs of these roads in particular.
  • We recommend that the planning team consider banning left turns at all but the most critical intersections to improve traffic flow and reduce “left hook” conflict zones.Ultimately, we feel that the reduction in motor vehicle speeds as a result of the conversion will improve the overall liveability along these key corridors, and we therefore support the conversion concept.
    James Tassé
    Assistant Director
    ____________________________
    * See, for a study that highlights benefits, see Vikash Gayah’s study at http://trid.trb.org/view.aspx?id=1129060; for a less favorable analysis see http://nacto.org/docs/usdg/evaluating-urban-downtown-one-way-to-two-way_chiu.pdf.

BCM Comments on Kittery Neighborhood Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan

By | Our Position, Speak up for Biking

The Kittery Area Comprehensive Transportation System (KACTS) and the Town of Kittery are working together, with consultants Sebago Technics and Alta Planning + Design, to develop a long-term vision for improving bicycle and pedestrian safety and study bike/ped accommodation along the Route 1 Bypass from Memorial Circle to the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine presented formal comments on the study on April 22, 2015
To the Town of Kittery
RE: Kittery Neighborhood Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan
On behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, I would like to offer the following preliminary comments regarding bike/ped conditions and opportunities within the project area described in Sebago Tech’s progress report on the Kittery Neighborhood study. Please note that we have only ground-truthed a limited number of the roads in the study area. I would be happy to work more closely with Sebago and Alta with suggestions.
Pedestrian Accommodations

  1. As Sebago’s preliminary report indicates, the study area does have some sidewalks and shoulders, but there are discontinuities in the sidewalk system. Apparently, at least one sidewalk is budgeted for Old Post Road.
  2. If the Rt 1 ByPass is envisioned as a commercial or residential area in the future, sidewalks may to be a desired feature. There are no sidewalks currently on the ByPass.
  3. The lack of a sidewalk on the Sarah Long Bridge is suboptimal for pedestrian safety.

Bicycle Accommodations

  1. The following comments assume that the width information provided in Sebago’s report refers to usable pavement in the travelled way.
  2. As a general rule, to optimize bicycle functionality, we recommend travel lanes less than 11 feet, and shoulders or bikelanes 4-5 feet wide. A documented benefit of narrowing travel lanes is better compliance with posted speed limits and reductions in crashes; wider shoulders also provide space for bicycles and/or pedestrians. MaineDOT supports reductions down to 10.5 ft even on some arterials (including Rt 1). Shoulders in areas where bike traffic is expected should be considered for bike lane stenciling.
  3. On all roadways in the study area where the posted speed limit is 30 mph or less and the total cross section of the traveled way is 28 feet or more, 10 ft travel lanes and 4ft minimum shoulders (wider is preferred) should be considered. This includes Old Post Road, Cook Street, and Bridge Street.
  4. On all roadways in the study area where the posted speed limit is 30 mph or less and the total cross section of the traveled way is less than 28 ft, SLMs (sharrows) placed 4-6 feet from the curb, with Bicycles May Use Full Lane and new MaineDOT 3 Feet Minimum to Pass signage should be considered. This includes South Eliot Road and Old Post Road south of Rt. 103 (i.e. between 103 and Bridge St).
  5. For a more innovative treatment that will calm traffic and improve bicycling conditions on the slower, narrower roads mentioned above, consider removing the centerline and using advisory bike lanes 5ft wide on either side. MUTCD authorizes removal of centerlines on roadways with fewer than 6000 cars per day; see MUTCD, 2009 edition, Section 3B-01, pg. 349.
  6. On all roadways in the study area where the posted speed limit is greater than 30 mph and the total cross section of the traveled way is 30 ft, or more, ≤11 foot travel lanes and shoulders of 5 or more should be considered. The higher the posted speed, the wider the shoulder. This includes Dennett St and the Bypass. It appears that these recommendations are currently met in some places on these roads.
  7. The ByPass is posted as a 35mph road, but the geometry and striping of the road seems to invite speeds of 50 mph or better. Shoulder width is inconsistent, especially near the bridge. Narrower travel lanes and consistent 6 foot shoulders on this road should be considered through the study area to improve speed compliance and to provide consistent accommodation for non-motorized users.
  8. The shoulder chokes off on Dennet St at intersection with 103. Consider repurposing pavement currently painted with yellow diverge/taper markings to create room for continuous shoulders through intersection and proceeding southbound.

Thanks for the opportunity to provide comments.
Regards,
James Tassé
Assistant Director
Bicycle Coalition of Maine

Letter to City Council Regarding Fiscal Year 17 Budget

By | Coalition News, Our Position
To the Portland City Council,
On Behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and our 5,000 members, I thank you for the opportunity to comment on the City Manager’s Recommended Budget for FY17. We understand that the budget calls for a reduction of 1.5 FTEs from the Planning and Urban Development Department, including the position of Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Coordinator.
We urge you to submit an amendment to the Recommended Budget to include the $25,089 needed to continue funding the half time Bike/Ped Program Coordinator position. Funding for this position represents less than 3% of the proposed cuts for staff in the proposed budget, yet the position adds incredible value to the City.
The City’s commitment to staffing this position has had a tremendous effect on the walkability and bikeability of the City of Portland. Portland is leading Maine in creating infrastructure that welcomes and improves safety for everyone who uses the street. We applaud the City for taking proactive steps to make sure those who travel on foot and bike are kept safe.
The most economically vibrant cities in the U.S. balance the needs of all street users, not just those in automobiles. This is driven by younger and older generations alike who are demanding walkable and bikeable neighborhoods. Portland’s success as Maine’s economic driver is due in part to robust planning and timely construction of improvements to the City’s bikeway and walkway networks.
Without this position we are concerned that many important initiatives and planned projects will be delayed or abandoned. To name a few,

    • Expansion of the City’s network of bike lanes, signed bike routes, multi-use paths, and paved shoulders that provide safe places for riders or all types.
    • Installation of CDBG-funded bike racks in the highest-demand locations across the City.
    • Completion of the City’s Complete Streets Policy Implementation Guide

For all of these reasons, we urge you to support a vibrant and sustainable economy in Portland by including funding for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Coordinator position in the FY17 Budget. We applaud the City for creating this position in 2010 and maintaining it for the past six years and urge you to continue prioritizing safe streets for everyone.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Sincerely,
Nancy Grant Executive Director

Lisbon Street Comments

By | Our Position
John Rodrigue
Project Manager
Department of Transportation, Highway Program 98 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04330
Dear Mr. Roderigue,
On behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine we are pleased to offer comments on the planned 2015 Highway Preservation Paving Project along Route 196, Lisbon Street, in Lewiston. This project, WIN #020309.00, should serve as a model for the Department’s implementation of its newly adopted Complete Streets Policy, signed June 2014.
In general, we applaud the inclusion of a 5’ buffered bike lane in this project.
That being said, we would like to offer the following ideas as possible changes to the proposed cross section that we feel would enhance the safety and utility of the proposed bicycle facility.

  1. We recommend you consider locating the bicycle lane on the LEFT side of Lisbon Street. This would put the bicycle rider on the passenger side of the car, reducing the likelihood of dooring incidents. Note that this is an option provided for in the AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, which states, “a bike lane. . . may be placed on the left if . . .a left-side bike lane decreases conflicts. . . caused by heavy bus traffic, heavy right turn movements, deliveries, or on-street parking.” (See AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, 2012, Fourth Edition, Section 4.6.3.)
  2. We recommend that lane line widths should follow MUTCD specifications for at least a “normal” line (i.e. 4-6”); we recommend at least a 6” line on the traffic lane side and 4” on the curb side.
  3. We recommend that buffer cross hatching lines should be 6” wide and cross the entire two foot buffer, and that each line should be no more than 3’ apart to make it clear to drivers that they should not park in this area.
  4. We recommend you consider using IR signal sensing technology to ensure that bicycles trigger the traffic signals.
  5. At the intersection with Main St, we recommend you include SLMs centered in both the right and left turn lanes to provide lane position guidance to bicyclists making turning movements in either direction.
  6. We recommend you consider using dashed 4” guidance lines to create an advisory bike lane 5’ wide through the intersection for cyclists turning left onto Main and heading west into Auburn to provide more clear lane positioning expectations for cyclists and motorists.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments. Sincerely,

Nancy Grant, Executive Director
James C. Tassé, Assistant Director
Abby King, Advocacy Coordinator

Public Comment: Falmouth Route 1 Plan

By | Our Position, Speak up for Biking
Nathan A. Poore, Town Manager
Town of Falmouth
271 Falmouth Road
Nathan:
On behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, we’d like to thank you for meeting with members of our staff on Thursday, November 7th to discuss Falmouth’s plans for Route 1 between Route 88 and Bucknam Road. As Route 1 is one of the most important transportation corridors in the state, and as the segment in Falmouth you’re working on sees a large amount of bicycle commuter and tourist traffic, your actions will not only impact local riding conditions–it will set a precedent for how other communities develop and maintain the Route 1 corridor. As such an important corridor, Route 1 should always be developed and maintained according to Complete Streets principles.
After reviewing the plans and speaking with you, we wanted to put in writing our initial impressions and recommendations. It is our hope that you will share these with the Council, the designers, and the public before going out to bid. We will also be sharing this letter with the MaineDOT and PACTS.
Initial Impressions:

  1. The Coalition feels that many elements of the plan will help make this segment of Route 1 feel more “small town” and less strip-like. We think that the landscaping and the lighting changes will make this strip of roadway more attractive in general for all users.
  2. The inclusion of eight-foot multi-use paths (presumably with ADA compliant tip downs and state of the art crossing signals) will help encourage pedestrian traffic. While there is good reason to question the wisdom of encouraging bicyclists to use sidepaths (such facilities have high crash rates, and the ones proposed in Falmouth have multiple intersections to negotiate) these wide paths may also provide travel conduits for inexperienced and young bicyclists.
  3. This project will have no appreciable impacts on improving the bikeability or the bicycle safety of this busy stretch of roadway. The proposed plan makes no significant changes to the current on-road conditions, and appears to simply maintain the existing and unsatisfactory shoulder conditions (which vary from about four feet to nothing).
  4. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is frankly disappointed that the plan authorizes approximately $6 million to bury the utilities, but fails to include approximately $2 million to improve the drainage and widen the road enough to provide for the AASHTO minimum standard 5 foot bike lanes next to the curb throughout the corridor. Cost appears to have been the driving consideration to reject the creation of bike lanes, but funds apparently are available for burying utilities?
We feel that the question of cost is not in this case a valid criterion for saying that safe bicycle accommodation is not feasible. The decision to bury utilities rather than provide for excellent bicycle accommodation is, in our view, one that prioritizes aesthetics ahead of safety.
In light of these impressions, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine offers the following Recommendations:

  1. Falmouth should reopen the conversation to widen Route 1, and should pursue revisions in the plan that would permit consistent five-foot bicycle lanes designed as per AASHTO national and PACTS regional standards throughout the project corridor. We are hopeful that you will reconsider prioritizing bicycle safety ahead of underground utilities. This is a critical transportation corridor in the region, and it should provide at a minimum the standard bike lane facilities that many lesser roads provide.
  2. In the event that the roadway is not widened to permit bike lanes, a minimum four-foot shoulder should be maintained throughout this corridor to provide a safer place for bicyclists to ride in this area. This shoulder should not be stenciled as a “bike lane”, as a four-foot shoulder next to a curb does not comply with AASHTO design recommendations for a bike lane in such locations. Attaining this minimum four-foot shoulder will probably require repurposing some of the space in the currently designed travel lanes.
  3. If a four-foot shoulder cannot be maintained through the corridor, the plan should consider Shared Lane Markings and Bicycles May Use Full Lane throughout the corridor to alert drivers that bicyclists could be in the travel lanes.
  1. To improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists,the radii of all intersections should be as short as possible to force cars to slow down as they leave/enter Route 1. It also shortens the crossing distances for users of the multi-use paths. If the Town reopens the discussion of widening the roadway, changing the turn radii could be addressed as part of that project.
  2. Any drainage structures which are in the shoulder should be installed at grade, and include wheel safe grates.
  3. Traffic signals should include bicycle detection devices and appropriate signage.

The Coalition appreciates your willingness to consider our input on this project at this late juncture. In general, we feel that this plan could have done more to make this critical transportation corridor a more complete street that takes into account the needs of all the users of the roadway. We are happy to take part in any conversation about improving the walkability and bikeability of your town, our region, and the whole state.
Thanks for your time and consideration, Regards,
Nancy Grant, Executive Director
James C. Tassé, Ph.D, Education Director Jennifer W. Ladd, Board Member