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Maine Had 14 Biking and Pedestrian Deaths in 2014 (MPBN)

By | Coalition News, Stay Safe

This article originally appeared on
Fourteen people in Maine lost their lives while biking and walking in 2014.
“And it’s a sad reality, but we think it is important for folks to know,” says Brian Allenby, of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.
Allenby says the latest Maine DOT data show that half of the victims were either seniors or under the age of 18, with 70 percent of fatalities occurring in clear weather where road conditions were not a factor.
Allenby says bicyclists and pedestrians need to do everything possible to ensure that they’re visible to motorists. And drivers, he says, need to expect the unexpected.
“I know it’s hard ask to say, ‘Anticipate the unexpected,’ ” he says, “but it really just takes that speed down a little bit, and really try to be conscious of the fact that there might be other folks using the road, especially around dusk or nighttime.”
Click here to read more.

Proper Helmet Use Keeps Kids Safe – VIDEO (WCSH6)

By | Coalition News, Equipment, Featured Posts, Stay Safe

This piece originally appeared on

Proper Helmet Use Keeps Kids Safe

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — While more people are using helmets when biking and skating than ever, many people are not wearing their helmets the right way which could lead to injuries.

“Helmet misuse is pretty high,” stated Suzanne Grace, injury prevention coordinator for Maine Medical Center’s Trauma Program. Either non-use is definitely an issue, because if you are not wearing it it can’t help you at all, but if you are not wearing it properly it is not going to be able to do it’s job as intended.”

Grace says kids under the age of 16 are required, not only to wear a helmet while riding in Maine, but the law also requires proper use.

As an injury prevention specialist and EMT, Grace says she has seen the consequences of misuse first-hand.

“If a helmet is not fitted properly, it could certainly fall forward over the face, block vision, things like that,” she explained. “Their forehead is exposed, they have an increased risk of injury that way. If they don’t strap it on at all, it is not going to hold on to their head in a crash.”

“In both of the bad crashes I’ve taken, I have had the helmet on to protect me,” said Jim Tasse, director of the Maine Bicycle Safety Education Program. “Went over and landed on my face, and a properly fitted helmet protects your head and face.”

Tasse travels across the state promoting bike safety.

“Approximately 90% of bicycle crashes are self-inflicted,” he explained. “There is no one else involved, there is nothing else involved, it is just sort of pilot error on the part of the bicyclist.”

“The helmet is like a seat belt, it doesn’t prevent you from getting in a crash, but if you get in a crash it is a great thing to have on so that you are a little bit safer,” he added.

He says when it comes to fitting a helmet properly, there are three tests a helmet must pass.

“We talk about the eyes, ears and mouth test,” said Tasse. “You want it to ride level on your head, take one or two fingers, put them on your eyebrows and your helmet should touch it right there.”

“The buckles meet right under your ear,” he explained, as he adjusted a helmet to demonstrate. “Making this adjustment makes sure the helmet stays in that nice level position.”

“When we open our mouth we can feel it pull down on our head a little bit,” he continued, as he finished strapping the helmet on.

“They are good for one significant impact, so if your helmet has cracks or dents in it, it really should be replaced,” added Tasse.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine and Maine Department of Transportation are partners in the Maine Bicycle Safety Education Program. Through the program, kids and adults are given instruction on safe cycling. The Maine Bicycle Helmet Program is one of their projects, which distributes helmets to community groups for little or no charge.

Memorial Bridge helps fuel bicycling boom (Seacoast Online)

By | Coalition News, Stay Safe

KITTERY, Maine — Memorial Bridge is open to bicyclists for the first full season this year, and its well-marked bike lanes mean riders are already surging into Kittery to take advantage of the warming weather.

Bicycle advocates and public safety officials alike are reminding motorists and bicyclists that not only is it important for the two groups to learn to be courteous with each other on town roads — it’s the law.

“People need to be as familiar with the laws as possible — motorists as well as cyclists — and to act in a predictable and polite way,” said Nancy Grant of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. “We are sharing the road. And it is concerning when the conversation becomes polarized.” Read More

Bike Brightly Campaign Launches with Light Giveaway and Night Ride

By | Coalition News, Equipment, Featured Posts, Stay Safe


For more information on the Bike Brightly program, please visit:





Brian Allenby
Communication Director
Bicycle Coalition of Maine


Bike Brightly Campaign Launches with Light Giveaway and Night Ride 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 – Portland ME – Bike Brightly is the latest initiative of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and is aimed at lighting up the bikes of those who ride after dark. In the coming month, the Coalition will engage cyclists in a multi-faceted campaign encouraging safe and legal night riding, by employing head and tail lights when riding their bicycles after dark. Read More

Deirdre Fleming: Law can provide a yardstick to gauge safety for Maine cyclists

By | Coalition News, Stay Safe


This article originally appeared in the Portland Press Herald.

Deirdre Fleming: Law can provide a yardstick to gauge safety for Maine cyclists

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine (BCM) touts our state as having some of the nation’s most bike-friendly laws. One of the more recent is the “three-foot” law. But is it working?

This summer two cyclists were killed after being hit by motorists and a third could have easily suffered the same fate after getting struck by a passing tractor had a nurse not appeared on the scene.

Since Maine’s three-foot law went into effect in 2007, the coalition has lobbied to have it more strictly enforced, and hopes to expand it so that more room is given for cyclists.

But does it help? Or does it provide a false sense of security?

Read More

ALLEN AFIELD: Give cyclists room (Morning Sentinel)

By | Coalition News, Speak up for Biking, Stay Safe

This article originally appeared in the Morning Sentinel


July 12 

ALLEN AFIELD: Give cyclists room 


In June, a truck hit and killed a Massachusetts bicyclist during the Trek Across Maine, making an enormous impression on me for two reasons:

* The incident occurred on Route 2 just north of my home, a delightful rural highway that I pedal often.

* In my humble opinion, a Maine bicycling law encourages motor vehicles to come too close to bicyclists, creating a danger that could lead to fatalities. More on this point in a moment.

First, let me say that I have bicycled seriously for 24 years (like most days from April through early December) and find the sport safe and most drivers cooperative. When motor-vehicle operators do something annoying or dangerous to me, it’s usually from ignorance, not intentional meanness.

That fatality in the Trek Across Maine caught my attention, though, mostly because the incident reminded me of a pet-peeve. Maine has a law that prohibits motor vehicles on highways from coming within three feet of bicycles, which — in my opinion — encourages driver to pass pedalers too closely on roads with a 55 mph speed limits.

A 3-foot prohibition might work in cities with a 25 mph limit, but on a road like Route 27 or 2 with an often-broken 55 mph, I do not want a vehicle passing me three or even four feet away, traveling at 62 mph or more.

For starters, if my wheels hit a small rock or crack, and I fall left as a motor vehicle speeds past too closely, then I have a good chance of getting run over. When lying on the ground after a fall from a 58cm road bike, I’ve measured from the wheel track to the top of my head — 6-feet, 2-inches.

In fact, when I’m pedaling on Routes 27, 2, 3 or 17, my usual roads with breakdown lanes, motorists give me a much wider clearance than 3-feet, often well beyond 6-feet. Even on narrow highways, vehicles often pass well beyond me. So motor-vehicle operators know more than legislators, who passed the 3-foot law that may encourage drivers to come too closely.

Here are other salient points about bicycles on public highways:

People occasionally tell me that bicycles should be prohibited from public highways, and when someone utters this claim, I explain that in my opinion, the 14th Amendment would prohibit a bicycle ban — the part that says “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

In short, the Constitution says that I cannot be denied privileges extended to other citizens until I’ve done something to lose the privilege. My comment needs testing in the Supreme Court for a definitive conclusion, and no, I wouldn’t debate this point with anyone, because I’m no attorney.

Second, bicycles predate motor vehicles. Long before the very invention of motor vehicles, walkers, runners, horseback riders, horse-drawn wagons and then bicyclists used public byways — a precedent.

Third, most bicyclists drive vehicles, so they pay gasoline taxes that help build roads and bridges, and I’m a good example. I drive a half-ton, 2-wheel pickup and have occasionally given gas money to two daughters and to Jolie, my intrepid companion, so I have bought gasoline for four people, which has paid for my road use.

I also bicycle for three-season transportation, which lessens harmful pollution — my contribution to the environment.

I cannot leave this bicycling topic without mentioning an incident that occurred to me on Route 2 in July 2011, but I am not suggesting a correlation between the Trek Across Maine fatality and the following anecdote from two years ago. My story just involved a threatening comment aimed at me while I was bicycling Route 2:

I was pedaling east from Farmington Falls a mile or so west of down-town New Sharon, and a large trailer truck blocked the breakdown lane. There were no approaching vehicles, so I pedaled into the travel lane and started by the parked truck just as the driver crawled from beneath the trailer in front of the eight back wheels. He looked hard into my eyes and said, “You shouldn’t bicycle on this road. People will run right over you!”

The tone of his voice did not suggest a friendly warning; however, I have bicycled this road for 12 years with no memorable events marring my day, so the comment shocked me into silence for several seconds, quite a feat, because I’m normally a quick-mouthed smart aleck. Finally, out of morbid curiosity, I blurted out, “Why would anyone do that?”

The man had no satisfactory answer.

I continued toward New Sharon and to Route 27 and home, but his comment has stuck with me, a memory that crosses my mind each time I pedal this rural highway.

Ken Allen, of Belgrade Lakes, a writer, editor and photographer, may be reached at

Maine cyclist's death shows risks of draft from big vehicles (PPH)

By | Coalition News, Featured Posts, Stay Safe

This article originally appeared in the Portland Press Herald.

Maine cyclist’s death shows risks of draft from big vehicles

A preliminary report says turbulence from a passing truck probably caused the Trek Across Maine rider to lose his balance.

By David Hench
Staff Writer

The death of a cyclist in the Trek Across Maine fundraiser earlier this month has focused attention on the risks that bicyclists face from the draft created by passing vehicles, especially large trucks.

click image to enlarge

David LeClair, 23, is shown in an undated photo from the Athena Health team web page.

Police say David Leclair, 23 of Waltham, Mass., was probably knocked off balance by the air turbulence from a passing tractor-trailer. They say he died either when he hit his head on the truck or after his arm hit the truck and he was thrown onto the road.

“It would be very difficult to be a cyclist and not have something like this operate as a wake-up call, just in terms of vulnerability out there on the road,” said Brian Allenby, spokesman for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. “It also throws into focus the need to be hyper-vigilant and aware of surroundings and really riding defensively.”

The Maine State Police’s preliminary investigation concluded that the possible cause of the June 14 crash was the draft created by the truck, which caused Leclair to move to his left, hitting the rear tires of the truck.

That assessment is consistent with what troopers said was a possible contributing factor, and state police Lt. Walter Grzyb said Thursday that nothing in the subsequent investigation has changed that theory.

Police also learned that Leclair was taking a drink from his water bottle and had only one hand on the handlebar, which made him less steady.

The power of the “drag” created by a passing truck — the force of the wind as air is pushed away from the front of the truck and then fills in behind the rig as it passes — is familiar to many cyclists.

“It’s something I personally have experienced many times as well as every other cyclist I know who’s ridden on the road,” Allenby said. “The trucks don’t even have to be doing 50 or 60 mph, they could be going 30 to 40 mph. Any time you’re moving a mass that large through the air, you’re creating quite a bit of turbulence.”

Police have said that Leclair was riding about 2 feet inside the breakdown lane, based on witness statements. The truck was about 2 feet into the travel lane, leaving about 4 feet between the two as the truck passed.

The law requires motorists passing cyclists to stay at least 3 feet away.

Grzyb said the investigating trooper is still interviewing witnesses and hopes to have a final investigative report finished in another two weeks, although it may take longer.

The Trek Across Maine is an annual fundraiser in which more than 2,000 cyclists ride over three days from Sunday River ski resort in Newry to Belfast to raise money for the American Lung Association.

Leclair, part of the athenahealth cycling team from Massachusetts, was killed when he crashed on Route 2 in Hanover just a few miles from the ride’s starting point.

The crash report completed by Trooper Ronald Turnick on the day of the crash was approved by Trooper Kyle Tilsley on Tuesday.

The report indicates that Leclair was riding east, “near the breakdown lane.” The tractor-trailer driven by Michel Masse-Dufresne, 24, of Quebec, also was headed east.

Masse-Dufresne was apparently unaware that the rear of his 80,000-pound truck, which was hauling corn, had collided with Leclair. Masse-Dufresne continued driving until he was pulled over about five miles away in Rumford.

The report says it appeared that Leclair died of neck injuries; however, an autopsy determined the actual cause was blunt trauma to the head.

The crash report notes the road conditions that morning were dry and clear, the road straight and that Masse-Dufresne was not distracted.

A diagram of the crash scene shows there were a series of road signs as the truck approached the stretch of road where Leclair was riding. One indicated the speed limit was dropping to 40 mph, the next said to watch for pedestrians and the third indicated the speed limit had dropped from 55 mph to 40 mph.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine, a nonprofit group that advocates on behalf of cyclists, says in its literature that motorists should imagine a yardstick poking out the passenger window to gauge 3 feet, the minimum distance a car should be from a cyclist it is passing. Allenby said that is an absolute minimum.

“The example I always give is if a child is standing on the side of the road, would you pass them at 40 mph only 3 feet away? Of course not.”

New Hampshire state law requires a distance of 3 feet between a cyclist and motorist when the vehicle is traveling 30 mph, 4 feet when it’s going 40 and 5 feet when it’s going 50, he said.

In parts of Europe and Japan, where there are many more bicycles and motorized scooters sharing the road with trucks, many trucks are required to have underride side guards. The devices, barriers that stretch between the wheels of the trailer and below the container, prevent cars, cyclists and pedestrians from going beneath a trailer and being hit by the rear wheels.

Certain types of side guards reduce aerodynamic drag, according to a study by the National Research Council Canada’s Centre for Surface Transportation Technology.

However, the 2010 study did not explore the impact of reducing turbulence on safety, or identify turbulence as a significant safety threat.

There are important steps cyclists should take to keep themselves safe, Allenby said.

“One of the biggest keys, especially in urban areas, is to ride in a manner that you don’t surprise … motorists,” he said. “The more you can do to let them anticipate your next action, the safer you both will be.”

When large trucks are approaching, cyclists should grab the handlebars firmly, but not tense up their arms and shoulders, he said.

“You certainly want to have a good grip, but if your arms and shoulders are locked, it’s hard to react,” Allenby said.

That technique, along with other strategies for safe riding in traffic, are taught in many cycling classes, he said. Such classes can be valuable, especially for adults who rode as children and take up the sport again later in life but are now using the bicycle in a much different way, he said.

More information is available on the group’s website at:

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

Cyclists say there’s a pro-motorist bias when tragedy strikes (BDN)

By | Coalition News, Featured Posts, Speak up for Biking, Stay Safe

This article originally appeared in the Bangor Daily News.

Cyclists say there’s a pro-motorist bias when tragedy strikes

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted June 25, 2013, at 4:46 p.m.
Last modified June 25, 2013, at 7:15 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — Two weeks ago on a stretch of U.S. Route 2 that runs through the tiny western Maine community of Hanover, tragedy struck.

A cyclist in the annual Trek Across Maine charity ride was killed when he lost control of his bike as a tractor-trailer passed him. So far, the driver of the truck has not been charged by police in connection with the accident. But other cyclists, many in Maine and others from as far away as Oregon, said they believe that the way Maine law enforcement officers handled the death of David LeClair shows a pro-motorist bias.

“Essentially, the police are motorists. They’re not cyclists. The motorists come up with a version of the events that put the blame on the cyclist who’s not there to defend themselves,” said Bob Mionske of Portland, Ore., a former professional cyclist and attorney specializing in bicycle law. “Who’s to say any different?”

But in LeClair’s death, it’s different because there were witnesses, Mionske said on Monday. The 23-year-old from Watertown, Mass., was pedaling with half a dozen of his athenahealth cycling teammates on the first morning of the 180-mile ride to raise money for the American Lung Association. They were among more than 2,000 cyclists who had left Sunday River Resort in Newry, just 10 miles to the west, earlier that day.

When LeClair grabbed his water bottle to take a drink, he and his teammates were passed by a tractor-trailer from Quebec that was hauling corn to Augusta. Lt. Walter Grzyb, a Maine State Police commander, said later that the draft created when Michel Masse-Defresne, 24, of Quebec, drove by caused LeClair to lose his balance and fall over. The cyclist hit his head and was partially run over by the truck, Grzyb said.

The trucker kept going, telling police who stopped him six miles down the road that he had passed hundreds of bikes and hadn’t noticed anything unusual.

Police investigating the accident have not lodged any charges against Masse-Defresne, whom other cyclists said passed them with three and a half to four feet to spare. Maine law requires that motorists give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing. Maine State Police Spokesman Stephen McCausland said Tuesday that there is little likelihood charges will be lodged against the trucker. Police looked at physical evidence at the scene and on the truck and interviewed witnesses to the accident.

“This was thoroughly investigated,” McCausland said. “There is nothing to indicate the truck driver was in any way at fault here, and he had passed hundreds of bicyclists at that point.”

Nancy Grant of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, an advocacy group which works to make Maine better for cycling, said she’s not surprised to see police take the side of the motorist when accidents happen.

“Very often, the motorist has made an obvious mistake, and yet the police officer who is creating the report does not give a citation,” she said. “We’ve had cyclists call us to say police officers told them [cycling] is simply too dangerous — they should stay off the road.”

She said that although a lot of law enforcement officers and drivers “get it,” there are still some that don’t, but concern around LeClair’s fatal accident might help change that.

“One of the terrible realities of bicycling accidents are that the cyclists are very often really damaged, especially if there’s a car involved. More especially if there’s a giant truck involved,” Grant said. “The fatality was so tragic and the whole accident was so sad, I do think it’s been a huge wakeup call for both cyclists and motorists.”

John Parke, president of the Augusta-based industry group Maine Motor Transport Association, said that it’s every truck driver’s obligation to drive professionally and safely. He also said that truck drivers and cyclists need to work together for roadway safety.

“We think that the vast majority [of truck drivers] take that responsibility very seriously,” Parke said. “Do I think that every single truck driver is 100 percent in the right, 100 percent of the time? No. Do I think that every cyclist is? No.”

Grant said she believes that new laws may come about in the wake of the accident. In other states there is legislation on the books that increases the distance between cyclists and motorists depending on the speed of the passing vehicle. In those states, she said, at 30 miles per hour, the clearance is three feet, but it’s four feet at 40 miles per hour and five feet at 50 miles per hour.

Mionske said most states don’t have a range of legal consequences for drivers who operate carelessly or dangerously. There’s vehicular manslaughter, which requires gross negligence such as driving drunk or going 100 miles per hour in a neighborhood. But for drivers in violation of the three-foot passing law, the legal consequence might be just a $100 ticket — even when a cyclist’s life is lost.

“In Oregon, we have a vulnerable user law, which tries to fill in that gap. It has higher consequences for seriously injuring or killing someone out on the highway,” he said. “A vulnerable user is someone who’s not encased in a metal cage.”

In Europe, many countries take an even stronger pro-cyclist tack, Mionske said.

“They have a presumption of guilt on the driver. The presumption is you shouldn’t have done it,” he said. “[In the U.S.], what happens is there are no witnesses and the cyclist is dead. In practice, what happens is the police don’t charge.”

Matthew Littlefield is an avid cyclist from Waldo who has ridden in the Trek Across Maine before. He said that he, too, has noticed that motorists are generally more accepting of cyclists, but he’s had some close calls with what he calls the “truck suck” — the wall of wind caused by a truck passing fast and too close.

He said he knows truck drivers are doing a job, but taking 30 extra seconds to safely pass a cyclist is worth it.

“It is getting a lot better, but for every hundred motorists out there that wave to you, smile and do what they’re supposed to do, there are those who honk and pass too close,” he said Tuesday. “All it takes is one person to make a bad decision, and someone gets hurt.”


Portland legislator's bicycle 'rights' bill becomes Maine law (The Forecaster)

By | Coalition News, Stay Safe

This article originally appeared in the Forecaster.

Portland legislator’s bicycle ‘rights’ bill becomes Maine law

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 11:30 am

PORTLAND — Bicyclists in Maine are now better protected under the law, thanks to legislation sponsored by state Rep. Erik Jorgensen, D-Portland. 

LD 1460, “A Bill to Revise Maine Bicycle Law,” was passed June 14 without the signature of Gov. Paul LePage. The new law gives cyclists the right to determine where it is safest and most “practicable” to ride on the state’s roads, and forbids cars from turning in front of cyclists when doing so interferes with the bike’s safe operation.

The law also establishes that a collision between a bike and a passing car is evidence that the 3-foot buffer zone motorists are required to leave next to cyclists was violated.

Cyclists are already allowed to ride on every road in Maine except interstate highways and the portion of U.S. Route 1 between Brunswick and Bath. Portland has also launched several initiatives to make the city more bike friendly.

But some people claim that there’s increasing tension between motorists and cyclists trying to share the road. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine, which supported Jorgensen’s legislation, hopes the new law will change that.

“We’re thrilled to improve and clarify the foundation of bicycle law in Maine and are hopeful this bill will act as a catalyst for future legislation to protect the rights and safety of bicyclists,” Executive Director Nancy Grant said.

Jorgensen represents House District 115, which covers the city’s Back Cove neighborhood. He was elected last November and until recently served as executive director of the Maine Humanities Council.

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow him on Twitter:@hallwilliam4.

New law places more responsibility for cyclists’ safety on motorists (BDN)

By | Coalition News, Featured Posts, Stay Safe

This article originally appeared in the Bangor Daily News.


New law places more responsibility for cyclists’ safety on motorists

Cyclists race up Belfast's Main Street as part of the annual Maine Bike Rally in July 2005.

Cyclists race up Belfast’s Main Street as part of the annual Maine Bike Rally in July 2005. Buy Photo
By Mario Moretto, BDN Staff
Posted June 24, 2013, at 7:01 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A new law aimed at increasing the safety of bicyclists in Maine’s roadways is scoring an enthusiastic thumbs-up from cyclists in the state’s biggest city.

The bill, LD 1460, introduced by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and passed into law June 13 without the governor’s signature, adds teeth to the state’s 6-year-old “3 feet” rule and gives cyclists the right to determine for themselves the safest place to travel within a roadway.

It also changes the state definition of “traffic” to include cyclists and rollerbladers and prohibits motor vehicles from making right turns near cyclists in a way that would interfere with the cyclist’s travel. Advocates say that action, dubbed a “right hook,” is one of the most common causes of bicycle-motor vehicle accidents.

The law will take effect sometime in September, 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.

Jason Unterreiner, a 30-year-old Portland cyclist, said he was happy the law recognized his right to make the safest decision while riding his bike to and from Falmouth for work.

The previous law, requiring cyclists to ride as far to the right as possible, was “fundamentally unsafe,” he said.

“Oftentimes the safest place in the lane [will change], and quite often it’s toward the center of the lane, far away from where people will hit you with opening doors, far away from dirt and broken glass on the shoulder,” he said.

The Bicycle Coalition said passage of the law is an incremental step toward their ultimate goal of passing a “vulnerable user” law in Maine. Such laws exist in several other states and protect cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists by placing the responsibility for their safety on motor vehicle drivers.

“Our goal, with these improvements to the law and with future improvements, is to make it automatic,” said Nancy Grant, executive director for the Coalition. “When a bicyclist gets hit by a motorist, it should be a presumption of negligence on the part of the motorist. Vulnerable users, who aren’t encased in 5,000 pounds of steel, need to be traveled around carefully.”

Interactions between cyclists and motorists can be a tense and dangerous one, as shown in two recent news stories: the verbal altercation in Falmouth between a cyclist and a Portland TV show host who drove too closely and shouted a homophobic slur, and the death of a Trek Across Maine cyclist in Hanover in a collision with the back end of tractor-trailer.

Police said the cyclist in Hanover lost control of his bike while drinking from a water bottle as the tractor-trailer created a draft driving past him. The big rig was 3½-4 feet from the cyclist when it passed, witnesses told police. The driver will not face charges, according to police.

Maine law stipulates that motorists must give at least 3 feet of clearance when passing bicyclists. Under the new law, any accident involving a motor vehicle and a bicyclist is automatically considered evidence the driver violated the 3-feet law, though it is not the “presumption of negligence” the Bicycle Coalition had proposed in an earlier version of the bill. It sounds like jargon, but it’s a big difference in the courtroom.

Grant said she hoped the new law would help prevent accidents such as the one in Hanover.

“I was riding the trek,” she said. “That was incredibly tragic, and we want to do everything we can to prevent that from happening in the future.”

Christian Dyer, another Portland bicycle commuter, said he hoped adding more legal teeth to the 3-feet rule would make drivers obey the law.

“Motorists, on the whole, do not acknowledge the 3-feet rule,” he said. “They’re distracted, they’re on their cellphones. It scares the daylights out of me when I see someone coming through the intersection and they’re on their phone. I actually asked someone yesterday to get off their cellphone [while they were driving], because they’re endangering my life.”

Grant said that she recognized that cyclists aren’t perfect, and that not every car accident involving a bicycle is the driver’s fault. She also said many motorists are left with a bad taste in their mouths when cyclists cruise through a red light or turn without signaling.

“They ask, ‘How do you share the road with them?’” she said. “I agree it’s a challenge, and we’re working all the time to teach bicyclists how to ride their bikes safely and predictably.”

Maria Fuentes, executive director for the Maine Better Transportation Association, said letting cyclists choose for themselves where is the best place to ride may be “confusing” for some motorists, but said that enough education will help Mainers make it work.

“I think that would certainly be subject to interpretation; What’s one person’s safe spot might not be another’s,” she said. “It will be up to public safety people and the commuting community to make sure we educate people and raise awareness.”

“Most people who drive cars are conscientious, but there are always some who aren’t,” she added. “The same is true of people who ride bicycles.”

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.