Join or Renew

 

Demonstration aims to temporarily narrow Lewiston street (Sun Journal)

By May 21, 2015Coalition News

This article originally appeared on SunJournal.com

 

DARYN SLOVER/SUN JOURNAL

Bicycle Coalition of Maine Assistant Director Jim Tasse, left, Mike Allen of 3M and Jeremiah Bartlett of the Lewiston-Auburn Bicycle Pedestrian Committee talk about the temporary two-lane bike lane on Oxford Street in Lewiston on Wednesday. Bates College students installed the “real-time rendering” as part of the one-day BuildMaine Conference being held in Lewiston.
SCOTT TAYLOR, Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 4:20 pm

LEWISTON — For $1,500, the city gets a new one-way street, Twin Cities bicyclists get a new bike lane connecting Lincoln Street to Simard-Payne Memorial Park, city staffers get to see whether the idea works and a group of Bates College students get some experience in public planning.
 

DARYN SLOVER/SUN JOURNAL

Bates College student Nina Sevilla puts reflective white tape down while installing a temporary bike lane on Oxford Street in Lewiston on Wednesday.

DARYN SLOVER/SUN JOURNAL

Urban planning presenter Mike Lydon defines “tactical urbanism” as short-term demonstrations that are used to prove what works and what doesn’t.

DARYN SLOVER/SUN JOURNAL

Livable city planner Mike Lydon, right, works with Bates College students while installing a temporary bike lane on Oxford Street in Lewiston on Wednesday. Students, from left, are Annie Coleman, Nina Sevilla and Jackson Moore.

DARYN SLOVER/SUN JOURNAL

Street signs that people can scan with a cellphone for directions have been placed around Lewiston for the BuildMaine conference at the Bates Mill on Thursday.

And the best part? By Thursday afternoon, the entire experiment will be over and Oxford Street will be back to what it was: a rarely used two-way street in the downtown. And city officials will have insight into how adding bike lanes and parking will work on some of Lewiston’s narrow streets.
“What we are doing here can be done anywhere,” said planner Mike Lydon, one of the presenters Thursday at the second BuildMaine conference.
“People can replicate this entire process in their own communities,” Lydon said. “It doesn’t have to be bike lanes. It can be a lot of different things that are in streets or parking lots or vacant lots or wherever they may be.”
The one-day conference, which kicks off at 8 a.m. Thursday in the Bates Mill No. 1 atrium, is a presentation space for the newest ideas in urban planning and economic development.
Lydon’s demonstration, narrowing Oxford Street to make way for a two-way bicycle lane, is one of those ideas.
“We call this approach tactical urbanism, and it’s all about these short-term demonstrations to prove what works and what doesn’t,” Lydon said. “We’ve found that you can have the best ideas in the world, but because you are presenting change, people just don’t want it. They may see a rendering or a picture or a plan and have a hard time reading those. That’s understandable, so what we do instead is do these low-cost demonstrations so they can see if they really do see a problem.”
Oxford Street begins at Lincoln Street, across from Fish Bones American Grill. It runs from Lincoln Street toward Simard-Payne Memorial Park and the canal, then bends left to run alongside the park and beyond, ending at Cedar Street behind the Franco Center.
Lydon’s demonstration takes up less than half of the street’s length, from Lincoln Street just past the park’s entrance and on to Beech Street.
Lydon is teaching a course on urban planning at Bates College during the school’s short semester and he enlisted his students to help do the work.
Using loaner traffic cones, temporary bollards and $800 worth of reflective, white road tape, they began measuring out bike lanes and taping them off at about noon. Most of the money was donated, with Bates making up the difference.
The lanes will be in place until after the conference. Lydon said he’d like to see people, including bicyclists, drivers and pedestrians, try it out.
John Elie, operations manager for the Lewiston Highway Department, said Public Works trucks and Fire Department equipment will be on hand at about 1 p.m. Thursday to drive through the demonstration and see how well they navigate the narrower street. Elie said he’s especially interested to see how the city plow truck with its 12-foot-wide blade navigates the street.
“Assuming that there will be cars parked here, right in the middle, we want to see how it’s going to work,” Elie said. “The blade is 12 feet, but it swivels. We have 10 feet of travel lane, and we’ve done that before.”
Preconference events will continue Wednesday, with a guided paddle in kayaks and canoes along the Twin Cities waterfront at 5 p.m. and a beer garden and PechaKucha-style slide-show presentation at 7 p.m. at Baxter Brewing in the Bates Mill complex.
On Thursday, after a morning of presentations featuring Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte and planners, Realtors and engineers Tom Errico, Vin Veroneau  John Anderson and Lydon, the conference will go off-site.
Organizers will host an impromptu festival at Simard-Payne Park with live music by Augusta-based fusion-rock band Sassquatch, a yoga area, art activities and food trucks featuring local and Portland restaurants. The festival, called OxfordForward, is being organized by Bates College students and will be open to the public.
After lunch, conference participants will have their choice of tours and discussions. They can take a walking tour of downtown Auburn, visit the interior of Bates Mill No. 5, take a walking tour of hidden and secret spaces around the downtown or watch city plows and firetrucks try to navigate Lydon’s narrowed Oxford Street.
Back at Bates Mill No. 1, formal presentations are set to wrap up at 2 p.m. with a keynote presentation by author and planner Chuck Marohn.
Local programs continue into the night, however. Conference speakers will stay on to discuss downtown planning and economic growth in the Twin Cities and Baxter Brewing will host a brewery tour and a second beer garden. Both begin at the Bates Mill Enterprise Complex.