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Presenting Your 2018 Bicycle Coalition of Maine Award Winners!

By | Coalition News, Featured Posts

At our Kickoff Party on Saturday, Feb. 3, we announced the winners of our 2018 Annual Awards, honoring nine Maine individuals and organizations for their commitment to making the state a better place for cyclists and pedestrians in 2017.
“The people we’re recognizing with these awards represent what is best about cycling in Maine,” Bicycle Coalition of Maine Executive Director John Williams said. “Their commitment to their communities, and to making Maine a safer and better place for both cyclists and walkers, deserves not only to be recognized, but celebrated. We are proud to honor their efforts.”
 
This year’s award winners are:

  • Nate Davis and Matt Ondra: Sally Jacobs Community Spokesperson Award – named after the legendary bicycle advocate from Orono and awarded to a local advocate who has made a significant difference to biking and walking in their community. Davis and Ondra received the award for their work to make Rockland better for biking and walking. They built relationships with town officials, and worked with them to put sharrows on the road and plan bike lanes for roads when they are due for re-paving or reconstruction. They continue to advocate on behalf of Rockland pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Nancy Grant: Jeff Miller Spirit of Cycling Award – honoring the first executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and awarded to a Mainer who demonstrates Jeff’s joy in all aspects of biking. Grant received the award for her passion for bicycling and her desire to make cycling accessible to all people in Maine. Her 12 years of work with the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, including seven years as Executive Director, demonstrate her unfaltering dedication to spreading the joy of bicycling to all.
  • Julie French: Next Generation Award – awarded to a person who instills a love, interest, and appreciation of bikes in the next generation, French received the award for her work as a bicycle and pedestrian safety instructor in Aroostook County, where she has creatively helped thousands of students learn the rules of the road and empowered them to bike and walk safely.
  • The Bangor School District: Public Service Excellence Award – awarded to a public service professional or organization who has provided outstanding service to the bicycle and pedestrian community in Maine. The Bangor School District has fully embraced the walking school bus program, creating programs at three of its schools. These programs have helped to improve student attendance and learning readiness, foster community relations, and make walking to school fun and accessible.
  • Larry Rubinstein: Harry Faust Leadership Award – named after one of the Coalition’s most dedicated and effective Board Chairs and awarded to a Mainer who has been a true leader in his community. Rubinstein served on the Coalition’s Board of Directors from 2004 to 2016, and was board president for two full terms during his tenure. He initiated the Coalition’s Major Donor program, the Yellow Jersey Club, which now has more than 95 members, and continues to serve as an emeritus member of the board.
  • Michele Yade Benoit: Muddy Wheel Award – awarded to a leader in mountain biking in Maine, Benoit received the award for her work leading the Bangor High School’s Mountain Bike and Trail Building Club, inspiring teens to enjoy all aspects of mountain biking, and teaching them to build and maintain trails that benefit the entire community.
  • Rick Smith: Volunteer of the Year Award – given to a volunteer who has contributed extraordinary time, effort, and energy to the Coalition and its mission. Smith, from Skowhegan, received the award for his outstanding effort in support of the Coalition’s many different activities. Smith has volunteered at many Coalition events over the years, and serves at the Route Safety Leader for our annual BikeMaine ride.
  • Portland Gear Hub: Businesses for Better Bicycling Award – given to a Maine business that encourages and supports bicycling w/in their business and community. The Portland Gear Hub is a non-profit outdoor gear and bike shop powered by Camp Ketcha, a youth outdoor organization based in Scarborough, Maine. Since the Gear Hub’s inception in 2014, hundreds of volunteers have helped sort gear, repair kids bikes and translate a Traffic Safety Class into French, Swahili, and Lingala. The Gear Hub has recycled 5.3 tons of metal, refurbished more than 400 youth and adult bikes, and donated more than 75 bikes to youth organizations in southern Maine. The Gear Hub has also partnered with the Coalition to run the successful Bikes For All Mainers programs that has helped get more than 75 new and longtime Maine residents transportation and traffic safety skills.

It's Official – BikeMaine 2018 Is Coming to Presque Isle, Caribou, Madawaska, Fort Kent, and St. Agatha

By | BikeMaine, Coalition News, Events, Featured Posts

 
For months, people have been asking: where, exactly, is BikeMaine 2018 going this year?
Now, it can be told. BikeMaine 2018 is going to Aroostook County, with stops at Host Communities in Presque Isle, Caribou, Madawaska, Fort Kent, and St. Agatha.
“This year’s BikeMaine route will take riders through some of Maine’s most beautiful country,” Bicycle Coalition of Maine Executive Director John Williams said. “It showcases the splendor and natural beauty of northern Maine. It’s going to be a very special ride.”
We revealed the specifics of the route on Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Sargent Family Community Center in Presque Isle as part of our Kickoff 2018 party, and we livestreamed the announcement on our Facebook page.  We also presented our annual Bicycle Coalition of Maine awards, which go to the people and organizations who really distinguished themselves in pursuit of making Maine better for biking and walking.
The folks from the Maine Beer Company were on hand, pouring their awesome brews, and we also drew the winners of the 2018 Super Raffle, featuring a grand prize of a six-day cycling adventure in Sicily, courtesy of Ciclismo Classico. Other lucky winners walked – or rode, as the case may be – away with a free registration for BikeMaine 2018, a new Trek Domane AL 2 road bike from Cyclemania, a Trek Marlin 4 mountain bike from Rainbow Bicycle, and a Coalition swag bag, stuffed full of cool Coalition apparel and gear.
BikeMaine is a weeklong celebration of Maine’s people, places, food, and culture. The 2018 ride, dubbed, “Acadia in the St. John Valley – La Terre Entre Deux,” will be held from Sept. 8-15. Participation is limited to 450 riders, who will cover an average of 55 miles per day and a total of approximately 350 miles by the end of the week.
BikeMaine 2018 provides riders the opportunity for a two-nation vacation, as the route travels along the US-Canada border and riders spend two nights in both Madawaska and Fort Kent. As the heart of Acadian culture in Maine, the St. John Valley boasts sprawling farmland, breathtaking vistas, and an unforgettable culinary experience. Presque Isle will serve as the starting and ending point of the tour.
“We’re excited to be in Aroostook County, and we’re proud to showcase everything that makes northern Maine so special,” BikeMaine Ride Director MaryBeth Luce said.
Since its inception, BikeMaine has pumped nearly $2.3 million into Maine’s local economy. Last year’s ride alone accounted for $660,000 in direct economic impact, including $262,000 spent by the Coalition to produce the event and approximately $398,000 spent by riders beyond registration fees.
BikeMaine is proud to have the support of L.L. Bean, Maine Beer Company, Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield in Maine, Cono Sur Vineyard and Winery, S. W. Collins, and Pineland Farms Natural Meats, as well as many other valued partners.
About BikeMaine
Founded in 2012, BikeMaine is a fully-supported, seven-day cycling tour organized by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. The tour takes a different course every year. Routes traverse uncrowded back roads, looping through small towns and scenic areas along the coast and inland. The event was founded to promote the state as a bicycling destination and to use cycling as an economic development tool for local communities. Proceeds from the tour go to support bicycle advocacy in Maine. To learn more, visit ride.bikemaine.org.
 
About the Bicycle Coalition of Maine
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is the statewide voice of cyclists and pedestrians. Since 1992, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine has led the effort to make Maine better for bicycling and walking by protecting the rights and safety of cyclists and pedestrians through education, advocacy, legislation and encouragement.  We support biking and walking for health, transportation, and recreation.  For more information: bikemaine.org.

Bicycle Coalition of Maine Names New Executive Director

By | Coalition News, Featured Posts

John S. Williams, a Seasoned Executive and an Avid Cyclist, Is Expected to Take the Reins on Sept. 25

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has named John S. Williams, shown here on a cycling trip in Austria, the organization’s new Executive Director.

August 23, 2017 – (PORTLAND, Maine) – After an extensive, nationwide search, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine has selected John S. Williams, an experienced leader with a deep love of cycling, as the organization’s new Executive Director.
“In its 25-year history, the Coalition has benefited from strong executive leadership,” Coalition Board of Directors President Phil Coffin said. “Given his impressive record of success to date, we are confident that John, along with the Coalition’s staff and board, will continue to build the organization and inspire the Maine community to make Maine a better place for bicycling and walking.”
Williams, who holds both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from the University of Maine at Orono, served in the administration of Gov. Angus King, as the Executive Director of the Maine Waste Management Agency and, subsequently, the Executive Director of the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission.
From 2002 through 2015, he served as President of the Maine Pulp and Paper Association, developing sound policies at the state and federal levels to benefit the industry and its employees while protecting Maine’s natural resources and promoting sustainability. In January 2015, Williams opened Great Salt Bay Consulting, providing strategic communications, government relations, and public relations services to clients in the forest products industry.
Williams is also a long-time board member and former Treasurer of Maine Family Planning, which provides affordable reproductive health care in many clinics in Maine, and a former board member and President of the Maine Lakes Conservancy Institute. He’s also been a member of the Coalition for many years, as well as Adventure Cycling and the Kennebec Land Trust.
Williams is a passionate cyclist who has biked through many states, several Canadian provinces, the Netherlands, Croatia, Austria, Cornwall, Ireland, and Slovenia, and participated in several high-profile bicycle tour events.
“I’m honored by the Board of Directors’ decision, and I look forward to helping the organization grow and thrive in the coming years,” Williams said.

Thanks To Everyone Who Made The 2017 Great Maine Bike Swap A Huge Success!

By | Coalition News, Events, Featured Posts

There were more than 1,000 bicycles available at the Great Maine Bike Swap on Sunday, April 23, at the University of Southern Maine. (Photo by Vivian Gallagher)

Another Great Maine Bike Swap is in the books.
We’re crunching the numbers now, and we’ll have some statistics to share shortly, but as we work our way through the receipts, one thing is clear: the event was an enormous success!
A big thank you to everyone who helped: all the volunteers who worked so hard to create the best possible experience, our amazing sponsors – WCLZ, Noyes, Hall & Allan, Ransom Consulting, Inc., the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein, GA Gear, USM, AAA Northern New England, Arcadia, the Gorham Grind, and Leonardo’s Pizza – everyone who signed up to sell a bike, and last but certainly not least, everyone who turned out on Sunday to buy a bike.
If you’re interested, we got some great coverage from Maine media: WCSH-TV6, WMTW-TV8, and the Portland Press Herald all did stories.
There’s a great take on the Swap at a blog called Utilitarian Bicycles, too. If you’ve got a minute, check it out. If you’re reading this, you’ll probably enjoy it.

Bike/Ped Sign Project a Step Closer to Permanence in Bangor

By | Coalition News, Imagine People Here

A Demonstration Project Put Together by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and Other Bangor Bike/Ped Advocacy Groups Moves Forward at City Hall
February 24, 2016 – (BANGOR, MAINE) A temporary project that showed the powerful impact clear signage can have on Bangor’s walkability may become permanent after a key City Council committee gave it the thumbs-up.
“By making it easier for people and policy makers to imagine their communities more walkable and bikeable, we can help people see the possibilities and make change less intimidating,” Bicycle Coalition of Maine Executive Director Nancy Grant said. “The likelihood of this project becoming permanent demonstrates how powerful this can be.”
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s Imagine People Here program creates demonstration projects to show how communities can become more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. Last July, the Coalition, working with Bangor’s Walk-n-Roll, the Friends of the Lower Kenduskeag Stream (FOLKS), and several other organizations, installed 52 temporary signs along the two-mile River City Trail. The signage linked the Cross Insurance Center, Waterfront Park, Gomez Park, Pickering Square, West Market Square, Norumbega Park, and the waterfront to create walkable and bikeable connections between Downtown District destination points.
On Feb. 7, the members of the Bangor City Council’s Infrastructure Committee heard the final report on the project’s impact and voted to include funding for permanent signage in the city’s regular budget.
If the permanent installation is approved by the full council, the new signs could go up as early as July.

Bicycle Coalition of Maine Announces Annual Award Winners

By | Coalition News, Events

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has announced the winners of its 2017 Annual Awards, honoring eight Maine individuals and organizations for their commitment to making Maine better for biking and walking in 2016.
“Each of these winners exemplifies what is best about cycling in Maine,” Bicycle Coalition of Maine Executive Director Nancy Grant said. “Their commitment to their communities, and to making Maine a safer and better place for both cyclists and walkers should not only be recognized, but celebrated. We are proud to honor their efforts.”
This year’s award winners are:

  • Crystal Hitchings: Sally Jacobs Community Spokesperson Award – named after the legendary bicycle advocate from Orono and awarded to a local advocate who has made a significant difference to biking and walking in his or her community. Hitchings received the award for her work on the new Bold Coast Scenic Bikeway, a pilot project that could become a model for developing Scenic Bikeways across the state.
  • Kris Clark: Jeff Miller Spirit of Cycling Award – honoring the first executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and awarded to a Mainer who demonstrates Jeff’s joy in all aspects of biking, Clark received the award for his years of work with the Community Cycling Club of Portland and his continuing support of area bike-related non-profit organizations.
  • Anne Douglass: Next Generation Award – awarded to a person who instills a love, interest and appreciation of bikes in the next generation, Douglass received the award for her commitment to improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists on Deer Isle. (more specifics re: education)
  • The Law Enforcement Collaborative: Just Do It Award – awarded to a Maine individual or organization who exhibits leadership in public service around biking and walking, the Law Enforcement Collaborative received the award for its work to improve bicycle and pedestrian law enforcement in southern Maine communities.
  • Peter Garrett: Harry Faust Leadership Award – named after one of the Coalition’s most dedicated and effective Board Presidents, awarded to a Mainer who has been a true leader in his community to promote more biking, Garrett received the award for his continued advocacy on behalf of cyclists and pedestrians in the Waterville-Winslow area. (more specifics re: trails)
  • Kris Sornberger: Muddy Wheel Award – awarded to a leader in Mountain Biking in Maine, Sornberger received the award for his work to develop the mountain bike trail system in the Orono area.
  • Scott Spaulding: Volunteer of the Year Award – given to a volunteer who has contributed extraordinary time, effort and energy to the Coalition and its mission, Spaulding received the award for his outstanding effort in support of the Coalition’s many different events, including 4 years of volunteering for the full week of BikeMaine.
  • Ransom Consulting: Businesses for Better Bicycling Award – awarded to a Maine business that encourages and supports bicycling within their business and community, Ransom Consulting, a diversified engineering and consulting firm, joined the Bicycle Coalition as a business member in early 2016 and immediately became immersed in the Coalition’s advocacy work. Ransom employees lent expertise to the Coalition’s Imagine People Here program last year, helping design and implement temporary infrastructure installations. In addition to Imagine People Here, Ransom also sponsored the Coalition’s Community Spokes programs in 2016, as well as the Great Maine Bike Swaps.

Rolling Thunder: Bicyclists Swarm Midcoast for Maine Lobster Ride

By | Coalition News, Events, Featured Posts

Rolling thunder: Bicyclists swarm Midcoast for Maine Lobster Ride

Record participation of about 1,000 bicyclists make popular event a success

By Holly Vanorse Spicer | Jul 23, 2012

Photo by: Holly Vanorse Spicer Riders of the 100-mile route, or Century, head out early on July 21 for the 11th annual Maine Lobster Ride.

Rockland —

The Midcoast was abuzz with activity July 21 as bicyclists from across the country swarmed area roads for the 11th annual Maine Lobster Ride. With clear, sunny summer skies, the rides, which started and ended at Oceanside High School on Broadway, went off without a hitch and saw record registration numbers of about 1,000.

The ride, hosted by The Bicycle Coalition of Maine, was a little different this year. The 50-mile ride was split into North and South sections. It also was the first year cyclists could participate in teams.

Members of the Yellow Jersey Club led each group of riders for the different 100-, 50-, 30- and 16-mile rides. Each distance set off from the Oceanside West campus at different times to avoid congestion on the roads.

Austin Watts of Bowdoin, part of the Yellow Jersey Club, has ridden in all 11 of the lobster rides. Saturday’s event marked the ninth time he did the century trek. “I’m one of three or four that has done all of them,” Watts said of the rides. When asked why he rides the 100-mile route, his answer was only: “It’s what I do.”

Watts also said that route also goes by where he grew up in St. George. He added that there was nothing like seeing the bike odometer turn up to 100. Watts is an avid cyclist. Before heading off on Saturday morning, he already had logged 2,000 bicycle miles this summer.

Before 9 a.m., Jim Tasse, coalition education director, said the event’s registration numbers topped 800. At that time, people were still pouring into the parking lot of Oceanside and the upper parking lot at J.C. Penney was starting to fill with riders as well.

Single cyclists, groups, pairs and families turned out for the event. A walk through the school parking lot showed cars from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Alabama and even as far away as Arizona and California. The most distance riders made a more than 4,500-mile trek from Alaska. A few riders from the Ontario area of Canada came out for the ride.

Part of this year’s popularity in the ride can be attributed to the nationwide notoriety that the 100-mile ride gained after being named as one of the Top Ten Century Rides in the United States by Bicycling Magazine. The ride earned the No. 2 spot behind the Tour de Corn in East Prairie, Missouri.

The Maine Lobster Ride, founded in 2001 by Joel Fishman of Rockland, has seen its popularity grow over the years. The Maine Lobster Ride raises money for the bicycle coalition, a statewide organization that teaches bicycle safety and works to improve bicycling conditions. The bicycle coalition has helped Maine become the second most bicycle-friendly state in the country, according to the League of American Bicyclists. Maine also has won national recognition for its Safe Routes to School program, run by the Bicycle Coalition and Maine Department of Transportation.

Courier Publications editorial assistant Holly Vanorse Spicer can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by email at hvanorse@courierpublicationsllc.com.

PPH Article About BikeMaine

By | Coalition News, Events, Travel

Pedal On: Bicycle coalition planning cross-state ride for next fall

By Karen Beaudoin

Seven days on a bike seat isn’t for everyone. The thought of pedaling 400 miles can be a turnoff for some.

But cycling enthusiasts on the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s BikeMaine Ride Committee are betting that a week-long journey through the Pine Tree State will be appealing to plenty. And the odds seem to be pretty well stacked in their favor.

“Virtually every single person we’ve talked to about it has been incredibly enthusiastic,” said Nancy Grant, BCM’s executive director.

The coalition plans to offer the first BikeMaine ride from Sept. 7-14, 2013. The hype has already started, as committee members have communicated with cities and towns, cyclists, legislators, the Maine Office of Tourism and others who may have a hand in making the event a success.

BikeMaine is modeled after CycleOregon, now in its 25th year. Its 2013 ride, from Sept. 8-15, sold out all 2,200 spots in 45 minutes and has 800 potential riders on a waiting list. Several Mainers have ridden CycleOregon (some 10 times), including ride committee chair Mark Ishkanian.

“I was just amazed at how well it was organized and how much fun it was to cycle around a different state for seven days,” said Ishkanian, a public relations consultant from Readfield. He’ll ride his fifth CycleOregon this year.

“Every time I came back I kept asking ‘Why can’t we have a ride like this in Maine?”‘

Ishkanian answered his own question by taking the lead on organizing the Maine event. His research revealed that no New England states are among the 14 currently offering a mass ride.

The location of the inaugural ride will be announced early next winner with registration immediately following. The location is “top secret,” but sample rides offered in BikeMaine’s planning packet include “Bangor to the Coast,” which includes Belfast, Stonington, Bar Harbor, Machias and Aurora (349 miles, plus a day on the Acadia National Park carriage trails), and “Mountains, Lakes and Rivers,” which includes Fryeburg, Upton, Madison, Bingham, Wellington, Winthrop and Bridgton (409 miles). According to Grant, the group “is really committed to getting to parts of the state that are off the beaten path.”

Ride organizers will work with towns along the route to provide nightly entertainment, local food and additional activities for riders. Ishkanian said one of his favorite things about Cycle-Oregon is mingling with local people and exploring the towns.

“We’d go past a school where kids were selling lemonade and cookies,” he said, “and I can’t ride past kids selling lemonade and cookies, I have to stop and talk to them.” The children offered a map and pushpins that riders could place to show where they came from. As the kids realized, Maine is far, far away from Oregon, but that could be a big draw for the newest cross-state ride.

“The ride is a lot about exploring Maine,” said Grant, who calls her CycleOregon experience incredibly memorable. “We might go places where participants can rent canoes and go into the ocean.” Some stops may be near off-road trails cyclists can try.

The goal is to recruit half the riders for the first event from in-state and half from away. Visitors will see Maine’s main attractions and local riders will likely see parts of their state they’ve never encountered. All riders will benefit from the huge physical challenge and the training needed to undertake such an adventure.

“Part of it is the challenge of having that kind of a goal,” Ishkanian said of his Cycle Oregon experience. “Having an event at the end of the summer, I had to continually train for helped me get out more.”

BCM is working with grants from the Betterment Fund, Horizon Foundation, the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation and the Maine Office of Tourism to get the event rolling. The goal for year one is 350 riders, and neither Grant nor Ishkanian think that will be difficult to reach.

The toughest part will be the next 14 months of organizing. Beyond the route and registration, there is also the logistics of transporting luggage for 350 riders, camping areas, volunteers, food and much more to think about. CycleOregon has matured to a level where it gets 400 volunteers, communities open up their football fields for camping, four tractor trailer trucks are used to transport gear, high school students schlepp luggage for tips, and the organization provides tents for half of its riders.

BikeMaine riders will have to provide their own tents and gear, at least for the first two years. By Year 3, the hope is that upping the number to 750 participants will allow the ride to be self-supporting and for BCM to split excess revenues with host communities for local pedestrian and bicycle projects.

“It will be our biggest event,” Grant said, “and we hope to make it absolutely a signature event.”

And when they finally see BikeMaine become a reality, with hundreds of cyclists pedaling away from the start on Day 1, members of the ride committee will likely feel much the way Ishkanian describes the end of a perfect ride in Oregon: “It’s a sense of accomplishment, it’s fun to do, and it’s fun to be with a group of people at a table in the beer tent talking about the ride.”

Karen Beaudoin can be contacted at 791-6296 or at: kbeaudoin@mainetoday.com