BANGOR, Maine — As the weather gets colder and the sun sets earlier, pedestrian safety is once again becoming a concern for cities and towns all over the state.
For years, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine has promoted biker and pedestrian safety and its 'Slow ME Down' campaign is reinforcing the importance of slowing down to protect cyclists, and pedestrians.
The campaign launched in the summer but was brought to Bangor in October.
For two weeks, the new crosswalks have been set up at the corners of State St. and Birch St. and State St. and Forrest Ave. City Councilor Ben Sprague says these locations were chosen because State St. is a high traffic area.
State St. is a busy road in the City, its close proximity to schools, elder care homes, downtown, and Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center was a perfect reason to add the new crosswalk improvements there.
Jim Tasse is the Assistant Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and said the statewide campaign is a response to many complaints about speeding, even though traffic on the roads has gone down during the coronavirus pandemic.
"We were struck by getting lots and lots of complaints about people speeding," Tasse added.
The 'Slow ME Down' is the social media campaign helping to promote safe driving at, or under the speed limit in residential or pedestrian heavy neighborhoods.
The crosswalks in Bangor are part of the 'Imagine People Here' branch off of the campaign which focuses more on pedestrian safety.
"We actually make physical changes to the roadways and try to slow traffic down or improve conditions," Tasse said.
Sprague said the City did do something similar with the crosswalk outside the Bangor Public Library last year. Both projects, the library crosswalk, and the Slow ME Down campaign, started temporarily. The crosswalk at the Library has been made permanent and Sprague thinks the ones on State St. will be as well.
“I would guess this one would be permanent and maybe we’ll have more like it in other parts of the city too," he added. “Because they have the effect of slowing down traffic, helping pedestrians clearly where they should cross and where they should not cross.”
This project will go on as long as weather permits.
Bangor Police Sergeant Wade Betters added drivers are more distracted now than ever before.
“Texting while driving, taking phone calls, doing other things in the vehicle while you’re supposed to be simply driving, that is something that the police try to address nationwide, sadly it is still something that continues to this day."
To remind the public of pedestrian safety he said not to wear dark clothing at night or in low visibility areas. He also mentioned pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists need to work together to avoid any accidents.