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Portland bicyclists work to keep roads safer year-round

More than a dozen cyclists took part in an audit of the city's bike lanes on Sunday as part of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee

PORTLAND, Maine — Despite the brutal cold in Portland in recent days, some of the city's most loyal bicyclists have still been out riding.

"Biking is something that I enjoy doing no matter what temperature it is," said Portland resident Nadia Peppler.

Peppler was joined by more than a dozen others out riding through Portland on Sunday. This ride however was for more than just personal enjoyment or means of transportation.

"It's never too cold, you just don't have enough layers [on]," said John Clark.

Clark is the chair of the Portland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. That group works closely with the City Council Sustainability and Transportation Committee on issues related to bicycling and walking, and gives feedback on initiatives that impact walkers and riders in the city.

   

On Sunday, the group was out riding in temperatures in the low to mid teens, taking an audit of the city's bikes lanes.

"We're seeing what we think is a priority, and what would do the most good with the least amount of resources," said Clark. 

The group rode through high traffic areas as part of the audit including the new traffic circle near the University of Southern Maine campus, Woodfords Corner, Forest Avenue, and Washington Avenue.

"We definitely think that making it so that cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians can better coexist is a priority," said Clark. 

Clark and other riders note that one of the biggest concerns for riders is other vehicles on the road. 

"Cars are speeding really fast, they may not notice bikers there. There may or may not be a bike lane, but sometimes paint isn't enough," said Emma Scudder, a member of the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee and organizer with the Portland Bike Bike Party.

According to Maine Department of Transportation data, in 2021 there were 168 crashes involving bicycles.

"We as cyclists have an equal share of the road. People just need to take it easy, and just not drive so crazy and drive so fast," said Peppler.

As part of the audit, groups were taking note of the conditions of bike lanes and ways in which they could be improved. Those that took part in the ride will share their input with city of Portland staff and city councilors. 

"We definitely think that the main thoroughfares are a problem ... Washington Ave., Forest Ave., a little bit of Brighton Ave.," said Clark. "We've been looking at different things like traffic calming and making lanes wider. The city is looking at different sorts of bollards to protect people from cars."

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meets via Zoom on the second Monday of each month and the meeting is open to all interested Portland residents. You can learn more and stay up to date with meeting information by visiting the committee's Facebook page.