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Portland reimagining its bike lanes

City leaders of the Better Bikeways Initiative say the project will make travel safer for bikes, pedestrians, and cars.

PORTLAND, Maine — The City of Portland is getting ready to put new projects out for bid, aimed at making major roadways safer for bikes, pedestrians, and cars alike.

The Better Bikeways Initiative targets large areas of need - like Brighton Ave and Veranda Street's connection to Back Cove - but an interactive map on the city's website shows dozens of colored dots spread throughout the city's footprint, each representing a bikeway, pathway, of byway project planned in the next five years.

Portland Transportation Systems Engineer Jeremiah Bartlett explained workers will remove some street parking where it’s not used, shrink car lanes where necessary, and put in rows of plastic posts in high-traffic areas like intersections, so drivers don’t turn into bike lanes. Bartlett said it won’t make commutes longer, but make things safer for everyone.

"We’re really saying, there’s excess space for this type of use; can we provide a little more space for this use," he said. "So, people will still be able to travel through these streets; people will still be able to park on the streets. There may be changes, but those things will still be entirely possible to do."

The city has been collecting resident feedback since 2021 and plans to begin painting new bike lanes in the coming months.

Winston Lumpkins is the chair of the city's bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee. He bikes to work every day and joined 400 other Portlanders in weighing in on the projects. Extra paint, extra plastic — he's all for it.

"Something that will slow cars as they turn –  which is where these accidents take place, at these intersections – might actually make it a lot safer to drive there," he said. "It won't really slow people down. It'll just make them a little more cautious as they go through those turns."

The relationship between cars and bikes has always been a delicate one. City leadership hopes there's plenty of room for both in the years to come.

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