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'People-Powered July' a climate-minded commuting challenge

Mainers are ditching cars and jumping on bicycles to help save the environment.

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland Trails and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine are teaming up to get you out of your personal car and onto a bike, public transportation, or feet for your next trip to the grocery store.

“Transportation is the really the largest source of global warming emissions here in the state of Maine, so we have a lot to do really reduce those emissions," Jean Sideris, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, said.

For the first time, a statewide active transportation plan was created to find other ways to get around town using our own power instead of cars.

“It’s looking across the whole state of Maine. How can we look at active transportation, biking, walking, people who are using mobility aids, or other ways to get around that are more active using your own human power?" Sideris said. 

For the month of July, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine is working to do exactly that: more human power, less vehicle emissions.

But infrastructure is a big hurdle to get over because Sideris said it’s built for personal vehicles.

“We really need to have our infrastructure help drive that investment, so it makes it easier, safer for people to choose those options," Sideris said. 

The person in charge of helping with things like infrastructure is Dakota Hewlett.

He’s the active transportation planner for the Maine Department of Transportation. Hewlett said there’s a lot of room for improvement on Maine roads.

“Improvements both on road and off road. Those are two of the big goals in the plan. So, making improvements on road, things like bike lanes and bicycle infrastructure that can be incorporate within the roadways that’s a traditional bike lane or a separate bike lane," Hewlett said.

Hewlett said starting small is the first step to making a difference by helping the environment and us.

“Reduce those short vehicle trips that can be turned into a walk or a bike ride or something. That’s something that’s a big goal. All the benefits we’ve discussed already are kind of driving that," Hewlett said. 

If you choose to become part of "People-Powered July," you’ll be supporting two Maine nonprofits.

Contributing will make biking and walking conditions better statewide is a win for all Mainers, no matter how far you must go.

To check out the statewide active transportation plan or to sign-up and donate to "People-Powered July," click here

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