I've been too busy to get out Friday emails the last two weeks, but there are important things to mention, so here's a mid-week one. On a weather note: I'm into my mittens already. But my rain gear is working great!
Anyone want to join me at Green Drinks tonight? This month it's at "Head Games" hair salon, 116 Free Street. See you there?
I spent much of yesterday (day off) raking the yard, so I much appreciated today's Yehuda Moon comic:
IMPORTANT CALENDAR NOTICE
Our colleagues in pedestrian advocacy (and you can always use pedestrian facilities if you walk your bike) have requested we publicize the following important public meeting:
WHAT: Exit 7 Public Hearing (I-295 at Franklin)
WHEN: Monday, October 19 - 6 to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Rehearsal Hall of Merrill Auditorium
FMI: Contact Hilary Frenkel, email@example.com, 207.772.3207
Concerns about Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT)'s Exit 7 expansion plans have remained unaddressed. Some elements of their plan - like adding a new traffic light and crosswalks - are moving in the right direction. But their plan to widen the southbound off-ramp, potentially blocking pedestrian access to Back Cove Park, goes against Maine's goals for energy independence, fiscal responsibility, and pollution reduction.
The Maine Alliance for Sustainable Transportation (MAST) feels that MDOT must find the money to fund an intentional and well-assessed Pedestrian component of this Exit 7 expansion. This pedestrian passage must be wide enough to meet community and safety standards. The League of Young Voters, in conjunction with MAST, would like to partner with MDOT to figure out how to obtain funds for this portion of the Exit 7 project-and unless these funds are found, the League and MAST believe that this expansion must be put on hold. There are other city projects, such as Franklin Arterial, that need tending to.
Please encourage the Maine Department of Transportation to spend some of the money from the federal government on sustainable transportation alternatives for the future, not more highway!
MAST asks you to consider attending this meeting and speaking in support of pedestrian access. If you are uncomfortable speaking, you may send written a written message to Hilary and she will make sure it gets into the public record.
> OUR NEWEST MEMBERS
"I commute about 3 miles to work at Monument square, sometimes by foot, sometimes by bus, sometimes by bike; I'd like to get better at bike commuting; winter bike commuting is a challenge for me! "
(profile not completed)
"I want to be connected to efforts to promote commuting, and to make it easier and safer. "
I asked John if he was the same person whose name I've seen on political signs. His reply: "Guilty on the politics--I served in the house for 2 terms from Portland's West End. Look forward to getting involved. I sure would like to meet sometime. I am looking into a new ride and maybe you could give me some advice." [You can give John some advice by replying to this thread in the "Friday Discussions" forum, or send him email through his member profile.
Our latest poll, "What types of products would you like to see more of at our local retailers?", needs more votes! Leading contenders are "Utility bikes / equipment" and "Cargo trailers". You can still vote on this!
This week, we have a "guest poll". Member Shoshana Hoose has started a nice blog about the Back Cove, and is planning an upcoming essay on the issue of Tukey's Bridge access. In preparation, she has posted the following poll question on her home page:
Should bicyclists and rollerbladers be allowed to cross Tukey's Bridge on I-295?
She would much appreciate you all giving your input on this. Vote at her home page. No registration is necessary. If you wish to discuss this, you may use our existing message thread on Bikes on Interstates.
Also, please remember you can suggest and vote for meeting ideas here.
> FEATURED CONTENT AND OTHER GOINGS-ON
* New member Adam Burk has started a message thread about Portland's City Charter revision. He writes:
As you may already know, Portland's charter (constitution, guiding document) is under review and will most likely be rewritten. This means there is a historic opportunity afoot to help create the Portland we want moving forward. I am getting the word out to a number of groups I am a part of, because I think it is vital that citizens be involved with this process.
The Charter Commission is currently holding public input meetings where any idea can be voiced. If this group is interested, I suggest meeting and talking about what the biking and bike commuting population would like to see as integral to the future of this city, its development, and the way it does business (use bike messengers?). Then take this vision to one of the meetings and let the commissioners hear it!
If you are interested, please discuss at his message thread!
* ADVOCACY UPDATE: As I've mentioned before, I've been involved in some debate with the city and their engineering consultant about their plan for bike lanes on Forest Avenue, and especially their design for continuing a dashed bike lane to the stop line at the intersection with Walton Street, which has a red light. (See recent poll on this.) I (and some of you) have maintained that this is a dangerous design because it encourages inexperienced bicyclists to stay to the right of potential right-turning cars, and retards education toward getting further out into the lane to go straight. They are reluctant to "abandon" bicyclists by ending the bike lane prior to the intersection, as I've suggested, because they feel they need to accomodate all bicyclists, especially ones shy about commanding a lane (this includes our state MDOT Bike/Ped Coordinator), even those who may not have a license and know the rules of the road. (Their words!) Even with a "letter of opinion" from a nationally-know bike education expert supporting ending the lane prior to the intersection (see Files area), and following a fairly productive discussion with most of the major parties in the room, I think they are still going to keep the bike lane. If so, it will be a lost battle for me, but it did bring together some of us from different persectives to initiate a conversation, which will continue, so I feel satisfied I've done what I can for now. (Contacting Kathi Earley, the City's Manager of Engineering Services, KAS@portlandmaine.gov, might not hurt. She told me they will make the decision this week.)
If you wish to discuss this on this Meetup, please use the message thread we already have started from the Sept 5 newsletter.
On a more positive note, BCM has begun filming for some new Public Service Announcement videos, which will be played on TV stations state-wide and posted to the Internet. Probably we won't see any finished products until at least next spring, but the two I've seen scripts for focus on the 3' law, and on cyclists' responsibilities to follow the rules. You may see Yours Truly being tailed WAY too closely by a car driven by the BCM Board President with a cameraman in the back seat.
Shameless sales pitch: If you appreciate that BCM is doing this, and are not already a member, please become one! They are working for you!
* Living Car-Free in Rural Maine: An interesting discussion on BikeForums.net, pointed out to us by Scott. "Llamero"'s thread starts "Coming this November I will have been living car free for two years, and my wife is already well past the 1 year mark. The catch is, we live in a small town in Maine where the nearest mass transit is 60 miles away, and where the winters can be fairly brutal." Full discussion here.
> UPCOMING EVENTS
I have scheduled a Meetup for Wednesday evening 10/28, but I don't have time to organize it. If anyone wants to, please let me know. I'll help with suggesting a topic, finding a location, and publicity. Thanks!
See our calendar for more details on all of the following:
Tue Oct 13, 5:30 PM: Portland Green Drinks, Head Games (116 Free Street)
Mon Oct 19, 6:00 PM: I-295 Exit 7 Public Hearing
Tue Oct 20, 4:30 PM: Green Streets Drop-In Volunteer Social, North Star Cafe
Wed Oct 28?: Our October Meetup, should anyone step forward to organize it
Sat Oct 31, 10:00 AM: Health and Safety Fair, Father Hayes Ctr (Stevens Ave), Portland (Contact me if interested in volunteering!)
Every Thursday: Mechanic classes at Gorham Bike & Ski (flat tire workshop) and Back Bay Bicycle (flat tire workshop alternating with drive train maintenance).
> UPCOMING WEATHER
The rest of this week look pretty good, sunny, < 10% chance rain, but still chilly (high < 50). Next week is looking to start out similarly, slightly warmer, but rain moving in mid-week.
Have a nice ride today!