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Camden considers bicycle lanes for Mechanic Street

By Daniel Dunkle | Jul 22, 2020
Source: Bicycle Coalition of Maine This is what a section of Mechanic Street could look like if proposed changes are approved. "The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is excited to be working with Camden on strategies to calm traffic and create space on roadways for people walking and bicycling," Jim Tasse said. The advisory lane photo above is from a project in Scarborough, which he said was positively received.

Camden — The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has proposed measures to calm traffic and make it safer for bicyclists on Mechanic Street.

Jim Tasse of the coalition provided a presentation to the Select Board on July 21 suggesting 5-to-6-foot advisory bike lanes on both sides of the road and the elimination of the center line on stretches of it. This will cause motorists to slow down and pay more attention to their driving, he said. The shoulder bike lanes would be marked by dashed lines.

He noted the dangers facing bicyclists. Drivers today are increasingly distracted by the their phones and coffee. In addition, they often go over the speed limit and in the event of a crash, every increase in speed increases the risk of a fatality involving a pedestrian or bicyclist. At 20 mph, the risk of fatality is 18%. That increases to 50% at 30 mph and 77% at 40 mph.

The coalition has launched various campaigns to increase safety on the roads and is getting the message out there with the slogan "Imagine People Here!" The word "people" is shown to be replacing the word "bikes."

The suggested plan is considered an experimental treatment, though he noted it has been used with some success in Yarmouth and Scarborough. It is also widely used in Europe. The bicycle lanes are considered advisory.

He also said it creates a local, rural feel to the road, which tends to slow drivers down.

The speed limit posted on Mechanic Street is 25-35 mph, and it was noted in the meeting that getting the Maine Department of Transportation involved in speed studies often leads to them raising rather than lowering the speed limit. Tasse said the town does not need DOT approval.

Select Board member Taylor Benzie said he was concerned about how this would affect on-street parking. Tasse said there was not much of that outside the downtown, but it could be looked at as part of the project.

Vice Chair Alison McKellar said she was overjoyed by the proposal and that this is something the people in Camden care about.

Pathways Committee Chair Geoff Scott said anything that provides increased awareness of bicyclists is an improvement.

Police Chief Randy Gagne and Public Works Director David St. Laurent have been helping with the project.

Board Chair Robert Falciani tasked officials with bringing a more specific proposal back to the select board to vote on, noting that he did not want to wait too long since the Mechanic Street work is being completed. Board member Marc Ratner said he would like it to come back to the board at its next meeting.

"Anything is better than the current situation," McKellar said. She said she is comfortable with whatever the group comes up with and will favor it.

Falciani said he would not give the project a blank check. He said he would like public input on the project.

"It is always inspiring to see a group like you wanting to make things better," said Angela King of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

(Source: Town of Camden)
(Source: Bicycle Coalition of Maine)
(Source: Bicycle Coalition of Maine)
(Source: Bicycle Coalition of Maine)
(Source: Bicycle Coalition of Maine)
(Source: Bicycle Coalition of Maine)
(Source: Bicycle Coalition of Maine)
(Source: Bicycle Coalition of Maine)
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Comments (2)
Posted by: Karla Doremus-Tranfield | Jul 23, 2020 07:19

Fantastic idea! Families, children and adult cyclists frequently use Mechanic Street. Let’s give it a try. Thank you to the select board for thinking out of the box.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jul 22, 2020 18:23

Yeah, that'll work. Drivers ignore speed limits and crosswalks, but that new sign, that's the fix-all.

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