2016-05-20 / Community

My side of the bridge

Bicycle built for thousands

I am not sure how someone who lived in Los Angeles for a time can legitimately complain about local traffic, let alone a mildly disruptive commute due to a bridge opening. That said, real issues are pressing as key spines like Broadway are becoming more congested and calcified. Our communities would be well served to further invest into a long term road plan while also heavily promoting and incenting able residents to bike, walk, moped or rickshaw on short work commutes and nearby errands. Starting with me, far too many of us far too often opt for four wheels when two will do. Emulating Holland is not real or rational, but biking and scootering can and should be embraced.

South Portland Planning and Development Director Tex Haeuser, an avid bike commuter himself, reports that wherever we can separate bike lanes is a good place to start.

“Double-line bike lane stripes provide greater separation than just a single line. If we really want to increase ridership though, there needs to be a physical barrier between cycles and cars where possible,” Haeuser says. “Budget aside, my big wish would be for the bike-pedestrian bridge at Waterman/Bridge/Broadway to be built to enable an uninterrupted and safer experience along that part of the Greenbelt Walkway.”

There is good news ahead with some pending projects. The Route 77 corridor will soon see new surfacing and striping to include bike lanes on both sides of the road. On Cottage Road, based on the success of a pilot study last year, South Portland Public Works will create bike lanes when they restripe in the next month. Haeuser also reports that a need for advanced traffic signal detection is on the city’s radar. Regular cameras and sensors do not recognize bicyclists.

Get involved. Alter bad habits and enrich a healthier lifestyle. Cape Elizabeth and South Portland have existing committees or organizations that support biker access. Here are a few quick recommendations for SoPo’s Bicycle- Pedestrian Committee. We must segment and focus on bike commuting vs. sport or recreational biking. The former needs help, the latter takes pretty good care of itself. Money. Some more budget investment is needed into capital programs and plans including grants and other creative ways to finance them. If we can find corporate sponsors for stretches of our highway, than why not sections of our bike lanes or paths. Finally, talk and listen to South Portland resident Phil King. I know of no one who has trekked more through our streets than King and he would be a wealth of analysis and information in an ambassador type role.

So, here is a new bumper sticker to sell alongside “Cape” or “SoPo” at nearby retailers, one even the South Portland City Council could endorse – “Bike More. Drive Less. Exhale Little!” (Vehicles and people certainly contribute their fair share to CO2 emissions after all.)

Reader feedback

I recall a politically active friend years ago telling me that “If you go left far enough, you end up far right, and neither is productive or attractive.’’ In that spirit, though it is welcoming to see our towns engage in much needed debate and freedom of opinion, a reminder is warranted.

If we elect to suppress contrary thoughts, in the name of harmony, as Bob Klotz and his Cloudy Skies team implies, we are no better off than horrid one-voice regimes of today or yesterday. Seek and find unity through disagreement, debate and then mediation. Steamrolling a town with a onesided, well-organized and vocal effort is no way to govern. And for the record, Bob, before you try to stuff this tall, graying pigeon in to a LePage-Trump hole that fits your argument, I offer this: Not only a strong socially liberal track record as a long time independent, but sheer delight at say a Bernie (or Kasich)-Olympia Snowe alternative, winning ticket to bring both corrupt parties the humbling they richly deserve, and we desperately need.

Don Russell is a local real estate sales agent with The Maine Real Estate Network, and founder of BrandME Marketing. He has proudly lived in South Portland for 20 years. Contact him at don@brandme.net or send a letter to the editor to editor@inthesentry.com. His column appears in the Sentry once a month.

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