Imagine People Here project comes to Millinocket
By Shelley Farrington (Lincoln News published 9/16/2021)
MILINOCKET – Those using Millinocket’s Central Street, saw some changes last week as representatives from the Bicycle Coalition of Maine were in town installing plastic traffic control posts, new crosswalk paint and other small changes to the roadways to increase public safety and pedestrian traffic.
As a part of its Age Friendly Community designation, Millinocket was chosen by Bicycle Coalition of Maine for its “Imagine People Here” campaign. The work creates temporary demonstrations that improve safety and access for pedestrians and bicyclists in the area by painting on roadways including crosswalks, and using signs and flexible posts to help with traffic control.
James Tasse, assistant director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine (BCM) and director of the group’s bike and pedestrian safety education programs, supervised the projects and was helped by volunteers and Millinocket Public Works.
“The BCM’s ‘Imagine People Here’ program installs traffic calming and visibility enhancements to roadways in order to demonstrate to community leaders and the public how inexpensive it can be to improve conditions for people walking and bicycling,” Tasse said in an email.
“For Millinocket, BCM is working with the town and representatives from the Age Friendly committee to install traffic calming gateways at five downtown crosswalks,” he said. “An additional free-standing gateway will be installed on Rte. 157 on the downhill coming into Millinocket to help drivers comply with the posted 25 mph speed limit.”
According to the BCM website the “Imagine People Here” this year projects have also been completed in Bangor, North Yarmouth and Westbrook. Tasse said the program was first launched in 2015 and has installed more than 30 projects across Maine.
“Projects range from ‘gateway’ treatments at crosswalks that visually constrict roadways and increase the visibility of pedestrians seeking to cross roads, to bike ways that use shared lane markings and edge lanes to provide bike riders with a dedicated space on the road,” said Tasse. “All projects require explicit approval from the towns in which they are staged, as well as review and approval from Maine DOT for projects on state managed roadways. Projects are assessed by measuring impacts on the speed of traffic and the number of cars yielding at crosswalk installations.
The BCM website says “through the completion of these projects, the BCM has found it is possible to measurably slow motor vehicle traffic and improve yield rates using low-cost materials. As motor vehicle speeds directly correlate to the severity of traffic crashes, techniques to slow traffic with temporary traffic calming installations can have a strong impact on safety outcomes.”
As evidence it cites enhanced crosswalks on State Street in Bangor as reducing average speeds by 11 percent; in North Yarmouth new crosswalk enhancements, shared lane markings and painted lane advisories (bike stencils) have reduced travelling speeds by12 percent; and five crosswalk enhancements on Main Street in Westbrook reduced travelling speeds by four percent.
The goal is to create greater awareness and reduce speeds said Thrive Penobscot Director Jane Danforth, a partner in Age Friendly Communities and BCM work. An identified component of an age-friendly community is walkable streets and bike routes. These efforts help create safer environment for both the walker/bicyclist and driver alike.
“Jim has been working with the Age-Friendly Millinocket Committee for several months planning this project,” Danforth said. “The timing is perfect as it coincides with a walking and biking safety study currently being conducted by T.Y. LIN, an engineering firm hired through grant funds awarded to Millinocket from the D.O.T, the Northern Forest Center and Thrive Penobscot to study that section of roadway.
“Speeding along Central Street has been a concern voiced by local citizens for a long time. Through this project and the study being conducted, the town will learn what traffic calming strategies work to make that corridor safer for all,” she said.
The plastic poles can be removed if needed and Tasse said he will give citizens the opportunity to participate in a survey and comment on the new safety measures.
Take the survey here!
For more information on the project contact Tasse at firstname.lastname@example.org or Danforth at email@example.com