Complete Streets, a program developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, is intended to help planners and engineers develop roadway designs that are inclusive of all users, regardless of age, ability, income, ethnicity, or mode of transportation (i.e. cyclists, pedestrians, and public transport passengers). Traditionally, public roadways are designed for motor vehicles, inadvertently marginalizing transportation opportunities and limiting the benefits of a diverse transportation system. By focusing on improving bike and pedestrian safety, Complete Streets aims to change all that.
In 2014, Maine adopted Complete Streets policies, joining the localities of Portland, Scarborough, Yarmouth, Bangor, and Fort Kent. Maine and 32 other states have implemented policies to reduce accidents and improve public awareness.
Sad Statistics: Dangers to Pedestrians and Bicyclists
In 2015, 19 pedestrians were killed by automobiles in Maine, the most pedestrian deaths in more than a decade. Additionally, there were 276 pedestrian injuries reported during the same year. In 2016, 11 people were struck and killed walking or riding a bike in Maine.
The numbers have been inconsistent throughout the years, but the message from activist organizations is getting louder. According to Nancy Grant, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, “Too many pedestrians and bicyclists are losing their lives on our roads, and in each case, these tragedies are almost entirely preventable.”
Success Stories: Improvements in Safety
Despite tragedy, there have been small victories for pedestrians and bicyclists throughout the state of Maine.
For example, in 2014, DOT replaced a bridge on Route 1, near the Yarmouth Public Library, that was considered by many to be too dangerous to cross on foot or bike. Activists claimed bikers and pedestrians were unfairly deterred from crossing the bridge, which connects to downtown shops and restaurants. An advisory committee helped the town build a multi-use path on one side of the bridge, which now provides bikers and pedestrians with safe access to Maine Street. A similar renovation took place on the new Martins Point Bridge between Falmouth and Portland, further improving bike and pedestrian safety in the state.
Activist organizations, such as the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and the Maine State East Coast Greenway Committee, say that bicycle-pedestrian initiatives will require more public support moving forward and also more funding.
The advantages of Complete Streets policies, however, will benefit everyone in Maine, not just those walking or riding a bike.
Moving Forward: The Future of Improving Bike and Pedestrian Safety
The Maine Department of Transportation is prioritizing its efforts to make streets safer for everyone. According to the Maine DOT website, by implementing Complete Streets policies, Maine hopes to support the “state’s mobility, safety, and environmental goals.”
Safety improvements the DOT is considering include:
- Lower speed limits
- More public education programs
- Tighter enforcement
- More sidewalks
- Wider bike lanes
- Paved shoulders
- Improved signage
- Public service announcements
As you travel around Maine this week, take note of your community’s support (or lack of support) for diverse transportation needs. The way to ensure Complete Streets policies are implemented in our communities is by taking part in the discussion and pressuring officials to solidify funding.
Help For Accident Victims
Not all traffic accidents involve a cyclists or pedestrian, but those that do often include serious injury.
At Fales & Fales, we strive to provide bike and pedestrian victims with compassionate support and compensatory justice. If you or a family member has suffered a bike or pedestrian injury, we want to hear from you.
To contact a Fales & Fales representative, please fill out the form on this page or call (888) 526-9408.