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Climate plan ignores bicycles, pedestrians

Earlier this month, the Maine Climate Council voted to finalize its Climate Action Plan. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine congratulates everyone who worked on and contributed to the plan. However, the council’s transportation section includes very few references that support bicycle, pedestrian, or transit infrastructure. We are disappointed the council focused so emphatically on electric vehicles (EVs) while offering scant encouragement for healthy, low-emission modes like walking, bicycling, and transit.

EVs are low-emission and will be an important aspect of reducing greenhouse gases, but emphasizing the adoption of EVs won’t help with traffic congestion and the epidemic of injuries and deaths inflicted by speeding vehicles.

The Climate Council’s draft plan will direct millions of dollars towards incentivizing and expanding automotive traffic, when it could have promoted investment in sidewalks, bike facilities, and transit.

Investing in bike/pedestrian/transit is a practical solution, can serve users equally from all socio-economic contexts, is low- or no-emissions and is achievable under existing agencies without expensive incentives or waiting for technology to mature.

As a member of the Transportation Workgroup, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine feels the state has missed an opportunity to invest in strategies that would have more immediate benefits and create a better integrated and comprehensive transportation system that would also yield benefits in terms of health outcomes and more liveable communities.

We will continue to advocate for investments in bike and pedestrian infrastructure and incentives, and look forward to working with climate advocates to meet Maine’s ambitious yet vital goal of reducing global warming emissions.

Jim Tassé

Assistant Director

Bicycle Coalition of Maine

Portland

Spend wisely

The BDN on Nov. 19 had conflicting articles on page B1. On the right lower corner of the page was an article concerning Benjamin’s Pub in Bangor. The restaurant has not been cited for violations or ordered closed, and has been following all virus protocols. However, the owner Richard Clark, has closed for two weeks, saying that “The numbers are rising and we want to be sure that everyone is safe”.

This story was of a responsible business owner doing his best to contain the pandemic in these troubled and dangerous times. He was thinking of the safety of all of us, not just of himself.

On the lower left corner of the same page was an article with a headline that read “Judge orders Sunday River Brewery to close again.” The key word here is “again.” State inspectors ordered the restaurant closed for the second time this year, the brewery having lost its licenses on and off since May. This infraction was for staff for not wearing face masks and for failing to have Plexiglass installed. The owner, Rick Savage, has said he will not follow the order and will go to court to keep his business open.

Two different articles, opposite corners of the same page and completely opposite corners of what is really at stake here: The welfare of the people of Maine.

When the headlines are of rapidly spreading COVID cases across Maine, when hospitalizations and deaths are on the increase, when kids want to stay in school and people with loved ones in nursing homes are scared, which one of these two businesses will people patronize? It is something we need to think about. Patronization is a powerful weapon to wield. We all need to do our part to control COVID, and our spending pattern may be a piece of that.

Spend wisely. We are all in this together.

Sue Shaw

Penobscot

Take time to relax

In a world that has seemingly slowed, there has been a significant increase in expectations for production, especially during what has typically been considered “time off.” With restrictions on where we can go and what we can do, many are imagined to be sitting at home with unlimited capacity to do what is asked of them.

While activities may be limited, lives are no less chaotic as we figure out how to adapt to the new normal. Digital connectivity has become even more prominent as a result of this pandemic, keeping families and friends close while physically distanced, and providing critical resources for daily activities. Yet there seems to be a misconception that many people are unoccupied, simply waiting for messages or projects to arrive in their inbox.

As a student, instructions for quick turnaround assignments occur with increasing frequency. Just recently I received several large assignments via email on a Saturday evening, to be submitted by Monday. This theme translates beyond school to work, volunteer positions, even communications with friends. In our increasingly digital world, there seems to be a heightened sense of urgency, a sense that constant access demands immediate attention.

We must challenge ourselves to thoughtfully consider timeframes before making requests on short notice. People should allow themselves and others time off to relax, reflect, recharge. While the lines may blur between home and work, it is more important than ever to respect boundaries, as “immediate” requests only elevate stress and create unnecessary pressure.

Sylvia Burns

Blue Hill