BAR HARBOR — Local elected officials, planning board members, town managers, Maine DOT officials, state legislators and others attended a breakfast and walk on Tuesday morning with Mark Fenton, renowned pedestrian and bicycle advocate and an authority on public health and community planning.
The ACHIEVE program, a partnership between the MDI YMCA and Healthy Acadia, joined with Friends of Acadia to organize this event, with support from Machias Savings Bank and College of the Atlantic.
The breakfast was held at College of the Atlantic, where Mr. Fenton presented compelling public health, economic, and environmental reasons for planning and policies that better promote walking and biking. He gave suggestions for steps that the MDI-regional communities can take to begin to address these issues, and the participants discussed a number of these issues.
“We were really happy to help bring Mark Fenton to MDI,” said Stephanie Clement, conservation director with Friends of Acadia.
“I had heard him speak at a conference several years ago, and I found his message tying community healthy to walk-able and bike-able communities to be quite inspiring. My hope is that in these challenging budget years, our communities and state partners might be able to find the will and new means for making bicycle and pedestrian improvements happen on MDI. This is just the beginning of the process.”
Following the breakfast, Mr. Fenton guided the group on a walk of a corridor along Route 3, providing advice about ways to improve this corridor for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists, as an example for the broader communities.
Participants at the event strongly agreed that bicyclists and pedestrians should be considered in road improvement efforts.
“There is an ongoing effort by multiple interests both public and private, to see the section of Route 3 from Iresons Hill to West Street rebuilt,” said Matt Horton. “As part of that effort, we want to see bike lanes and where practical sidewalks as well. It makes a whole lot of sense to not only have a new and improved roadway, but also safe bike lanes and sidewalks which will encourage folks to use alternate means of transportation. Tuesday’s meeting at COA was crucial in bringing all interests together as we proceed with this effort.”
The community partners that came together around this event plan to continue to develop the partnership and take advantage of the information and momentum garnered from Tuesday’s breakfast.
“We are excited to continue to work with our community partners to move forward on these issues,” said Doug Michael, director of Healthy Acadia stated.
“There is a window of opportunity and energy here, and it is critical that we make the most of this to push forward with concrete steps to ensure greater walk-ability and bike-ability. That will require everyone at the table making this a priority for action, thinking of creative solutions for planning and funding, and working together.”