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Portland Green Streets » 2010 » September

Archive for September, 2010

World Car-Free Day (Sep 22) and Green Streets Day (Sep 24) – Twice-in-One-Week Get-Around-Green Challenge!

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Green Streets T-Shirt Printing at Munjfest - smallerThis week we get to celebrate both World Carfree Day (this Wed., Sept. 22) and Green Streets Day (this Friday, Sept 24)!  Think of them as two days to inspire you (or someone you want to encourage) to find a different way to get around than the single-occupancy vehicle.  Let World Carfree Day and Green Streets Days be a showcase for just how our cities might look like, feel like, and sound like without tons of cars…365 days a year.

If you plan to walk, bike, take public transit, carpool, and/or stay/work from home on World Car Free Day and/or Green Streets Day please take  30 seconds to  sign in here.    Let us know you’re commuting green on both days (in the comment section at the end) and you’ll be entered to win one of 5 home-grown new versions of the Portland Green Streets T-shirt!

For special treats for Green Streets Day participants, visit our Green Streets Freebies & Discounts page for offers of free food and drink and various area discounts that day.

Farewell & Updates from PGS Summer 2010 Intern, Michelle Boisvert

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Michelle Boisvert photoHello Green Streeters,

I am writing to say farewell as Portland Green Street’s 2010 Intern.  As the summer is coming to a close, the internship is wrapping up this month.  I’d like to share with you some the changes that you will soon see in the current Incentive Program.   We have assessed how the program is working, gotten feedback from our business sponsors, taken a participation count, and done a lot of brainstorming.  We are very excited about the changes that are being made, and believe they’ll make being a Green Streeter easier, more convenient and more fun.  Here’s a preview of what you’ll be seeing soon:

1.  Green Streets membership cards – you’ll be able to access incentives all over the Greater Portland area by using your new membership card.  Incentives will no longer be available only on Green Streets Days on the last Friday of the month, but every day of the year.  You may redeem each business’ incentive once a year. Challenge yourself to as visit as many of our sponsor as you can in a year!

2.  You will see “This is a Green Streets Business” decals in the windows of our business sponsors.  This will heighten our visibility and let you know that the business offers an incentive to Green Streeters using sustainable transportation.

Be sure to sign up for a membership card when they become available, and keep an eye out for new incentives!

I’ve had a great time working for Portland Green Streets this summer, and hope I continue seeing everyone out on the streets on Green Streets Days and beyond!

-Michelle Boisvert, PGS Summer 2010 Intern

[Editor's Note:  We've had a great time working with Michelle this summer and will miss her presence and hard work - and we wish her the best in the community and environmental planning work she's seeking.  For those out there looking for the right person for the job: don't waste your chance to hire this woman!  Michelle is a fun, warm, and thoughtful team player - very smart, great at looking at the big picture, and a suit-up and show-up hard worker.  We've been blessed to have her with us.]

Where Are Your Neighbors Headed?

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Where your neighbors are headedHairycow might be a funny name, but their latest information tool offers us an interesting look at commuting in Greater Portland.

Enter people going to the Peninsula (choose to zip code 04101), and this census-based tool shows that 12% of Peninsula workers live on the Peninsula (04101), 30% live in 04106, 04102, and 04103, and the remainder (58%) live further than 8-10 minutes away.

If you’re a data hound, you can quickly determine that 30% of people driving to Portland – the ones farthest away – drive 2/3rds of all of the commuting miles! I hadn’t really thought about this, but in a non-techy example you can see why.  Getting 30 commuters to commute green that live 1 mile away from work saves the same amount of resources as getting 1 commuter who lives 30 miles away.

And having been with Portland Green Streets for a while now, it’s really hard to come up with solutions for people who live outside the 8-10 minute zone.  That’s because buses and bikes and walking become less reasonable alternatives.  Of course, there’s carpooling, “The single largest transport resource…in the entire country are the empty seats in everyone’s car,” said Randy Rentschler in GOOD Magazine, Spring 2009.

But the real way to get people to go green might be to focus on their home purchasing decisions – choosing homes closer to work may ultimately be more successful than focusing on buses and bikes for those already close.  Walkscore.com has a new tool out there to show this from a pocket book perspective.  If you type in your home and work locations, it will calculate how much money you’re paying for this longer commute.  It can really add up – even so much so that the cheaper housing prices outside of Portland might not actually be saving you money.

On the flip side, a car is a car on the road.  And if we’re concerned about lowering the number of cars on the road then there’s no real difference between a short or long distance commuter.  Both of them will use the intersections in town.  Both of them lower interactions between people, reduce people’s activity levels, and choke our air.  But it raises an interesting question, where should resources be focused in greening our streets?

-Keith Gosselin, Board Member, Portland Green Streets

Transportation News & Opportunities – September, October

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Portland Green Streets Calendar

As always, please check out the Portland Green Streets Calendar for exciting upcoming transportation-related events in Greater Portland.

Back to School Specials from METRO

College Students:

Ride FREE with ID from participating colleges August 23 – September 30, 2010. (After September, several colleges continue to offer FREE or discounted transportation.)

Discounted Student Fares (K-12): Beginning in September through mid-June 2011, students can ride METRO buses for 75 cents (regular student fare is $1.25) using a METRO Student Fare Card, available at participating schools in Portland, Westbrook and Falmouth.

For a list of participating schools/colleges, schedules and additional information, visit www.gpmetrobus.com (Services and Programs) or call 774-0351.

DUE BY Oct 25 -  Healthy Youth Powerful Youth Mini-Grant

A great grant that can be pair with Active Transportation work – Healthy Portland and Healthy Casco Bay are excited to announce the availability of four mini-grants of up to $1,500 each for initiatives that support healthy youth who live, learn, and play in these two HMP regions.  Fundable projects must include one tobacco-free living objective that addresses an environmental or policy change in your community to reduce tobacco use by youth.  Sample programs include:
  • Implementing a NO BUTS! program.
  • Implementing a Star Store program.
  • Increasing the number of tobacco-free recreation areas in your region (i.e., tobacco-free parks, playgrounds, local beaches, and athletic fields).
  • Promoting tobacco-free school grounds (state law).
  • Promoting tobacco-free dining (indoor and outdoor) or state beaches (state laws).

Additionally, the project must include at least one more objective on preventing underage drinking, encouraging better nutrition, or promoting physical activity for a total of at least two objectives. For more information see application.

October 6/Full Month of October – International Walk & Bike to School Day & Month

Join kids and families around the globe to walk and bike to school in October! In the USA, celebrate Walk and Bike to School Day on October 6, 2010 – or pick another day this fall that works best for your school to celebrate. And promote safe walking and bicycling throughout the year!  Find out how to organize an event, register and order materials, and get other technical assistance from the Maine Safe Routes to School Program. See some inspiration from schools around the state last spring.

Bring Bicycle-Pedestrian Safety Education to Your Local School

Please encourage your local school(s) to arrange for a free presentation on bicycle and pedestrian safety by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.  The Coalition’s trained instructors will teach students the basics of commuting to school safely by bike and foot.  For more information, please contact Jim Tasse, the coalition’s education director.

AMTRAK Downeaster – College 6Tix Returns This Fall

Get smart this semester. Purchase a College 6TIX pass and get six one-way trips on the Amtrak Downeaster for just $76. With up to 50% off the regular fare, it’s a no brainier.

Comfortable, Convenient and Money-Saving Vanpool Seats Available NowComfortable, Convenient and Money-Saving Vanpools Available Now

Some of Go Maine’s vanpool routes have immediate seat openings. Maybe there’s one that’ll fit your commute:

  • Van 22 – Portland/Yarmouth to Augusta (North)
  • Van 33 – Topsham to Augusta (East)
  • Van 34 – Augusta/Gardiner to Portland (in-town)
  • Van 35 – Topsham to Augusta (North)
  • Van 42 – Farmington to Augusta
  • Van 44 – Lewiston to Portland (outer Congress St./Jetport/UNUM area)
  • Van 45 – Auburn to Portland (in-town)
  • Van 48 – Newport – Augusta (Capitol area)
  • Van 51 – Bangor to Augusta (Capitol area)
  • Van 53 – Yarmouth/Freeport to Augusta (Capital area)

Riding a commuter vanpool is inexpensive, stress-free and eco-friendly. Check with GO MAINE for complete information on commuter vanpools.

Make Your Voice Heard on MaineDOT’s Draft Local Cost Sharing Policy

In an effort to develop a uniform and equitable policy for sharing the cost of major improvements to the state highway system, MaineDOT has drafted a new local cost sharing policy.   This policy also addresses the cost sharing for new sidewalks as part of road and bridge major projects.  A notice of this recently went out to all municipalities as part of Maine DOT’s Bureau Newsletter.  This draft policy shows MaineDOT paying for the full federal share of sidewalks (80% MaineDOT, 20% Local) in qualifying areas.   This is the same match requirement for MaineDOT’s Quality Community Program stand alone projects with Transportation Enhancement Funding.   With Bridges, because of their size and costs, MaineDOT will be responsible for the entire cost of the sidewalks in a qualifying area where there is a sidewalk planned or currently connected to the bridge.  Local cost shares may be reduced or waived in accordance with the rule implementing Maine ’s Sensible Transportation Policy Act, 17-229 CMR Chapter 103, subchapter III, section 3.  Please review and make comments at Local Cost Sharing Policy (Draft 8-9-10)Comment Form – Submit comments about this draft policy

Employers – Check Out METRO’s Bus Incentive Program for Employees

The METRO Bus is introducing an incentive program that encourages Maine employees to choose transit instead of driving to work.  They are offering employers fully or partially subsidized monthly passes to their employees.   By not driving, you can save hundreds of dollars per year…extra money that you can use for mortgage payments, college tuition, vacations, or anything you want. Whether you have five employees or over 5,000 employees, it just makes good business sense to participate.  This transit benefit not only encourages employees to use public transit to commute to work, it also reduces the need for available employee parking and helps reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. Now there are incentives to make participating in METRO’s plan an even better deal for employers and their employees.

  • Tax Savings
  • Promote “Green” Transportation
  • Save $$
  • Free up valuable parking spaces
METRO will work with your business to provide a risk-free trial program that works for you and your employees. See here to learn more.

Bike Commuter Education Program on the Move

The Bike Commuter Education Program, a joint effort of GO MAINE, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and MaineDOT, is off and running. Or should we say off and riding? And they can come to your workplace too.

The new bike commuter program is designed to assist businesses that want to promote cycling within their organization and help the cyclists who want to commute by bike, and it’s all FREE.

To support businesses, the program offers guidance on creating a bicycle friendly culture in an organization, understanding the needs of a cyclist who rides to and from work, and outlining what facilities a cyclist would typically want at the workplace. While having all the facilities like showers and lockers is nice, it’s not a deal breaker. When an organization understands the cyclist’s perspective, many different options are possible. This program offers that type of guidance to businesses.

To support the cyclist, the program offers on-site training seminars by qualified cycling instructors. These sessions are adapted to the time available to employees during the day or scheduled after hours, at the business’ and employees’ convenience. Through these, existing or would-be cyclists can learn the realities of cycling to and from work and the hard skills that go with it. Topics include setting realistic goals, managing a work out on your way to work, bikes and other equipment, riding techniques, route selection, night riding, and general traffic safety. These classes are taught by instructors who speak from experience and are trained in safe cycling practices. Classes are for novice to intermediate cyclists of all ages.

For more information about the program and to schedule a visit to your place of business, please contact Erik West at ewest@gpcog.org or at 207-774-9891.

Maine Alliance for Sustainable Transportation (MaST) has Launched New Website

The Maine Alliance for Sustainable Transportation (MaST) – of which Portland Green Streets is a member – has officially launched our new website! MaST was spearheaded by the League and has some great groups working to increase access to affordable, reliable and sustainable transportation option.  Check MaST out and find out how you can get involved!


We all know about the problem of poor access to many bus stops during the winter.  Robert Wagner, a long-time advocate for transportation improvements, is the volunteer coordinator for an effort to organize volunteers to agree to keep specific bus stop locations in Portland and South Portland clear of snow, etc., for a period of a year. He hasn’t had many takers so far, but this sure sounds like a way for us to help where no one else is dealing with the problem. Check the website: www.Adopt-A-Stop.org or call him at (207) 408-4404.

Cool Apps to Help with Your Commute

Smartphones offer a growing number of apps that can enhance your commute, whether you’re on two wheels, four wheels or public transit.  After some field testing, we’ve put together a list of  applications that every Smartphone wielding road warrior should download immediately: Go to Smartphone Apps info at Go Maine site

Keep Up with Veteran’s Bridge Progress

Since groundbreaking in June this year, construction crews have had a busy summer – see here for more information about the bridge’s progress and bicycle and pedestrian accommodation.

Bicycle Coalition of Maine Receives $18,000 Grant for Advocacy Program

Augusta ­ The Alliance for Biking & Walking in Washington, D.C. has awarded
an $18,000 grant to the Bicycle Coalition of Maine for its Community Spokes
Program. The program will recruit and train rural citizen-advocates to work
for local improvements in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure as well as
state policies that encourage bicycling and walking.

“To successfully engage the many villages and small towns in Maine, we need
trained advocates who are rooted in their own communities,” said Allison
Vogt, the Bicycle Coalition’s executive director. “By increasing our
grassroots muscle in local communities, we also will have a bigger impact on
state policies.”

The Alliance, a coalition of more than 160 grassroots biking and walking
advocacy organizations in North America, awarded four grants to projects
throughout the United States. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine project will
serve as a model for rural communities facing challenges with capacity,
funding and infrastructure for bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

Maine PIRG Students Organizing for Federal Rail Funding

Learn more about Maine Public Interest Resource Group students who are organizing on transit issues.