Brunswick legislator's crash draws attention to bicycle safety

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BRUNSWICK — State Rep. Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, is recovering after being hit by a car while riding a bicycle on Federal Street, an incident that helped refocus attention on bike safety concerns.

Daughtry is on crutches following the May 6 crash. In an interview May 13, she said she did not wish to discuss the extent of her injuries.

The section of Federal Street where Daughtry was hit has been a center of attention before. Last year, the town spent $1,350 to paint new bike lanes and markings called “sharrows” on the half-mile stretch of road.

Daughtry was traveling north on Federal, in one of the sharrows, when she was hit by a car. Police said the driver who allegedly hit her, Gary Babine, 71, of Brunswick, did not see her while making a left turn from Green Street. He was issued a summons for failing to yield at a stop sign.

The charge is a civil violation, and comes with a $131 fine, according to Police Cmdr. Marc Hagan.

Rich Cromwell, co-chairman of the town’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, said Monday that probably “no amount of bike lanes or sharrows” could have prevented the collision because, he felt, negligence was involved. 

“Getting the sharrows (on Federal Street) took about three years,” he said. The important thing now “is to educate people” about sharing the road, he added.

Daughtry took a similar lesson from the experience.

“The biggest thing I’ve realized,” she said, “is we all have to be mindful.”

“Signage is a good thing … but a lot of it is publicity,” she added.

Meanwhile, attorney Lauri Boxer-Macomber on Monday said “this (incident) was entirely preventable.”

Boxer-Macomber is an attorney at Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman in Portland, and part of the national Bike Law network. She is representing Daughtry in her collision case.

Regardless of bike lanes or sharrows, she said, “riders to have the right … to use the full lane.”

“The key thing right now is really alerting the public to (that) fact,” Boxer-Macomber said.

Area bikers were poised to reinforce that right Wednesday night with the annual Ride of Silence through Brunswick and Topsham. Each year, the Merrymeeting Wheelers Bicycle Club organizes the ride in memory of those hit or killed while riding.

This year, the ride is dedicated to 34-year-old Joseph Lamothe, of Lisbon, who was struck and killed while riding his bicycle on Route 196 in April.

Cromwell, a member of the club, said usually between 15 and 30 people attend the ride.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or wwuthmann@theforecaster.net. Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Brunswick state Rep. Mattie Daughtry was hit by a car while riding her bicycle on Federal Street May 6. The town last year painted new “sharrows” on the stretch of road to increase bike safety.

Daughtry

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Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.