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Portland legislator's bicycle 'rights' bill becomes Maine law

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Portland legislator's bicycle 'rights' bill becomes Maine law

PORTLAND — Bicyclists in Maine are now better protected under the law, thanks to legislation sponsored by state Rep. Erik Jorgensen, D-Portland.

LD 1460, "A Bill to Revise Maine Bicycle Law," was passed June 14 without the signature of Gov. Paul LePage. The new law gives cyclists the right to determine where it is safest and most "practicable" to ride on the state's roads, and forbids cars from turning in front of cyclists when doing so interferes with the bike's safe operation.

The law also establishes that a collision between a bike and a passing car is evidence that the 3-foot buffer zone motorists are required to leave next to cyclists was violated.

Cyclists are already allowed to ride on every road in Maine except interstate highways and the portion of U.S. Route 1 between Brunswick and Bath. Portland has also launched several initiatives to make the city more bike friendly.

But some people claim that there's increasing tension between motorists and cyclists trying to share the road. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine, which supported Jorgensen's legislation, hopes the new law will change that.

"We're thrilled to improve and clarify the foundation of bicycle law in Maine and are hopeful this bill will act as a catalyst for future legislation to protect the rights and safety of bicyclists," Executive Director Nancy Grant said.

Jorgensen represents House District 115, which covers the city's Back Cove neighborhood. He was elected last November and until recently served as executive director of the Maine Humanities Council.

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or whall@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.