Portland plans safer routes for walkers, bicyclists in Deering Center

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PORTLAND — The city hopes to have a network of streets in place by the next school year that are safe for bicyclists and walkers to travel to schools, shops and parks.

The pilot Neighborhood Byways program is part of the city’s effort to encourage physical activity and prevent obesity. Portland received $1.8 million in federal stimulus money last year for the initiative and would spend as much as $60,000 of that funding on the Deering Center byways project, according to city Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Coordinator Bruce Hyman.

The program may also seek additional funding from money set aside for sidewalk improvements.

Hyman said landscaping, street trees, signs and banners and crossing treatments will be used to guide bikers and walkers along streets in the area from Woodford’s Corner to Nason’s Corner.

“Most folks would prefer to bike and walk along quieter streets,” Hyman said.

In the Deering Center neighborhood, residents have expressed concerns in the past about traffic issues. He said the use of bumped-out curbs and pedestrian refuge islands could help with that, while also making it safer for walkers and bike riders.

The goal in Deering Center is to connect to schools, trails and parks. There is a public meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Hall School to discuss the concept.

“We have no set solution in mind,” Hyman said. “We are hoping people will be enthusiastic about the concept.”

The streets included in are Warwick, Ludlow, Wayside, Leland and Concord; Columbia Road, and Pleasant Avenue.

In other cities, byways are called “Bicycle Boulevards,” Hyman said. But Portland wants to make sure its street safety measures also consider pedestrians.

In Deering Center, many kids bike and walk to school, he said, and there is a parent group at Longfellow School encouraging more students to do so. Hyman said a separate effort is underway to provide bicycle racks at the schools.

A project working group will work with city staff to develop a plan for the byways, following the Wednesday night meeting. For more information go to the Deering Center Neighborhood Association website,  dcna.wordpress.com

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katebucklin.

Sidebar Elements

Highlighted streets are part of the network proposed of “Neighborhood Byways” for pedestrians and walkers in Portland’s Deering Center neighborhood.