AUGUSTA — Less than a year after a motorist struck and killed a roller-skier on a rural road in northern Maine, the Legislature is considering a measure that would establish safety rules concerning the warm weather ski-training activity.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Carey, D-Lewiston, would apply all the rules of the road already established for bicyclists to roller-skiers. It would require roller-skiers to travel with the flow of traffic, cars to give a 3-foot wide berth when passing and would require roller-skiers under 16 years old to wear a helmet.

“I pretty much just went and said, ‘Look, there’s a reason that bicyclists that have these rights and responsibilities, those should also apply to roller-skiers.’ There’s nothing in the bill that is new, that doesn’t apply to bicyclists,” Carey said during a public hearing before the Transportation Committee on Tuesday.

Carey’s sister, Eileen, is the vice president at the Maine Winter Sports Center in Caribou, where the roller-skier, who was killed last June, was training.

“I’d always assumed that the laws in Maine conformed to what everyone knows to be the safe practice (for roller-skiing). After the accident, I went and looked at the law and it was clear that (current law) is at best ambiguous,” Carey said.

Several Nordic ski coaches and parents testified in favor of the measure.

Patrick Cote, executive director of New England Nordic Ski Association, which is based in New Gloucester, said new facilities in Maine are setting the state up to be a premier Nordic training destination and that attention to safety is important.

“This is a critical bill to Maine, we have a lot of cross-country skiers now, but I think we’re going to have a lot more, especially right here in central Maine, with the Augusta and Waterville programs,” said Cote, who also helped found the Central Maine Ski Club, which provides youth programming.

“It not only gives skiers rights while they are on the road, but also imposes a specific set of responsibilities so that coaches can communicate that to the athlete, so the parents can communicate that, and for the athletes to all know what they should be doing to provide some uniformity on the roads,” he said.

Charlie Jacobs of Winthrop said his daughter was a Nordic skier in high school and now competes in Vermont.

“My primary concern of course is safety and I think this bill will enhance the safety of athletes who are roller-skiers,” he said. “I think it appropriately balances the responsibilities of both the drivers and the skiers.”

Andy Shepard, the president and chief executive officer at the Maine Winter Sports Center, said in addition to increasing safety, regulating roller-skiing could have an economic development benefit.

“If people can’t train for cross-country or biathlon in Maine, Maine will no longer be able to develop these athletes; we just feel it’s critical to keep that momentum moving, ” Shepard said. “We have programs that are helping to develop future Olympians — six of the nine U.S. athletes competing in the biathlon have trained at the center.”

The biathlon venues in Fort Kent and Presque Isle are some of the tops in the country, Shepard said, bringing World Cup events and “regular traffic” coming up to go skiing.

Shepard estimated during off-season training, about 150 people roller-ski in Aroostook County, with a statewide total of about 500.

Carey said people don’t typically engage in roller-skiing unless they are competing at a high-level.

“If the laws on the books in Maine make it unsafe to do roller-skiing, people are not going to be in Maine to do training and we’re going to lose not only the home-grown talent that we have, which is significant, but also anybody that currently comes here to train,” he said.

No one testified against the proposal and a committee work session is scheduled for Friday morning.

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