OXFORD HILLS — Local bike riders are being asked to provide input on their favorite routes in an effort to improve safety for cyclists and drivers in greater Oxford Hills.

A mapping session and get-together will be held Thursday, Nov. 21, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Cafe Nomad in downtown Norway. Anyone who rides regularly — from triathletes to daily commuters — are invited to provide their input.

The event is being hosted by Healthy Oxford Hills and the Bike Coalition of Maine and is supported through the Community Transformation grant HOH received last year.

Bikers can discuss their favorite routes for recreation and daily transportation, voice concerns on road safety and conditions and share information with other cyclists.

GPS-mapping software will be available to input route data. Gift certificates to Hannaford and Green Machine Bike Shop, as well as gas cards will be raffled off.

Brendan Schauffler, the active community environment coordinator for Oxford Hills, said the purpose is to map out the most common routes used by bikers in the community.

“It’s really about finding out where people are riding and use that data as a basis for a plan to improve those routes,” Schuaffler said.

Getting the data is critical to improving road safety, Schauffler said — Maine Department of Transportation will provide additional signage for high-traffic biking areas, but HOH needs local cyclists to provide first-hand experiences to fill in gaps in the data so the organization can give the state accurate information.

Especially important are those who may not fit the typical “cyclist” image, Schauffler said.

 Many Oxford Hills residents, especially in the Norway-South Paris area, depend on bicycles for everyday transportation, but that input hasn’t been recorded. Schauffler hopes that Thursday’s event could help with outreach to the unreported biking population and help fill in critical gaps in high-use cycling routes.

With enough participation, Schlauffler can present the state with the necessary data to place safety signs along popular routes. The mapping data may also be used to encourage towns to include cycling infrastructure in future road improvement plans.

The importance of biking safety on local roads was highlighted in June, when 23-year-old David LeClair of Watertown, Mass., died after being struck by a tractor-trailer truck on Route 2 near Hanover during the American Lung Association’s annual bicycle Trek Across Maine.

Ideally, the event should be held at the height of the cycling season, Schlauffler admits, but even if fewer bikers are on the roads as the days get shorter and colder, he hopes the cycling community will turn out to share their experiences.

“It’s not just an opportunity to have a conversation about where people are biking right now, but where they are riding in general,” Schauffler said.

For more information, people can contact Brendan Schauffler at [email protected] or (207) 739-6222.


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