LEWISTON — The temporary traffic pattern on Lincoln Street, which will be removed Friday, received mixed reviews from commuters, but its designers say the first such project in Maine worked to slow down traffic. 

The pattern, installed for the Build Maine conference on June 8-9, was designed to give transportation specialists a live look at whether temporary traffic patterns can be used to address safety issues in certain areas. 

In this case, protected bike lanes were installed quickly with inexpensive materials, using what’s known as a parking buffer on one side of the street. White traffic bollards and temporary paint were the main materials, and for two weeks it became Maine’s first protected bike lane, a method that is used in many larger cities. 

Build Maine asked for public feedback, and received more than 100 written responses and countless comments over social media. Some people were less than impressed, while others reported that they felt safer on the roadway. 

One respondent who said they liked the design said, “I felt more conscientious as a driver. It made me slow down and take stock of my surroundings.” 

Another, who was obviously against the design, said simply, “Get rid of all the crap you put in the street.” 


“It’s a visual mess. It looks like a permanent construction zone,” someone else said. 

Of those asked, 56 percent said they liked the road better now compared to what it was before. A larger percentage, 63 percent, said they’d like to see more temporary traffic patterns tested in Lewiston. 

Despite the mixed reviews, Build Maine Co-Chairwoman Kara Wilbur said speed tests conducted by Auburn police both before and after the change showed that vehicle speeds slowed significantly.

According to the news release, the percentage of people speeding over 30 mph dropped by half. 

“If Maine is serious about reducing the number of people getting killed on our roads, we may need to be OK with someone’s commute taking a few minutes longer,” Wilbur said. “Until we are able to have that conversation, it is likely we will continue to see the fatality rate increase as more people move to downtowns and take advantage of the quality of life benefits and the convenience provided by walking and biking in these places.”

Pedestrian safety has been a regular focus in Lewiston following three pedestrian fatalities in the span of a year, and recent activity has included a special police detail, a new city ordinance on street design, and safety forums held by the Maine Department of Transportation and the bicycle coalition in both Lewiston and Auburn. 


The news release Thursday said the idea was to see whether these types of projects can be “one critical tool for addressing roadway safety and decreasing the rising annual pedestrian and cyclist death toll on Maine roads.”

It was a pop-up Build Maine workshop that has occurred each year during the conference. The first time, volunteers made Pine Street more bike-friendly with temporary lanes. In 2015, they narrowed the road around Simard-Payne Memorial Park and test-drove city plows and other big equipment to see how they fared.

Wilbur said local businesses were concerned the traffic pattern would lead to confusion and fewer people willing to stop along the road to shop.

Other respondents said the narrowed roadway caused them to feel less safe while driving, either by causing distractions or being visually disorienting. Many said they worked on or near Lincoln Street. A few respondents said a crosswalk had been replaced near the parking garage, causing them to walk farther down the street to cross.

Wilbur said the narrowed road, while perhaps feeling unsafe to drivers, “is precisely this sort of perception that is critical to slowing vehicular speeds, which is central to reducing fatalities.” 

A number of people said that while they value bicycle and pedestrian safety, they didn’t feel the design was the best solution. 


The parking buffer, which was implemented on one side of the road, gave cyclists a protected lane by placing parallel parking spaces between moving traffic and cyclists.

Shortly after it was installed, a line of parked cars not far from Labadie’s Bakery didn’t seem too concerned or confused by the new pattern. However, throughout the installation there were examples of people not using the design correctly. 

One driver this week parked directly in front of the bike lane in a no-parking location across from a variety store. 

Other commenters who liked the design said they’d like to see it become permanent, using permanent materials.

Dave Jones, director of Lewiston Public Works, noted that the city has not yet adopted any of the full ideas used in previous pop-up installations, but has installed a series of piano key crosswalks, with more set to go in. 


Volunteers from Build Maine and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine paint lines in a designated bike lane on Lincoln Street earlier this month. The temporary traffic pattern was a first in Maine, designed to help transportation officials study its impact on traffic. 

This vehicle was seen parked in violation of the bike lane on Lincoln Street in Lewiston on Thursday, June 15.

Jim Tasse, assistant director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, led a group of cyclists down the newly constructed traffic pattern on Lincoln Street in Lewiston on June 8. Build Maine painted parking spaces between the bike lane and traffic, creating a buffer for cyclists between them and the flow of traffic. It will be removed Friday. 

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