Kiarra Tardiff paints high visibility red paint on a crosswalk Friday on Central Avenue in Lewiston. Tardiff is part of Team Glacier at the Lewiston Middle School and is involved in a public safety expeditionary learning project. They teamed up with the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and Lewiston Public Works to install the demonstration crosswalks. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Aisha Ibrahim had a close call crossing Campus Avenue recently on her way to school. “My mom dropped me off. A car came out, and we didn’t see each other. I almost got hit. That was scary,” Ibrahim said. The incident prompted her to stop walking to school, despite living in the neighborhood. “I’m supposed to be a walker, but now I have to drive,” she said.

On Friday, 16 members of Team Glacier at the Lewiston Middle School teamed up with the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and Lewiston Public Works Department to install a temporary, safer crosswalk. The new crosswalks are intended to encourage students to cross Campus Avenue at the Armory, rather than further down the street at the more dangerous five corners where Campus Avenue meets Sabattus Street.

Ibrahim is an eighth grade student at Lewiston Middle School. Her science class, taught by Kat Carney, participated in a year-long expeditionary learning project with hands-on components focusing on public safety.

The students visited Central Fire Station and Lewiston Public Works. They welcomed the Lewiston Police Department for an in-class Q&A. To prepare for the crosswalk project, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine came to the school several times to work with the students.

Henriques Soares pushes down on a temporary flexible post Friday in the new crosswalk crossing Central Avenue in Lewiston. Soares is part of a group of Lewiston Middle School students who teamed up with the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and Lewiston Public Works Department to make a safer crosswalk across Central Avenue. If the new crosswalk is deemed safer, the temporary posts will be replaced with concrete barriers. Jim Tassé, from the Bicycle Coalition, is on the right. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

“We went over the Bicycle Coalition’s goal and the kids asked good questions,” Carney said. “We looked at maps and measured how wide a street is and figured out what they would do to make a street better,” said Carney.

Since 2015, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine has been running a program called Imagine People Here. The group installs demonstration projects and traffic calming installations to show how roads can be made pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly for a low cost.


The Campus Avenue project included installing temporary flexible posts and rolling on high-visibility red paint. The effect is to create a curb extension into the roadway, allowing pedestrians to get partway across the street before crossing in front of cars. Studies have shown that vehicles are more likely to yield when pedestrians show intent to cross closer to the travel lane.

“What we’re doing is effectively shortening the crossing, forcing cars to slow down as they approach the crosswalk and making it safer and easier for pedestrians to transit,” said Jim Tassé of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

“We did a speed study on this street a couple of weeks ago,” said Tassé. “We were seeing average speeds well over the posted speed limit.”

When the demonstration projects are proven effective at increasing safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, the installations can be made more permanent.

“It’s piquing their interest,” Carney said about her students working with Public Works and the Bicycle Coalition. “I was speaking with a couple of my students about it. They were asking ‘Why are we doing this? Are we getting paid?’ I’m like, ‘No, you’re learning things that you can use in the future. If you decide to do this for a job, you already got a hand up.'”

Rafael Dos Santos, foreground, paints red between the white stripes of the crosswalk crossing Vale Street near the Armory in Lewiston on Friday as part of a project his eighth grade class was doing in collaboration with the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and Lewiston Public Works. On the left, behind him, is classmate Emonie Walton. On the right waiting her turn to paint is Kiara Tardiff. Bringing a new can of paint to the scene on the far left, is Angela King, the advocacy manager for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

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