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May 22, 2006
Contact: Doug Dunbar

Secretary of State Calls for Bicycle Awareness and Safety

Dunlap Emphasizes that Many Tragedies are Preventable 

AUGUSTA , MAINE With warmer weather arriving, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is calling on Maine drivers to be mindful that more bicycles are appearing on Maine roads. He is urging both motor vehicle operators and bicyclists to use caution, and he's making safety information available at all Bureau of Motor Vehicles' offices throughout the state.

In highlighting the need for safety, Secretary Dunlap noted that too many lives are lost and too many injuries occur as the result of crashes involving bicycles and motor vehicles. He recalled a collision in eastern Maine that claimed the life of a 14 year old girl last June, Janina “Jina” Haslam, and he encouraged people to visit to learn more about an effort underway to honor the victim by creating a new gymnasium in Lamoine.

“Tragedies of this kind impact more than one life, or even one family. They have a profound impact on entire communities,” Secretary Dunlap commented. “With improving weather, many of us are bicycling again. It's important for drivers and bicyclists alike to remain attentive and alert at all times, and to remember that Maine roads are shared by all.”

“Courtesy and common sense will go a long way toward ensuring safety this spring and summer. I hope everyone driving or biking will follow the laws and traditions that have been established to keep everyone's travel experience safe and enjoyable,” Dunlap added.

Secretary Dunlap explained that Maine 's Motorist Handbook and Study Guide contains valuable information about sharing the road with bicycles. Copies of this publication are available online through or by sending a message to .

Additionally, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine ( has developed insightful materials to raise awareness about bicycling safety. Copies of the Coalition's safety tip fact sheet are available in Bureau of Motor Vehicles branch offices. Some of the safety tips include:

•  Bicycles are to be ridden with traffic on the right side of the road.

•  Motor vehicle operators should slow down when approaching or passing a bicyclist. When the weather is poor, extra room should be given to bicycles.

•  At least three feet of space should be allowed between the right side of a motor vehicle and a bicycle when passing.

•  Once beyond a bicyclist, the driver should check over his or her shoulder to make sure the motor vehicle has cleared the bicycle. Some bicyclists travel 25-30 miles per hour and may be closer than the driver realizes.

•  Bicyclists are required by law to use hand signals to indicate their intentions about turning, changing lanes and making other maneuvers. Drivers should be familiar with these signals, which are explained in Maine 's Motorist Handbook and Study Guide.

•  Motor vehicle operators should refrain from using their horn when approaching a bicycle, because the noise may startle the rider.

“Each of us has a role to play in keeping Maine's roads and highways safe. Our responsibility is to be informed and prudent. Keeping the ‘rules of the road' in mind—especially as more people venture out this time of year—is always important,” Dunlap concluded.