During the past year and a half, I’ve bicycled in six states on the East and West coasts of the United States and in Canada. I’m eager to share with you some ideas I picked up to improve Maine bicycling.

I encourage you to make your own list. If all of your bicycling was in Maine, perhaps you have ideas from one corner of the state that could be adopted more widely. If you send your ideas to me at the address below, I’ll include the best ones in a future column.

OK, here is my list, in no particular order:

FREE NATIONAL PARK ADMISSION FOR BICYCLISTS

During the summer season, bicyclists have to wait in line and pay $12 for a seven-day pass to enter Acadia National Park. When you consider that a single vehicle can enter the park with up to 15 people for $25, that is an unfairly high rate for cyclists.

By contrast, Canada lets cyclists enter at least some of its national parks for free. That’s proof – as if we needed more – that our neighbors to the north are clever folks.

Encouraging people to bicycle to the parks cuts down on vehicular traffic, which makes the experience of visiting parks better for everyone. Along with free admission, many Canadian parks have bicycle paths and convenient bicycle parking.

I spent a week at a cottage on Prince Edward Island that was just three miles from a beautiful national park on the island’s northern coast. In the early morning, I cycled right through the entrance gate and hopped on a path beside a marsh. I passed foraging egrets and sandpipers, waves crashing on red sand beaches and a colorful cluster of fishing shacks. What a way to start the day!

BUSINESSES NEAR MULTI-USE TRAILS THAT CATER TO BICYCLISTS

Maine has a growing trail network, but businesses have been slow to take advantage of the opportunities.

By contrast, it’s easy for bicyclists to find and access bed and breakfasts, restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses near the Lake Champlain Bikeways routes in Vermont, New York and Quebec.

On-road signs and a printed guide direct cyclists to nearby services. I particularly liked the sign by a farm stand in South Hero, Vermont, that invites cyclists to stop for free ice cold water and air for their tires, as well as energy bars and other snacks for sale.

THE WIGGLE

San Francisco has some killer hills. Bless the folks who charted a safe, twisty-turny route from downtown to the Panhandle that requires only moderate climbing. The Wiggle route is painted right on the road, making it easy to follow.

Portland could use a similar route for climbing Munjoy Hill, and another for getting from Deering Oaks to the West End. In fact, it would make a great competition to see who could come up with the safest and least strenuous wiggles.

COMPANIES THAT PROVIDE PARKING FOR BICYCLES ONLY

You heard me right. Yelp, the company that provides crowd-sourced reviews of local businesses, has parking for 200 bicycles at its San Francisco headquarters, but not a single car parking spot.

It gets even better. When Yelp retrofitted a former telephone building for its headquarters, mahogany paneling was removed from the former boardroom and used to build a bicycle shop in the basement. Now that’s inspiring!

TRAFFIC SIGNALS THAT ARE TRIGGERED BY BICYCLES AS WELL AS CARS

Any cyclist who has waited through several cycles for a green light knows how frustrating that is. Cities elsewhere in the country have solved the problem by installing signals that don’t require a heavy vehicle to trigger them. Fortunately, Portland is slowly doing so, too. Let’s hope other Maine towns will follow.

A WHOLE LOT MORE PEOPLE BICYCLING

Cycling feels a lot safer when you are surrounded by other bicyclists – and that encourages more people to get on their bikes. During my visit to the other Portland, I joined a stream of cycling commuters at rush hour on a bicycle boulevard that cut across the city. There were hundreds of us, and we truly owned the road!

A NAKED BICYCLE RIDE

Portland will never be considered equal to Seattle, San Francisco or other bicycle hot spots until we start our own naked ride. The ride would showcase our creative economy, since naked cyclists typically decorate themselves with elaborate body paint. Politicians beware: in cities such as Seattle, you have to show up naked on a bicycle in order to retain your credibility and win re-election.

OK, your turn to make a list.

Shoshana Hoose is a freelance writer who bicycles in Greater Portland and beyond. Contact her at [email protected].