BIDDEFORD – The Maine Bike Rally may be coming to town in July 2012.

Andy Greif, executive director of the nonprofit Community Bicycle Center, introduced the idea of hosting the rally in Biddeford to a group of cyclists, local businesses and community members in December. With Biddeford’s recreation commission and the Donut Club, a group of local businesspeople, already endorsing the idea, Greif hopes to get the City Council on board as well.

Brunswick will host the three-day rally in July for the second straight year. It will be the 23rd year overall for the rally, which attracted 350 people last year, said bike rally board Vice President Ken O’Brien.

The rally also has been hosted by Bethel, Fryeburg, Yarmouth and Bath for two years at each location.

Bringing the rally to Biddeford would introduce cyclists to the city and raise awareness about the bicycle center’s youth development programs, which include repair workshops, community rides and other activities for middle school kids, Greif said. The weekend event would feature several organized rides to city attractions, such as stops for appetizers at local ethnic restaurants or visits to artist studios.

Although it’s difficult to calculate the economic impact the rally has had on host communities, the rally board’s treasurer, Robert Bruce, said the event has stimulated cycling club activity in the Brunswick area and increased interest in bike safety.

Greif noted that Biddeford is close to Portland and Portsmouth and offers access to the Downeaster rail line, coastal scenery and nearby mountain biking areas.

“There’s great ethnic eating in Biddeford and we have the surrounding communities of Saco, Old Orchard Beach and Kennebunk,” he said. “I thought (Biddeford) was just an ideal location.”

Cycling clubs that partner to host the rally include the Casco Bay Bicycle Club, Merrymeeting Wheelers Bicycle Club and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. These clubs are assisted by volunteers in host communities.

O’Brien has agreed to be lead organizer for the rally in Biddeford, and Greif said volunteers are needed to chair four committees to promote and plan the event. Each committee would also need six to eight members, he said.

The location for the 2012 rally will be announced in July, so a decision must be made soon — volunteers must step up, Greif said.

Although the group is not asking the city for financial support, volunteers would have to raise about $7,000 in sponsorships from local businesses, he said. The Maine Bike Rally organization would also provide funding.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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