Here at the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, the state’s leading organization dedicated to promoting the rights and safety of walkers and bicyclists, we couldn’t help but notice a bitter irony in the Portland Press Herald on Dec. 4.

Two articles addressed pedestrian safety. On the front page, one story discussed drivers’ complaints about the new pedestrian facilities along Spring Street, and their desire to reverse these installations. In the Local & State section, another story noted that there have been 16 pedestrian deaths so far in 2015, the most in 10 years.

In the first story, pedestrian safety appears to be of less concern than perceived inconveniences to motorists.

Portland is one of the few places in Maine making systematic efforts to improve safety for walkers and bicyclists by creating infrastructure that supports and addresses the needs of these vulnerable users.

There is nothing in the redesign of Spring Street that an attentive driver operating at the speed limit cannot easily navigate. We applaud the city for taking proactive steps to shorten pedestrian crossings and calm traffic on Spring Street and elsewhere.

Calming traffic, especially in urban contexts, is an elementary step to improve safety for all users. Studies have shown that a person’s likelihood of surviving after being hit by a car is largely dependent on how fast that car is traveling.

At 20 mph, a person has a 95 percent chance of survival. At 40 mph, that survival rate drops to only 15 percent. Infrastructure can play a key role in reducing traffic speeds.

The most economically vibrant cities in America have strong bike and pedestrian cultures, driven by the younger generations, who are driving less and walking and bicycling more. Portland is such a place.

We encourage communities across Maine to follow Portland’s lead by calming traffic and providing safe facilities for non-motorized users.

Phil Coffin

board president, Bicycle Coalition of Maine

Portland