Nolan White, 12, prepares for another lap around Topsham’s new pump track on Sept. 3, 2022. John Terhune / The Times Record

Cycling enthusiasts rolled into more good news Thursday evening, as the town’s Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the formation of a new Bicycle Pedestrian Committee just weeks after the completion of a new pump track outside the Topsham Transfer Station.

“We are absolutely delighted that the Select Board has established the committee,” said Susan Rae-Reeves, chair of the town’s Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee. “It’s a new chapter.”

The committee will work to improve the safety of Topsham’s streets, which residents cited as the top issue affecting their quality of life during the 2019 Comprehensive Plan development process. That document’s “Streets for People” initiative includes several steps for improving pedestrian and cyclist safety, including reducing speed limits on busy roads, narrowing automobile travel lanes and expanding Topsham’s multi-use path network.

A 2016 report from the Maine Department of Transportation included Topsham in a list of 21 communities in the state that experienced the highest number of pedestrian crashes between 2011 and 2015.

“The townspeople are saying bicyclists are not feeling safe, pedestrians are not feeling safe, and we need to look at things and balance those priorities,” Rae-Reeves said. “We know that budgets are always tight, but there are some things that can be done without a lot of money.”

According to Sarah Nelson, one of several residents who have lobbied for the formation of the Bicycle Pedestrian Committee in recent months, bike education and community outreach programs could improve pedestrian safety at low cost by encouraging more people to forego cars on their trips around town.


“The more people who are bicycling, the safer it is for bicyclists,” said Nelson, who hopes to make her daughter’s walk to school safer. The more people out walking, the safer a place can be for pedestrians.”

Members of the team that pushed for the new committee researched similar groups in Bath and Brunswick, which have helped those towns earn the “Bicycle Friendly Community” distinction from the League of American Bicyclists, according to Rae-Reeves.

Those interested in joining the new 9-member community should submit applications to the Town Manager’s office by the end of the day on September 22.

Cyclists who prefer to ride off-road have been enjoying Topsham’s newest piece of biking infrastructure, a $44,000 pump track near the Transfer Station.

Topsham’s pump track features rollers, banked turns and jumps. According to Kris Haralson, riders have already flocked to the course, which will host a free grand opening celebration Sept. 10 at 2 p.m.

“We’re seeing a lot of local families and kids riding out from the adjoining neighborhoods,” said Kris Haralson of the New England Mountain Bike Association’s Six Rivers Chapter, who led the project along with Topsham’s Parks & Recreation Department. “We envision this really as something for the community.”

The pump track, which was mostly funded through a grant from the Maine Mountain Bike Trail Fund and private donations, features jumps, rollers and banked turns that train mountain bikers and BMX riders to develop balance and handling skills, according to Haralson.


Mountain biking is growing rapidly around the state, due partly to the COVID-19 pandemic pushing people outdoors, Haralson said. This fall, Six Rivers NEMBA and Topsham Parks & Recreation are collaborating on a new teen mountain biking program to complement its popular youth program.

Haralson said the pump track, which is the largest in Maine, will draw riders from all over the state.

“I know that Portland is looking to build (a pump track),” he said. “But I don’t think that Portland is going to be able to build one as nice as we have any time soon.”

The public is invited to attend the track’s free grand opening celebration September 10 at 2 p.m., which will feature a demonstration from local BMX riders.

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