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September 21, 2017

Bath, Washington County recipients of BikeMaine grants

Courtesy / Bicycle Coalition of Maine
Courtesy / Bicycle Coalition of Maine
Bicyclists participating in BikeMaine, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s program to promote bicycling in the state both as recreation and as an economic tool for Maine communities, have generated a $1.7 million economic impact since 2013.

BikeMaine has awarded grants to Bath and the Washington County Council of Governments for bicycle-related improvements following the conclusion of this year's week-long trek involving 400 bikers from around the world.

BikeMaine's total direct economic impact in Maine since it began in 2013 is an estimated $1.7 million, not including this year's numbers. The impact to Washington County last year is estimated at $626,000.

The grants were the second round from BikeMaine, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine's program to promote bicycling in the state both as recreation and as an economic tool for Maine communities.

Bath will receive $2,705 and Washington County $4,000, according to a news release from the organization. In the first round of grants last year, the city of Gardiner, a host community during the 2014 BikeMaine event, received $12,300 to be used to spur local investment to complete a connector from downtown Gardiner to the Kennebec River Rail Trail.

BikeMaine began in 2012, with the first event held in 2013. Each year it promotes a bike trek in a different section of the state that draws riders from around the world. Resources required for riders are Maine-sourced and bought within host communities or businesses along the route whenever possible, the organization said in the release.

"The economic boost to host community businesses and community organizations from riders, volunteers, and family members can be significant, as are the continuing benefits from increased community visibility," according to a Bicycle Coalition of Maine news release. "Last year's sold-out ride in Downeast Maine contributed $626,000 in direct economic impact, including $400,000 spent by riders during the ride, and $226,000 spent by the coalition to produce the event, which includes most meals for the participants. Whenever possible, food is purchased from Maine farms, fishermen and lobstermen, highlighting Maine products and local services."

The numbers from this year's event, which went from Rangeley through Franklin and Somerset counties from Sept. 9-16, are due to be released in November. Host communities included Rangeley, Kingfield, Hartford, Farmington, Skowhegan and Pittsfield. More than 400 riders trekked about 55 miles a day on the 335-mile route, staying overnight in those communities.

Next year: Aroostook County

The event will take place in the St. John Valley and northern Aroostook County next year.

"As we started to think about where we wanted to go next year, northern Maine – and specifically Aroostook County — really stood out for," Zach Schmesser, event coordinator, said on the event's website. "Geographically, Aroostook County is the largest county east of the Mississippi, and there's so much about northern Maine that we'd like to showcase for our riders, most of whom come from out of state. It's a very special place."

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