Archive for May, 2009

Flat (and Leaking) Tires

With a slow leak in my right front tire, I thought I’d share a bit about tire repair (most of you probably know all this but just in case). And by a leak, I mean this is more than a few PSI lost between my monthly tire pressure checks (more about this important general maintenance in another post). So noticeable in fact that I could see my tire was low with the naked eye. And FYI eyes can fool you – nothing is better than checking with a tire pressure gauge – so after checking, sure enough, almost down to 15 PSI. Yikes!

So first – when does a tire have to be replaced – instead of repaired? If you’ve got a hole in the sidewall (side of the tire) then it can’t be repaired – and will lose air plenty fast. Or if the tire has been worn against the rim (read on below). It also can’t be repaired if there is a puncture in the tire tread that’s over an 1/8″ – 1/4″.

But luckily most nails and screws and common damaging debris fit within that size parameter. And sometimes a leak can be caused by accumulated rust (on steel rims) or corrosion (on aluminum rims) that breaks the good seal of the tire against the rim – this material can be manually ground down and treated. Other leak sources are a leaking valve stem or the Schrader valve itself (where you put the air in, like on your bike tire) – and these are simple to replace, too.

So I’ll just bring it to my local Century Tire or another shop for repair – I might bring my bike and get a few errands done while the car is there – or at the bigger tire shops you can usually wait if you want. It’ll cost maybe $20-$30 – well less than the cost of replacement: $100+ on average for a new tire mounted & balanced.

By law, in Maine, a repair means the tire is removed from the rim, inspected (for inside damage), and plugged & patched. The plug ensures the hole is filled all the way through to keep water from entering the hole and rusting the steel belts within the tire. The patch seals the inner liner. Tire work is brutal – it’s dirty and breaks your back lifting heavy tires on rims all day. But it can also be satisfying to bring a tire back to life.

One last bit – how I get my tire to the shop is critical and could mean the life or death of the tire. And per above – cost me a lot more. Because if it’s super low on air, I’ll be driving on the rim, which will cut up the inside of the tire – and FAST – and send a perfectly repairable tire to the scrap heap. So even if there’s a gas station with an air pump just a few blocks away, DON’T drive the car there unless there’s maybe close to 15 PSI in the tire.

If it’s less, and you’re lucky enough to have an air compressor on site, then use that to fill your tire before you go anywhere. But most of us don’t have access to a compressor – so then get yourself a can of Fix-a-Flat. You can find it at gas stations, your local drugstore even – or Shaw’s. And I recommend buying two – one to use now and one to keep in your trunk.

It DOES NOT, by the way, fix a flat tire. But it’s easy to use (read the directions on the can) and should get the tire off the rim – unless the seal has completely broken. And while it will still be somewhat flat, as you run the car down the road the agitation of the foam will bring the tire pressure up a bit more. Just be sure to let the shop know you added it – because they’ll have to be careful as they remove the rim (and it will be messy).

And if the tire won’t come up off the rim at all (i.e., the seal between the tire and rim is broken), then jack the car up and remove the tire if you can and bring it in that way – or get the car towed. Even if you don’t have roadside assistance, a tow should still cost way less than an average tire & rim purchase – you’ll damage the rim, too, most likely – (about $200).

Enough for today – thanks for reading! And now off to get my tire tended to…

May 26, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Portland Green Streets e-News – May 2009

Posts written for Portland Green Streets e-Newsletter.  Sarah Cushman founded and was the lead organizer of the all-volunteer PGS effort from 2007 to 2011.

Sign In Here Now & This Month’s Incentives – Green Streets Day, This Friday, May 29th!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
Blessing of the Bicycles Photos - bike at St. Luke's altar

St. Luke’s Celebrates the Blessing of the Bicycles, May 17th

The leaves are out, the days are long – enjoy going green out there this month!

Sign in now (click here) – Please take a minute and sign in now (and every month!) if you plan to walk, bike, take public transit, carpool, and/or telecommute this Green Streets Day – Friday, May 29th. (Click here and scroll down our main page to see who qualifies as a Green Streeter – anyone can do it!)

And find the Green Streets Sponsor nearest you with this great map! And/or read the rest of this entry for the freebies, discounts, and raffle items from local businesses – for those in Greater Portland who:

  • Wear Green (shirt, pants, socks, whatever!)
  • and Get Around Green (walk, bike, take transit, carpool, telecommute, etc.) on Green Streets Day!

As always – please e-mail us photos of you (& any other folks!) getting around green at!


Portland Green Streets – New, Improved, and Incorporated

Monday, May 25th, 2009
CIEE Green Streets Coordinator Mary Anne Higgins & Others! folks chatting over the counter

PGS Advisor Mary Anne Higgins (CIEE) at PGS Advisor Brad McCurtain’s Others! Gelato Cafe – for last summer’s Downtown Gelato Challenge party

Portland Green Streets has officially incorporated with the state of Maine!  A  creative grassroots movement, Green Streets is re-organizing its efforts to reach more people and achieve its mission to “increase the use of alternate transportation in Greater Portland – through social networking, web-based communications and information, advocacy, and monthly celebratory incentives.”

This winter Portland Green Streets convened an Advisory Group made up of representatives from local businesses, neighborhoods, and interested organizations – in order to better define the goals of Green Streets and create a stronger group dedicated to PGS’ interests. Green Streets Advisors include people from the following businesses and organizations: Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), Goodwill of Northern New England, The Maine Switch, METRO, North Star Cafe, Others! Gelato Cafe, Portland Public Health Division, Portland Trails, UNUM, and more.

As part of the process, dedicated Green Streeters have also formed interest-based volunteer groups – such as, Marketing & Communications, Events & Outreach, Leadership & Volunteer Capacity, and Finance.

Portland Green Streets owes its success to site coordinators and monthly participants like you!  If you would like to become more involved in our volunteer efforts, please email

Photos & Notes from Green Streeters – April & May

Sunday, May 24th, 2009
Leana Good Simpson

Leana Good-Simpson from Portland writes: “This is very rewarding and seeing people walking versus cars is great. I love the fresh cool air.”

Tom Tracy works out of his home and uses his bike to get around to meetings and shopping in the Portland area. He writes:

“When the carton of eggs fell off the ridiculously over-packed box of groceries on my bike, only 4 cracked and all but one were salvaged! Sorry, no video available! Are there any bike packing tutorials available?”

Feel free to post helpful packing tips for Tom!

Mike Popovic

Mike Popovic, a 14-mile commuter in the greater Portland area ( & who has volunteered on design work for Green Streets!) writes: “Happy to report that I rode my bike any day that I went to work for the entire winter! Now bring on Spring!”


Allison Sovetsky and her husband commute from Saco to Portland together. She writes:

“My husband and I carpool together – not only do we say $ on gas, but we
get to spend some quality time with each other and catch up on each
other’s day.”

Zoe Miller writes:

“I strolled my son to daycare this morning then continued on to work. I was proud that I commuted green even though it took some extra planning and it made me feel good that I got to enjoy the sunshine with my son on a day that I’m at work.”

Jenn T & Ashley B

Jenn Thibodeau and Ashley Bracy of Healthy Maine Partnerships & PROP are pictured here encouraging co-workers to participate in Green Streets Fridays.



Events & Opportunities – May, June, July

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Many Thanks for the Blessing of the Bicycles!

St. Luke's, May 2009 064 - Blessing of bicycles

Photo by Nancy Mawhinney of St. Luke’s

Despite a gray morning filled with showers, over 25 cyclists came out for the first Greater Portland interfaith Blessing of the Bicycles – held at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke on Sunday, May 17!  The interfaith liturgy included Hebrew bible, Qu’ran, and non-denominational prayers, readings, and music – and bikes were blessed by holy water from the Cathedral and from the Well of Zamzam in Mecca.  Fellowship was shared afterward in the brilliant spring garden of the Cathedral.  Organized by Portland Green Streets and the Portland Bike Commuter Meetup, we are very thankful to the Reverend Canon Carolyn Coleman, Ben Garren and Kristina Minister of the Cathedral; El Fadel Arbab, Dawud Ummah, and Wells Staley-Mays of the Greater Portland Muslim clergy and community; John Balicki of St. Alban’s Episcopal in Cape Elizabeth (and president of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine) and all you lovely folks who came out for the event!  Special thanks go to our sponsors Ernie’s Cycle Shop and Gorham Bike & Ski who made print publicity and refreshments possible.  See a couple more sweet photos in the Portland Press Herald coverage of the event.  Hope to see you out there at next year’s event!

Call for Volunteers from the Portland Bike Commuter Meetup!

The Portland Bicycle Commuting Meetup is organizing Valet Bike Parking* for two different events the weekend of June 5-7: Westbrook Together Days and the Old Port Festival. This is a great opportunity to encourage people to ride their bikes to these events and support the concept of bicycle transportation! Volunteers can sign up for 2-hour slots on Friday night and all Saturday in Westbrook, or Sunday from 10 to 5 in Portland. The current schedule may be found at , then email John Brooking at to sign up for an unclaimed time slot.

*What is valet bike parking? you may ask. Well, says John Brooking, it’s kind of like valet car parking. People bring their bike to us, we give them a claim ticket, tape the other half of it to the bike, and park it for them in a secure area. They don’t have to worry about having a lock or finding a place to lock it to, nor about theft or vandalism. When they are ready to go, they give us back their claim ticket and we give them the matching bike. It’s fun and easy, and training will be provided. So join the fun!

May 31 – Eighth Annual Women’s Ride for Heart Health

This all-women ride is suited for all ages and fitness levels, with distances of five, 10 and 25 miles. The ride offers beautiful views of the countryside and coast. Free yoga, massage therapy, nutrition presentations and heart health exhibits for participants. Proceeds benefit the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s safety education programs.  To register, go to or call (207) 623-4511. Fee on website.  9 a.m. at L.L. Bean’s Casco Conference Center, Casco Street, Freeport, Maine

June 17 – Film Showing of A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil

Cities should be a solution not a problem for human beings. The city of Curitiba has demonstrated for the past 40 years how to transform problems into cost-effective solutions that can be applied in most other cities. Innovations in transportation, recycling, parks, and affordable housing have transformed Curitiba into one of the most livable cities in the world. The film demonstrates what a remarkable turn around was possible when the people of Curitiba took back their streets.  Sponsored by the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Portland Friends Meeting, 1847 Forest Ave. Free and open to the public. [Note: 7 pm showtime – sorry to not include in original post!]

July 7 – League of American Bicyclist’s Traffic Skills 101 Course – REGISTER NOW

Nationally-certified cycling instructor – and Bike Coalition of Maine founder – Charley LaFlamme will teach the League of American Bicyclist’s all-day Traffic Skills 101 in Fryeburg on July 7.  This nationally certified and fun course will help you gain a full understanding of how to safely bicycle in a variety of situations and build your confidence by teaching you crash avoidance, traffic management and effective cycling techniques. If you don’t feel safe bicycling on the road, this is the class to give you the skills and ability to “drive your bike” like any other vehicle. A bicycle in good working order, water bottle and well-fitting helmet are required. Classes are about half in-class and half on-bike. Recommended for adults and children above 14 accompanied by a parent. The deadline for registering is June 26 and the class is limited to 12 students. Please sign up early so you don’t miss out! For more info see here.

July 10 – 12 – 21st Annual Maine Bike Rally

Three days of bike rides in beautiful western Maine and the Mount Washington Valley for all levels of cyclists. Based at Fryeburg Academy, the rally features more than 30 rides of five to 100 miles plus a full weekend of family entertainment, including a bicycle parade, ice cream social and much
more. Camping and meals are available, all at an affordable price. Click here (http://video. videoplay? docid=-715103575 7255248813& hl=en) to see a video of the rally. For more information, please visit Fryeburg Academy, 745 Main St, Fryeburg, Maine ( html ) or call (207) 623-4511. Fees will be announced on the website.

July 25 – Eighth Annual Maine Lobster Ride & Roll

The state’s most scenic and tastiest bicycle ride follows country roads and the rock-bound coast. The fully supported ride includes four distance options: 16, 30, 50 or 100 miles. Cyclists can look forward to a freshly made lobster roll lunch (tuna and veggie options available) and live Tour de France coverage at the end. The Maine Lobster Ride & Roll supports the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s safety and education programs.  Rockland District High School, 400 Broadway, Rockland (  For more information, please visit the site or call (207) 623-4511. Fees will be announced on the website.

METRO #7 Bus to Falmouth Service Extended – & Falmouth Joins METRO

As part of the excitement of Falmouth officially joining METRO, beginning May 11th, METRO Bus Route #7 service changed during morning and evening commuter hours to include service along Johnson Road, Route 88 and Depot Road in Falmouth. During mid-day hours, the route will continue service to Bucknam Road, Middle Road and Blueberry Lane. All runs will continue to provide service to Shaw’s and the Falmouth Shopping Center and other businesses along the Rt. #1 corridor. METRO Route #7 provides hourly bus service between Portland and Falmouth, Monday – Saturday from 6:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. A new Park N’ Ride is available at the Falmouth Shopping Center (near the location of the old Shaw’s supermarket). Commuters using METRO can leave their car in the new lot and ride the bus into Portland. The Park N’ Ride lot is available from 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. (no overnight parking is allowed), Monday through Saturday. Plus, to introduce the new service, METRO, the Town of Falmouth and several Falmouth businesses are offering introductory commuter passes for Falmouth residents  available through Falmouth Town Hall (781-5253,, located at 271 Falmouth Road.  For detailed #7 route and schedule information, see here.

2009 Summer Youth Bus Pass!

For only $20 children and teens – ages 18 and younger – can ride the South Portland Bus and the Portland Metro anywhere the bus goes, anytime from June – August.  Take the bus this summer for a safe, affordable and convenient solution to your transportation needs.  The service area includes Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, and Falmouth. Bike racks on all buses so take your bike with you! Head to the beach, the mall, movies, South Portland Greenbelt, Millcreek Park, in-town Portland and the Old Port, Casco Bay Ferry Terminal, Portland Trails, museums, shopping, summer jobs, day camps, recreation centers, visiting family or your friends!

Veranda Street Bridge Success! Separated Bike-Pedestrian Crossing to be Built for During Closure

The Veranda Street Bridge (which crosses over an active railroad bed below and serves as a major connector for bike commuters and pedestrians between central Portland and East Deering and Falmouth) will be closing for repairs over the summer – most likely starting in late June.  The project initially was slated to provide a shuttlebus to carry pedestrians over an alternate route – most likely with no racks for cyclists and perhaps becoming more intermittent if pedestrians didn’t use it regularly.  However, the contractor has decided instead to build a temporary bicycle-pedestrian bridge to maintain complete access for cyclists and pedestrians during the bridge reconstruction.  A wonderful reprieve!

Donate a Bike to the CBC in Biddeford

Pulled an old bike out of your shed that you’ve decided no longer works for you or your family? TheCommunity Bicycle Center in Biddeford needs gently used bikes for its programs that teach bicycle repair to youth and community members.  Email the center to find out more about the types of bikes that they can use.

Travel Often? Downeaster Multi-Ride Passes On Sale Now

The Downeaster is offering a discounted 10-RIDE and MONTHLY pass from Portland, Saco, and Wells to Boston or Woburn. The 10-Ride Pass is valid for 10 one-way trips taken within 45 days of purchase. The sale price is just $171. The Monthly Commuter Pass is valid for unlimited travel for an entire calendar month. The sale price is just $299. Act now, as this offer is valid for a limited time only.  For other info and promotions see here.

Control MDOT Spraying of Your Roadways

No Spray Agreements are available for landowners abutting roadways, railroads and utilities. Parties who participate agree to remove brush adjacent to their properties in lieu of herbicide treatments. To request a No-Spray Agreement, call Maine DOT at 207-624-3000.

In the Maine DOT Roadside Brush Control Program, powered spraying is prohibited in the following areas: within 100 feet of wells and springs; 150 feet of parked vehicles; 100 feet of animal pastures; 150 feet of occupied buildings, homes or playgrounds; 100 feet of organic farms, pedestrians, bicyclists or picnic tables; or within areas defined by Maine DOT No-Spray Agreements.

To report violations of these buffers, call the BPC at 207-287-2731 (24-hr answering service).

Take the 10% Shift Pledge

Portland Buy Local (of which Portland Green Streets is a member) is proud to announce the local launch ofThe 10% Shift, a New England-wide initiative.  The goal of this campaign is to stabilize and strengthen our region’s economy by encouraging households, businesses, and organizations to shift 10% shift of their current spending from chain businesses to local independents. Research shows that if everyone in Greater Portland shifted just 10% of their spending from chains and other non-local businesses to local independent businesses, it would generate more than $50 million annually in new economic activity for our region and 600 new jobs. Please visit to learn more about The 10% Shiftand take the pledge.

Posted in Bike, Green Streets Volunteering, Public Transit, Transportation Advocacy, Events, & Opportunities, Walk | No Comments »

April Green Streets Day Raffle Results!

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Thanks so much to all of you who signed in with your participation in Green Streets Day, Friday, April 24th!

With people able to report others going green at their locations, we have an estimated number of 493 total participants – and there were106 of you great folks signing in:

  • 32 walking, 31 biking, 13 taking the bus, train or ferry, 13 carpooling or vanpooling, and 4 telecommuting, and 13 using multiple modes (i.e., some combination of the above)!
  • collectively saving 1,364 single-occupancy vehicle miles! (many of you saving those kinds of miles every day)
  • keeping approximately $110 in gas money in your wallets!
  • improving our air quality & individual health, & reducing our climate-changing CO2 emissions by approximately1,057 pounds!
  • enjoying the opportunity to get outdoors a bit more and/or share transportation with others
  • starting (& continuing) a fun and important conversation with the people of our communityabout how we get around!

Note: please continue to sign in every month – and please talk to other Green Streets participants about doing so as well. It helps us with participation data, like number of miles & emissions saved, commuting methods used, etc!

The winners of this month’s raffle come from the following work/school/life places: (Remember, you don’t have to be headed to a job on Green Streets Day – just getting around green no matter what you’re up to!)

Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, FairPoint Communications, King Middle School,  LearningWorks, Harriman, The Beacon Group, FB Environmental, Pemaquid Communications, Preti Flaherty Beliveau & Pachios, Portland Rock Gym, Richard Renner Architects, Self-Employed, Sunrise Guide, University of Southern Maine, Woodard & Curran

Now! The winners are:

Winners will be notified how to claim their prizes.

Thanks again to the U Car Share, St. Lawrence Arts & Community Center, Portland Trails, Rosemont Market & Bakery, South Portland Bus Service, Others!, Maine Running Company, O’Naturals, the Children’s Museum, Nomads, Port City Life, METRO, WMPG, and Healthy Portlandfor your gifts to the Portland Green Streets initiative!

Have a great month out there going green!

May 20, 2009 at 6:15 am Leave a comment

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