BAR HARBOR — Despite its popularity among bike-riding visitors and bike rental shops in town, the Bike Express, which is the passenger van and bike trailer that shuttles between the Village Green and the Eagle Lake parking lot, will definitely not be running this summer.
And when it resumes, probably for the 2021 season, it very likely won’t be picking up riders and their bikes at the Village Green.
Bike Express is part of the Island Explorer bus system, which is operated by Downeast Transportation.
Paul Murphy, executive director of Downeast Transportation, told the Acadia Advisory Commission last week that the Village Green is no longer suitable as the in-town terminus of the Bike Express service.
“It has become a safety issue,” he said. “It’s not a matter of if, but rather when there will be an accident involving a cyclist.”
He said that having bikes mingling with Island Explorer buses beside the Village Green is dangerous, and that bike riders lining up to catch the Bike Express create too much congestion on the green itself.
Murphy said Bar Harbor town officials have asked that the Bike Express be pulled off the Village Green because of safety and congestion concerns.
“We are inviting the town, Friends of Acadia and the park to work with us to find a more suitable location in town,” he said.
Not yet having an alternate location is one of two reasons the Bike Express won’t be operating this summer. The other is the rehabilitation of the Eagle Lake Carriage Road, which will cause sections of that six-mile loop to be closed from time to time between April 15 and Nov. 15.
“There’s just no way to accommodate the Bike Express while construction is going on,” Acadia Management Assistant John Kelly told the Advisory Commission.
Alf Anderson, executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, said the Bike Express is such an important service for visitors that he hoped a way could be found to keep it going this year.
“Many businesses in Bar Harbor would like to see it operate, even if it’s on a limited or time-shortened basis,” he said.
But Murphy said that isn’t possible.
“We’ve already furloughed the people who work that service for this season,” he said. “So, there’s no end [for the Bike Express] in town; there’s no end in the park; there’s no money in the budget; there’s no folks to operate it for 2020.
“We fully intend and hope to bring it back in 2021.”