Tuesday, September 30, 2014

No jail time possible in killing of Phillip Bishop

Driver charged in bicyclist's death waives hearing

Delaware On-line -- The DuPont Co. manager charged with killing a bicyclist this month in Hockessin and fleeing the scene has waived a preliminary hearing and his case will be bound over to Superior Court pending indictment.

Phillip Bishop (photo from WNJ)
Gabriel F. Pardo, 44, faces charges of criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene of a collision resulting in death. If convicted of both felonies, under Delaware law he could face zero to 13 years in prison but sentencing guidelines used by Delaware judges urge no more than three years, three months behind bars.

Phillip Bishop, 27, an aspiring teacher who worked at PureBread Deli in Greenville, was "lawfully riding his bicycle" home from work when was was struck and killed about 8:45 p.m. on Sept. 12 on Brackenville Road, about a mile from his house in Stuyvesant Hills. Bishop was wearing his helmet with a head lamp, flashlight and his bike had a rear flashing red marker light. [Continue reading ...]

Poster's note: If the sentence carries no jail time in a case like this, it sends a clear message that, as long as you're in a car, it's open season on bicyclists and pedestrians. Amy Wilburn, Chair of the Delaware Bicycle Council, is following this story (and that of Eloy Sandoval-Mateoz) very closely and will provide case updates. A call to action may be necessary. Stay tuned.

Visit our Casualties category for earlier posts on this subject.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Trying to rank Delaware for Pedestrian and Bicyclist Fatalities

From 2003 to 2012, Delaware came in as the 6th most dangerous state for pedestrians. During that 10 year period:
  • Total traffic fatalities: 1,223
  • Total pedestrian fatalities: 194
  • Annual pedestrian deaths per 100,000: 2.22
According to Smart Growth America, the safest places for walking are those with more active lifestyles, and fewer deaths per capita. This is also demonstrated with a lower PDI. The less dangerous regions tend to be more compactly developed and place more emphasis on pedestrian safety.

According to Forbes Magazine, Delaware also ranks as the #1 laziest State in the country, with a serious obesity problem. So, it appears one cannot blame an over abundance of active people out and about (though certain pockets do exist, i.e. Newark, beach areas). In any case, coming in at 6th over a 10 year sampling period is a terribly worrisome and embarrassing trend. And there appears no end in sight.

We were unable to find bicycling statistics over a full 10 year period, but data from 2005 to 2012 was available from the NHTSA.

The two #1 rankings (2008/09) came mostly as a result of Route 1 in Rehoboth, which DelDOT partly remedied with a shared bike/bus lane.

Pretty much, these are the only numbers we have, and questions do go unanswered. Among them, we do not know if an injured person that ends up dead within days or weeks later is counted as an injury or a fatality.

Finally, it is difficult to gauge how much Delaware spends at the State level for pedestrian and bicycle safety, because many improvements are rolled in with the cost of pavement & rehabilitation projects. Nationally, however, the percent of dedicated funding is grossly disproportionate and a travesty of justice (below).

Sunday, September 28, 2014

TBO: Co-op closes shop, rolls on with bicycling advocacy

Photo courtesy of the Tamp Bay Bike Co-op

TAMPA TRIBUNE -- After seven years, the Tampa Bay Bike Co-op is closing up shop.

The organization, which has been dedicated to helping local cyclists learn how to maintain and repair their bicycles on their own, held one last sale and barbecue Saturday before the staff closed down the Seminole Heights garage for good.

All the proceeds from the sale will go to help fund a bike project for The Well, a non-profit dedicated to helping the homeless, said board member Dana Putney. What parts, tools and bikes that didn’t sell will be donated to the St. Petersburg Bike Co-op.

“It’s definitely a bittersweet thing,” said Putney, 26. “Co-ops don’t necessarily last that long and ours has stayed around for quite a while in Tampa.”

A lot of people came by the garage Saturday to say farewell, Putney said. The members of the co-op are sad, but they understand why the board wanted to change things up.

“It got to be too much like a bike shop,” said Dave Horst, president of the cooperative’s board.

The organization formed in 2007 and started meeting once a month at the Transitions Art Gallery on Columbus Avenue, hosting clinics that taught people how to use tools and do minor bike repairs. Eventually, the cooperative moved into a stall at a storage facility at Waters and Armenia avenues, where the owner let them operate rent-free, Putney said.

Bike-riders from all over the Tampa area came to the co-ops stall to buy used parts and frames and get one-on-one attention from the volunteers who helped them tinker with their bikes. Recently, the group’s 10 or so regular volunteers were working unpaid shifts every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

And because all the volunteers also work full-time jobs, the hours were starting to be too demanding.

“At that point, you’re taxing volunteers so much that it doesn’t make sense,” Horst said.

So the board decided to go in a different direction.

“I think we could make a bigger impact in the community if we weren’t spending all our hours in the shop,” Putney said.  [Full article ...]

Founded in 2011, the Newark Bike Project first opened shop at a temporary location on W. Park Place, that was provided rent-free by a local developer. After relocating two more times - to buildings slated for demolition - they recently opted for new construction (and a commensurate lease rate) at 136 South Main Street.

Friday, September 26, 2014

NCC's choice of gates over bollards is a safety hazard

It is disheartening to think that, in our small State that is
  • 4th most bicycle-friendly in the nation,
  • only adding bike shops not closing them,
  • seeing more and more folks riding (or wishing they safely could),
  • and trying to connect various trails, pathways, and lower stress roads in the name of Bicycle Networks,
we still have to deal with hazardous nonsense like this:

Above: Iron Hill Park, owned and maintained by New Castle County. What used to be the main entrance off of Whittaker Road is now closed to motor vehicles, entrance relocated to Old Baltimore Pike. If non-motorized users are still allowed throughout the park, why are they forced up a curb and through grass to enter? In addition, this cannot be ADA compliant.

Above: This was the result when residents complained that Brownleaf Road was becoming a main thoroughfare between Route 273 and Chapman Road. This fixed the problem alright, but bicyclists must go up a driveway and use the sidewalk to continue. There are so many other, more aesthetic ways this could have been achieved, yet allowed bicycle access.

A view from the new entrance (Teeing in from right) in Iron Hill Park. A cable or chain is used to keep motor vehicles out of the park road leading to the original entrance. Bicyclists must ride around a post on either side, through uneven dirt and loose stones.

At least one agency gets it, however. Some years ago, Delaware State Parks began using bollards instead of gates whenever a facility does allow non-motorized users. Unless a facility is totally closed to everyone, i.e. private property, the below photo explains how to do it:

When it comes to keeping out cars, appropriately spaced bollards (one removable) perform the exact same function as a gate, yet allow non-motorized pathway users to pass through safely as if nothing was there. Angela proudly shows off a beautiful line of bollards that can be found on Creek Road, at the end of Wedgewood Road in White Clay Creek State Park. The yellow bollard is easily removed, allowing DNREC, Park Police, and other authorized vehicles to enter.

Some of our key government agencies continue using barrier types that not only block motor vehicle traffic, but force non-motorized users - that are permitted - into dangerously inconvenient detours.

We live in a country where bicycling is 3rd on the spending list, with $81B annually. Delaware is ranked 4th in the nation for being bike-friendly. All County and State Government agencies need to get on board, if for nothing else, common sense decision-making.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Governor Jack Markell’s 8th Annual Bike Tour

By Jeffrey Berger -- Mark your calendar for Governor Jack Markell’s 8th Annual “Tour de Delaware” - Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 8:00 a.m.

You don't have to be a Delawarean to participate in this, and there is usually a strong Cabooser contingent. The governor leads the ride and it is typically flat, so it is an easy but fun supported ride, with snacks and lunch at the end.

This year the ride will be a 50ish mile loop, with the start/end and exact route still being considered (as soon as it is finalized, it will be distributed to the group).

As usual, Corey Marshall-Steele will handle most of the details and logistics. If you are planning on participating in this year’s Ride, please RSVP by emailing Corey Marshall-Steele at: Corey.Marshall-Steele@state.de.us
Corey will be sending out more details as the date approaches, so RSVP today!

Governor Jack leads the way in the 2007 Tour of Delaware, the event's first year. Will Jack continue leading Le Tour after his term in office, or will his replacement continue this time honored tradition? Regardless of who, it has grown enormously popular, and should continue as an annual event.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

B.E.S.T. Active Transportation Group launches website

By John and Ceci McCormick --

In November 2012, a small group got together to discuss the advantages of all advocates of active transportation in Delaware (e.g. bicycle, pedestrian, bus transportation, safety, healthy lifestyle) working together to promote active lifestyles. We discussed the need to understand what the current advocacy efforts were and how to identify people who could organize their efforts. The initial name of the group, Bicycle Education and Safety Training has changed to Bringing Education and Safety Together. We wanted to keep the initials the same for consistency - B.E.S.T. - but needed to show an interest in collaborating with a broader range of transportation options.

Ceci (L) and John McCormick founded B.E.S.T. in November 2012
The B.E.S.T. Group advocates using Active Transportation in daily life. To promote this goal, we are currently developing a curriculum intended for Physical Education (P.E.) teachers in Kindergarten through Grade 12. We are inviting P.E. teachers to pilot our program during the  2014-15 school year. B.E.S.T. group members would provide support in locating resources, teaching lessons, and answering questions.

The B.E.S.T. Vision promotes bicycling, walking, and public transportation (Active Transportation) in a way that engages the talents, energies and influence of the various advocacy groups and local, county & state resources, so that our collective efforts are aligned and coordinated (i.e. healthy lifestyle, non-motorized activities to address obesity, etc.), in a way that Delaware’s active transportation initiatives are recognized nationally as a model program.

Visit our all new B.E.S.T. website, and be sure to add a bookmark for us. Check in periodically for all the latest updates and activities!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Can motorists, cyclists share the road?

The News Journal -- Every road-riding cyclist has a story about a time a motorist came within inches of killing them.

A car recently ran John McCormick off the road when turning into the Brandywine Town Center from Naamans Road in Brandywine Hundred, he said.

McCormick recovered and followed the driver to where he'd parked.

"'Hey, why'd you cut me off?' " McCormick asked him.

"He said, 'I never saw you.' And I believed him."

The hit-and-run death of 27-year-old cyclist Phillip Bishop on Brackenville Road on Sept. 12 is another stark reminder of the vulnerability of cyclists on roadways built for and dominated by automobiles. Bishop follows the death of Eloy Sandoval, 44, who was killed crossing Del. 273 near Ruthar Drive on his bike July 25, and the 99 cyclists injured in crashes so far this year. [Full story ...]

Poster's note: Though both fatals this year were unrelated to infrastructure, it is still a big part of the problem. Most bike lanes are inconsistent, poorly designed, or end abruptly at a curb or solid white line. There is still no national standard that permits sharing dedicated right turn lanes with bike lanes, and none appear to be in the works. This can doom properly designed bike lanes to failure, as DelDOT has shown time and time again.

A grassroots effort, started in 2010, did ask DelDOT for a slight design modification in the right turn-only lane that would indicate it was shared with bicyclists proceeding straight through the intersection. 4 years and tons of bureaucracy later, there is still no certainty that it will pass muster and be adopted into DelDOT's design guide.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Bicyclists ride to Phillip Bishop's viewing

Delaware On-Line -- Nearly 30 bicyclists paid solemn tribute Thursday night in Hockessin to Phillip Bishop, riding en masse to the viewing for the cyclist killed last week in a hit-and-run crash.

White Clay Bicycle Club ride leader Charlie Johnston of Newport didn't know Bishop, but organized the procession because he felt it was "important to honor him and show support for the family."

Gathering at Lantana Square shopping center before the procession to Chandler Funeral Home, riders mourned the 27-year-old, who was killed as he rode home to Stuyvesant Hills in Hockessin after work.

Cyclist Penny Rodrick-Williams of Hockessin had met Bishop at PureBread Deli & Café in Greenville, where he worked as a supervisor.

"He was just such a kind person," she said, adding that she also joined the ride because she is a science teacher and Bishop aspired to become one.

"He was so young, it's just very tragic," said Marcia Cloud of Wilmington. She didn't know Bishop, but like others, said she joined the ride "to honor a fellow cyclist."  [Full story ...]

Poster's note: A big tip of the helmet to Charlie Johnston, for pulling this all together on such short notice. There was an error, however, during the interview. It was stated that "they (bicyclists) should be on the right shoulder, or right line". It is important for motorists to understand vehicle code as it relates to bicycles, and that cyclists may use the full lane in multiple circumstances; everything from avoiding debris to taking a left turn lane. Stay tuned as we compose a letter to the editor at the WNJ, clarifying Title 21, Chapter 41, Section 4196 so as not to provide fodder for our critics and adversaries.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Newly revised bicycle-friendly rumble strips installed south of Middletown

Anthony Aglio, the best friend advocates could possibly ask for in a State Bicycle Coordinator, just reported that DelDOT has moved quickly on the rumble strip re-design and already has it on the ground for bicyclists to test out.

According to Anthony, we need at least a few cyclists that can ride Route 71 south of Middletown and report back with comments - positive or negative.

In making your assessment, it is important to understand the original design that is 16" wide with a 1' offset from the shoulder line. They were also deep enough to compromise bicycle control. Both designs are illustrated below,

DelDOT's original rumble strip, above, robbed some of the most valuable space in the shoulder - destroying some entirely. Unfortunately, a number of good roads have already been damaged with this design, but thankfully, DelDOT crews were quick to assess the damage and make repairs in several areas that were rendered very dangerous or unridable.

The all new design, above, is superior to the original. This strip is less than half the width, is much closer to the white line (6"), and shallow to where a bicycle can safely cross over it.

Comments can be emailed to Anthony at: Anthony.Aglio@state.de.us

Bicyclists Plan Ride To Honor Phillip Bishop

Delaware On-Line -- Bicylists are planning to ride en masse to Thursday night's viewing for Phillip Bishop, the rider killed by a hit-run driver last week in Hockessin while returning from work.

The ride, organized by a member of the White Clay Bicycle Club that often rides through the Hockessin and surrounding areas, will be from the Lantana Square shopping center to Chandler Funeral Home.

Anyone interested is asked to meet in the parking lot of M&T Bank at 151 Lantana Drive, off Limestone Road, about 6 p.m. The ride to the funeral home at 7230 Lancaster Pike – about 2 miles – is scheduled to leave at 6:30.

Riders must wear helmets and have front and rear lights on their bicycles. They are also asked to wear reflective clothing. [Full article ...]

Posters note: I also respectfully ask that you keep another cyclist in your thoughts and prayers - please remember and honor Mr. Eloy Sandoval-Mateoz, who was killed by a drunk driver in Ogletown on Saturday, July 26th, while riding his bicycle northbound trying to cross Del. 273 at Ruthar Drive. He has the sad distinction of being Delaware's first bicycle fatality of the year. Eloy was born on December 2, 1969. He was 44 years old at the time of his death. There were no funeral services for him here, and his body was sent home to his family in Mexico by the Corleto-Latina Funeral Home.

Although I did not know Eloy personally, from the description of him, I believe that I had passed him in my travels on my bicycle, on that same road and nearby my home in Ogletown. We would wave at each other. He appeared to use his bike for his primary means of transportation. No memorial marks the spot where he tragically died, but I think of him each and every time I pass the site. I hope to continue to follow the case in the hopes that Mr Sandoval-Mateoz will be represented properly, that people know that he too was a human being, with family, friends, and a wider community that cared about him.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Open For Comment: Proposed Rumble Strip Redesign

Back in the early Spring, bicyclists from New Castle and Sussex Counties were dismayed to find Rumble Strips now occupying long stretches of shoulders and bike lanes. Some were installed on roads that had no option to route around. Folks without alternative transportation found themselves riding in the high speed lane of traffic, with cars whizzing by inches away.

One thing was certain; miles of rumble strip can be cut through smooth asphalt seemingly overnight, and cyclists had no idea where, or how many more roads were being targeted. This made planning club rides and cycling routes very difficult. Among the first to notice the rumble strips were cyclists on club rides with the Sussex Cyclists, who found their familiar roads in potentially dangerous condition. Roads that were once reasonably safe to ride on were now potentially life threatening. Advocates - most notably John Kurpjuweit, President of the Sussex Cyclists, and Amy Wilburn, Chair of the Delaware Bicycle Council - were in touch with DelDOT immediately, trying to halt the destruction.

The Delaware Bicycle Council, Delaware Bikes, and Sussex Cyclists kept the issue at the forefront, prompting a swift response from DelDOT. Mark Luszcz, Chief Traffic Engineer, halted any further installation of rumble strips and called an emergency meeting to investigate the issue. Also participating was Anthony Aglio, Bicycle Coordinator for Delaware. A plan of action was taking shape.

It became immediately obvious that the offset specs in the current Design Guidance for the Installation of Bicycle-Friendly Rumble Strips were not being followed. Bicyclist's feedback would be necessary to locate and repair those sections of road where at least 4' of asphalt remained between the rumble strip and the rightmost edge of the shoulder. This would at least bring what's already out there in accordance with the design guidance.

By mid-June, with the help of bicyclist's feedback, a map highlighting all known errant sections was created. But before repair could take place, a suitable method for patching and smoothing over the rumbles had to be found. After a few experiments with continued public feedback, a suitable method was discovered and crews went to work immediately on miles of errant rumble strips.

Help us to help you. Please email your comments!

According to DelDOT, all sections of non-compliant  rumble strip were meticulously patched and smoothed over. Anthony Aglio, Bicycle Coordinator with DelDOT Planning, was then assigned to collect design guidance from other States, especially those that score consistently well in the League of American Bicyclist's Bicycle-Friendly States program. It is from his data that the proposed revision below was agreed upon:

The above drawing presents an enormous improvement over the current design guidance. At less than half the width and half the offset from the white line, these rumble strips would make life a lot safer for bicyclists. In fact, they could now be used effectively as an incursion alarm (motorist lane drift from distracted driving).

Please submit your comments on the above design to Anthony Aglio, Delaware's Bicycle Coordinator with DelDOT. Anthony.Aglio@state.de.us

The above photo was taken a few years ago on Route 213 in Maryland, just South of Elkton. With the help of Michael Jackson (Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian Access with MDOT), Delaware Advocates scored an out of state victory with guideline changes there as well.

In Summary, we commend DelDOT for recognizing the current design as problematic in that it created conflicts between drivers and cyclists. Switching to the proposed guidelines above will encourage bicyclists to ride in the correct position on the shoulder and facilitate cooperation between all user groups. Further, it will allow bicyclists to ride behind the rumble strips instead of at the white line, as well as move safely into the lane when cars are turning in front of them or to avoid debris. Visit our Rumble Strips category to revisit years of persistent advocacy on this safety issue.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Has "Share The Road" helped or hurt bicycle safety?

In North America, "Share The Road" (STR) is one of the most, if not the most popular slogan used when it comes to education and enforcement. The League of American Bicyclists website reveals a dozen or more articles and references that put STR in a positive light. But here in Delaware, the attacks continue unabated, from the only organization formally recognized by LAB as representing the State's bicyclists and constituent organizations. We continue to see the active removal of STR signs, and a push to erase any reference to the slogan found on-line. To help our readers draw their own conclusion about the effectiveness of STR, we ran an Internet search and found tons of successful campaigns, including vanity license plates in close to 20 States. Below is a small sampling, complete with links and excerpts:

From AAA, 5/10 -- AAA appreciates the continued efforts of stakeholders and transportation officials towards making roads safer for motorists and cyclists alike. In recognition of National Bike Month, AAA reminds both motorists and cyclists to be vigilant about sharing the road, and to exercise caution year round.

Cascade Bicycle Club, 7/13 -- “The Share the Road license plate is the only plate that actually sends a message to drivers of other vehicles about safe behavior on the street. A mini-billboard for better behavior, it lets every vehicle that sports the plate convey the message that Washington bikes - even our cars say so,” explained Barb Chamberlain, Executive Director of Bicycle Alliance of Washington.

Bike Portland -- Over the weekend, I noticed several new “Share the Road” billboards throughout the city. I also appreciate how the bicycle is prominently featured and (whether the designers realized it or not) the design highlights a dangerous road condition - sun glare.

ShareTheRoad.org -- Through the sale of the Share the Road specialty license plates, Bike Florida and the Florida Bicycling Association established mini-grant programs to provide funds to organizations throughout the State who are promoting bicycle and pedestrian safety programs.

Share the Road Cycling Coalition -- Following the 2011 CAA Changing Lanes conference in Vancouver where Share the Road spoke with an international cross section of experts, we approached CAA about helping us with a province-wide "Share the Road" ad campaign. They immediately said yes.

Bike Delaware -- In November, the Delaware Department of Transportation announced that, effective immediately, Delaware would stop using the MUTCD-approved “Share The Road” plaque (W16-1P). More, the department would also start removing all “Share The Road” signs currently installed in Delaware.

*  *  *

Both the Delaware Bicycle Council and Delaware Bikes supported DelDOT's initiative to retire STR signs, assuming that they were phased out going forward with new installations and maintenance. Our decision was based mainly on a technicality. The average travel lane in Delaware is substandard width (11'-12' in most cases), therefore, it is impossible for a bicyclist and most cars to fit within the same lane - abreast - when factoring in the 3' Passing Law. To fix the problem would require that we amend Title 21, making it legal for drivers to cross the double yellow line - with caution - when overtaking bicyclists and other slow moving vehicles. Ohio's Section 4511.31 is one example, and combined with a meaningful PR campaign, would have been the logical choice for us as well.

This latest grandstanding can only hurt the cause of on-road advocacy, and send confusing messages to our government leaders. Unfortunately, it is not without precedent. Bike Delaware's opposition to Same Roads, Same Rules, Same Rights as the official slogan for the See It Both Ways PSA instead gave us "Safety Begins With Sharing". While the former is not ground breaking by any means, it did have a much stronger educational component - and was the clear choice to make.

In summary, let's revisit a post written by Amy Wilburn, Chair of Delaware Bicycle Council, on August 13th: There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the phrase “share the road”. In fact, when it’s used in an educational setting where other information is provided, it’s not confusing at all. It imparts a positive sentiment about caring and respect which we would do well to propagate. We do after all want motorists and bicyclists to share the road, don’t we? We want to impart the idea that one form of transportation doesn’t dominate the others. It’s an important concept to get across, and one that makes biking viable in other countries. So how has a simple phasing out of the signs turned “share the road” into public enemy number one? Why are some advocates urging DelDOT to spend the time and money to completely eliminate the phrase from all promotional and instructional materials?