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:

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.

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. -- 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?

Driver identified, surrenders in fatal Hockessin hit-and-run

WDEL 1150AM -- The driver in a fatal hit-and-run accident in Hockessin has turned himself in to police.

Police say Gabriel Pardo of Hockessin was behind the wheel of a car that struck and killed bicyclist Phillip Bishop Friday night at Brackenville and Horseshoe Hill Roads.

Police say Pardo left the scene of the accident, leaving Bishop there to die. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Pardo is behind bars on $50,000 bail on charges of criminally negligent homicide and fleeing the scene of an accident, causing death.

Police say Bishop was highly visible even on a dark road when he was struck, wearing a helmet with a flashlight and headlamp with a flashing red marker light on his bike.
[Full story ...]

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Rise of Protected Bike Lanes in the U.S.

From Co.Exist -- Visit cities like Amsterdam or Copenhagen and you soon notice something different about the facilities for cyclists. Not only are there are plenty of bike lanes, but the lanes are fully separated from the rest of the road--usually with plant pots or plastic bollards. Far from being an afterthought, cyclists get their own road infrastructure.

Bike advocates argue that separation is key to driving up cyclist participation. And so it appears from a new study of early separated lane projects in the U.S. Across six cities, the study finds a rise of ridership between 21% and 171% after the lanes were installed.

The report from Portland State University looks at eight "Green Lane" projects sponsored by PeopleForBikes, an advocacy group in Colorado. Researchers tracked the impact of the new lanes in Austin, Chicago, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., by analyzing camera footage, interviewing cyclists, and sending out surveys to local residents. [Full article ...]

Above: A bicyclist on Delaware Avenue in Newark is fed up with drivers coming too close. Fortunately, help may be on the way, as Delaware Avenue may soon include the State's first protected bike lane. The proposal was part of this year's Newark Bicycle Plan and approved unanimously by council on Feb. 24 . It presents the overall mission and vision for where efforts will be focused over the next several years.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 22 is Car Free Day

Take the Car Free Day Pledge and win!

RideShare Delaware --  Take the pledge to go car free or car-lite on Monday, September 22nd, and be entered to win a $50 gift card (to Target, Walmart or Wawa – you choose)! You may still pledge and be entered for a chance to win even if you’re already using alternative transportation modes, such as bicycles, walking, transit, teleworking, and carpooling.

All pledges made through September 21, 2014 will be entered into the prize raffle drawing.  Scroll down to complete pledge form!

Car Free Day is an international event celebrated every September 22 in which people are encouraged to get around without cars and instead ride a train, bus, bicycle, carpool, vanpool, subway, or walk.

To participate in this fun and worthwhile event, all you need to do is fill out the pledge form, then go car free or rely less on your car by going car-lite on Monday September 22. It’s that simple! Once you pledge, you’re automatically entered for a chance to win a $50 gift card along with the saving you’ll see at the gas pump! Car Free Day is organized in various cities throughout the world in different ways, but with the common goal reducing the number of cars on the streets. The benefit to greater society is a day with less traffic congestion, a greener environment and reduced gasoline demand. Today, Car Free Day includes celebrations in 1,500 cities in 40 countries. [Visit the event web page for complete details!]

Also, don't forget to register your commute and become eligible for several benefits, including 5 FREE emergency rides home.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Crossing I95 in the Newark area: Otts Chapel Road

View Larger Map

The 1st of an eight part series, we will examine every I95 overpass/underpass in the greater Newark area from a bicycling safety perspective. Crossing I95 is a major impediment for City and area bicyclists, and a show stopper for many who might otherwise consider commuting or riding for basic transportation. Of the eight, we already know the following:
  • 2 are equipped with a truly safe, segregated pathway intended for non-motorized use - but are not necessarily safe to reach on a bike.
  • 2 contain access ramps to and from I95 in both directions, rendering them totally unsafe.
  • 6 are direct crossings with no I95 access, but contain little or no bikeable shoulder space.
  • By request of Delaware Bikes Advocates, 4 are under consideration for Bicycle Warning Signs.
Otts Chapel Road I95 overpass is the farthest west in Delaware. Many bicyclists consider this the least unsafe of the on-road crossings, because it has a 5' shoulder. A big issue, however, is debris collection along the barriers. This forces bicyclists to ride closer to the high speed lane or risk tire puncture or slippage. Fortunately, the span is rather short, with 8-10'' shoulders opening up in both directions immediately beyond the guardrails.

In a recent survey, Delaware Bikes readers overwhelmingly cited Otts Chapel's bridge crossings as "Hot Spots" in desperate need of more frequent sweeping. This includes a major RR overpass just north of I95. Both have barriers or curbs and collect massive amounts of debris. To that end, DelDOT Maintenance and Operations (M&O) listened to bicyclist's concerns, and said they will be increasing sweeping of many such hot spots as per their all new NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit.

Tips for crossing I95 on Otts Chapel Road:
  • As with riding on shouldered roads in general, take steps to fortify your tires against stones and sharps. This will decrease the worry of riding through debris.
  • In the interest of safety, and for peace of mind, always use a rear-view mirror to monitor overtaking traffic.
  • Wear a safety vest, and/or mount a reflective triangle to your rear rack bag or back pack, if you have one.
  • Try not to appear too predictable. Riding a steady line will increase your odds of being "buzzed". Stand on the pedals, or move around a little bit within the shoulder. This usually has an immediate impact on driver's passing speed, and can make them skittish about coming too close.
  • If this I95 crossing is too intimidating in any case, slow down and stop before the shoulder narrows. Wait for a comfortable break in traffic before charging across the span. If timed right, it may be possible to clear the overpass with few or no cars overtaking.

  • Minus debris, a bicyclist can ride well within the shoulder on the Otts Chapel Road I95 overpass. Many do, as this road is a popular bicycle commuting route between Glasgow, Bear, Elkton, and Newark.

    Debris collection is typical anytime there are barriers, curbs, or other containment features. In DOT-speak, these are known as "Reflection Zones", and usually require more frequent sweeping.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Input needed for Howell School & Denny Road re-alignment project

By Amy Wilburn, Chair, Delaware Bicycle Council --

DelDOT will be realigning the intersection of 896 and Howell School/Denny Roads, and wants our input. Construction will also occur on at least some of the length of Howell School Road. The project goes out to bid this Winter and will occur over the next couple of years. In planning for construction, DelDOT's Rich Palmer wants to know about any cycling events that use Route 896 and/or Howell School Road.

I know that at least one Triathlon event leaves from Lums Pond, and I imagine that a number of others use that area as well. If you know of any events, please let me know as many details as possible, including the organizer, and I’ll pass the information along to Rich.

Poster's note: The Route 896 intersection of Howell School Road and Denny Road - well offset from one another - appear in the center of the map above. A construction project is scheduled to align the two in order to create one single intersection, and DelDOT is asking bicyclist's input. It will be especially helpful to pass along any info about events that take place in the area, and when.

Please contact Amy Wilburn at: to offer your comments and suggestions.