Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Delaware Bikes endorses Bill Dunn for 19th District

Delaware Bikes is proud to endorse Bill Dunn for Representative in the 19th District.

Bill believes that better planning is important to protect all the residents of Delaware. Development must be carefully paced to insure we do not make traffic worse, increase costs to taxpayers, or jeopardize our environment and our children’s future.

Business development and jobs demand healthy, safe and efficient commuting options. As a cyclist himself, Bill is an ardent supporter of Complete Streets implementation, the Trails and Pathways initiative, and Active Transportation funding in general. As the victim of a bicycle crash involving an aggressive driver, he understands our vulnerability as a participant in vehicular traffic, and the importance of non-motorized safety.

Among Bill's recent community involvement and experience:
  • Recent Past-President of the Civic League for New Castle County
  • President of the Milltown-Limestone Civic Alliance
  • Recently, Unanimously Elected, Chairperson of the 19th RD’s Democratic Committee
  • Senator Blevins Appointee to the Delaware Manufactured Home Relocation Authority
  • Steering Committee Member of Progressive Democrats of Delaware
  • Member of Americans for Democratic Action
Encourage your friends, and get out the vote for September 9th! Bill Dunn for Representative, District 19.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Deadly weekend? Bike Delaware absent on critical facility upgrades

Bike Delaware loves to report on injuries and fatalities on the road. Yet they are conspicuously absent when it comes to advocating for improved safety conditions. And they could be at the forefront - as seen in other state's advocacy organizations - considering that they employ Delaware's only full time bicycling lobbyist. To boot:

Above: Conditions along the abandoned Route 72 Multi-Use Pathway (MUP) south of Newark are deplorable, to say the least. This arterial highway is centrally located in New Castle County, and with this MUP, offers one of a very few truly safe crossings of I95. There are also many key destinations along this corridor. Yet, bicyclists find themselves hovering dangerously close to high speed traffic, due to deterioration and narrowing of the facility.

If this is what we have to look forward to with Trails and Pathways, we're in serious trouble. Multiple appeals to DelDOT's "Report a Road Condition" on-line form produced no results in clearing this tree growing up a utility pole (and mostly blocking the pathway).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Where are drivers most likely to yield to pedestrians?

From Angie Schmitt, Streetsblog -- You’re approaching an un-signalized crosswalk. How likely are drivers to obey the law and stop to let you cross the street?

According to a national survey of experts, that depends on a few factors, including the width of the road you’re trying to cross, how many other pedestrians are in the area, and even what part of the country you happen to be in.

Robert Schneider, professor of urban planning at the University of Wisconsin, and his co-author Rebecca Sanders interviewed almost 400 professionals from the fields of public health, planning and engineering, and safe streets advocacy around North America. They asked them to assess the likelihood of a motorist yielding to a pedestrian in their town at different kinds of crosswalks that do not have traffic signals.

Some interesting patterns emerged. Here are the three major factors that, according to respondents, influence whether drivers show courtesy to pedestrians. [Full story ...]

Poster's note: Drivers rarely stop for bicyclists and pedestrians as they attempt to cross Wyoming Ave on the Pomeroy Trail, as demonstrated in the video above. Maybe its because a check of Delaware law reveals a fine of only $2 to $25, making any type of enforcement simply not worth it. The result is warning signs that are so vague, and so toothless, as to be laughable.

The State of Massachusetts is serious about non-motorized crosswalk safety. Maybe it's because they can be, given fines as high as $200.

Related:  "Why crosswalks are so dangerous in Delaware".

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Casualty of Trails and Pathways

If you're environmentally conscience, building the final connection between Phase 1 of the Mike Castle Trail and Delaware City (Phase 2) is a bit disturbing. Unlike the elevated boardwalk design proposed for Phase 3 of the Industrial Track Rail Trail, this project is filling in sensitive wetland areas, with massive amounts of layered dirt. Below is a series of photos taken this past weekend, illustrating its impacts on the environment.

The brand new right of way (ROW) is very wide, and parallels the C&D Canal Spur into Delaware City. Once the path is completed, it will become an economic boon to the City, drawing bicyclists and pedestrians from all over the country.

Here, the ROW came to an abrupt halt, where crews are marching forward with massive layers of fill dirt - directly over the wetlands.
A closer view of what's to be filled in as the project moves forward.

Large white ballast stones, seen along the water (upper left in the photo), are being added to reinforce the ROW. At the same time, they are filling in much of the crab's natural habitat along the canal.

At Delaware Bikes, we love Trails and Pathways when they repurpose existing ROWs, such as abandoned railroads. However, routing them through prime wildlife habitat should be a very last resort, and/or designed with utmost sensitivity. Witnessing the invasive nature of this construction project, we sincerely hope that all other options were considered.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Smart Cycling Course: Traffic Skills 101

Presentations & skills training, followed by a group ride, will make you a more confident cyclist. See flyer below for more details!

WHERE: WILMAPCO, 850 Library Avenue, Newark (MAP)

WHEN: Saturday, October 18th, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

COST: $30.00 for White Clay Bicycle Club Members (WCBC), $50.00 for non-members.

INSTRUCTORS: Paul Hess, John & Ceci McCormick. To register contact Paul Hess – pehess@comcast.net

Randy Inglis, Delaware's bicycling pioneer and leader

Cross-posted from Bike Delaware's website

By Carol Ireland -- The local bicycling community was shocked last week to learn of the death of Randy Inglis, a leader in Delaware’s cycling community.

Randy was the general manager of The Bike Boutique (TBB) in Wilmington, which is where I first met him. When TBB was in its original location in downtown Wilmington I asked Randy if Bike Delaware could put some Bike Delaware cards in his shop. He readily agreed and we discussed some of the biking issues and recent biking successes in the area.

Randy was a pioneer in locating the bike shop downtown and creating a partnership with a nearby fitness center so bike commuters could store their bikes and get a shower before heading to work (dubbed “bike-lodging”).  But the poor economy and too small a customer base in that location led to TBB moving out to the Trolley Square area.  [Full story ...]

Monday, July 21, 2014

Delaware Ave is not the only cycle track candidate

Route 72 multi-use path is one
of a very few truly safe crossings
of I95. Centrally located, it makes
many key connections - yet
remains in deplorable condition.
The Newark Bicycle Committee has been in the hot seat lately, under pressure from Bike Delaware to push a bi-directional cycle track along Delaware Ave in Newark. Though included in the City's Bicycle Plan, there are several challenges to overcome. Among them, sufficient space within the existing right-of-way (ROW), which could hamper the level and quality of separation between the traffic lanes and the cycle track itself. As things stand now, it is going to be a very tight and costly fit, but replacing the current 1-way bike lane with a protected 2-way facility is big in Newark's mission to increase bicycle safety and modeshare.

There is tons of hype surrounding Trails and Pathways funding, with Bike Delaware at the forefront. Yet, they are silent on other desperately needed projects, such as the dangerous Route 72 multi-use path (MUP). Replacing this badly deteriorated and damaged facility (overgrown to the width of a sidewalk) would increase safety and put more folks on bikes, especially Newark commuters who live south of I95. A cycle track here may also be lower hanging fruit, as there is more than enough ROW to construct the minimum 10' wide path/track.

Airport Road bike lanes disappear into
Commons Blvd, a four lane curb to curb
road designed only for high speed traffic.
Other possible candidates include Commons Blvd in New Castle. This is another 4-lane, curb to curb arterial road that is anything but safe and hospitable to non-motorized users. A cycle track (or at the very least, a parallel MUP) here would allow many folks, including employees of the New Castle County Government Center, the option to bike or walk to work.

What is Bike Delaware trying to achieve in terms of Bikeway networks that everyone can use to get where they want to go on a bike? Most of their focus appears to be on recreational bike paths and rail trails with little to no emphasis on road connectivity. Bicycle-friendly roads complete the network, and are the only thing that will truly make off-road pathways a viable commuting option. Bike Delaware has been absent on projects like the above, even though it appears to fit their mission. These are badly needed to make key connections between bike-friendly roads, destinations, or other existing facilities. Such projects would open up major swaths of NCC to bicycle commuting, by circumventing dangerous high speed roads that have no shoulders and probably never will.

Hazardous conditions along the Route 72 MUP put users at close proximity to high speed traffic.

As with most Delaware MUPs, Route 72 is never resurfaced, and receives little basic maintenance. The failure to maintain what already exists - never mind new installations - should be of major concern to Trails and Pathways advocates.
Airport Road, where it changes names to Commons Blvd. The bike lane terminates into high speed traffic with no shoulder,  rendering it useless to all but the most fearless.

(well designed) Bike lanes save lives AND money

Cross-posted from Grist.org -- Next time you hop on your bike, give yourself a pat on the back for being such a model citizen. Not only are you about to get some fresh air and exercise, you are going to save your city some serious dough.

According to a study from Environmental Health Perspectives, cycling infrastructure is a smart investment for penny-pinching city planners. Taking the city of Auckland in New Zealand as a test case, the researchers looked at simulations of different biking scenarios: a shared-road bike lane network, separated arteries of bike lanes on all main roads, something called “self-explaining roads” with car-slowing design elements, as well as a sweet-spot combination of those separated lanes and self-explaining elements.

In every scenario, between $6 and $24 were saved for every dollar spent, compared to a business-as-usual baseline. How, you ask? In addition to the pollution, traffic congestion, and sedentary-lifestyle health problems associated with cars, society bears the brunt of our automobile addiction in the form of medical and emergency services. That car crash is, yes, tragic, but it is also expensive. [Full article ...]

Friday, July 18, 2014

DelDOT Takes Wikimapping to the Boardwalk

Bicyclists of all levels asked to log routes and riding experiences

Dover, Delaware -- Ranked between Wisconsin and Oregon, Delaware is the fourth most Bicycle Friendly State in 2014, according to the League of American Bicyclists, and the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) continues to work toward the number one spot. Anthony Aglio, DelDOT Bicycle Coordinator explained some of the ways the department is working to climb up the rankings:

“Summertime in the beach communities of Sussex County is a great time to work on Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation,” four of the five “Es” the League uses to determine the bicycle friendliness of a place, he said.

In addition to the dozen or so safety checkpoints and many local rides that happen annually at the beach, this summer DelDOT is working on a bike-mapping effort that will identify routes that cater to less-experienced cyclists. The goal is to get more people bicycling comfortably and safely and make Delaware an even more bicycle friendly state.

With the help of Wikimapping - a new online public input tool - DelDOT will be able to better understand the challenges and experiences of bicyclists. The Wikimapping web app, which can be accessed at bikeatthebeach.com on a computer or smart phone, is being used for planning efforts around the country. From July through September 2014, Wikimapping is being used to gather input from visitors and locals who bicycle, or would like to bicycle, in the Delaware beach areas to identify popular routes, peoples’ comfort on those routes, barriers, and opportunities to improve the network of trails and bicycle facilities. Ultimately, the information gathered through Wikimapping will be used to map family-friendly bicycle routes. These maps will be available through the chambers of commerce, online, and possibly other outlets in summer 2015.
  • What: Public input using a new online app will help DelDOT produce family friendly bicycle maps and identify challenges for cyclists at the Delaware beaches.
  • Where: Delaware beach communities. People can access the mapping application on any computer or smartphone at bikeatthebeach.com
  • When: During July, August, and September 2014, the site will be open for public to submit their experience, concerns, and ideas.
  • Who: Bicyclists of all skill levels - both visitors and locals. Anyone that rides a bike around the beach communities in Sussex County.
  • Why: DelDOT is seeking to better understand where bicyclists want to ride, their riding experience, barriers or challenges on their routes. The information will be used to produce maps for the summer of 2015 to help direct less-experienced cyclists and families to safer, more comfortable routes. The information will also be used to identify opportunities for improvements to the bicycle network in years to come.
Please contact Anthony Aglio, Delaware Department of Transportation: 302-760-2509 or anthony.aglio@state.de.us

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Last week's totally excellent commuting Ed-venture!

On Thursday, July 10th, I was offered a most unusual commuting option - using Sunset Lake via water taxi (electric powered fishing boat) to reach Purgatory Swamp Road/Route 72. At Skipper was "Indian" Ed Yoder, a wonderful Native American. Starting out, it required painstakingly guiding the boat and its propeller around muddy shallows and areas thick with Lily Pads. Once in the clear, we headed out into open waters en-route to the Newark Angler's Association's piers and clubhouse. Once there, Ed helped unload my bike. After a lengthy chat and archeological history lesson, I resumed my commute north on Route 72, historically known as Purgatory Swamp Road.

My standard commute route follows the solid red line. It leaves Siemens' parking lot and crosses Sunset Lake on a foot bridge, before heading south and east on an abandoned site road. The dashed line is my "Indian Ed-venture", being ferried the entire length of Sunset Lake in a fishing boat.

Loaded up and ready to go!

"Indian" Ed steers us clear of the swamp. It was necessary to clear the propeller of weeds a few times, something Ed is well accustomed to!

A HUGE Snapping Turtle caught us by surprise. Though difficult to see in this photo, the tail is clearly visible to the right.

Home stretch! In sight of the Newark Angler's Association lakefront property.

Monday, July 14, 2014

DelDOT unable to patch dangerous rumble strips

Cross-posted from Bike Delaware

On Thursday, DelDOT contractor Safety Improvements LLC made a second try at fixing improperly installed rumble strips.

The second test took place on the eastbound side of Route 9, west of Lakeview Boulevard near Lewes (map). 

Several weeks earlier, Safety Improvements made a first try at fixing the bad rumble strips on Route 24 near Robinsonville Road (see image at right). Bike Delaware evaluated the fix and, reluctantly, reported back to DelDOT that it was a failure. The patch material formed mounds that were not flush with the surrounding pavement and was, as a result, effectively unrideable.

For the first test on Route 24, DelDOT’s contractor used a hand-operated, gas-powered tamper to fill in the rumble strips. For the second test on Thursday, the contractor used a roller. [Full story ...]

So far, all the attention has been focused downstate. The same hazardous rumble strips were also cut on several roads in New Castle County, including  Route 72 (above).
Poster's note: Delaware Bikes first reported on this issue well over a month before it drew Bike Delaware's attention away from Trails and Pathways. We are encouraged to see this rare and unexpected interest in road advocacy.

Petition: Create an on-road bicycle route between Wilmington and Newark

Click above to join this campaign!
Although there are stretches of roadway with good bicycle facilities, Delaware lacks complete bike routes between destinations. In surveys of cyclists, Kirkwood Highway and Route 4 are consistently among the highest priority for the development of bicycle routes. These corridors already have a good base of viable infrastructure. With paint and signage, plus a few projects to remedy pinch points, a route can be created at relatively low cost.

The proposed routes were created by cyclists who regularly bike this corridor for transportation. DelDOT is aware of the routes and is willing to consider implementation. However, the agency lacks funding and a plan to proceed with their creation. We are therefore asking the public to lend support for these routes and to encourage DelDOT to move forward.

Creation of an on-road bicycle route between Wilmington and Newark is an important step towards creating bicycle route networks that will allow the residents of Delaware to safely get where they need to go by bike.

When you sign this PETITION, please note why it is important to you, as this will help DelDOT take the petition more seriously. And, make sure you forward this link to anyone else who's interested!

Special note from Amy Wilburn:  DelDOT has the proposed routes and they are positive enough, but they have no plans or funding to see it through. We want to show them that this matters to cyclists. The entire emphasis has been on the trail route, but the trail will take decades to become a reality, will be time-consuming and circuitous, will be costly, and will not provide access to most of the major destinations along this corridor. We not only need to get a low cost fix in the interim, but it would be helpful to have an efficient route that accesses important destinations. Please spread the word to others who might like to sign.