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.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Delaware Bikes announces new Mission Statement

In light of a recent legal challenge to our name and domain, Delaware Bikes has released the following mission statement:

Delaware Bikes is a non-profit Advocacy and Advisory Committee that communicates primarily through a Blog known as DELAWARE BIKES. Delaware Bikes does not solicit members, nor does it ask for monetary donations. Although based in Newark, the blog covers issues of interest to cyclists statewide.

Guided by these 5 components - Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement and Evaluation - Delaware Bikes is committed to supporting the implementation of, overseeing of, and enforcement of DelDOT's Complete Streets and Bicycle Policy. Delaware Bikes strives to create a safer environment for all cyclists on Delaware's roads and pathways, with a special emphasis on those who cycle as their primary means of transportation, by advocating for improvements within the existing infrastructure.

The committee unanimously voted to maintain Delaware Bikes, and if anything, calls on Bike Delaware to examine their name and domain in light of false advertising. At the time of this writing, Bike Delaware:
  • Focuses almost their entire energy on multi-use trails and pathways funding.
  • Has undermined, or attempted to undermine initiatives and projects related to on-road advocacy.
  • Engages in misinformation campaigns through their website and lobbying activities.
  • Does not link constituent organizations, and rarely cross-posts critical issues.
  • Serves few needs and interests of today's recreation and transportation cyclists. 
These are not merely allegations - one only has to examine Bike Delaware's website to understand their priorities. To that end, we dispute the following from their Attorney:

"Generally, merely inverting the words in a mark does not distinguish the marks, especially in view of the similar meanings and connotations of the respective marks. The significant similarities between the marks - particularly where the services are identical/overlapping and are directed to the same consumers and through the same trade channels - is likely to confuse consumers."

Delaware Bikes does not serve Consumers, nor does it operate within Trade Channels. Our focus (or services, if you will) is not identical, and has minimal overlap. Both websites are available for all to read, and both supply news of interest to cyclists. However, a critical difference between us is that unlike Bike Delaware, who requires that members pay a fee, Delaware Bikes does not solicit memberships nor do we accept donations of any kind. Therefore, we question the "competition" that they allege. And indeed, many people read and follow both websites.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cycling Haters Are a Sign of Cycling Success

Cross-posted from The Atlantic -- The past couple of weeks have witnessed more than one high-profile instance of journalists demonizing cyclist behavior. In one case, NPR's Scott Simon tweeted that all city cyclists "think they're above the law" (though he subsequently toned down the venom). In the more severe case, Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy made the seemingly sociopathic suggestion that drivers annoyed by cyclists should consider hitting them and paying the $500 fine.

Driver rants against cyclists are of course nothing new. It's been pointed out in this space before, most skillfully by Sarah Goodyear last year, that cycling haters are actually a sign of cycling success. As major American cities embrace multimodal transportation and balanced mobility networks, cycling has shifted from an outsider enterprise to the mainstream. That shift, in turn, has produced a new psychological strain for drivers accustomed to the belief they own the road.  [Full article ...]

Thursday, July 10, 2014

'Parkettes' on Main Street in Newark?

Newark Post -- One complaint Downtown Newark Partnership Administrator Ricky Nietubicz said he often hears about Main Street is the lack of public seating areas.

“We really don’t have any on Main Street,” he said.

To combat the problem, the DNP’s design committee looked to Philadelphia, where parkettes, also called parklets, have recently sprung up across the city as places for pedestrians to sit and hang out.

The parkettes take up one or more on-street parking spaces, typically extending out from the sidewalk and spanning the width of the parking space, and are a growing trend in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

Nietubicz said the idea is still in the beginning stages for Newark. “Right now it’s really a conceptual kind of thing,” he said. [Full article ...]

Poster's note:  Who wouldn't support the concept, and desire to sit or dine out on Main Street? But the noise from modified motorcycles, muscle cars, and pickup trucks is so loud, it can gives folks an earache even on the sidewalk - never mind inches from the lane. Until police start enforcing noise laws, a better use would be to install a few bicycle parking corrals to help reduce clutter on the sidewalk and against trees. It would also provide the same benefit of greater pedestrian visibility.

With virtually no vehicle noise law enforcement in Newark, we recommend a variation of the above bicycle parking corral in Rehoboth - designed for parallel parking. It would have many of the same pedestrian safety benefits as a parkette, while reducing sidewalk bicycle clutter and damage to trees.

UD terminates Data Centers project for STAR Campus

UDaily, 9:30 a.m., July 10, 2014 -- The University of Delaware announced today it has terminated its lease agreement with The Data Centers, LLC (TDC), putting a halt to TDC’s plans to develop a data center on the University’s Science, Technology & Advanced Research (STAR) Campus. 

Following analysis of TDC’s plans, the UD Working Group concluded that the proposed facility, which included a 279-megawatt cogeneration power plant, is not consistent with a first class science and technology campus and high quality development to which UD is committed. The findings are detailed in the Group’s report. View the report PDF on UD’s website.

“The University is committed to providing economic development opportunities for the region and state,” says University of Delaware President Patrick T. Harker. “Moreover, it is extremely important that development on the STAR Campus, which is held to the highest standards, is appropriate both for the short and the long term, and that future generations of students will have a top-quality education. We have carefully examined The Data Centers’ plans, and have determined that they are not a good fit for the STAR Campus.” [Full article ...]

Now, let's get on with developing the STAR Campus in a green, sustainable manner.
Related: Coverage in the Wilmington News Journal.