Monday, March 31, 2014

Blue Hens For Clean Air: Is this what YOU want at UD?

Learn all about the power plant slated for the University of Delaware STAR campus in this short video put together by a group of UD students and alumni. Residents, students and alumni are all questioning why the University administration is pushing this power plant.

 

On Earth Day 2009 the University of Delaware announced detailed plans to cut campus‐wide emissions by 20% by 2020. This action plan is among the most aggressive commitments by any University or College in the world. In announcing the University's Climate Action Plan, President Harker also set interim targets for carbon emissions, including reductions of 5 percent by 2012 and 10 percent by 2015, compared with the 2008 levels that were measured in a comprehensive carbon inventory of the campus. ~ UD's Climate Action Plan (not)

Poster's note: A promise broken in the name of lucrative profits and short term economic gain. It appears making money trumps all sense of environmental responsibility and stewardship. UD President Patrick Harker, Governor Jack Markell, and the City of Newark should all be ashamed of themselves. Sign the petition now, demanding an end to this backwards proposal.

Study: Evaluating of the health impact of the power plant
Video: Threat from global warming heightened in latest U.N. report (1:16)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Per capita VMT drops for ninth straight year

Cross-posted from State Smart Transportation Initiative


Excerpts:
Unlike other past dips in driving, this recent downward shift has had no clear, lasting connection to economic trends or gas prices. Evidence suggests that the decline is likely due to changing demographics, saturated highways, and a rising preference for compact, mixed-use neighborhoods, which reduce the need for driving. Some key factors that pushed VMT upward for decades – including a growing workforce and rising automobile ownership – have also slowed considerably. SSTI released a report last September outlining the many contributing factors, with references to supporting literature.

By now, some DOTs have acknowledged the downward trends in their states and begun to question what it means for their agencies—particularly when it translates into falling revenues, as in Oregon. It appears this has not affected investment priorities significantly in most states, but it has changed the way some DOTs now view future travel needs. Several recently updated long-range transportation plans reflect this shift. [Full article ...]

Poster's note: The below links provide some compelling arguments for why VMT will never return to its former upward trajectory:

“Peak Oil Demand” = Peak Oil
Young Americans Are Abandoning Car Ownership and Driving

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cycling in the US from a Dutch perspective

Cross-posted from Upworthy.com

Apart from being able to deliver the nicest reprimand of all time, this Dutch cyclist's conclusion is inescapably accurate: America doesn't take bicycles seriously. If anyone out there sees a downside to more Americans riding bikes, please enlighten me. If you need me, I'll be the one lodged firmly underneath a truck tire.

 

Poster's note: So true. We still have a very long way to go in America. Our bike infrastructure remains full of design and engineering flaws, and our legal system shields dangerous drivers from any real consequences. Gas prices are a pittance, and don't come close to paying the true cost of driving. As long as these remain the case, bicycling will stay less than 1% of mode share for all trips, now and for generations to come.

Most DOT's still struggle with even the most basic concepts, i.e. bike lanes through dedicated turn and bypass lanes. Treatments like the above, in this case pointing bicyclists off the road, is worse than nothing at all.
This "bike lane" has been on the ground in Newark for many years. No one should expect bicycling to be taken seriously when the facilities they need actually relegate them to 2nd class citizens.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Introducing the Newark to Wilmington Bikeway Proposal



Laura Wilburn biked XC in 2012
Introduced at the Delaware Walk-Bike Summit, the Newark to Wilmington Bikeway is a collaborative effort between the Delaware Bicycle Council, Delaware Bikes, and Laura Wilburn of the Urban Bike Project (Laura is car-free and bike/bus commutes daily between the 2 cities). Two route concepts begin on Route 4 in Newark by the entrance to Tubby Raymond Field. The center of Newark can be accessed several ways, including via Route 72, Wyoming Road, the Hall Trail, etc.

Option #1 utilizes both Route 4 and Kirkwood Highway, before bypassing areas around Price’s Corner. The second route spends more time on Route 4. Route 4 has wide shoulders all the way between Newark and Limestone Road, and a sidepath along much of the route. After Stanton Road, it turns to 4 lanes with intermittent shoulders, making it difficult to use Route 4 all the way into Wilmington.

Option #2 spends more time on Route 4. Route 4 has wide shoulders all the way between Newark and Limestone Road, and a sidepath along much of the route. After Stanton Road, it turns to 4 lanes with intermittent shoulders, making it difficult to use Route 4 all the way into Wilmington.

We will be collecting feedback from our readers as we gather support and present this proposal to DelDOT. You can click on each of the options above to view close-up segments, or view Option #1 in Google Maps.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Petition: Reject the Newark Natural Gas Power Plant

The Data Centers LLC wants to build a plant right next to one of the highest-density residential areas in Delaware. The manager and staff of the City of Newark have been working behind-the-scenes to bring the power plant to Newark for nearly a year before the public learned about the project. With more than adequate surplus on the grid, this is a terrible idea for the environment, our health, and quality of life for generations to come.

Greenhouse Gases:
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2): 899,692 tons/year (4th highest in New Castle County)
  • Methane: 54 tons/year (11th highest in New Castle County)
Health Concerns:
  • Nitrogen Oxides (NOx):  74 tons/year (7th highest in New Castle County)
Quantities not yet disclosed:
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Sulfur Dioxides
  • Particle Pollution
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Sulfuric Acid Mist
  • Hazardous Air Pollutants
  • Ammonia
Sign this on-line petition today, demanding that University of Delaware President Patrick Harker withdraw this proposal.

Related: Gas Fired Power Plant Proposed For UD's STAR Campus

New rack concept converts your backpack into a pannier

What a neat idea. I imagine this is only the beginning, with many variations to come.


Bike parking still a no can-can do at Shop Wrong

This wonderful video shows how easy it is to shop by bike in the Netherlands:


Of course, back in the U.S., it can be a very different experience. Just finding secure bike parking can be a daunting task. At Shop Rite in Ogletown, it remains a no can-can do, regardless of how many bikes are locked to outside furniture.

The store on Rt.4-Chestnut Hill draws many bike shoppers and commuters, yet repeated pleas for bike parking fall on deaf ears.
6 bags of groceries await careful arrangement in Caroline’s panniers.
“I spend $150 for groceries every two weeks, and this is what I get for bike parking” says Caroline Honse, pictured above. Car-free for over 7 years, she continues faithfully shopping at the Chestnut Hill Shop "Wrong" despite the atrocious bike parking conditions. “Non-drivers are routinely disenfranchised, and this case is a good example. Here we are reducing our dependence on motor vehicles, doing our part for a clean environment and better quality of life. Providing a bike rack is one of the most cost effective ways of encouraging more folks to do the same”.

The food store chain – like too many others in its class – fails to provide secure bike parking, and riders are left in search of anything they can find that will take a lock and hold a bike upright as they load groceries. It is not uncommon to find multiple bikes – as many as a dozen on occasion – scattered about the front of the store. A cart corral above appears to be a common target, and is Caroline’s first choice if space is available. But sometimes there isn’t, and a tree or sign post becomes a last resort. (originally posted on Nov. 6, 2011)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lower the speed limit on Paper Mill Road


View Larger Map  

This latest crash was so tragic, it even made the Daily Mail in England

Paper Mill Road heading north, which curves east after the intersection of Possum Park Road and Thompson Station, has seen several deadly car crashes.

In March 22, 2014, 2 sisters, Ashlyn and Devyn Sisson, were driving to their home in Pike Creek after finishing their shifts at a Newark restaurant when the car veered out of control and struck a utility pole.

In April 2010, a 23-year-old Hockessin woman was killed when her northbound car crossed Paper Mill Road's median, overturned and hit a pole.

In October 2007, four construction workers from Mexico were killed in a two-vehicle crash near the same intersection.

A 2000 crash at the same location killed a PA man.

Above: Like an open runway, Route 72/Paper Mill Road leads straight into Milford Crossroads with no reduction in the 45 mph speed limit. After the intersection it increases to 50 mph. For most of its length, Paper Mill Road is fitted with properly designed bike lanes, and is a favorite among recreational and commuting cyclists.
Once into the intersection , the road curves to the right. At high speed, the curve becomes more pronounced and difficult to negotiate. Surveys show that most drivers admit to routine speeding, and 10-20 mph over the speed limit is commonplace when a road is this wide, and has few calming measures. Without bike lanes, Paper Mill would have no calming features whatsoever. Law enforcement is also scarce. Two crash memorials, each on a phone poll, can be seen circled in red.
A closer view of the two memorials circled above. The most recent - just one day ago - is further in the distance.
On my way home, I took this photograph of a 40 mph speed limit sign on Polly Drummond Road. Polly Drummond is similar to Paper Mill Road in lane and shoulder width, however, the presence of residential neighborhoods may be why it has a reduced speed limit. At the least, it is time to consider a reduced speed limit along Paper Mill Road as well, as low as 35 mph heading into Milford Crossroads, especially in the northbound direction.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

WDEL coverage of the Heels and Wheels Summit

Polly Sierer, Mayor of Newark is interviewed during WDEL's video coverage of the 2014 Heels and Wheels Summit.

By Carl Kanefsky -- It was the 2014 "Heels and Wheels: Delaware Walk and Bike Summit," bringing runners, walkers, hikers, and bikers to Clayton Hall, to learn about the health and economic benefits to sustainable communities for walking and biking.

"Today, a lot of people are spending anywhere from 25 % clear on up to 40% of their earned income on their transport," said Dan Burden, Executive Director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute. "It's the only nation in the world that's doing that and it's not sustainable."

Dan Burden of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute gave the keynote, and says we have to stop planning for traffic, and start planning for people.

"And now, we're going to focus on how do we do that," Burden said, "and really advance the oldest, and actually, cheapest and best forms of transportation, to give people greater access through all years of their lives."  [Full article, including video]

Poster's note: This was a superb event, one that has tremendous potential for growth in the years to come. However, from a project standpoint, nearly all of the focus was on Trails and Pathways. As a result, a quote like this is not uncommon:

"A lot of people bicycle to work, more than people realize, and they need to be able to do that on a connected trail rather than riding on the roads." ~ Polly Sierer Mayor, Newark

We also see examples like this, where millions are spent on full segregation as opposed to a much more cost effective treatment, i.e. protected bike lanes.

While we embrace Trails and Pathways as a critical part of any bicycling network, it is no surprise that such a movement enjoys wide support from those who see road bicycling as dangerous, or worse yet, a nuisance while they are driving. Advocating for bicycle on-road safety and awareness is where we diverge from Bike Delaware, the State's leading advocacy organization. Regardless of how many trails are built, the vast majority of folks will never have ready access from their home to every destination. Past and current land use patterns have all but sealed our fate in this matter.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Newark to Wilmington Bikeway unveiled at Heels and Wheels Summit

The 2014 Delaware Walk-Bike Summit "Heels and Wheels" was a fabulous success. A capacity crowd of 250+ arrived to hear an exceptional array of speakers covering all facets of bicycling and walking advocacy. The event was focused primarily on Complete Streets and the Trails and Pathways initiative, but on-road bicycle safety was also covered. This included the powerful new driver awareness video "It Only Takes a Second", a project spearheaded by the Delaware Bicycle Council.

Heels and Wheels was also Delaware Bikes' first major tabling opportunity, and every minute counted. We chose this time to debut our wildly popular "Newark to Wilmington Bikeway", a project of Delaware Bikes and the DBC. The route was created by cyclists who ride the route on their daily commutes, including Laura Wilburn, Executive Director of the Urban Bike Project. Enthusiastically learning about the route, scores of attendees signed our petition that will formally ask DelDOT for a feasibility study connecting these two major cities via on-road bicycle facilities. We will keep everyone updated on this initiative, and hope that you will join the groundswell of support!

A big round of applause goes to everyone who made this event possible, including the sponsoring organizations. A complete list can be found HERE.

The audience enjoying Dan Burdan, of the Walkable and Liveable Communities Institute, at one of the several break-out  sessions featuring noted speakers.

A man visits our table to sign the petition during a breakout session.

Governor Jack Markell addresses the crowd.

A jam packed crowd for lunch, waiting to hear Delaware Bicycle Council Chair Amy Wilburn present the poignant Driver's Awareness video. The audience was visibly moved by the powerful content.

Senator Dave Sokola introduces Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt.

Visit HERE for additional photos of the event.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Who is advocating on-road safety in Delaware, Part 4

In wrapping up this series, we take a closer look at Delaware on the Es of Education and Enforcement, as defined by the League of American Bicyclists. First, it is important to know that the LAB has a long history, and has been very outspoken on these critical facets of bicycle advocacy. From their own website, all 5 are explained:

The Essential Elements of a Bicycle Friendly America: Each Bicycle Friendly Community, Bicycle Friendly Business and Bicycle Friendly University recognized by the League is different. Each with their own natural benefits and challenges from climate and topography to culture and population density. But there are essential elements across five categories known as the Five E’s that are consistent in making great places for bicycling.

Though we touched on several of the efforts below in Part 2, we felt it was important to put an additional spotlight on Education and Enforcement, because we have made a lot of progress in Delaware. It is ironic that the State's only Advocacy organization recognized by the LAB fails to actively advocate within these guidelines. As a result, with minimal support, the Delaware Bicycle Council has been the key player when it comes to defining bicyclists as legitimate road users, and keeping Delaware State traffic laws on the side of bicycles and other vulnerable road users. At 1st State Bikes, we read news daily from other states, how most fail to prosecute distracted and aggressive drivers who injure or kill bicyclists. Yet, it comes as no surprise that study after study puts drivers the most at fault when crashing with a bicyclist.

Legislation (label)
Enforcement (label):
  • Information about bike laws and bicycling in DSP Cadet Training beginning in February 2014
  • Efforts to publicize laws within police departments (more needs to be done)
  • Monitoring crashes to ensure that V.U. Law is applied appropriately
Education (label)
  • Information on bicycling as part of high school driver’s education classes beginning in 2014.  Curriculum includes a power point presentation and a video (below) produced by the League of Illinois Bicyclists, one of the most balanced advocacy organizations in the country.
  • Information for bicyclists and motorists about sharing the road on the electronic message boards at the DMV
  • “Bob Wheeler” motorist awareness video: It Only Takes a Second
  • Currently working on ensuring that information about sharing the road with bicyclists is included in defensive driving classes. The presentation has been submitted to the Department of Insurance for consideration.
  • Support and participate in bike rodeos and safety check points (DelDOT is taking the lead on these).
  • Educate the public about recent laws. Driver’s education, DMV, and Bob Wheeler video should help with this effort.
Other Group Efforts:
  • B.E.S.T. (Bicycling Education and Safety Together) has developed a curriculum to teach active transportation in the schools at all grade levels and is in the process of recruiting schools for a pilot program. B.E.S.T. is also coordinating with the various programs that are already in the schools under Safe Routes to School, DelDOT, etc.
  • Nemours, Christiana Care, Safe Kids, and the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension work on teaching bike safety to kids.
  • LCI programs to teach bike skills and safety to adults.

Though most laws designed to protect bicyclists and other vulnerable users remain grossly insufficient, these are still significant milestones that we can and will build on. They are a big step in the right direction and have resulted in penalties not seen in other states. Combining these efforts with solid education opportunities for kids, aspiring adults, and police officers will combine for a more just and safer riding environment throughout the State of Delaware.


One simple aspect of education and enforcement is trail and pathway crossings. In Massachusetts, crosswalk enforcement is taken very seriously - and the results are immediately obvious. With few exceptions, cars begin stopping immediately when bicyclists or pedestrians approach a crosswalk. This is anything but the case throughout most of Delaware. This sign is an example of where Funding Pools can be utilized - an inexpensive safety improvement to existing infrastructure. Sadly, to date, Bike Delaware has failed to support the DBC in the effort to secure these funds.
Related:
Who is advocating for on-road safety in Delaware (Part 1)
Who is advocating for on-road safety in Delaware (Part 2)
Who is advocating for on-road safety in Delaware (Part 3)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Delaware Bikes is now on Twitter!

Delaware Bikes just went live on the Web's second most popular social media outlet - Twitter. You can now sign on for a Tweet every time we post to DelawareBikes.org!


Kidical Mass will ride to Wood Fired Pizza in Newark


Kidical Mass is a legal, safe and FUN bike ride for kids, kids at heart, and their families. The first ride was held in April 2008 in Eugene, Oregon and has now spread to over a dozen communities throughout North America and beyond. The rides are meant to be family friendly bike rides through a community. They generally meet at a park and end not too far away at another fun spot (park, ice cream shop, pool, or special event). Each community figures out the type of ride, routes, locations, and events that work best for their area families.

All types of bikes, trailers, trail-a-bikes, Xtracycles, longtails, bakfiets, Long Johns, tandems, folders, trikes, and whatever rolls are welcome! We celebrate the fact that Kids are Traffic Too and aim for family fun on vehicles that don’t hurt the future! It’s just another excuse to pedal around town with your family.

Event takes place on April 27th, 2014, starting from West Park Place Elementary School in Newark.

Visit the Newark Kidical Mass Facebook page for full details!

Registration nearly full for Delaware's Bike-Walk Summit

A capacity crowd is expected for the Delaware Walk-Bike Summit this Friday. For your chance to attend, pre-register today. This is an event you won't want to miss. Seats are limited!

For those of you who don't know, the Delaware Trail Summit and the Delaware Bike Summit have proudly joined forces to make our state an even better place to walk, ride, and live. Delaware State Parks, the Delaware Department of Transportation, the Dover/Kent County Metropolitan Planning Organization, and Wilmington Area Planning Council invite you to attend this year's event, titled "Heels & Wheels". It will take place on Friday, March 21, 2014, at the University of Delaware’s John M. Clayton Hall in Newark. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided for this event. Everything is FREE, but registration is required.

A scene fromt the 2010 Delaware Trail Summit
Lunchtime during the 2010 Delaware Bike Summit
There is much in store, including great speakers, networking opportunities, and exhibits. This Summit is definitely worth a day off from work, so come join us!


View Larger Map

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop

A simple pavement marking
can make it intuitively obvious
where to place your bike to
trip a red light to green. These
have yet to appear in Delaware.
One state gets it. The rest don't, at least not yet anyway.

In Idaho, it is legal for bicyclists to treat stop signs as yields, and red lights as stop signs. Why? With the latter, it was understood long ago that traffic signals don't always detect bicycles. And even if they did, without painted guidance (right), most would still miss the rquired position over the loop detector. Another advantage is less friction and altercations with motorists, assuming the public is properly educated about it and it is properly enforced.

When comparing Idaho's crash statistics (including Boise - a relatively large city) with other states, there is nothing gained from requiring bicyclists to put a foot down at every stop. In fact, doing so can waste valuable momentum and actually infuriate motorists, i.e. by impeding traffic behind as the cyclist stops, then remounts and struggles to clear the intersection in a timely manner.

The success of the Idaho Stop law proves that it is difficult - if not impossible to impose laws designed for cars and trucks on bicyclists, unless the road is designed as a Complete Street (adapted to all user types, including the non-motorized). Bicycles are not motor vehicles, and very few roads are designed to safely accommodate them. The video below is a must watch for anyone who disputes these facts.

Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Murder Machines: Why Cars Will Kill 30,000 Americans This Year

“At some point, we decided that somebody on a bike or on foot is not traffic, but an obstruction to traffic.”

Featured in Collectors Weekly -- There’s an open secret in America: If you want to kill someone, do it with a car. As long as you’re sober, chances are you’ll never be charged with any crime, much less manslaughter. Over the past hundred years, as automobiles have been woven into the fabric of our daily lives, our legal system has undermined public safety, and we’ve been collectively trained to think of these deaths as unavoidable “accidents” or acts of God. Today, despite the efforts of major public-health agencies and grassroots safety campaigns, few are aware that car crashes are the number one cause of death for Americans under 35. But it wasn’t always this way.

“If you look at newspapers from American cities in the 1910s and ’20s, you’ll find a lot of anger at cars and drivers, really an incredible amount,” says Peter Norton, the author of Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City. “My impression is that you’d find more caricatures of the Grim Reaper driving a car over innocent children than you would images of Uncle Sam.”

Though various automobiles powered by steam, gas, and electricity were produced in the late 19th century, only a handful of these cars actually made it onto the roads due to high costs and unreliable technologies. That changed in 1908, when Ford’s famous Model T standardized manufacturing methods and allowed for true mass production, making the car affordable to those without extreme wealth. By 1915, the number of registered motor vehicles was in the millions.  [Full article ...]
 
 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ben Adler weighs in on Brandt vs United States

The new Mike Castle Trail along the C&D Canal
Cross-posted from Grist

By Ben Adler -- Rail trails - the biking and walking paths that have sprouted up on disused railroad lines over the last couple of decades - can be beautiful and popular public spaces. The Capital Crescent Trail on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., for example, passes scenic waterfronts and is packed on sunny weekend afternoons. As cars and trucks displaced passenger and freight rail in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, abandoned rail lines fell into disrepair and became an eyesore. In 1983, Congress passed the “Rails-to-Trails Act.” Since then, the federal government has worked with rail companies and the communities traversed by tracks to reclaim these spaces for the public. Some 20,000 miles of rail trails have been established, with more constantly in development.

So it was alarming news for trail advocates when the Supreme Court ruled 8-to-1 on Monday in favor of a private property owner, and against the federal government, on the question of who owns the rail-line right-of-way on his property. The media headlines made it sound like a dramatic defeat: “U.S. justices deliver blow to ‘rails-to-trails’ policy,” from Reuters, was typical.

It was indeed a bad ruling for rail trail enthusiasts. But relax! The effect will be very limited. [Full article ...]

Poster's note: Only time will tell how this ruling will affect present and future rail trail projects. We do know that, time and time again, those in opposition end up warming to these trails. They even end up taking advantage of the higher real estate value that comes with having a bicycle and pedestrian facility nearby.

As it stands now, off-alignment trails are the most expensive, difficult, and time consuming when it comes to building bicycle facilities. Issues of land ownership and right of way almost always factor. Planning the Pomeroy Trail in Newark saw 10 years pass before actual construction began, and the Enola Low Grade Line in Lancaster County is finally coming to fruition after 20 exhaustive years of local opposition and litigation. It is not clear how long a project like the Newark to Wilmington Trail will take, given the usual issues above and little established ROW to begin with.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Major blow to the Rail Trail Movement, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court

From NPR -- The federal government loses its control of land that's granted to railroad companies after the track has been abandoned, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday. The court sided with a private landowner in Wyoming who is fighting efforts to convert disused tracks into a bike path near his house.

The court's decision overturns decisions by district and appeals courts. The wider impact of the ruling is difficult to estimate, partly because the U.S. government doesn't have a central database of the land it owns under such circumstances, according to the SCOTUS blog .

The justices and attorneys acknowledged that uncertainty during oral arguments over the case in January.

"For all I know, there is some right-of-way that goes through people's houses, you know," Justice Stephen Breyer said, "and all of a sudden, they are going to be living in their house and suddenly a bicycle will run through it."

Today's ruling could have "implications for about 80 other cases involving some 8,000 claimants," according to USA Today. "Tens of thousands of other property owners also could emerge as victors." [Full article HERE]

Abandoned Railroads make the best shared use pathways, because of their long, relatively uninterupted rights of way. This ruling could allow past claimants to virtually shut down, or even reclaim railroad property repurposed for such use.
Related: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Heads to the Supreme Court in the Defense of Rail-Trails

Friday, March 7, 2014

Delaware Bicycle Council's Stunning New Driver Awareness Video

In June of 2012, long time cyclist, Bob Wheeler, died immediately following a crash with a motorist at the intersection of Marsh Rd and Baynard Blvd in North Wilmington. The motorist was making a left turn and failed to yield to Bob. She was sentenced under the Vulnerable Users Law. The following video is the product of the community service element of her sentence which required her to participate in the making of a motorist awareness video under the auspices of the Delaware Bicycle Council. Click on the image below to open the video:


In 2010, Delaware passed a law to protect vulnerable users, including bicyclists and pedestrians. The law creates additional penalties, including education and community services, for motorists whose careless or inattentive behavior contributes to the serious injury of a vulnerable user who is lawfully in the public right of way.

Road safety, in terms of education and enforcement are not the most glamorous aspects of bicycle advocacy. Without the efforts of the Delaware Bicycle Council, and advocates working alongside them on these issues, Delaware would not have come close to achieving its award as a Bronze top 10 Bicycle-Friendly State. For a complete rundown of who's advocating for on-road safety and infrastructure, and a list of current projects and proposals, check out our ongoing series "Who is advocating for on-road safety in Delaware"

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

No hope Congress passed fewer than 1% of bills introduced in 2013

The record is clear that, even with supposed bi-partisan
support, this bill still has little chance of passing.


ACTive Communities Transportation. Federal Surface Transportation Policy and Planning Act. The American Power Act. Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011. These are are just a few of the bills that could have improved non-motorized transportation over the past several years - some greatly. Yet all failed in one way or the other, and were not enacted into law.

History aside, we applaud Bike Delaware's lobbying efforts at the National Bike Summit. They will be meeting today with Representative John Carney, as well as Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and asking for their endorsement of HR3494 and S1708. Known as the "Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Act", this bill directs the Secretary of Transportation (DOT) - under the highway safety improvement program - to establish performance measures for states to use to assess significant reductions in the number of serious injuries and fatalities for both motorized and non-motorized transportation.

It is difficult, if not impossible to have confidence that this bill will pass, and not end up like the others before it. It should be noted that when 2013 began, members of Congress introduced 6,366 pieces of legislation. 12 months later, with the session nearly over, less than 1% of these bills actually passed. By December 21, 2013, the House and Senate had approved only 58 measures - the lowest for a single year since 1947.

In a word, the U.S. Congress is functionally useless, and bicycle & pedestrian safety (at the national level) and any funding it requires is is no exception. An internet search reveals nothing in terms of successful legislation in at least the last 5 years. Only the stripping of Transportation Enhancements in favor of MAP-21, along with several other assaults aimed at the elimination of bicycle and pedestrian funding from the Federal Transportation Budget.

We believe that energy expended on Capitol Hill would be far more effective at the state level. There are multiple on-road safety projects and proposals here in Delaware that would benefit greatly from Bike Delaware's (as well as the League of American Bicyclist's) interest and support.

Related: Who is advocating for on-road safety in Delaware (4 part series)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Corinne Bailey Rae "Put Your Records On"


Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride. ~ John F. Kennedy

Corinne Bailey Rae (born Corinne Jacqueline Bailey on 26 February 1979) is a British singer-songwriter and guitarist from Leeds, West Yorkshire.

Bailey Rae was named the number-one predicted breakthrough act of 2006 in an annual BBC poll of music critics, Sound of 2006.

She released her debut album, Corinne Bailey Rae, in February 2006, and became the fourth female British act in history to have her first album debut at number one. Read all about her in Wikipedia HERE.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Connor's Commute to Elementary School

Connor always checks his bike before he rides, including tire PSI.
In these days of badly planned housing developments, and children who are forced to ride school buses to get to school, we are telling the story of a student who is fortunate enough to live in a walkable, bikeable neighborhood. Meet Connor Cunneely, a fourth grade student at Wilmington Manor Elementary School. He  rides his bike to his neighborhood school, every day, in all weather. The following is an interview with him, by Angela Connolly.

AC:  Connor, why do you ride to school?

CC:  I like to ride to school. I get to school fast and it's fun!

AC:  How long have you been riding to school?

CC:  Three years.

AC:  What is the best thing about riding to school?

CC:  In the winter, I like to see the look on people's faces when they see me, in my helmet and all frozen on my bike. In the nice weather, I am not cold and no numb fingers.
I like to bike because walking is too slow, takes too long, and I feel like I am getting nowhere!

AC:  Do lots of kids ride to school?
Connor, checking for cars as he shows me his route to school

CC:  In the cold weather, no one but me. My bike is the only one on the rack. In the warmer weather a few more kids ride.

AC:  Would you like to see more kids ride to school?

CC:  Yes.

AC:  Do you need any special equipment to ride to school?

CC:  No, there are no modifications to the bike at all. The bike is exactly the same as when I got it. I wear winter clothing, a warm jacket, and sometimes snow pants and boots to ride in the snow. And of course a helmet. It can be difficult when the snow is flying right in your face. I keep my head down alot. In the really cold and snowy weather, I keep the tires slightly underinflated, but not flat, because I found that I get more traction that way. I carry my school books in my backpack. In the Spring I will need maintenance done as I have ridden it all winter in all kinds of weather.
Connor, outside Wilmington Manor Elementary School

AC:  Is there any weather you won't ride in?

CC:  NO!

AC:  What extra precautions do you take in bad weather?

CC:  I look for ice, and watch extra carefully for cars. Sometimes, kids throw snowballs at me as I ride by, but I am usually going too fast so they miss!

AC:  Why did you choose that bike?

CC:  The bike is red, my favorite color. When I got it, I liked T Rex dinosaurs so the name was great. It is a great bike for mountain biking on the trails.  I like the trails at White Clay. I also like a mountain bike because I can go off road and across grass, and ramps.  I worry less about damaging the bike.

AC:  What's your route like?

CC:  I have three different routes, but the most direct takes me on only two roads from my house to my school. On nice days when I want to ride further, I have two other ways to go. All the routes go through my neighborhood, Penn Acres.

Wilmington Manor provides a "wheelbender" bike rack, a bad
design and poor choice for bicycle safety and security.
AC:  Last question -  do you think that your neighborhood is walking and bike friendly?

CC:  Yes,very. But most of the kids ride around the neighborhood for fun but not to school. And sometimes bikes get stolen. I had a blue Mongoose that was stolen from my driveway, but we got it back the same day. It was found in a nearby neighborhood.

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The bike....

Connor's ride is a KHS Kids T-Rex Mountain Bike, Red, Shimano gears, front suspension "hard tail". It was purchased at Garrison's Cyclery.

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Connor is ten years old and a fourth grade student at the Wilmington Manor Elementary School. He is the author's grandson. Although no formal modifications were made to the school's surrounding area under the Safe Routes to School program, the school is a neighborhood school located in a bike and pedestrian friendly community. Because Connor takes riding to school for granted, he was unable to answer my question on whether the school actively encourages biking. He does it, so he thinks everyone should. In addition to riding to school, Connor enjoys mountain biking on the trails at White Clay Creek State park. He is very proud to be able to navigate the obstacle courses there. He also enjoys riding around his neighborhood and the nearby Industrial Track Trail. In addition to his grandmother Angela, his Stepdad Mike and brother Tyler are also avid cyclists. His Mom Melanie enjoys leisurely rides on her beach cruiser, while little sister Lilah rides with Dad.

I am very proud of Connor for taking the initiative to commute by bike, and I hope that his passion for biking lasts forever! As his Grandmother, I feel a continued responsibility to advocate for safer on-road conditions for all cyclists. Although Connor rides his bike to a neighborhood school, the reality is that he rides in the street, and until we are successful at raising awareness, and creating safer on-road  infrastructure, it can still be considered dangerous. Connor doesn't feel afraid, though. He loves his bike and wants to ride everywhere. Let's continue to advocate to work within the existing car-centric infrastructure, to modify existing roads that he can safely travel on, to school, and hopefully throughout his life.

Connor, posing with his bike