Tuesday, May 11, 2021

White Clay Bicycle Club ignores Cycle For Cecil

Cycle for Cecil riders at the start, at the Patsy DuPont Farm
It is no mystery to anyone that the White Clay Bicycle Club (WCBC) has been a disappointment when it comes to supporting Cycle For Cecil (CFC), a charity bicycling event whose goal it is to preserve the rural character of Cecil County Maryland. Immediately west of New Castle County (NCC), Cecil County is heavily relied upon by WCBC members for club sanctioned rides, serving as a congestion-free escape of NCC's ever growing suburban sprawl nightmare. Unlike any org in NCC, the Cecil Land Trust (CLT) is working very hard to preserve farmland and open space in this idyllic countryside for cyclists. However, it appears that WCBC does not see fit to enthusiastically support the event, beyond a brief blurb in their "out of bounds" page. There is no call for attendance and/or support of CFC on their website, and nothing is found in a search of "Cecil" on their Facebook page.

In an effort to find out what is going on, a 1stbikes.org PT journalist reached out to Mr JW Haupt, who has been President of WCBC for many years. We wanted to know why, if it were true, the Club did not fully support this charity event ride. We asked for any commentary that Mr Haupt might have for an upcoming editorial in 1st State Bikes, regarding Cycle for Cecil. We had found out on the day of the ride that WCBC had been Ambivalent, unhelpful, even refusing to share their e-mail list to help publicize the ride, when approached by the Cecil Land Trust. But why would WCBC act in this manner, given the immense importance of a rural Cecil County to club rides in particular? With many of WCBC events canceled, and considering the very basic nature of help CLT asked for, it seems unbelievable. Land and farm conservation should be a natural fit for WCBC as an outdoors non-profit org itself.

This request set off a bizarre, and unexpected response. Although we emailed him directly, Mr Haupt did not reply to us, instead, a CLT volunteer did. Although the response was very polite and positive, it appeared that the volunteer had been bullied and shamed by the President of WCBC. The volunteer profusely apologized for "misspeaking" to us, saying that he was "wrong and naive" in how WCBC treated the event. This confused us, because, as explained below, there is only the barest minimum of mention of the CFC ride, certainly not what the Club would be capable of, given their powerful reach to the cycling community. The volunteer went on the say that he and CLT would support WCBC in their efforts, even going so far as to volunteer to help WCBC in the future.

In our reply,
we affirmed that nothing in the CLT Volunteer's email appears naive or inappropriate. Contrary to what Mr Haupt said, WCBC should have gone a lot further than a brief Cycle For Cecil blurb in an "out of bounds" section (the last section) of their webpage. In doing a search we found that the Cycling Sistahs of Baltimore, with no vested interest in Cecil County in particular, did promote CFC. It was refreshing and beautiful to see diversity in the ride. They even created an Event page for their members to promote CFC. In contrast, WCBC did no active promoting -- despite the critical nature of a rural Cecil County to its members.


Unfortunately, WCBC has a reputation for being exclusive. There are virtually no active members of color. Many alumni -- even past board members -- dropped membership over political and/or leadership issues. Most were dedicated volunteers who had given countless hours of their time to the bicycling cause. Among other issues, WCBC was recently caught in a lie about their non-profit status; they are not a 501(c)3 according to the IRS. While everyone assumes that they are a non-profit given their URL, they financially support Bike Delaware -- a pro-development org in the pockets of the building industry, whose own activities and finances are shrouded in secrecy. Regardless, WCBC assists them with fundraising and generous annual donations -- none of which are publicly accounted for. This raises questions about a possible
connection between Mr Haupt, his position with WCBC, and his VP position with one of the largest development firms on the east coast -- never mind the ignorance of a nearby major ride that's trying desperately to protect farmland and open space is reason to be suspect.

Yes, WCBC is a busy club, with 4 major rides every year (one of which, the Shore Fire, was launched by yours truly) to organize. However, they have had to cancel several due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, the basics of promoting an event such as CFC hardly qualifies as "work", as the Cycling Sistahs of Baltimore readily showed. The CLT draws on orgs in Baltimore for publicity and attendance, which is a sharp move and gives the ride its wonderful diverse and welcoming character. But it's a sad day when a club with the resources of a WCBC exists right nearby, and they all but ignore this charity ride, as they have done since its inception.

We commend the commitment of the CLT to land conservation. Those of us who fought, and still lost (to mass govt corruption) the Orphanage Property in Ogletown, the last remaining green space/habitat area of its kind, understand the struggles that CLT are facing. In a world where biodiversity is disappearing at an alarming rate, and the planet is headed for climate catastrophe, we are very grateful for orgs like theirs. We will continue to support their efforts, and, as we have in the past, promote the Cycle For Cecil Event on our pages.

The "White" Clay Bicycle Club, in a historic photo seen on their Facebook Page. WCBC has an identity and diversity problem, hence their decades-long membership plateau of ~200. Their failure to embrace and support other orgs and events nearby only hastens their image as an insiders only club.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Osienski: Just go for a bike ride, everything will be fine

By Angela Connolly

"Whether it's up north on the Mike Castle Trail along the C&D Canal, or down south on the Lewes-Georgetown, Junction & Breakwater, and Gordon’s Pound trails, Delaware has plenty of great options for cyclists. So on this Bicycle Day, it's a great excuse to jump on a bike and take a ride. My wife Betsy and I spent much of this weekend on our bikes at the beach. We both enjoy the many trails Delaware has to offer."  ~Rep Ed Osienski, D24


As the construction at the former Our Lady of Grace Orphanage Property is wrapping up, the townhomes are reaching almost to the Rt 4 frontage. This is a tragic sight that I see daily - whether from my car, on foot, or on my bicycle. It is a tragic reminder of a dream lost, an opportunity forever lost. It is a story of corruption, of indifference, of disregard for the quality of life for the people who live along the Rt 4 Corridor, and the communities nearby. It is a painful reminder of the lost lives of precious animal inhabitants - Eastern Box turtles, deer, fox, among many other reptile and mammal life, lost with the violence of the bulldozers. But most of all, it is reminder of the failures of the local Legislators: Senator Bryan Townsend, Councilwoman Lisa Diller, and Rep Osienski, who, along with County Executive Matt Meyer, condemned their Constituents to a poor quality of life.

We in the Ogletown/South Newark area do not have access to nearby healthy, safe outdoor activity. We are relegated to using pathways that are unsafe and not maintained, falling into chronic disrepair. It is unacceptable to expect our residents to have to travel by car to reach a County Park which is well outside our region.


Above: Tragedy of epic proportions: Corrupt Legislators Rep Ed Osienski and Sen Bryan Townsend sell out the last remaining open space and regional park opportunity in the entire Ogletown-S. Newark region.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Zero enforcement: Delaware rounds out top 5 in Noise

Cross-posted from Bryan-Townsend.com

Time and time again
, Delaware fails miserably when it comes to leadership and quality of life. Here is yet another measure reaching the top 5: Noise. This study only crunched some numbers, and cited statistics, but it failed to include other factors such as law enforcement (level of, lack thereof). It didn't include the colossal failure by the State and its various Police agencies to penalize and/or prosecute for drag racing and modified vehicle exhaust systems. These include "fart can mufflers", straight pipes or other modified systems that vastly increases vehicle noise. For most residents living in New Castle County's suburbs, for example, even a half mile from the nearest arterial road can sound like track-side at a NASCAR event. Many people hear it inside their homes, even above their TV, especially on weekend nights. There is no police enforcement of this crime, so the offenders know they can get away with it. Often times, the decibel on acceleration is 120+ decibels, which if you're a pedestrian or bicyclist, is hurtful or damaging to the ear. This is assault, and 100% illegal according to Delaware law, in multiple code sections (HERE & HERE). Yet, as expected, it gets a free pass by Townsend and cohorts.

Where is Senator Townsend on this? Nowhere, that's where. He would rather pass a bill to criminalize snow on car rooftops, that may happen a few times each Winter. On the other hand, oppressive and painful vehicle noise from non-standard illegal exhaust systems goes FAR further in destroying the qualify of life, health and wellbeing of everyday Delawareans. Why doesn't Townsend and his Democrat-controlled legislature introduce a bill to step up prosecution of this deliberate and disgusting act by a small minority that hurts the clear majority, AND wildlife? Even the City of Newark and University Police won't enforce deafening vehicle noise, in an environment rich with walking and bicycling on or near the roads.

Senator Townsend, along with Rep Edward Osienski and NCC's Lisa Diller are the epitome of failed leadership. Not just in Delaware, but any State. Until we rise up and hold them accountable on issues like this, there will be no end to the corruption, in sight. Delaware is represented by the 4th most criminal State govt in the nation. Its residents have to act and vote with this in mind, in order to stop them.


Vehicle noise assault on a "complete street" in New Castle County, Delaware.

“If anyone walking along the sidewalk were to make deafening noises, spew poisonous gas into innocent faces, and threaten people with a deadly weapon, they would be arrested. Yet a few feet away, on the public roadway, it is considered normal behavior” ~Steve Stollman

Friday, April 16, 2021

Senator Jack Walsh's District 9 Pathways Disaster

The following letter (email) was sent to Senator Jack Walsh, Delaware District 9.

Greetings, Senator Walsh,

What is your plan for 2021, to repair and maintain what few asphalt pathways are in your region? These serve as vital connectors for foot/pedal traffic. As of right now, and last year, they are an unmitigated disaster. We have attached a few pics in this email that you should recognize, but there are plenty of others.

There is Bike Delaware, Delaware Greenways, DelDOT's Complete Streets, Gov Markel's Trails & Pathways initiative, Gov Minner's Livable DE, Safe Routes to School, etc etc we could go on and on. These pathways should be clearly defined, with min. 8' wide smooth asphalt.

Rep Baumbach is busy cutting ribbons on parks and pathways projects in his district all the time, in Newark. But yours -- like [Senator] Townsend's -- is like a 3rd world country, at best.

What are you going to do about it?   -- Frank Warnock & Angela Connolly



Above: An overgrown hedgerow and a 2" raised steel plate are the ultimate crash hazard along Wyoming Road. Yet this is routinely used as an extension of Newark's Hall Trail.

Above: Abandoned pathway along Wyoming Road in Newark. What was once wide and appealing for multi-modal use is avoided in favor of the road shoulder. 

Above: What remains of a pathway spur connector, between Prides Crossing and East Coast Greenway along SR4.

Above: Brookbend "Park". Viable parks, pathways and placemaking are virtually non-existent in Walsh's District 9, and (Senator) Townsend's District 11.

Above: Bike Path, aka East Coast Greenway, parallel to SR 4, also in Walsh's District 9. Walsh could ask DelDOT to rehab this facility, and others, perhaps attached to local road rehab projects.

Walsh's reply as of 4/14/2021: I had previously answered your question on one of these paths. It is located on private property and the Church is required to clean up the path. This is the first I am hearing about the other two paths. One path pictured is the county's responsibility, so I can reach out to Councilman Sheldon's office about that one. The other path is on Route 4 and I will contact DelDOT to get them to clean that up.

No, Walsh did not answer anything, not in writing. We can find nothing in writing, and requested that he forward any sent emails that may have been overlooked. "3rd World Country" as defining Walsh's District 9 (and Townsend's District 11) for pathways, parks and destination/place-making is 100% accurate. It may even be an understatement. Will he answer our inquiry above, with a serious action plan? That remains to be seen.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Bike Delaware erases first 5 years of its history

Correction: "15 Years Old TODAY"

Bike Delaware has re-written history, declaring a "10 Year Anniversary" as of March 22, 2021

It is said that a lady never reveals her true age. Bike Delaware has taken this advice to heart, chopping five years off the org's true age, thus erasing numerous successful advocacy efforts from 2006-2010.

Bike Delaware was originally founded in 2006, largely on the heels of John Boyle of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. He, along with Mario Nappa (past President of White Clay Bicycle Club), established a formal structure that included the Bike Delaware Blog and regular meetings at Wilmapco in Newark. By 2008, a fully functional website (partial archive here) was established, with weekly updates, including meeting schedules, minutes, current projects, DelDOT workshops, member's personal initiatives, pending legislation, and a year-end progress review (annual report). In time, other Advocates would join together to further grow, and develop, what we know today as Bike Delaware. This was for 5 years, prior to achieving 501(c)3 status in 2011.

Some of Bike Delaware's progress from 2006-2010, pre-501(c)3, in no particular order:

  • Bike Lanes over the St Georges Bridge
  • Stop the encroachment of radial channelizing islands on bike lanes
  • Right Turn-only lanes to shared bike lane/mixing zones
  • Route 1 fatals in Rehoboth: Shared bike-bus lane compromise
  • Support, demand Junction-Breakwater Trail (expedited)
  • Bike-Friendly City and State achievements
  • Full table setups: Regular presence at tabling events
  • Traffic Signal phase change sensitivity for bicycles
  • Delaware Bicycle Council legislation (3' Passing, Vulnerable Road Users, etc)
  • Rally bicyclists to DelDOT public workshops and project meetings
  • Interactive Delaware bicycle maps
  • Delaware MUTCD best practices for bicycling
  • Sharrow (shared lane marking) implementation and oversight
  • Endorse and assist other orgs and start-ups, e.g. Urban Bike Project

Bike Delaware is 15 years old in 2021
Acting in this manner -- ignoring 5 full years of their own history -- is a slap in the face to founding Advocates and their years of volunteering and hard work. Why is this the case? Executive Director (James Wilson) took exception with much of these past efforts, and/or those involved. This latest action of his is abhorrent, to say the least.

1st State Bikes was founded largely to expose Bike Delaware's brand of "advocacy" in their post-501(c)3 era, which is hardly the vision we had hoped for. The following articles about them are noteworthy, and can also be found in the right column of this website:

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Boycott Complete Communities Live Stream on 1/27/2021

Once again, Bike Delaware and Sierra Club -- with support from the League of Women Voters among others -- are working in the interests of Developers and the Building Industry. "Complete Communities" is great click bait, except that these organizations are not talking about pathway connections between existing suburban subdivisions. It's all about maximizing developer profits with future infill projects, touting them as walkable-bikeable and/or transit-oriented and thus worthy of density waivers. This, on what few green spaces remain, particularly in New Castle County.

Home Rule governance, combined with non-existent development codes or land-use regulations over many decades time (since WW2) have all but ensured community disconnect and isolation in most cases. Most bicycle or foot traffic is forced out onto the nearest arterial road to make any kind of connection with neighboring communities, commerce and basic services. Bike Delaware, in particular, ignores any and all attempts to retrofit the built environment to accommodate them.

Unless the State is prepared to spend enormous sums and begin using eminent domain, safe connectivity for the "interested but concerned" to circumvent arterial roads and intersections as one less car will remain impossible. Govt would have to strategically condemn and raze private properties in order to install non-motorized pathway connections between developments, and designate their streets as bike boulevards. Doing so would draw the ire of adjacent residents, and trigger a frenzy of lawsuits. Except in a rare case or two, it isn't going to happen.

We urge our readers to see through the folly of organizations that purport to be environmental and alt-transportation advocates, yet their record (or lack thereof) speaks to the contrary. Send a clear message with your boycott of this and all events sponsored by them.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

The Livable, Walkable, Bikeable Delaware Charade

Is Delaware protecting the natural environment? Are elected and appointed officials retrofitting the suburbs for walkability/bikeability and bringing place-making to the building and re-development of retail strips and malls? Are they providing nearby regional park access and connections for all its residents? For the privileged class living in regions such as Newark proper, Old New Castle, Pike Creek and N. Wilmington, those polled might say "yes" -- at least to some degree. For most folks who live in the vastness of Delaware's nameless faceless unincorporated suburbs, the answer is a resounding no.

Unless you live in one of these privileged regions, it could be argued that the State is going in reverse, backwards, doing the opposite. Virtually everything we see involves the wholesale destruction of the environment; suburban sprawl, loss of our last remaining green spaces, paving of wetlands and critical habit areas, and overwhelming favor lavished on automobiles as opposed to walking and biking. Despite years of talk to the contrary, New Castle County in particular remains a large, dense, disconnected auto-centric nightmare pocked with housing developments built far and away from local services, commerce, and employment centers. These require cars and driving for all of these needs, in direct contempt of climate mitigation, staggering obesity rates, disconnected family and social life, and a host of other socio-economic ills.

Below, in no particular order, is a sampling of initiatives and/or organizations found on-line, that most Delawareans do not benefit from, or even know about. Their built environment has not outwardly changed for the better, and in most cases, probably for the worse -- while any remaining "naturehood" dwindles or disappears altogether:

Livable Delaware
Direct investment and future development to existing communities, urban concentrations, and growth areas. Protect important farmlands and critical natural resource areas. Encourage redevelopment and improve the livability of existing communities and urban areas, and guide new employment into underutilized commercial and industrial sites. Protect the state’s water supplies, open spaces, farmlands and communities. Promote mobility for people and goods through a balanced system of transportation options. Provide an opportunity to promote sustainability of our economic and ecological growth and will maintain and enhance the qualities that make Delaware a unique place to live;

Blueprint for a Bicycle-Friendly Delaware
Developed through a participatory planning process, the Plan provides a framework that will inform policies and investment strategies for promoting bicycling as a safe mode of transportation in Delaware. The Blueprint envisions a more integrated approach to local land use and transportation planning.

Delaware Sierra Club
According to their website: "The Sierra Club dates back to 1892 and is the oldest and largest environmental advocacy organization in North America. Our mission is to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet. For more than 45 years, the Delaware Chapter has blazed trails to protect the environment and to provide opportunities to enjoy and explore the natural beauty of our state". NOTE: Delaware Sierra Club, Audubon, and others place corporatism before grassroots and did not support the STOP (Save the Orphanage Property) campaign to save critical habitat, wetlands and open space ideal for a regional park in Ogletown -- the last chance of its kind.

WILMAPCO (and other DE MPOs)
The Wilmington Area Planning Council is the regional transportation planning agency for New Castle County, Delaware and Cecil County, Maryland. As the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), WILMAPCO is charged with planning and coordinating transportation investments for the region based on federal policy, local input, technical analysis, and best practices. NOTE: Despite assisting with the East Coast Greenway (ECG) planning and design, this org fails to oversee improvements to the facility, often times a once in decades opportunity.

Delaware Complete Communities and Summit
The Delaware Complete Communities Planning Toolbox aims to help build local government capacity to develop complete-communities planning approaches, community-design tools,
and public engagement strategies.

Bike Delaware
An org that claims a mission of "making cycling and walking safe, convenient and fun in Delaware", yet their record speaks otherwise. The evidence shows that they are a fraudulent "Advocacy" organization that will not support reforms, including a bill proposal to update the traffic code in the interest of pedestrian (and thus bicycle pathway) safety. They have never once advocated for open space and/or to ensure all Delawareans have regional park and thus biking/walking/jogging pathway access. "Bike Delaware" lobbies for reforms with priority on new housing developments only, e.g. helping builders achieve density waivers with the promise of TOD design concepts.

Delaware Trails & Pathways Initiative
The goal is to create an interconnected network of shared-use trails and pathways that will support non-motorized travel and recreation opportunities for Delawareans and visitors. The focus is on bicycling and walking and providing safe and convenient ways to reach local work, shops, schools, recreational sites and transit.

Complete Streets in Delaware
Complete streets are planned, designed, built, and maintained to safely accommodate travelers of all ages and abilities. While the majority (89%) of Delaware’s roadways are owned and maintained by the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), local government officials and “citizen planners” may wish to visualize how to balance the needs of all roadway users and transform existing roadways to complete streets. NOTE: Unfortunately, the vast majority of "Complete Streets" improvements have come in the form of "Stroads" or fitting bike lanes and/or sidewalks along arterial roads ad highways. Adjacent to 50-70 mph traffic, these appear all but abandoned given the inherent danger of distracted and aggressive driving. These are also ignored during roadway improvement projects and upgrades.

Delaware Greenways
According to their website: "We envision a State where trails, pathways and scenic corridors connect everyone to where they want to go, empowering them to live healthier lives as they discover and enjoy the outdoors. Delaware Greenways advocates for the development of trails and byways. These pathways link and build communities while winding through some of the most beautiful scenery in Delaware. Through our work on trails and pathways, we inspire people to engage in an active lifestyle". NOTE: Delaware Greenways lack of advocacy and oversight beyond privileged regions is lacking, at best.

Delaware Safe Routes to School Program
Safe Routes to School programs makes it safe, convenient and fun for children to walk or bicycle to school. Elementary and middle schools can receive funding through Delaware Safe Routes To School Program.

Walkable Community Workshops
Walkable neighborhoods and communities are vibrant and livable places that give their residents safe and active transportation choices. Increased walkability helps to improve safety, physical fitness and social interaction, and enhances overall quality of life.

Creating a Livable Delaware Conference
“Creating a Livable Delaware: Pathways for Enhancing Prosperity and Quality of Life". Aims to direct growth to areas that are best prepared, preserve farmland and open space, promote redevelopment, facilitate affordable housing and limit sprawl.

Walkable Bikeable Delaware Summit
The Summit will feature America’s leading engineering experts on cycling who will be in Delaware for only one day! From these pro-cycling, problem-solving engineers we will learn about practical and cost-effective solutions that can make cycling safe, convenient, comfortable and fun for people of all ages and abilities in our communities.

Sadly, combined with the cheapest gas in history, none of the above have reduced auto-dependency, emissions, obesity, disconnected social and family life, and a host of other socio-economic problems in Delaware. And, without a holistic approach from Advocates along with bold govt leadership, that will never change. The vast majority of the State's built environment consists of unincorporated and disconnected suburbs full of junk architecture, where some opportunities for improvement do exist but are few and far between. When they do come up, advocates and officials need to ACT. But they don't.

Delaware is the 4th most corrupt state in the nation, behind only Wyoming, Michigan, and S. Dakota. It consistently ranks as one of the top 5 most dangerous States to be a pedestrian, and active modes like bicycling and walking are flat or in decline. Only in Delaware is the State's so-called bike-ped "advocacy" org beholden to those responsible, and thus hastening and not helping the problem. "We" are a State where elected government is 100% committed to developer and business interests to the exclusion of all else, and whose only function is to funnel profits upward to the corporate elite and those who do their bidding. Unfortunately, none of this is going to change until resource scarcity and/or climate apocalypse takes root, and forces their hand.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

East Coast Greenway Fail in Ogletown

According to the East Coast Greenway (ECG) website greenway.org:

The East Coast Greenway is a walking and biking route stretching 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida, connecting our nation’s most populated corridor. The East Coast Greenway is designed to transform the 15 states and 450 communities it connects through active and healthy lifestyles, sustainable transportation, community engagement, climate resilience, tourism, and more. The Greenway offers a safe place for bicyclists, walkers, runners, and more — of all ages and abilities — to commute, exercise, and visit new destinations.

For Delaware's portion of the ECG: Enjoy the charming historic city of New Castle before continuing on the New Castle Riverfront Greenway along the Delaware River and heading westward to Newark, starting out on the Penn Farm Trail. The route incorporates a mix of side paths and roads to Newark, a small college town near the Maryland border where travelers will find themselves on the James F. Hall Trail before hitting the road again to the Maryland border.

There are numerous infrastructure and safety issues with the East Coast Greenway (ECG) in Delaware. Among them a section of shared use path (SUP) along Route 4 in Ogletown, where it crosses Augusta Drive to a 1 block section of shared Route 4 frontage street. This crossing is impeded by a raised N-S center median and there is no marked crossing through it. Crossing here is taking your life in your hands, with high speed traffic blindly turning onto Augusta exactly where ECG users attempt to cross.

Very recently
, this intersection was marked out for a traffic signal upgrade (photo left). In contacting DelDOT, it turns out that other features are being replaced as well, including pedestrian refuge islands and corner curb ramps. An existing pedestrian crosswalk across Route 4 to the "Shops at Augusta" (a small strip mall) will also be refreshed, but DelDOT will not be adding a crossing of Augusta to maintain ECG continuity.

Why isn't the ECG part of this upgrade? Even leveling the median for an unmarked at-grade crossing would be of help, as bicyclists are likely to circumvent around nearer to the lanes of Route 4. We wrote to DelDOT to inquire, and learned that none of this would be considered. In their words, "this signal rebuild has a limited scope and would not be able to address the geometric issues regarding the installation of a new crossing on SB Augusta Drive. However, as you requested we can add the R10-15 (turning vehicles yield to pedestrians sign) on the right side of SB Augusta Drive. It will be added at the end of the construction. In addition, we will forward your request for this intersection to DelDOT Project Development or the PAR program for further investigation or consideration in future projects" and "it would have doubled the scope of the project in both time and cost".

Adding a R10-15 on southbound Augusta is hardly solace for what should have been. This was a big pathways opportunity missed that could and should have earned the scope of this signal project. Minus any fix -- even a simple median leveling as suggested -- Augusta will now remain an impediment, as an unmarked and unsafe crossing in the ECG for years to come. It will still require stepping over or biking around a median in an uncontrolled manner (YouTube video). Meanwhile, there are plenty of examples of crosswalks added in similar rehab projects around Delaware one could point to. And, It has been understood for a decade now that Complete Streets improvements should be considered via reconstruction & rehab projects if at all possible -- even if additional funds might be needed. The ECG right of way should be of no exception.

Par for the course.
 Just like the loss of the Orphanage Property as a park and pathways system (the region's last chance), privilege does indeed matter. Ogletown-S. Newark is 'undeserving' of these amenities based largely on socio-economic status. Other regions of higher rank and privilege fair much better in Delaware when it comes to multi-modal and community investment. Think: would it be the same outcome if this involved the Delaware Greenway in North Wilmington?

For the record: As we have seen over and over again, it was just another failure on the part of oversight orgs such as Bike Delaware, WilmapcoDE Greenways, and area Legislators that a critical greenways/pathways improvement opportunity came and went with nary a peep. If they weren't made aware, perhaps DelDOT lacks the mechanism to reach out when a rehab or reconstruction project impacts a SUP pathway system like the ECG? Each of these org's missions emphasizes the need for multi-modal connectivity and networks that facilitate safe bicycling and walking. Bike Delaware in particular has a dismal track record in this regard.


Above: Google Streetview. East Coast Greenway 8' wide SUP is seen coming down from the above left straddling the Route 4 shoulder/bike lane to the side street intersection of Augusta Drive. A narrow sidewalk continues north on Augusta but there lacks any safe crossing of Augusta to continue east bound on the ECG (or vice versa).

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Frederick casualty signifies incompetence of Bike Delaware

As is so often the case, Bike Delaware is quick to highlight bicyclist casualties, particularly as they pertain to high speed arterial roads. Unfortunately, few Delaware bicyclists realize this org's lack of transparency, and the disingenuous nature of their work. Unless it's a high profile project (e.g. rail trail) that draws media attention to them, Bike Delaware has little to no interest at all in improving bicycle infrastructure and safety. Below are just some of our featured articles over the last few years, clearly making the case:

CRITICAL: I-95 and SR 896 Interchange Project

Ogletown Road and the Folly of Bike Delaware

Where is Bike Delaware on projects that really matter?

Where is Bike Delaware on these top 5 action items?

Above: Most of S. College Ave south of I95 has some type of separate biking infrastructure, including 8' wide asphalt paths and 25 mph frontage roads with shoulders. The intersections are still dangerous by design, with the usual slip lanes and unregulated crosswalks. But bicyclists and walkers can stay off the highway nonetheless. The segment (marked as a red line above) where Mr Frederick was killed is the only section of S. College/SR896 that does not have such a facility, even though it easily could have when the highway was last "upgraded". For the record, Bike Delaware never advocates for these types of facilities, and in fact, they even opposed past efforts at dedicated funding that would have addressed such individual needs and projects.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Boycott Sierra Club Over The Orphanage Property Travesty

Sierra Club: Corporatism over Grassroots
Originally published in Ogletown Resilience

As our readers are all too aware, the Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club would not support or endorse the effort to Save the Orphanage Property (STOP) as critical habitat area, as a wildlife refuge, as a regional park, and a trails & pathways opportunity for Ogletown-S. Newark. This opportunity will never come again. We urge all of our readers to see through the facade and the fraudulence of Sierra Club, and to ignore all of their events including Earth Day. Alternatives can be found, including this one with Delaware Estuary.

The below article is from 2011, but nothing has changed since. Corporatist money has no place in non-profit environmental organizations -- whether that be at the national, state or local levels. This article explains why, after repeated asks for Sierra's endorsement of STOP, their reply was "this isn't something we generally do". Ditto from DE Audubon Society, given they too are a national org and thus accepting of corporate payoffs and kickbacks.


Excerpts:
  • According to the Associated Press, in 2002 Sierra Club head Carl Pope threatened to dissolve the southern Utah chapter for “speaking out against the Bush administration’s push toward war with Iraq.”  The Sierra Club’s Board of Directors had passed a resolution “supporting efforts to strip Iraq of weapons of mass destruction” (i.e., supporting the war) ...
  • This is the first time in Sierra Club’s 116-year history that it has endorsed a product and even Club executive director Carl Pope, who’s been a driving force in the partnership, admitted that the decision by a well-known environmental group to endorse a company known for its bleach, plastics, and chemical products is “controversial.”
  • Until progressive groups successfully address the challenge of funding themselves independent of the elite individuals and institutions that act as enforcers of a corporate agenda, they will not be able to successfully advocate for progressive causes. Any success they might have will mean that their funding dries up, and they will cease to exist.
  • The Sierra Club is a marquee name that has indeed gone for the green:  cash.  Environmental activists should carefully examine the way in which the organization is operating, and whether its agenda is worthy of continued support.

STOP to Delaware's Environmental Organizations: Epic Fail


Do you support environmental conservation in Delaware? Support and donate to the Delaware Nature Society. DNC, along with a dozen other local and State orgs, didn't hesitate and immediately jumped on board to help save the Orphanage Property.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Where is Bike Delaware on these top 5 action items?

One of numerous "goat paths" in New Castle County. Without the State's
advocacy org working with DelDOT on pathway connections between
neighborhoods and commerce, foot traffic will make their own.
A frequent question we receive at 1st State Bikes is this: What exactly is Bike Delaware doing in the interest of bicycle & pedestrian safety? What are they actually doing to advocate for local access to pathways, connectors, and regional parks in order that folks can stay out of harms way -- not just for bike/ped transportation but for recreation as well? They did advocate for some local spur trails to connect a few high profile projects, such as the Jack Markell Trail in New Castle. Beyond that, it is very difficult to quantify any efforts they are making. There is virtually no organizational transparency, nothing to the effect on their web platforms, and countless opportunities have come and gone without their support or involvement. If anything, they have a history of undermining the advocacy efforts of others, that could have brought sweeping reforms e.g. the updating of the vehicle code for pedestrians.

In no particular order, here are 5 badly needed action items that Bike Delaware -- along with State and County legislators -- could and SHOULD be working on right now:

Update Delaware's vehicle code for modern times, commensurate with other progressive States

Delaware consistently ranks in the top 5 most deadly States to walk in, even taking #1 just a few years ago. An overhaul (pdf) of Delaware's vehicle code for walking was completed 4 years ago in bill form. The draft "Pedestrian Bill" was modeled after other progressive States such as WA, MA, OR, etc. It brought Delaware's code up to date with our built environment and modern times. As it stands now, Delaware's code is overwhelmingly car-centric, placing the onus squarely on pedestrians not to get killed. It actually requires a person to be in a crosswalk before a yield is legally required, whereas other States require simple intent to cross. In other words, you could stand at the curb waiting for all eternity, because motorists are legally permitted to continue (at speed) through crosswalks unless you physically place your body out there - in harms way.

Other issues with Delaware's current pedestrian code include dispensation for soliciting just prior to Father's Day which has no relevance today. Meanwhile, the State's death and injury rate -- consistently ranking top 5 per-capita in the U.S. -- continues unabated. The legal system targets pedestrians, holding motorists blameless in virtually every case. Routine patterns such as smart phone use, speeding, and aggressive driving are never cited, though most drivers engage in it. Updating the language would be a monumental step in the right direction, helping to provide a sensible basis for education and enforcement and to give pedestrians the confidence they need to use proper facilities where available. (NOTE: Bike Delaware actually quashed Advocate's attempts at a bill to update the vehicle code to increase safety and priority of pedestrian travel. You can view the updated code in pdf here).

Fight that everyone has local access to their own regional park(s)

According to Nemours and the CDC: Comprehensive recommendations for reducing the prevalence of obesity identified improving access to outdoor recreational facilities as a key strategy for creating safe communities that support physical activity. A comprehensive review of more than 100 studies supports the CDC’s recommendation. The review found that time spent outdoors and access to recreation facilities and programs near their homes correlated positively with increased physical activity among children and adolescents. Additionally, the economic benefits are critical to community health and wellbeing.

In the corrupt defeat of regional park Advocates in Ogletown-S. Newark, losing the last significant open space on the entire Rt.4 corridor suitable for such a purpose had serious implications for biking in the region. Gone forever is a bicycle-friendly destination, key trails and/or pathways connections between several existing developments, local place-making and an enhanced quality of life. Now being paved over with hundreds of unneeded homes, thousands of residents are forever condemned to racking up and driving their bikes (or sneakers, if walking or running) 15-20 minutes, either to Glasgow or Pike Creek if they wish to enjoy such a facility. This contradicts Gov Ruth Ann Minner's Livable DE and Bike Delaware's Trails & Pathways initiatives, among others. (NOTE: Bike Delaware is not on record anywhere, at any time (since their incorporation) as having supported open space acquisition and preservation. If anything, the record shows that they prioritize development, even when an entire region will lose its last park opportunity forever).

Advocate for a "20 IS PLENTY" campaign or similar

One of the most popular advocacy campaigns in the world is 20 Is Plenty. Without question, Bike Delaware should be at the forefront and leading this effort for their State. We asked Senator John "Jack" Walsh (D: Dist 9) to explore the possibility of such a campaign based on chronic speeding in Harmony Woods in Ogletown. DelDOT is unwilling to implement speed humps due to flawed and/or inadequate speed study data using the 85th Percentile. Then the legislators cite constant demand (i.e. "everybody wants speed bumps") as a further problem. We received the following reply from Mr Walsh:

We have completed an initial review with DelDOT and received a relative cost estimate that would be necessary if we were to change the residential speed limit from 25 MPH to 20 MPH statewide. The estimate ranges from approximately $550,000 to $1.1M for the installation of 2 signs per development since we maintain 1,501 developments statewide. This type of effort would involve fabrication and installation of over 3,000 signs at a minimum. However, the estimate doesn’t account for 1) developments that have multiple access points or speed limit signs (some developments have as many as 4-5 access points, if not more). 2) Speed limit signs co-posted with radar speed signs within developments. 3) Roads within municipalities that are state or locally maintained, such as Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth, Lewes, etc. We have also discussed these bills with our colleagues, and we will continue to do so over the next few months. For the reasons listed above, however, we are not confident that we would be able to move legislation you proposed forward at this time.

Demand min 8' wide asphalt bike paths instead of sidewalks where shoulder bike lanes do not exist

There are numerous projects (or potential projects) all around Delaware that present clear opportunities for dedicated bicycling infrastructure, adjacent to or outside the lanes of traffic. Of crucial importance is when there is no shoulder bike lane on a given road, and access can only be had by taking and controlling the lane of traffic -- often times at freeway speeds. An infamous example is SR72 (S. Chapel Street) that many bicyclists use as a bike path connection between Newark, S. Newark, Bear, and points south. Advocates fought for 17 long years to upgrade the deteriorated 6' of asphalt sidepath to a more formal 8' shared use or "cycle track" facility. DelDOT finally agreed to "rehab" the existing facility using the same failed design standards used in the 1980s when it was first built.

The Marrows Rd to Library Ave/SR72 phase of Newark's "Main Street Improvements" project is another example. Ironic that nobody -- not even WILMAPCO made a strong case (if any) that bicyclists cannot safely access buildings along this stretch, in particular the post office. But most disturbing was the absence of Bike Delaware, that they didn't care to address this gross deficiency with DelDOT during the planning of this project or at any time before construction began. Here was a prime opportunity to include bicycle access in the form of, e.g. an 8' asphalt sidepath or shared use facility instead of the lane with cars or a narrow sidewalk. Yet they didn't even publicize the project notification for this critical aspect, never mind the project itself (and this). Wilmapco was content to leave it in their Newark Bicycle Plan as something for "future study". It will now be 15-20 more years before another rehab/reconstruction opportunity might present itself.

Reform County Codes to better facilitate bicycling

While New Castle County does mandate bicycle parking with new construction, the most glaring deficiency in their Unified Development Code (UDC) involves the retrofitting or reconstruction of existing structures. Essentially, a building and its property is only bound by rules set forth on the day of its first recorded plan; more recent requirements -- including bicycle parking -- can be disqualified, unless the project expands the building by least 1,000 square feet.

In NCC, for an existing structure, multi-modal access and improvements are put squarely in the hands of the business or property owner. They can omit said access in favor of dozens of other choices, as long as it meets this "400% improvement" matrix, however that's determined. And the problem isn't just limited to reconstruction; missing code requirements are sometimes found on brand new buildings.

In short, this represents a major opportunity for Bike Delaware to advocate for change, by asking for bicycle facilities to be a required feature in all construction types. They should also spearhead a call or write-in campaign to encourage and assist bicyclists in their own efforts to attain bicycle parking or access where it is needed most, e.g. shopping malls and strips.

Also of note: NCC continues to use motor vehicle barrier types that include hanging chains or cables. These force bicyclists -- that are permitted -- into an inconvenient detour situation, which can be very dangerous. When it comes to keeping out cars, appropriately spaced bollards (one removable) perform the exact same function as a gate, yet allow non-motorized users to pass through safely as if nothing was there.

Summary: Though certainly not alone in this, Delaware's built environment is a microcosm of the death and carnage now accepted as "normal" in the U.S. -- normal by placing motor vehicle traffic at human scale. The above five advocacy goals are just a few of the many outlined on this website over the last 7 years that could help turn things aground. As the self-proclaimed #1 bicycling and walking advocacy org for the State, it is incumbent upon Bike Delaware to act and to advocate for the best possible retrofits and improvements in THIS built environment, in all contexts. In other words, advocate to fix what we already have. Unfortunately, Bike Delaware's main focus is walkable-bikeable design with NEW housing developments and increasing builder's profit margins. Unless this changes, walking and bicycling as "safe, convenient and fun" will continue to flat line or even decline in Delaware.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Senator Jack Walsh obtains quotes for "20 is Plenty" in Delaware

Dear Senator Walsh,

In researching problems of speeding on neighborhood streets, there are Cities and States around the country that have come up with non-infrastructural solutions that quantifiably reduce speed. These involve flexibility in lowering speed limits by 5 (via unique signage and/or a campaign), or more effectively enforcing existing ones with better or more pronounced signage. Please review the following two PDFs of bills that were passed in 2 States: Washington and Oregon.

It has become clear that "everyone wants speed bumps"; that is the immediate answer anytime when asked for at a meeting. If so, then we have a serious problem in DE with speeding in residential areas. If a vocal resident is one of the lucky ones, the State sets out to measure 85th percentile, then they may issue a warrant if it exceeds 5 mph. Apparently, these asks are frequent, and costs high for installing speed bumps. And many are rejected even if there is a demonstrable speeding problem as in the case of Medley Drive.

As your constituent, would you consider writing a bill, perhaps combining the best of the two above, gather some co-sponsors and bring it to the floor for a vote? It may be tabled, or not pass the first time, but after repeated attempts, it might. Then, DelDOT would be free to try other calming means, e.g. signage, that is far less expensive than speed bumps, and could save lots of money and asphalt. We will attach a couple examples of such signs.

As an annual top-5 most deadly State in the U.S. for walking, we ask that you (and/or your Colleague Rep Bentz) consider writing and introducing such a bill, and if you will not, please explain why. Here is some additional reading on the subject (here and here).

Thank you very much, and we look forward to your reply.

Frank Warnock & Angela Connolly
www.ogletownresilience.org
---

Senator Jack Walsh responds:

Good Afternoon Mr. Warnock,

Thanks again for sending us those bills. We have completed an initial review with DelDOT and received a relative cost estimate that would be necessary if we were to change the residential speed limit from 25 MPH to 20 MPH statewide. The estimate ranges from approximately $550,000 to $1.1M for the installation of 2 signs per development since we maintain 1,501 developments statewide. This type of effort would involve fabrication and installation of over 3,000 signs at a minimum. However, the estimate doesn’t account for:
  • Developments that have multiple access points or speed limit signs (some developments have as many as 4-5 access points, if not more).
  • Speed limit signs co-posted with radar speed signs within developments.
  • Roads within municipalities that are state or locally maintained, such as Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth, Lewes, etc.
We have also discussed these bills with our colleagues, and we will continue to do so over the next few months. For the reasons listed above, however, we are not confident that we would be able to move legislation you proposed forward at this time.

However, we have asked for an estimate for a radar signs to be installed on Medley Dr. This will show drivers how fast they are going along with displaying the speed limit. We will review once receiving the estimate.

Have a nice day,

Jack J Walsh
State Senator 9th District
O: 302-744-4163
C: 302-660-6295

Editors note: Why isn't Bike Delaware working on this? Unfortunately, their record suggests they won't, given other priorities.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Entropy made visible: Bryan Townsend's Senate District 11

Hypocrite: Townsend on Facebook
Paradoxically, Senator Townsend (District 11, New Castle County) remains hugely popular among his Ogletown-S. Newark constituents despite his colossal failure as a legislator and representative of their best interests. But then again, Delawareans in general have a penchant for taking it up the backside, all the while begging for more. They stay loyal to his Facebook page, where Mr Townsend cross-posts environmental issues with a sense of outrage, and what appears genuine anger and remorse toward our planet's death spiral under the Trump administration. There is simply no end to the lies and con-artistry this man is capable of, given his dismal record as a State Senator right here in Delaware. The hypocrisy is staggering, as charity is supposed to "begin" at home.

Not only is Mr Townsend one of the worst environmental enemies (as chronicled on this page -- see "Top Articles" series in the right column) to serve office in any State, he also has zero interest in quality of life and green transportation that includes walking and biking. His district IS entropy made visible, with infrastructure at least as bad or worse than most 3rd world countries.

And where is Bike Delaware on this issue? Nowhere, that's where. Here are a few local examples, found just in Ogletown, that make critical connections between communities, circumventing arterials roads:

"Pathway" connecting Cherokee Woods with Our Redeemer Church/Chestnut Hill Estates.
"Bike Path" along Route 4, in front of the Christina Early Education Center. Zero maintenance or repair.
"Curb ramp" and pathway between Ogletown Rd and Route 4 at D&H Jamaican. Not only is this not ADA-compliant, it has never been maintained in any way, much less rehabbed or resurfaced.
Pathway connecting Todd Estates/Newark Oaks/Brookside to Jennie Smith ES and George Kirk MS. This facility is heavily relied upon by school children walking and biking to school, easily the healthiest thing a child can and should engage in. Most who use it walk or bike through the adjacent driveway instead, before reconnecting near the trip hazard (below) further up.
Also along the pathway connection above; a major tripping hazard, the result of settling concrete slabs and zero maintenance or repair.
Death trap: Posted speed limit of 50
mph 
(55-60 prevailing) in front of 
Ogletown area schools.
This is what you can expect under failed leadership, in this case Senator Townsend and cohort Rep Ed Osienski, along with their NCC Democratic colleague Lisa Diller. The trio -- most influential among them Townsend -- also could have gifted their districts a regional park on Route 4 on the former Orphanage Property. Instead, they lied and chose to hide that possibility from Advocates and the broader public for a full 2 years or until such time it was committed to development and couldn't be stopped. All the while, Route 4 is slowly but surely evolving into a Kirkwood Hwy or Route 13, with endless lane expansion projects, installations of overhead lights, clear cutting of trees, and other assaults on community life and place-making.

Despite being one of the most, if not the most disenfranchised regions of the State, these legislators go on enjoying broad support among their constituents, easily defeating their challengers in each election cycle.