Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Safety Fail: Lack of Zebra Crossings on ECG in Ogletown

Seriously eroded ECG used for car parking
Cross-posted from Ogletown Resilience

With the approval of a Historical Marker commemorating Ogletown, and a quarter millennia  since the passing of its founder, the time has come to improve multi-modal access to this historic site. Regional legislators, including Senator Jack Walsh, have already agreed on action to address the failed infrastructure surrounding Thomas Ogle's tomb and green space. This includes the East Coast Greenway (ECG) west from SR273, and two connectors: one to Prides Crossing and the other to Chestnut Hill Estates via Old Ogletown Rd.

More recently, we discovered the gross lack of zebra striping of the ECG (streetview) through Chestnut Hill Plaza, a Meineke repair shop, and a Liberty gas station. Meinekie has even adopted the ROW as defacto car parking. This facility was originally paved at the width (8') required for bidirectional bike-ped traffic, and is eroded and narrowing in many sections. It rises up and back down through driveways, when the opposite is required for traffic calming and multi-modal awareness. Adding zebra crossings won't fix the problem of high speed entrances from SR4, but will bring awareness (and thus some added safety) for ECG users and Ogletown destination-making.

ECG just west of Augusta Drive
We were rebuffed in an effort to improve the Augusta Drive intersection further west. Instead, ECG continuity was broken, with a new, cars-only signal upgrade. Further west, driveways at the DE School for the Deaf (DSD) are properly aligned and zebra striped, as seen in the photo right. It would appear that Complete Streets is being applied sporadically, or by socio-economic status, with consequences that could take decades to fix.

The long range goal for the ECG is a continuous facility brought up to modern design standards, some of which can be found further to the east. Recent setbacks like Augusta, however, only cement Ogletown among the disenfranchised. When asked, there are few to no answers from several oversight orgs. In contrast, Advocates should be pouncing on each and every opportunity to improve the ECG -- even with basic highway maintenance projects as called for in DelDOT's Complete Streets policy.


This proposal
to enhance placemaking in Ogletown would bring some consolation -- not just for Thomas Ogle but also the loss of the Orphanage Property as a regional park -- the chance of which will never come again.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Delaware on track to smash 2021 crash fatals

First 2 months of 2022. Multi-year sampling periods confirm the
trend we are on. Click on image above for the latest numbers.
Statistically, Delaware is heading for a road safety disaster in 2022 - in particular New Castle County. Speeding, aggressive and distracted driving is rampant, with per-capita injuries and fatalities on pace to surpass even Florida. Despite strict laws to the contrary, many (if not most) offenders have a State-approved aftermarket and/or modified exhaust system. These behaviors account for why virtually nobody rides a bicycle for transportation or recreation -- even after 10 years of Complete Streets policy implementations.

There is virtually no pro-active law enforcement, particularly within Delaware's vast unincorporated zones. Police are few and far between, and spend most of their time answering 911 calls. An active and growing minority of drivers know this, as evidenced by the many vehicles now sporting fully tinted windows (also illegal). Even the City of Newark won't enforce the most deafening and disturbing of "loud mufflers". The lack of such basic government services has Delaware ranking criminally awful (CFPI), especially in matters of transparency. It is a top-5 worst State to live on several key socio-economic fronts, and consistently ranks as most dangerous to walk or ride a bicycle .

Mean Streets: designing cars like Dearth Vader
Our safety and quality of life is being destroyed right in front of our eyes; vehicle assault and violence is deafening our ears and ruining our health. County and State legislators offer token support, sometimes introducing bills that build on existing laws -- but these come up woefully short on enforcement. Organizations that claim to advocate for bicycling and connectivity have either given up on road safety or appear to be co-opted.

Minus a paradigm shift, and a mass conscience re-awakening toward the common good, things are only going to get worse. The suburbs, which comprises the vast majority of Delaware's built environment, are "entropy made visible", and will not be rescued unless we collectively change our thinking.

The above assaults are becoming more and more prevalent, even on Delaware's "quieter" neighborhood streets. We are trying to obtain 911 call data, that shows that this is among the most frequent emergency call types in New Castle County (stay tuned).


Above: "Bike Lane" on Red Mill Road in Ogletown. Authorities often question as to why so few people ride in Delaware, yet the answer is laid in rubber for all to see.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

DelDOT: W11-1-DE Signs Restored on Paper Mill Rd

The W11-1-DE signs were removed from Paper Mill Rd at the White Clay Creek road bridge in Newark, upon the installation of a new pedestrian bridge. This sent the wrong message to car drivers that bicyclists are required to use this new bridge to circumvent the road bridge. We requested that the W11-1-DE signs be re-installed since bicyclists are legally permitted and will continue to use the road and its bike lanes. Failure to do so will result in drivers harassing bicyclists, given the new bridge is in plain sight.

Image courtesy of the Public Workshop
While this new bridge is a valuable amenity, the apparent switch to mandatory-use for bicyclists is problematic for 2 reasons:
  • It requires two crossings of 2 lanes of high VMT traffic in the northbound direction of Paper Mill Rd, which is statistically more dangerous, and more time consuming, and
  • Much of the pathway between the new bridge and Curtis Mill Park is 5' wide and not the min. 8' required to be safe. Therefore, it does not qualify as a bi-directional facility (this alone makes it ped-only) according to DelDOT's manual (pdf)

In this current config, the new bridge and its connecting pathways and crosswalks are not a suitable replacement for experienced bicyclists. DelDOT immediately responded, and re-installed the W11-1-DE signs on Mon Jan 24, and for that we are grateful.

Given how many people (esp students) ride the sidewalk now, it would certainly help if there was the required 8' asphalt SUP connected from the Old Paper Mill Rd crosswalk to the Pomeroy Trail. Regardless, we should never remove bicycling safety infra (in this case signage and sharrows) from the road. You can still see the signs in Streetview HERE.

Original W11-1-DE sign at Paper Mill Rd bridge southbound
With us backing him, Mark Luszcz (DelDOT Chief Traffic P.E. at the time) did a lot of work to get these signs approved and out there. This resulted in the removal of hundreds of "Share the Road" signs, replacing a mere fraction with W11-1-DE in strategic locations. This includes pinch points like the Paper Mill Rd road bridge. It was a big contribution in the reduction of sign clutter. It was also -- tho' not officially -- a compromise with P.E.s who don't like "Bicycles May Use Full Lane", because that sign (R4-11) preceded this one at this bridge and it was switched out unannounced.

Even if there is a project someday to connect 8' of asphalt between the Curtis Mill Park and the Pomeroy Trail, there are still bike lanes on Paper Mill Rd, so the signs should remain -- now more than ever actually. Kudos to DelDOT for listening, and answering the call of safety.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

The Failure of Newark's South Main Street

S. Main Street facing South, median section

Why has Newark's "New" South Main Street failed to capture the cultural and historic richness that every U.S. Main Street should enjoy? Why hasn't it lived up to the civic and place-making ambiance (albeit eroded) of the City's East Main Street?

Writer and journalist James Howard Kunstler demonstrates the failure of modern U.S. architecture and civic design in this 19 minute TED Talk. The failure of South Main Street begins at 9:22, or HERE, and could not be more apparent.


Unfortunately, such reckless design continues in development and "revitalization" projects today. It remains to be seen if, for example, College Square is truly walkable & bikeable. Odds are, it will be the usual hellscape designed to encourage everyone to drive, and to park as many cars as possible. Place-making and multi-modal provisions, if included, are an afterthought at best. But maybe we'll be lucky, and College Square will be an improvement. You can read about it HERE.

Architecture is but one component failure of South Main Street. This "street" was designed with a mix of highway (12'+ wide) car lanes, numerous high speed slip (turn-only lanes) and even a 18' center turn lane for a portion of it. Traffic calming is all but absent except in the area of Amstel Ave, for the sake of University of Delaware foot traffic. Beyond that, induced motorist speed is much higher than the posted 30 mph, which in a true Main Street environment would be 25 mph or less. Sadly, South Main Street is little more than a "Stroad". Stephen Lee Davis points out the failure of this design in his brilliant piece HERE:

Slip lanes on roads and streets are emblematic of what it looks like in practice to sacrifice safety on the altar of speed, where this underlying goal of “keep cars moving fast at all times” runs counter to the goal of “keep everyone safe while moving from A to B”—even if you say that safety is important. If we truly prioritize safety, as T4America is suggesting in our second principle, we would never build a slip lane on a local street again.

Conclusion: S. Main Street planners ignored good civic design by combining separated and/or raised retail frontage with speed-inducing highway design. They hoped it would appeal at the human scale, but even in the early planning phase of this project 15 years ago, this was a known fail (note: JHK's TED Talk is from 2004).  Marginal sidewalks and bike lanes alone cannot replace traffic calming and facilitate a return to the public realm. Because of this, foot traffic on South Main Street is a fraction of East Main Street, and many (if not most) storefronts remain vacant for years, some occupied by UD or the developers themselves. Unfortunately, this built environment is built and baked in for many years to come.

Divorce complete: The relationship between retail, the sidewalk and street is destroyed upon separation.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Abandoned Roads in NCC: Old Harmony

Old Harmony Road was replaced by Harmony Road, a 2-lane arterial with wide shoulders. Fragments of Old Harmony can still be found, including the original bridge over the White Clay Creek. For those with a keen eye, this historic structure is still visible from "New" Harmony Road.

The below stretch between Brookhaven, Green Valley and Richardson's Garden Center serves today as a defacto linear park and non-motorized travel connector. There are no apparent plans to improve upon this wonderful place-making opportunity. It is quite likely that DelDOT owns the property, and that someday the bridge will be demolished. Worse yet, the corridor will be developed or reclaimed as a bypass road. Let's hope that is not the case, and that the community or a non-profit advocacy org will fight for its protection for future generations to enjoy.

Photos below are from June of 2018; it remains virtually unchanged today. At bottom is Google Streetview, to the best location to walk, bike or park your car to begin this trip back in time.






See our entire series on abandoned roads and railroads, in Delaware and beyond, HERE.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Application for Historical Marker, ECG Rehab and Spur Trail in Ogletown

Thomas Ogle's Tomb, as of Aug 21, 2021
Cross-posted from Ogletown Resilience

The following has been submitted with an application for a Historical Marker at the grave site of Thomas Ogle, who will have died 250 years ago as of Dec 23, 2021.

Background:
In 1955, when DelDOT first widened State Road (SR) 4 at Salem Church Road, the Thomas Ogle House stood in the way. The State purchased the land containing the house, which included his grave site. Delaware donated the historic house to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), which agreed to relocate it. Unfortunately, the DAR’s plans fell through and the historic house was razed.

The original gravesite, a flat stone slab inscribed with the epitaph of Thomas Ogle, was placed over a slightly raised base. It split into sixteen pieces (large and small) that were removed in the late 1980s during an expansion of SR4. The broken sections, some with illegible or missing words, are being preserved at the University of Delaware’s Center for Archaeological Research. During the period the gravesite became overgrown and unsightly.

While building the new SR4/SR273/Salem Church Road interchange, DelDOT took historic and cultural responsibility for the gravesite. It avoided the grave area by shifting the ramp away. Using proven archaeological techniques, DelDOT expertly and respectfully confirmed that Thomas Ogle’s remains were still at the original location. Without disturbing the remains, DelDOT prepared new concrete footings on which a new brick mausoleum/base was constructed to support a restored capstone. The red brick wall is backed with solid blocks to establish a masonry wall of 6’ 6” long by 3’ 6” wide by 20” high.

New wayside on the Jack Markel Rail Trail in New Castle
Thomas Ogle's restored gravesite commemorates the Ogletown area and the Ogle family influence, but is poorly maintained with no visible emphasis on history, place making and public access. Citing highway safety, no parking of any kind was installed from the SR4/Salem Church intersection. However, the East Coast Greenway (ECG) is a shared-use pathway (SUP) facility along SR4 that passes approx 50 yards' from the gravesite. The ECG connects to the Ogletown Baptist Church (OBC) via a 4' wide, 500' long asphalt sliver of what was formerly Red Mill Road. With no maintenance to speak of, mother nature (the elements) is reclaiming both of these facilities along with the gravesite. It should be noted that OBC greatly expanded its car parking lot since the idea of public access was last revisited in the 1990s. This lot is grossly underutilized except on Sunday mornings, and today serves as defacto gravesite car parking. Either the OBC or DelDOT needs to repave the 4' Red Mill asphalt out to 8' (according to MUTCD guidelines), and the ECG similarly repaved in an inviting manner that includes a spur pathway, bike parking and kiosk immediately adjacent to the gravesite.

Originally a cross-roads, farming and gathering community, Thomas Ogle and Ogle family generations have lived in the Area for over 250 years. A writer for the Wilmington News Journal in 1998 said it well: “Thomas Ogle’s grave is the last vestige of a town that was founded before the American Revolution and has been virtually under siege ever since”. Large office buildings, condos, apartments, sub-divisions, shopping centers, highways and streets have long since replaced the pastoral setting of Thomas’ days.

Statement of Significance:
Thomas Ogle, (born 1705 in DE, died 23 Dec. 1771 in New Castle Co., DE) was a grandson of the soldier/immigrant John Ogle, (born 1648/49 – died 1684) who came from England with the Richard Nicolls’ Expedition in 1664 and was possibly the first Ogle in the Americas. Thomas became a wealthy and influential businessman and planter in New Castle County, DE. His various businesses, large land holdings and community influence led to the sizable area around his home being named Ogle Town (later Ogletown) sometime before 1762. The stately house, which Thomas operated as an Inn, survived for 216 years. Thomas was buried near the historic house and a reasonable distance from the then narrow, dirt roads that formed the crossroad.

Thomas Ogle’s various businesses, large land holdings and community influence led to the sizable area around his home being named Ogle Town (later Ogletown) sometime before 1762. The stately house, which Thomas also operated as an Inn, survived for 216 years. Thomas was buried near the historic house and a reasonable distance from the then narrow dirt roads that formed the crossroads.

Respectfully Submitted by:
Kenneth M. Ogle, President, Ogle/Ogles Family Association, Inc.
Francis Warnock & Angela Connolly, OgletownResilience.org, 1stBikes.org

Above: Bicycling to Thomas Ogle's tomb in Spring of 2016. The site appears somewhat maintained as little as 5 years ago. Today, a quarter millennium since his death, it has nearly disappeared under tree overgrowth.

Also see: Abandoned and forgotten: Thomas Ogle, 1705-1771

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Our Comments on the Churchmans Crossing Plan

Project boundary (click to enlarge)
Greetings, Wilmapco. Please add our comments below to the Churchmans Crossing Plan, before the Sept 2021 deadline. Upon generations of failed elected leadership, and climate catastrophe now looming, the need to facilitate active and green transport modes could not be more dire. Thank you very much.

In no particular order:
  • The project scope contains several bi-directional MUP facilities (Multi-User Pathways) that were built decades ago. Along SR4 and SR58 is the East Coast Greenway (ECG). These need to be improved and/or rehabbed using best design & engineering guidance (APBP/NACTO compliance) esp where crossing through intersections.
  • Where MUP facilities exist, or will be added, these should never go off-alignment with acute zig-zagging through intersections via narrow sidewalks; MUPs should maintain their full width (min. 8' wide asphalt, buffered where possible) and continue in parallel to the road they are on, including through radial turns. Look to DelDOT's "SR299, SR1 to Catherine Street Project (pdf)" as a good example, or APBP/NACTO guidelines.
  • An 8' asphalt MUP facility should replace the narrow sidewalk on SR58/Churchmans Rd from just east of Christiana Hospital to at least Cavaliers, and include a marked, button actuated crosswalk (of equal width) under SR7/1. A MUP currently exists along the Christiana Hospital property, and there is a well designed bike-ped bridge over I95 further east on SR58 as you approach Cavaliers. These should all be connected in one contiguous 8' bi-directional facility, as an improvement to the ECG.
  • Upgrade/improve/rehab the following MUP connectors using best design & engineering guidance (APBP/NACTO compliance):
    => East Coast Greenway within project scope
    => Lisbeth Rd to Brennen School parking lot
    => Old Ogletown Rd to SR4-Salem Church Jct
    => Prides Crossing to SR4 MUP/ECG
    => E. Cherokee Dr to Johnson Rd
    => SR4 MUP/ECG continuity at Augusta
  • Convert abandoned roads into MUPs:
    => Old Harmony Rd from north of Greenridge Rd to Old Capitol Trail
    => S. Wakefield thru Leathermans Run
  • Dearth of parks: Streets used as ball courts
    A park that includes ball courts, walking & biking paths, benches and other forms of place and destination-making is desperately needed for Harmony Woods and the region in general.
  • Add a shoulder bike lane on Salem Church Rd between I95 and Old Baltimore Pike, on what is technically "Bike Route 1". Cars and trucks cannot safely pass cyclists here without entering the opposing lane, and road rage commonly ensues.
  • Reduce the speed limit on SR4 from 50 mph to 40 mph, and 35 mph in school zones: DE Deaf-Blind, Kirk MS. Several speed studies over the years have shown rampant speeding along this corridor, in access of 57 avg mph. Investigate the use of traffic calming measures such as median vegetation plantings, signage, and other means to protect the children from these schools, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods. They often cross SR4 at Augusta, going to and from 7/11 for snacks. Reducing the speed limit cannot be emphasized enough. Delaware is now ranked #1 deadliest State in the nation for biking, and near #1 for walking, largely due to abject failure in this regard.
  • Recognize and honor the passing of Thomas Ogle, founder of Ogletown, who died exactly 250 years ago on 12/23/1771. This should include a spur pathway connector from the existing SR4 MUP aka ECG, along with a historical wayside and some bike parking (as seen at regular intervals along, e.g. the Markell Trail/Indus Track). This article in Delaware on-line from 2015 highlights that very need, which went ignored.
  • Typical "goat path" from the ECG in S. Newark
    Reduce neighborhood street speed limits from 25 to 20 mph, led by a "20 is Plenty" safety campaign or similar. Cost estimate HERE.
  • Assess, formalize and convert all "goat path" connections into MUPs. These are commonly visible coming off existing MUPs, usually connecting to adjacent shopping centers and strip malls. These occur when numerous people walk or bike across grass that eventually erodes and forms its own trail. These should be upgraded to pathways.
Please advise how we may track our comments through the process, to verify if they are being considered for implementation or not. Thank you for listening.

SIGNED: Angela Connolly and Frank Warnock

Friday, August 6, 2021

Our comments on the White Clay Creek State Park Master Plan

Greetings, DE State Parks. Please add our comments below to the White Clay Creek State Park Master Plan, before the 8-2-2021 deadline. Thank you very much.

In no particular order:

  • There is only 1 park bench/rest stop along the paved Tri-Valley SUP (Shared Use Pthway). There needs to be more, at equal distances, so people can stop, rest and take in the views. The same goes for the entire length of the Pomeroy and Creek Road Trails; there are no benches between Cleveland Ave in Newark all the way to PA, including at the various parking areas.
  • "Shared Zone" (or similar, MUTCD) and posted speed limit signs need to be added along Creek Road from N. College Ave to Wedgewood Roads. This is a human-scale environment shared with motor vehicles. See attached image (right). Presently there is no signage, and cars -- often times speeding -- are weaving between bike-ped traffic.
  • We do NOT agree with the others who are against using stone dust, fine gravel or limestone or other packing materials on trails. Please continue to use these as a proven means to control erosion and formalize trails as needed.
  • Please REMOVE the hanging cable that is blocking Tom Sharpe Lane, at Judge Morris Estate, turning in from Polly Drummond Road. This is a trip or crash hazard, and should be replaced with a removable bollard(s) or partial gate with clear bike-ped access, e.g. along Creek Rd.
  • Tell DelDOT to replace the unsightly concrete barriers on Creek Road at the Pomeroy Trail bridge curve with something more aesthetically pleasing. These are an eyesore and detract from the park's otherwise beautiful scenery.
  • With the advent of "Gravel" bikes and wider trail riding, park trails and pathways should be sub-grouped into the following categories, and mapped as such, e.g. 1. PAVED  2. GRAVEL  3. MTB
  • The Tri-Valley SUP is very overgrown between 9 foot Rd and its southern terminus at Thompson Station/SR72, and is reduced to about 2/3 width. This is hazardous for bi-directional bike-ped traffic. Please perform maintenance, including mowing and edging. At 8', this is the min recommended width for such a facility according to FHWA.
  • Improve safety for the bike-ped crossing between Creek Rd (gravel section) and Tweeds Mill (nature center). A large-sized MUTCD-approved R1-5 in each direction would be a big improvement. As it stands now, most motorists continue through the marked crosswalk, even with people standing there waiting.
  • Connect via SUP the Carpenter Area with the Pomeroy Trail, and that with the Possum Hill and Middle Run Areas.
  • Continue working on a WCCSP-Fair Hill connection via SUP, if that is still being considered.
Thank you so much for listening. Please let us know if there is a way to track our comments, to verify whether or not they are being considered.

--Frank Warnock & Angela Connolly


Above: A hanging cable blocks the entrance to Judge Morris Estate at White Clay Creek State Park. Bollard(s) should always be used where foot & pedal traffic is permitted. Users -- especially the disabled -- should not have to lift their bikes, step over, or cycle around a lengthy stone wall to access the Estate.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

U.S. News & World Report: Delaware #1 Deadliest For Bicycling

... but a new report by StreetLight identifies the most dangerous states for cyclists by fatalities per capita and miles traveled, accounting for states where biking is more commonplace. By this definition, Delaware is the most dangerous state, followed by South Carolina and Florida, which has the most fatalities per capita. On the other side of the list, Massachusetts, New York and Illinois were among the safest states for cyclists. [Full Article ...]

Though shocking, this comes as no surprise really. Despite all the goodwill, and what appear numerous efforts to shore up safety, Delaware's #1 level of service (LOS) priority is still motor vehicles. This includes uninterupted travel at highest possible speed, inducing more and more demand with endless widening of roads, and providing parking craters at the expense of commons and place-making. Combined with infrastructure, retail and civil services that are anything but inviting and safe, almost nobody bikes for transportation in Delaware -- and the few that do are often times in grave danger. To make matters worse, we have a State's advocacy org that is corrupt and has little appetite to do anything meaningful about it.

In Massachusetts, for example, bike-ped crossing enforcement is taken very seriously -- and the results show. With few exceptions, cars begin stopping immediately when bicyclists or pedestrians approach a crossing facility. This sign (right) is but one tool in their toolbox. Instead, however, Bike Delaware quashed any efforts to move in this direction which included updating the vehicle code. Better enforcement with fines of up to $200 go a long way toward increased safety and respect of bicyclists and pedestrians. This, in turn, results in fewer injuries and fatalities, and promotes a culture of awareness and responsibility.

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 a 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.

Also see: Delaware #1 deadliest State for bicycling.

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.