Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Flashback: Vintage Warnock, 1977

By Angela Connolly, 1st State Bikes Secretary

From out of the attic, many treasures emerge - most often in the form of family photographs. Though yellow and aged with time, these precious mementos can bring back powerful and happy memories. When Frankie's Mom recently sent him a collection of family photographs, there was one in particular that captured a unique perspective. In this shot, carefully restored by Melissa Schweitzer, 10 year old Frankie poses on his Schwinn Orange Krate Sting Ray bicycle, and the photo captures an image of a confident, happy boy who seemed to know, almost instinctively, that riding a bicycle would take him to great places.

In spite of his love for bicycling, this precious image appears to be the only one that exists of Frankie at that age on a bicycle. The boy in the photo looks out at us, smiling, his back straight and his posture perfect,  his right foot positioned on the pedal, ready to push off.  Although smiling, he poses almost impatiently, as though he cannot wait to set off on an adventure. Perhaps that is why few photos of Frankie as a child on a bicycle exist - he simply couldn't stay still long enough for the camera to capture a shot! Knowing Frankie as well as I do, upon seeing the picture, I wondered - did the child in that photo somehow know how significant bicycling would be to him?

Frankie's first tour from NJ to Vermont, at
the Bear Mountain Circle (Rt.6) NY, 1985
Frankie's love of cycling started in early childhood. From his hometown of Radburn, NJ, he explored nearby neighborhoods, riding his bike for hours, near his home as well as in the surrounding areas. He rode to school, to town, and everywhere else that he could. When he took on a paper route, his territory widened. The bike became a way to earn some money. And as he grew older, stronger, and more confident, new opportunities came along, and new friends who would introduce him to the world of club riding and long distance touring. As a teenager, mentors taught him how to ride safely and how to channel his strength into speed. Although a happy period in his life, it was at this time that Frankie recognized that less than perfect conditions existed for cyclists, dangerous conditions that threatened their safety. Wanting to make a difference, in his early twenties, Frankie became involved in bicycle Advocacy, which has turned into a lifelong passion that he is devoted to. As he learned more about bicycles and how they work, he also became a proficient mechanic, able to maintain and repair his bicycles. He has mentored and advised countless friends, teaching them to ride safely, sharing his enthusiasm with them. And through the years, the little boy on the Orange Krate has become a man who chooses to ride a bicycle instead of driving a car, a man who has, to date, logged almost 200,000 miles on the many different bicycles that he has owned throughout his life.

Throughout his childhood, Frankie had several bikes. But the Schwinn Orange Krate Sting Ray was his favorite. So we thought it would be fun to re-create the photo that was taken 36 years ago, to celebrate Frankie's lifelong love of cycling. His cycling adventures are now comprised of commuting to work daily, long distance touring with his friends at the White Clay Bicycle Club, volunteering at the Newark Bike Project, advocating, maintaining this Blog, and continuing to mentor and advise friends new to cycling. And like the boy who smiles out at us at age 10, the grown-up Frankie continues to look forward to the adventures that await him.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monty Python - Bicycle Repair Man!

A little humor for the holiday season, submitted by Angela Connolly .... enjoy.

DO: Urban Bike Project gets new home in Wilmington

Cross-posted from Delaware Online

After searching for a new home for six months, the Urban Bike Project is moving into new space in a historic city-owned building that once housed Wilmington’s police horses.

The 6,440-square-foot location at 1500 N. Walnut St. will give the group more space and greater visibility in the community, while not straying far from its 3-year-old home off North Market near East 19th and Race streets, leaders said.

“The building we’re currently in didn’t pass inspection, and it’s slated for demolition. We started looking in the spring of this year when we learned we’d need to move,” Executive Director Laura Wilburn said.

The opportunity to lease the Walnut Street building came out of discussions with the city, which had last leased the space to the now-inactive Urban Environmental Center, said Michael Leventry, a planner for the city and co-chair of the group Bike Wilmington.

“We’re excited about having a much larger space, so that we can have more flexibility in how we use the space and in how many people we are able to serve,” Wilburn said. The fenced-in property also offers “lots of possibilities for programming and events that utilize the outdoor space, once the weather gets nice.”

The Urban Bike Project began six years ago and now serves roughly 500 people a year, providing educational programming and mechanical assistance to city residents and youth.  [Full article ...]

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Must see video: The Walkable (and Bikeable) City

(YouTube) How do we solve the problem of the suburbs? Urbanist Jeff Speck shows how we can free ourselves from dependence on the car -- which he calls "a gas-belching, time-wasting, life-threatening prosthetic device" -- by making our cities more walkable and more pleasant for more people.

Poster's note: Unfortunately, not much progress in Delaware as suburban sprawl continues unabated. Though many developments now have sidewalks, these are usually paths to nowhere, or are too far away from basic services to replace car trips. There is no requirement to connect anything. Sporadic and/or non-standard bicycle facilities also fall short, and in most cases, still require the use of arterial highways to reach meaningful destinations. No matter how many webinars, seminars, summits, bike-walk plans, etc we have in our tiny state, there is little on the ground to show for it. Land use planning is toothless, with weak policies that are easily trampled by development corporations whose only goal is to build high volume, high dollar, automobile dependent tract housing.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How to properly install and use a bicycle helmet mirror

As some of you may know, I believe using a rear view mirror greatly enhances road safety - especially in this day of distracted and aggressive driving. This particular model by "Take A Look" out of Greeley Colorado is, IMO, the clear favorite where quality and durability are concerned. They are made from stainless steel and brass, and can be ordered direct at (800) 832-2453. Avoid those made out of plastic - they aren't as stable, and don't really last.

If you choose not to wear a helmet, there is no need to order the adapter kit mentioned below. Even easier, the mirror can just be mounted on a pair of glasses.

From IceBike.org -- Cycling mirrors are one of those subjects that bring on arguments almost as intense as the "Helmet Wars" found on any cycling discussion on the Internet. They come around once every 6 months or so, and usually leave a lot of acrimony hanging in the ether. Roadies think they are too sexy to use mirrors, mountain bikers don't need them and break them too often anyway, but bicycle commuters and recumbent riders seem to gravitate toward mirrors sooner or later.

So if you are not disposed to reading the ranting of a mirror advocate it is time to click another link and surf to some area of agreement. This page is for mirror users or those investigating various types of mirrors in anticipation of a purchase. [Continue reading...]

Above: The author's personal favorite is the "Take a Look" stainless steel and brass mirror mounted inside the helmet. A flexible plastic adapter kit is available for the purpose, and can be custom shaped to fit the curvature of the helmet's interior.

A closer look at the adapter without the mirror attached. The mirror can be removed at any time, i.e. if the helmet will be tossed around, thrown in a bag, etc.

Above: A view from the side. Mount the adapter so that the mirror itself is about .75" to 1" from the forward edge of the helmet.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Our transportation future, in two scenarios

By Angie Schmitt, Streetsblog -- How will Americans get around in the year 2030? A recent report from the RAND Corporation lays out two “plausible futures” developed though a “scenario analysis” and vetted by outside experts. While RAND takes a decidedly agnostic stance toward the implications of each scenario, the choice that emerges is still pretty stark.

In the first scenario, oil prices continue to climb until 2030 and greenhouse gas emissions are tightly regulated, as a result of the recognition of the harm caused by global warming. Zoning laws have been reformed to promote walkable urban and suburban communities. Transit use has increased substantially. Road pricing is widely used to limit congestion and generate revenue for transportation projects. Vehicle efficiency standards have been tightened, and most drivers use electric vehicles. This is the scenario researchers at RAND call, rather dourly, “No Free Lunch.”

In the second scenario, “Fueled and Freewheeling,” oil prices are relatively low in 2030 due to increasingly advanced extraction methods. Americans’ relationship to energy is much like it was in the 1980s and 1990s. We’ll own more vehicles overall and drive more miles. Suburbanization will continue. Roads are in bad shape because no revenues are raised to repair them. Congestion is worse. This scenario represents the future if little action is taken to counter the effects of global warming.  [continued...]

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kids are paying the price for reckless land use

From KFVS-12 -- Children across the globe can't run as far or as fast as their parents did at their age, according to new research.

In a one-mile footrace, a kid today would finish a minute and a half behind a typical child from 1975, said study lead author Grant Tomkinson, a senior lecturer in the University of South Australia's School of Health Sciences.

"We all live in an environment that's toxic for exercise, and our children are paying the price," Tomkinson said.

Children today are about 15 percent less aerobically fit than their parents were as youngsters, Tomkinson and his colleagues discovered. In the United States it's even worse -- kids' heart endurance fell an average 6 percent in each of the three decades from 1970 to 2000.

These levels of fitness in childhood will more than likely result in worse health in adulthood, Tomkinson said. Kids will have weaker hearts and thinner bones, and an overall lower quality of life.  [keep reading ...]

Poster's note: Check out my favorite book on this topic, "The Geography of Nowhere".

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gas Fired Power Plant Proposed For UD's STAR Campus

A proposed 279 MW gas fired power plant at the University of Delaware's STAR Campus in Newark would impact our health and the air we breath as bicyclists, and active Delawareans in general. Jamie Magee, a lifelong Newark resident and founding member of the Newark Bike Project, had this to say about the findings:

As someone who played outside daily in the 70s and 80s close enough to smell the Chrysler plant on some days, I feel a little insulted when supporters say the TDC project will be "better than Chrysler." Chrysler's problematic past is not one of the options right now. But to the extent that this comparison is made every week in editorials, I'm glad to finally see the following very factual rebuttal of that claim. Sadly, TDC's own projections of one of the worst pollutants, NOx, will in fact be HIGHER than that of Chrysler...

It has been found recently that vocal supporters of this project - most of whom it appears live outside of Newark - have been lying about source emissions as compared to the former Chrysler plant. Citizens and advocates are also dismayed given what we know about climate change, and the role fossil fueled power plants have in it. The University of Delaware tells us that STAR will be a center of innovation, including alternative energy and environmental sustainability "setting the stage for the campus as a vibrant healthy community by design". How a gas fired power plant with multiple smokestacks and visible fumes fits into this equation is not clear.

It's worth noting that Delaware City, adjacent to a refinery, is a noted cancer hot spot in the State. NOx, a pollutant with known negative human health effects, will be among the emissions from the power plant. The news has been kept very tightly under wraps by the City of Newark, the company proposing the power plant and the University of Delaware. City officials kept details of this proposed project private and have been in secret communications with Data Centers LLC, the West Chester, PA company behind the project, for over a year. View the timeline HERE.

Also gleaned from UD's STAR website:

An improved rail system will provide convenient, "green" transportation to the site for our clinical, academic, government, and business partners up and down the Eastern Seaboard in years to come.

As an earlier investigation showed, there appears to be no interest in bicycling as a form of "green transportation" on the campus. Plug-in cars are still largely dependent on fossil fuels as their ultimate source of power, and does nothing to address numerous socio-economic problems related to car dependency. Sadly, if you choose to ride your bike to work at Bloom Energy, or take it on the train to the Campus, there isn't even a bike rack to safely lock your bike. Maybe this will change in the future through the work of advocates, but it shouldn't have to be this way. Bicycle facilities, including bike lanes and pathways, should be on the drawing board well before actual construction.

Let's put a stop to STAR becoming industrial park instead of the Science, Technology, & Advanced Research center it was supposed to be. Let's help UD live up to its own mission of sustainability. Please Sign the petition today, and forward this link on to others!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Urban Bike Project Moves to a New Location

View Larger Map

Cross-posted from their website

The Urban Bike Project is pleased to announce that they have entered into an agreement with the City of Wilmington to occupy 1500 North Walnut Street, a building on the National Register of Historic Places that once served as the City’s horse stables. Their current location is slated for demolition and they have been looking for a new home for about six months.

See the press release for more information.

An open house event and fundraiser is slated for January 10, 2014. Details and further information to come.

Please see important information about what services will and will not be offered by the Urban Bike Project while they move to the new space. 

Poster's note: What fantastic news this is! Newark Bike Project is also in the hunt for Shop 4.0. Hopefully, it won't be too long before both Projects find a permanent home.

Up and coming Urban Bike Project 2.0

Urban Bike Project 1.0 - where it all began (not including Brian's house ;-)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Senator Carper's Response to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act

Long time White Clay Bicycle Club member Joe Lazorick wrote to Senator Tom Carper in response to a recent action alert. Here's what he had to say:

Dear Mr. Lazorick:

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important matter.

I currently ride a bike once or twice a week for exercise and I wholeheartedly agree with you on the importance of maintaining dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. I have been a strong supporter of legislation such as the Safe Routes to School Act and amendments to the MAP-21 Transportation Bill that preserve dedicated funding for non-motorized safety and infrastructure.

In 2011, I joined eleven of my Senate colleagues in sponsoring legislation aimed at improving roadways to make them safer and to encourage Americans to walk or bike to their destinations. The Complete Streets Act of 2011 would have encouraged federal, state, and regional agencies that received federal transportation funding to fully consider incorporating pedestrian and bicycle safety measures when roads were being built or modernized. Unfortunately, this legislation did not receive a vote in the full Senate before the 112th Congress adjourned.

As you know, on November 14, 2013, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced S.1708, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act. This legislation would require the Department of Transportation to set separate regulations for motorized and non-motorized safety. The bill would also allow states to set their own safety targets and implementation methods. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Should I have the opportunity to vote on this legislation before the full Senate, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind.

Thank you again for contacting my office. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about other matters of importance to you.

With best personal regards, I am


Tom Carper
United States Senator

Poster's note: We are very thankful for Joe and others like him who respond to these important action alerts, and take the time to write our Congressional leaders.

Senator Tom, center, is presented with LAB's National Leadership Award at the 2011 National Bike Summit. Go HERE for a complete recap.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Economic Benefits of Bicycling

Enjoy a wonderful series of infographics on the economic benefits of bicycling, brought to you by the League of American Bicyclists. Just click HERE to get started!

Here is a link to the Alliance for Biking and Walking, and a report highlighting the impact that the bicycle industry and bicycle tourism can have on state and local economies. It discusses the cost effectiveness of investments, points out the benefits of bike facilities for business districts and neighborhoods, and identifies the cost savings associated with a mode shift from car to bicycle. The evidence demonstrates that investments in bicycling infrastructure make good economic sense as a cost-effective way to enhance shopping districts and communities, generate tourism and support business.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Polly Sierer sworn in as Mayor of Newark

Polly Sierer has won a controversial Newark Mayoral election. We extend our congratulations to her. It is our sincere hope that she will work with citizens and advocates for a better, more bicycle-friendly Newark. Following is the letter that we will send to Polly, welcoming her to her new position.

Honorable Polly Sierer
Mayor, City of Newark, Delaware


On behalf of Delaware Bikes, I would like to congratulate you as you begin serving the City of Newark as Mayor.  I would also like to offer our assistance to you, in the sincere hope that together we can continue to encourage Newark's efforts towards a truly bicycle friendly city. As advocates, we know that no one can accomplish goals alone. We need cooperation and good will among everyone who cares about bicycling in Newark - Advocates, the Newark Bicycle Committee, the Newark Bike Project, the Delaware Trail Spinners, and of course our citizens. And at the helm, we need a bicycle friendly Mayor, one that will be concerned enough, and brave enough, to share our vision, and make positive changes happen. Newark proper currently enjoys a nearly 5% bicycle modeshare (higher on Main Street), making bicycling a serious part of the transportation system. To put that number in perspective, if you were to convert it to cars on Main Street, that would have serious impact on an already existing congestion problem.

We encourage you to think creatively in terms of reducing congestion downtown, not encouraging more of it as some candidates suggested. For example, if the City surveyed motorists parking on Main Street, they would find a large percentage that live within walking or biking distance. Converting just some of these trips would have a very positive impact on our quality of life downtown. The City should repair its apparently damaged relationship with the University of Delaware, and work jointly to offer serious car-free or car-lite incentives to students who live within a mile of Main Street. Car sharing services could also be offered.

By helping to improve the existing infrastructure, which favors motorized traffic, and creating new facilities, we can encourage more citizens to walk and ride their bikes, lessening their dependence on cars. Our citizens will be  healthier, happier, and economically more sound. Traffic will be more manageable, both on Main Street, and the streets that surround it. It is our hope that the policies you support as Mayor will help to continue to create a more walkable, bikeable Newark, and that the legacy you leave will be one that you can be proud of. We hope that you will consider meeting with us, at your convenience, to discuss our concerns, as well as our ideas to help make Newark truly bicycle friendly.

Angela Connolly
Secretary, Delaware Bikes

Poster's note:  Clearly, bicycling is a significant part of the transportation system in Newark. Yet, for all but one candidate, making Main Street more car-friendly appeared a much more important issue.

Can one's cycling persona influence driver behavior?

By Angela Connolly -- I love riding my 1972 Raleigh Humber, a classic English 3-speed cruiser. I found the bike for a bargain price on eBay. I had fallen in love with one like it that had been donated to the Newark Bike Project, the community's local bicycle cooperative where I am a volunteer. I loved the idea of something so close to England, a country that I love, one that I have visited many times. "Lady Louise", named after my good friend in England, is dark green, and well worn, the original decals mostly intact. When the bike arrived, it was in dire need of some TLC to restore it to its original beauty. I was lucky to have Frank Warnock, a Newark Bike Project lead mechanic and three-speed enthusiast, to help with this task. He carefully rebuilt the Humber, restoring both the performance and beauty of this special bike. To complete the bike's vintage feel, we mounted a wicker market basket to the handlebars, and a vintage green Swiss Army style bag, popular during the '70's, hangs from the rear of the bike's original Brooks leather saddle. I put some 1970's buttons on the army bag, depicting cultural icons of the 70's, including the famous "happy face" symbol and a peace sign. The brass bell gives a soft, friendly sound when I ding it. It now looks as though it has traveled through time, directly from the '70's, a time that I enjoyed as a happy teenager. Although I lived in the Bronx, NY, and never owned a bike as a child, I had friends who taught me to ride, shared their own bikes with me, and Raleigh bikes were a popular favorite back then.

Known as the "Aristocrat of Bicycles", the Humber was built to give the English population who chose not to drive cars an affordable, reliable means of transportation. Available in both men's and lady's models, the Humber is solidly built and heavy. I can cruise along at a steady, comfortable pace. I ride this bicycle only in the immediate area, within a radius of about 10 miles or so, and mostly on side streets. Although the Humber is far from the English villages that it was meant to cruise through, it seems content to travel through the housing developments and local streets that surround my house.

On a recent lovely Fall day, I rode to nearby Main Street in Newark. Riding the Humber is bicycling at its most very basic, purest form for me - no biking shoes, no clips, no Lycra required. On very local trips, I do not even wear my helmet, although I agree with helmet usage, and would not ride my road bike without one. Dressed in leggings, a long sweater, plaid shawl, and leather boots, I set out for a nice leisurely ride. Just me, the bike, and the pleasant clicking noises that the Sturmey Archer internal hub produces as we roll along.

This outing was no different to others that I have taken on Lady Louise. The first thing I always notice while on the Humber is the reaction I get from people, both walking, and in their cars. The cars give me room, waiting patiently behind me as I go across intersections. Drivers smile at me, and wave as they pass me carefully, giving me lots of room to go safely. Pedestrians I meet are a joy, also. Slowly biking my way up the hill through one of the developments, an older lady called out "You lookin' good, Sista". Everyone that I meet along the way, it seems, reacts positively to me. At my destination, parked on Main Street, people admire the bike, ask questions about it, many telling me that it reminds them of a bike that they had, long ago.

The author, taking the mighty Hares Corner on Miss Fuji.
I have different experiences when riding my road bike. Miss Fuji, as I call her, is a sleek ride, all blue, silver and attitude, and very fast. Crouched in the road cycling position, I look the part of the fully kitted out Lycra cyclist, from my helmet, all the way down to my Shimano shoes that I clip into my pedals with. Although I am by no means a very fast cyclist, I look and feel more powerful, and confident. Perhaps this is conveyed to those that I pass, because it creates a totally different riding experience. When on the Fuji, I ride too quickly by people who are walking to exchange greetings, so there's no friendly interaction. I struggle to get up the hills as quickly as I can, because being clipped in, I have to maintain a reasonable speed, or lose my balance and fall over. Cars, expecting me to go faster, and getting angry when I don't, crowd me, they honk, yell, and sometimes send rude gestures my way.  Generally, where I am given plenty of room riding the sharrows on Main Street when on the Humber, this isn't always the case when I am on the Fuji.

Those are my experiences, at opposite ends of the cycling spectrum. And I wonder if other cyclists, ladies or gentlemen, have experienced the same. Can the way we dress for cycling, and the bikes we ride, really influence how drivers treat us?  While I enjoy both types of cycling, and each of the bikes and the rides that I take on them are very special to me, I think that the persona that I present on the Humber somehow brings to mind a slower, more gentle way of riding. It is one that can remind us of a kinder, safer past, long before the current existence of heavier traffic, aggressive and distracted driving, drivers using cell phones and texting while driving. When I am riding Lady Louise, I like to think that I am in that safer world, even if only for a short time.

In between? The author's Crossroads Cruz, a Hybrid featuring a Sturmey Archer
8-speed hub, might just be the perfect medium.

Poster's note:
Personal testimony, and at least one study - supports the claim that drivers pass helmeted cyclists more closely than unhelmeted cyclists (because unhelmeted cyclists seem more vulnerable), and so helmeted cyclists are more likely to get hit. Read about it on BicycleSafe.com. Delaware Bikes' position is simple - it should be an adult's personal decision whether or not to wear a helmet

Monday, December 2, 2013

NPR: Commuting Aboard The L.A. Bike Trains

From National Public Radio -- One of the largest obstacles in getting people to bike to work is their fear of getting hit by a car. A new grass-roots project in Los Angeles is helping folks navigate the ins and outs of traffic.

It's 6:45 a.m. and Barbara Insua is busy packing a bag. She will ride seven miles from her home in Pasadena to NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, where she works as a graphic designer. She only started doing this ride a few months ago.

"It was kind of daunting," she says, "because seven miles to the lab - I didn't know how to do it. I'm not an avid cyclist."

Enter - an organization that arranges commutes by bike in groups. Each Bike Train route has an experienced conductor who serves as a guide. Insua especially likes that these volunteer conductors offer new riders door-to-door service from their homes to the train.

"He came and picked me up from my house," Insua says. "[He] went out of his way to get me to bike for two or three weeks. Then I was conditioned. Then I was brainwashed."  [full story]

Saturday, November 30, 2013

San Diego Investing $200 Million in Regional Bike Network

The latest city to surge forward in funding and building of bicycle infrastructure is San Diego

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) recently approved a $200 million, ten-year plan to build out 77 miles of new bikeways. Many of the 42 projects are focused on completing two bike corridors that have been on the drawing board for years, the 44-mile Coastal Rail Trail and the 21-mile Inland Rail Trail.

It’s another example of a region taking charge of its transportation future, and not waiting for Congress to fund its needs.

We continue to be baffled at how other major cities, facing seemingly the same fiscal, political and community issues and obstacles as Seattle when it comes to expanding and improving bike facilities, nonetheless seem to clear the hurdles.
The program is funded by 1% of the proceeds from a half-cent transportation tax, which voters extended for 40 years in 2008 with by a 67%-23% vote. Learn more from this fact sheet about TransNet. [read the article in full]

Poster's note: Though Newark has a masterpiece bicycle plan, there remains no dedicated funding source for implementation.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Delaware Bicycle Council, Bike Delaware Special Meeting

A special meeting took place on November 6, between Delaware's two most recognized bicycle advocacy organizations; the Delaware Bicycle Council and Bike Delaware. There have been few opportunities for them to work together, given very different views as to what constitutes bike-friendliness. Bike Delaware believes that segregated facilities deserve most of our focus, while the Delaware Bicycle Council takes the holistic, all-inclusive approach as seen in the League of American Bicyclists 5 Es.

Listen to the meeting in mp3, or visit the Delaware Bicycle Council's webpage for complete meeting information. Anyone interested in advocacy should listen, because it truly highlights the differences between the two organizations. Bike Delaware's absence on Funding Pools, and how they undermined the wording of a road safety PSA is very telling. All told, there is good and bad - but hopefully this meeting will bring forth a new focus on cooperation, and a more well rounded approach to bicycle advocacy.

Amy Wilburn of the Delaware Bicycle Council (L), and James Wilson, Executive Director of Bike Delaware (R) discuss their differences during the 2011 Goals Meeting.

Amy Roe's Reflection On The Election

By Amy Roe, Wed 11/27 -- I would like to share my reflections on yesterday's election in Newark. It is appropriate that tomorrow is Thanksgiving as I have a lot to be thankful for.

My husband of 18 years was a constant source of affection and encouragement. He never complained that he had to forage for cheese and crackers on the many nights when I was on the campaign trail.

My campaign team and volunteers have become some of my very dearest friends. I am so very grateful for the dozens of neighbors who braved the cold, wind and rain to share our positive message. I have witnessed the power of community and I am both impressed and humbled by it.

Many neighbors, friends and family members donated to my campaign. I know times are tough, especially as the holidays approach, and I am grateful. Many also donated their time, which is often a much more precious resource. I am honored to have been your candidate.

Photo courtesy of Sandy Schiever
We lost this election by only 3% of the vote in a 7-way race, for which I am very proud. We had very high ethical standards for our campaign and focused our efforts on engaging the issues, respecting other candidates, sharing our vision for the future and offering specific alternatives to improve city affairs. I am proud that we ran an honorable campaign. While at the polls an elected official who endorsed another candidate congratulated me for “taking the high road”. If he knew my father he would have known there was no other option.

I have never been prouder to be a Newark resident; to be one of my neighbors. Our future is full of opportunity and we have proven that we can pull together to improve our town. I am so thankful that we have each other and that we are a community of thoughtful and respectful individuals who value the process and support each other. We confront our challenges with knowledge and we learn from experience. I look forward to working with you in the near future.

With a very warm heart,

Poster's note: Amy is a class act and too good for Newark, apparently. The City may never again have an opportunity to elect a more qualified and caring individual, one of a rare few who puts environment and quality of life ahead of profit making. A letter of congratulations will be sent to Polly Sierer from Delaware Bikes, along with an invitation to join us in making Newark more bicycle friendly.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Boston Debuts "Sharrows On Steroids"

From Boston.com -- A new set of street markings on Allston’s Brighton Avenue aren’t simply an errant set of dashes installed by city staff with extra paint - they’re part of a national experiment to test innovative bike facilities.

I first noticed the markings last week while driving through Allston Village. Running down the right-hand lanes on both sides of Brighton Avenue are bike-priority icons, known as “sharrows” in cyclist parlance, hugged by two sets of dashed lines along either side that make the lane look more like an airport runway.

My first thought: Sharrows on steroids!

And Boston bike czar Nicole Freedman said that’s exactly what they are. (Well, except that the former Olympic cyclist wasn’t too happy about the doping analogy.) Officially, the markings have a more dignified name: Priority shared-lane markings.

Sharrows, or shared lane markings, indicate that cars must share the lane with cyclists. Transportation officials use them on roads when there’s no space, money, or political will to section off pavement for bike lanes. For that reason, the sharrows are often viewed in bike circles as low-hanging fruit: The wimpiest, least ambitious method of asserting space for people who ride bikes.

But when it came to Brighton Avenue, a road that is well-traveled by cyclists but too narrow for bike-only facilities, Freedman and her staff brainstormed if there was a way to beef up the garden-variety sharrow.  [keep reading]

Poster's note: Sharrows and "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" signs have enhanced safety on Newark's Main Street. However, according to comments on the Newark Bike Project's facebook page, bicyclists are still being harassed by motorists while legitimately taking the lane. Perhaps a more aggressive approach, and/or better enforcement is needed?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Which Mayoral Candidate will best promote active transportation in Newark?

There are many issues at hand in Newark's upcoming Mayoral election, but getting more people on bikes is key to addressing lots of them. These include a more vibrant local economy, less traffic, less noise, better health, more parking for those who truly need it, and a whole host of other benefits that come with reduced auto dependency.

Dr. Amy Roe
The ideal candidate will think creatively in terms of reducing congestion downtown, not encouraging more of it as some would suggest - and even think is desirable. For example, if the City surveyed motorists parking on Main Street, they would find a large percentage that live within walking or biking distance. Converting just some of these trips would have a very positive impact on our quality of life downtown. The City should repair its apparently damaged relationship with the University of Delaware, and work jointly to offer serious car-free or car-lite incentives to students who live within a mile of Main Street. Car sharing services could also be offered. Ideas like these, and a strong backing of Newark's Bicycle and Transportation Plan, is smart thinking - and exactly why Delaware Bikes has endorsed Amy Roe for Mayor.

Here are some statements from Newark's Mayoral candidates, from both Bike Delaware and Delaware Online surveys, that might indicate how serious they are about bicycling and active transportation. 

Donald DelCollo
  • "Taking a 1960’s traffic infrastructure and reshaping in into something that is capable of handling our actual present and future needs."
  • Making downtown Newark a more parking friendly place."
  • "Adding more downtown Parking. To help the University show its good will toward the residents of Newark and since it basically surrounds Main Street stopping the possibility of us adding anymore ground level parking."
  • Noted that Newark Natural Foods donated $2,485 to the Newark Bike Project.
Robyn Harland
  • "[B]ad knees prevent me from biking. But I do support your [bicycling] efforts due to the large college environment."
  • I am NOT in FAVOR of building a Wawa on this corner."
Mark Morehead
  • “I have enjoyed bicycling since a very young age. My grandmother lived out in the country, so I had to bike several miles each way to buy penny candy at the one shop in her village. I rode my bike to school every day in good weather.  In college, I would often go out for a 20-25 mile loop, rather than studying some more physics. I eventually moved to Canberra, Australia, one of the truly great biking cities in the world.  I biked throughout the park system, exploring the far corners of the region. While Canberra has the luxury of being a planned community, I believe we can work towards building an interconnected path system in Newark and the surrounding areas. I welcome the opportunity to spread the word about the many benefits of biking.”
Rebecca Powers
  • "As mayor I will ensure that we proactively address both infrastructure challenges - such as storm water management, traffic and transportation - and land use, including student housing."
Amy Roe
  • "The implementation of Newark’s Bicycle Plan as part of a comprehensive transportation plan is a priority for me. I have been a bicyclist in Newark since my youth and I support bicycling for transportation and recreation.
  • The sharrows on Main Street have greatly improved bicycle safety and I would like to see those expanded throughout Newark, as well as a cycle track on Delaware Avenue to improve safety and the bikability of our town.
  • Newark’s Bicycle Committee is an important group that provides leadership and expertise on bicycle issues. I would like this group to receive the respect that it deserves by raising it to the level of a city committee. This would eliminate ambiguity in reporting and would enable plans developed by the Bicycle Committee to be better integrated into discussions by our City Council and implemented by staff for generations to come.
  • I am committed to improving access to affordable bicycles and bicycle repair, and am one of the nine founders of the Newark Bike Project.
  • I believe we should all share the street, and I support the integration of complete streets in city planning. Bicycling has been, and will continue to be, important to Newarkers."
  • "I oppose the development of new gas pumps on South Main Street."
Polly Sierer
  • "Overall quality of life is something that we as a City need to address - including environmental matters, parking and traffic, and helping the homeless."
Mathew Vento
  • "Traffic and Parking - specifically Main St. and Delaware Ave. If there are signals at the crosswalks the traffic would move more smoothly and it would be safer for the students who often prefer to text rather than look both ways while crossing the street."
  • "I support the Wawa being built with gas pumps."
  • "This [bicycling] is very important to our city."
Whatever/whoever you decide, if you live in the Newark, it is important you go out and VOTE on November 26th. Vote for bicycling and quality of life in Newark, and to make our streets safe and usable for everyone.
Amy Roe, fifth from the left, is one of the founders of the Newark Bike Project in 2011.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

No Room For Bicycle Commuting at Bloom Energy

By Angela Connolly

Clean, renewable energy. Sustainability. Enabling cleaner, greener commerce. These are the first words that greet visitors to the Bloom Energy website. Bloom Energy, headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA., is a provider of breakthrough solid oxide fuel cell technology generating clean, highly-efficient onsite power from multiple fuel sources. Founded in 2001 with a mission to make clean, reliable energy affordable for everyone in the world, Bloom Energy Servers are currently producing power for several Fortune 500 companies. The Bloom Energy Manufacturing Center will become the anchor tenant of the new University of Delaware Science, Technology and Advanced Research Campus, and many citizens, both from the community and local government, were anxious to welcome them. At their groundbreaking in April, 2012, University of Delaware President Patrick Harker welcomed Bloom, saying "We're thrilled to welcome Bloom Energy to UD's Science, Technology and Advanced Research Campus. From the beginning, we've envisioned this campus as a place where the most creative minds in academia and industry come together to solve the world's most urgent problems. This vision is being actualized today."

An abandoned bike path along Rt.896 takes you close. But
not close enough.

Harker went on to say "We look forward to engaging with Bloom in innovative research, academic and community partnerships - partnerships that benefit the state and its people and revolutionize America's clean energy future."

With such high expectations, you would think that the Newark facility would have been designed to welcome bicyclists and pedestrians safely and efficiently. After all, people who use their bicycles for transportation, and those who get to their destinations on foot, or who use public transportation, are the very models of sustainable, responsible living. Unfortunately, a recent visit to the Bloom Energy campus in Newark proved to us that Bloom Energy did not consider including people who bicycle to the campus, or walk there, in their campus infrastructure. And to us, that is unacceptable.

Delaware Bikes visited the site twice recently, riding there from nearby Ogletown. Needless to say, what we found was a huge disappointment. Immediately, we identified 3 major issues:
  • Access from Christina Parkway requires the crossing of a multi-lane arterial road with no actuated crosswalk facility.
  • Though the site road has medium shoulders further in, there are no bike lane markings, share the road signs, or other features that would encourage bicycle commuting to the campus.
  • No bicycle parking anywhere on the property.
Not a very inviting prospect during rush hour traffic.
Several e-mails to the contact information for Bloom Energy via their website were ignored. Although several local University sources that we contacted were quick to reply and tried to help, unfortunately they had no answers for us regarding the omission of bicycle facilities on the Bloom campus.

We believe that a clean energy future such as UD President Harker envisions starts here at home, in our community, with responsibly planned transportation infrastructure. This enables those who choose cycling and walking to do so safely and easily. That this was overlooked is a shameful omission on the part of Bloom Energy's facility planners. It should have been automatic for them to include bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure in their planning. By not doing so, they have contradicted their own good intentions, and cast doubt upon their beliefs about sustainability, and living greener. Encouraging employees to bike to work, and creating safe and inviting facilities for them to do so, would have been a better step in the right direction.

Although we were fooled by it from a distance, no - this wasn't a bike rack.
A picnic table, and facilities for smokers - but no rack for bicyclists to park against.
Poster's note: Though very disappointing given UD's talk about sustainability (greenwashing) and Bloom's stated mission, this is not unexpected. How many companies in Delaware actually encourage bicycle commuting?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Super Award for Super Mario

Mario Nappa takes the Lavoisier Medal for Technical Achievement. A super award for the Superman of bicycling in Delaware.

From DuPont's Newsletter -- Mario Nappa, DuPont Fellow, DuPont Chemicals & Fluoroproducts, is recognized for his exceptional contributions in fluorine chemistry at DuPont. During his 32 year career at DuPont, Dr. Nappa has been responsible for the development of synthetic schemes for fluorinated molecules of business interest and has scaled those schemes for customer sampling and commercialization. A key person in the successful development of many of the major fluorochemical processes commercialized in the last two decades, Dr. Nappa has been the lead chemist in process development for the commercialization phase of the scientific breakthrough which is currently sold under the name Opteon™ YF- refrigerant HFO-1234yf. He has identified new classes of fluorocarbons throughout his career at DuPont and has helped guide and address our business strategies, making a significant financial impact for DuPont.

Dr. Nappa is the author of 20 publications and inventor or co-inventor of 114 issued U.S. patents with several others in various stages of prosecution. His commitment and vision to aggressively build and protect DuPont’s intellectual property in this area continues to strengthen our IP estate in fluorochemicals.

Well-recognized for his leadership throughout the industry, Dr. Nappa shares his passion for science with others through collaboration and mentorship. He has led an initiative to make step change improvements in safety and operating productivity for the fluorochemical R&D labs at DuPont and mentors scientists through a range of activities. 

Poster's note:  I have been riding with Mario since 1997 when I first moved to the area and joined the White Clay Bicycle Club. Not only is Mario a super achiever at DuPont, but in Delaware's bicycling community as well. This includes leading rides and tours, directing events, serving as President of WCBC, founding Bike Delaware, mastering the latest electronic technologies available to bicyclists, and the list goes on. A huge tip of the helmet goes to Super Mario!

A comprehensive guide to locking up your bike

Folks often times visit the Newark Bike Project after their bike is stolen. We heard a story recently about bike thieves taking the bus from Wilmington, who tried to rob 3 bikes in front of the Newark Library. When they were refused entry back on, the thieves became enraged and combative. Long story short, the bus driver called 911 resulting in the arrest of 1 adult and 2 juveniles, and the return of the bikes. A huge round of kudos to that bus driver.

If only we could all be that lucky. This article from Baltimore Bike Party says it all when it comes to correctly locking your bike.

Excerpts -

Buy a u-lock.  Just do it.  No, no, no.  I don’t want to hear your reasons or your excuses.  You want to keep your bike?  Buy a u-lock, a good one.  Save your pennies, get a paper route, whatever.  Buy a u-lock.

As said above, the primary tool of bike thieves in our city is a pair of bolt cutters.  Bolt cutters will make quick work of ANY cable lock, or unhardened steel chain (like you can buy from a hardware store).  Seriously, like 5 seconds, if they fumble with it.  Good u-locks are made from a hardened steel that is much more resistant to cutting.

Keep your bike somewhere visible.  If you are grabbing coffee or lunch, lock it where you can watch it from the window.  If that’s not an option, lock it where it has the most eyes on it.

Lock your bike to something sturdy.  Make sure the fence, pole, or other object is securely fastened to the ground.  Also, make sure that what you are locking to is AS STRONG OR STRONGER than your lock.

Locking skewers are an option for keeping both wheels secure.  There are a number of kinds with various methods of locking, but most all of them work well at deterring theft.  They replace your quick release skewers and prevent you from having to carry a second lock.

If you buy a cable lock to go with your u-lock (many companies sell them together in packages now) you can leave your front wheel in place and simply thread the cable through the front wheel, then back through itself and lock the other end inside your u-lock.  Very few thieves would bother to cut a cable just for your front wheel, but it is possible.

Read the entire article HERE, including lots of photos and additional tips.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A shared goal for the Delaware Bicycle Council, Bike Delaware?

By Amy Wilburn, Chair, Delaware Bicycle Council

The Delaware Bicycle Council and Bike Delaware have agreed to join forces to support efforts to establish a bike and pedestrian connection to the Christiana Mall and the DART park ‘n ride, and to ensure that the connection is established within the next year. This connection will also provide a way to cross I95.

Among the casualties of new construction at the Mall and along I95 was an informal "goat path" connector between the Cavalier Country Club Apartment complex adjacent to the Mall and the DART park-n-ride, which has since been relocated. This dirt path had been the only safe way to access the Mall by bike or by foot, and the only viable way at all to access it from the north.

Christiana Mall from the air, accessible only by car or bus.
The goat path, marked at top with a red arrow, is now closed,
blocking the way for dozens of bike/ped commuters.

Most of us who walk or bike by choice can either avoid the Mall or drive to it, unfortunate as it is in the 21st century to be forced into either option. But a segment of our population does not have the luxury of either driving to the Mall or avoiding it altogether. These people include Mall employees and park-n-ride transit users who reside in the area.  In addition, the Mall is a flagship destination in northern Delaware.  It is unacceptable that in a state ranked by the LAB as the fifth most bike friendly in the nation, we cannot get cyclists and pedestrians safely to such an important destination.

It is hoped that by joining forces, Bike Delaware and the Delaware Bicycle Council can change this unfortunate situation and help our wonderful state to continue to make progress towards becoming truly bike friendly.

Poster's note: The two organizations have had few such opportunities, given differing views on bicycle advocacy. Bike Delaware's prime focus has been on segregated bicycle facilities, while the Delaware Bicycle Council takes the holistic, all-inclusive approach as seen in the League of American Bicyclists 5 Es.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

We Love Senator Karen Peterson - Here's Why

Because she has an eye on our safety and gets things done.

On November 10th, I contacted Senator Peterson concerning bicycle and pedestrian safety, crossing Route 273 at Red Mill Road in Ogletown. I live about a half mile from this arterial intersection, which hasn't changed much since the highway was built almost 20 years ago. The following email exchange took place between the Senator, myself, and DelDOT.

From: Frank Warnock
Sent: Sunday, November 10, 2013
To: Peterson, Karen (LegHall)
Subject: Rt.273/Red Mill Road Intersection

Hi Karen,
Maybe you can help. I have been advocating for pedestrian/bicycle facilities at the Rt.273/Red Mill intersection for close to 10 years, with little to show for it. I see folks all the time crossing there on foot, and it is my usual way home on the bike. It is very dangerous, especially since the green light phase coming from Old Ogletown is so short, one can't make it through on time without running. And lately it hasn't even been detecting bikes. Twice I asked DelDOT, and they had someone do counts - once 8 years ago and once recently - which apparently didn't produce enough people. Yet it seems common that I see folks out there. I will attach a few photos I took at or immediately adjacent to where there should be a crosswalk.

Let me know what, if anything you can do, or how I can better advocate for safety improvements at this location. It's a pretty straightforward intersection and should only be a matter of an upgrade or adding the proper facilities.

Thanks so much, Karen,

From: Peterson, Karen (LegHall)
Sent: Tuesday, November 12
To: Shockley, Tina (DelDOT)
Subject: FW: Rt.273/Red Mill Road Intersection

Tina --
Is there any way to make this intersection safer for pedestrians and bicyclists? There might not be a whole lot of pedestrians and bicyclists who try to navigate this intersection (probably because it would be life-threatening to do so) but it sure would be nice to make it less dangerous for those who must use it.


From: Shockley, Tina (DelDOT)
Sent: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
To: Peterson, Karen (LegHall)
Subject: RE: Rt.273/Red Mill Road Intersection

Sen. Peterson:
Thank you for your email. This location is near the Newark to Wilmington Pathway Feasibility Study, so we can potentially look at it as part of that.  However, there is not a plan for any specific bike/ped changes to this specific location because as you noted the bike/ped numbers don't indicate a need. Unfortunately, when SR 273 was "upgraded" to a quasi-limited access style road 20 years ago, multi-modal infrastructure was not a focus and  not incorporated in the project. Also given the character of the road, we may not have wanted to encourage bike/ped traffic at that time, and I am sure the traffic has even gotten heavier since then.

Unfortunately I don't think there is a whole lot DelDOT can do at this location.

Mr. Warnock is welcome to write to Tom Meyer and request an explanation of the outcome of the recent traffic study....that may provide him with more information on DelDOT's position on this location. He is at 165 Brick Store Landing Road, Smyrna, DE  19977.

Tina Shockley

From: Shockley, Tina (DelDOT)
Sent: Wednesday, November 13
To: Peterson, Karen (LegHall)
Subject: RE: Rt.273/Red Mill Road Intersection

Sen. Peterson:
Update on Rt. 273/Red Mill Road Intersection…..Our TMC is dispatching a signal tech to "tune" the loop detectors along Old Ogletown Rd and Red Mill Rd for bicycle actuations. 

With respect to pedestrian safety and signal timing, there's an upcoming traffic system improvement project at this intersection that can include the installation of a signalized pedestrian crosswalk across SR 273. This project will likely begin this coming winter/spring. Additional signal timing adjustments are not recommended until the pedestrian signals and pushbuttons are installed.


The above explains just why the residents of Senatorial District #9 are very fortunate to have Senator Peterson representing them. Studies conducted by DelDOT show that only a small number of pedestrians and cyclists are using this potentially dangerous intersection to help them get where they need to go. However, in our own experiences, and as shown in these photos, we know that folks cross this way by foot and bicycle often. Convincing the Senator of the urgency of the situation was unnecessary. She understands that even a handful of these vulnerable people are worthy of efforts to make them safer. To many people, existing dangerous crossings are the only options available. By helping to resolve this issue so quickly, Senator Peterson has proved once again how dedicated she is to the Constituents she serves, and to the people who travel through her district. On behalf of these people, we thank her!

We also thank Tina Shockly for her investigative efforts on this issue. She took a problem off of the back burner and obtained information for us quickly. Not too long ago, we would have had less confidence in DelDOT's response to bicyclist and pedestrian needs in these circumstances. What a difference a few years have made, since the adoption of a Complete Streets policy, the election of a bicycle-friendly Governor, and the appointment of a Transportation Secretary who not only bikes, but has solid MPO (Metropolitan Planning Org) experience. Hopefully, these positives will remain permanent, and we see the election of many more Karen Petersons in the years to come!