Thursday, October 31, 2013

Public Workshop: Old Baltimore Pike Multi-intersection Reconstruction

Public Workshop


The Department of Transportation (DelDOT) is holding a Public Workshop to obtain comments from surrounding businesses and the general public for two projects along Old Baltimore Pike. The workshop will be held on Monday, November 4, 2013, at Glasgow High School, 1901 South College Avenue in Newark. The public is invited to attend any time between 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The project limits for the intersection improvement project at Old Baltimore Pike and Salem Church Road run approximately 700 feet north and south of Old Baltimore Pike on both legs of Salem Church Road, as well as along Old Baltimore Pike east and west between both intersections with Salem Church Road. The project involves intersection improvements including the expansion of single left-turn lanes to double left-turn lanes from Old Baltimore Pike onto both legs of Salem Church Road. Visit the project webpage for full details.

Poster's note: DOTs commonly refer to these projects as "improvements", but unless we speak up, it can be quite the opposite for bicyclists. Generally, the focus is on adding car lanes and increasing capacity for motorized traffic. Usually, bicycle and pedestrian improvements are mentioned in DelDOT workshops.

Currently, Old Baltimore Pike has wide shoulders that are marked with deteriorating bike lane symbols. At the intersections, there are no taper lines at the onset of the right turn-only lanes. The shoulder/bike lane enters into a share at this point for most of its length, as seen below:

Given there is no mention of bicycle facility improvements, it's important we attend and make our case heard. For one, adding additional left turn lanes could result in the elimination of the bike lane/shoulder in both directions at Salem Church Road.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Study: Pedestrian, Bicyclist Deaths from Distracted Driving Keep Climbing

Although the overall traffic death rate is dropping, the number of pedestrians and bicyclists killed by distracted drivers in the United States is climbing, according to a new study in Public Health Reports.

Researchers utilized the Fatality Analysis Reporting System to find crashes on public roads from 2005 to 2010 that led to at least one death, finding that pedestrian deaths jumped to 500 from 347. The number of bicyclist deaths rose to 73 from 56, with a peak of 77 in 2008. They also found that distracted drivers were three times more likely to hit pedestrians on road shoulders and 1.6 times more likely to hit them in marked crosswalks.  [keep reading ...]

Poster's note: It is my personal opinion that distracted driving should receive a penalty commensurate with DUI, given that both are equally dangerous. As it stands now, cell phone and other laws in Delaware designed to curb this reckless behavior are toothless and rarely enforced. Don't expect much to change; the NTSB hasn't touched the issue of bicycle safety in over 40 years, despite many more fatalities than passengers in airplanes and trains.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Subcribe to Delaware Bikes via email

The response to Delaware Bikes has been overwhelming. With the passage of our 10,000th pageview since our inception in Spring 2013, we now offer our readers the option to subscribe via email and receive our posts in their inbox. Simply enter your address in the upper right where it says "Subscribe via Email".

In addition, we will be entering the world of social media, and will add a Facebook page sometime in November. Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

DelDOT sweeping reform still a few months away

The DelDOT Sweeper. One problem officials cite is the size of the vehicle, and that additional vehicles must follow behind in the interest of safety.

Some new developments in the ongoing campaign for sweeping reform

According to Randy Cole, Environmental Program Manager with DelDOT:
"Per our new National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, we have to submit an outline to DNREC by November 7, 2013 that describes our strategy for implementing the Stormwater Management Plan (SWPP&MP) that is due by May 7, 2014. The SWPP&MP will lay out the specifics and measurable goals for the various elements, including our sweeping program. We are near completion of a pilot study of our proposed sweeping plan. When the sweeping plan is submitted to DNREC, it may go through several iterations before it is approved. So we're still a few months away from full implementation. As for Otts Chapel [Rd], I spoke with the maintenance engineer and you should continue to submit requests to DelDOT for the entire roadway. As of now, that road is classified as "Swept by Special Work Order."

Otts Chapel at both the RR and I95 is one of the most important areas we hope to see stepped up sweeping as a result of the reform. I will attach photos of how it looks almost all the time, yet this is a widely used bike route for both commuters and students, and recreation as well. Even after swept, it only lasts about a month before looking like this again, forcing bikes to take the right lane instead.

Thank you so much, Randy. Please advise asap if this is okay to publish on my news blog as written.  -Frank

Featured quote:
"Yes, I've noticed there are accumulation zones. I always thought it had something to do with the sweeper and possibly the operator. The sweeper might not easily maneuver into some of these areas. Also, I do not think the shoulders are emphasized as needing sweeping. Sometimes, it looks like stuff it pushed into the shoulder from the road and then they move on to other tasks.  Rubble also piles up near islands at intersections, especially after car accidents. I think it gets pushed off the road and into the only space that cyclists can use. This happens routinely at Otts Chapel and Old Baltimore Pike or on any of the intersections up along Elkton Rd."  -Lou Rossie (a commuter who rides Otts Chapel and Elkton Road daily to and from UD.)

Otts Chapel Road North into Newark. Conditions like these force bicyclists to use the lane of traffic, drawing the ire of passing motorists.

Average condition of the Otts Chapel Road shoulder over I-95. Conditions like these are mostly found in reflection zones (curbs, barriers, etc).

Friday, October 25, 2013

In almost every European country, bikes are outselling new cars

From National Public Radio -- We know that Europeans love their bicycles - think Amsterdam or Paris. Denmark even has highways specifically for cyclists.

Indeed, earlier this month, NPR's Lauren Frayer noted that Spain, which has long had a love affair with cars, is embracing the bicycle: For the first time on record, Lauren noted, bicycles outsold cars in the country.

But it's becoming a Continent-wide phenomenon. More bikes were sold in Italy than cars - for the first time since World War II.

This prompted us to look at the figures across the 27 member states of the European Union for both cars and bicycles. New-car registrations for Cyprus and Malta weren't available, so we took them out of the comparison.  [full article ...]

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Analysis: Northern Delaware Greenway, Talley Road Section

When this project is finished, which includes "the construction of a 10-ft wide paved path, and the reconstruction of Talley Road to reduce the travel lane widths from 12-ft to 11-ft and shoulder widths from 8-ft to 5-ft.", it will end up costing nearly 2 million dollars. Below is a streetview of this short section of road, which serves as a connector between 2 off-alignment sections of the Northern Delaware Greenway:

View Larger Map

Clearly, there were other options available at a much lower cost. A resurfacing of the shoulders and the installation of a buffered or raised 2-way cycle track (pictured at bottom) would be highly effective. We just posted an article showing over 20 bikeways projects that Maryland is about to embark on with 3.2 million dollars. Imagine the progress we could make not only here, but across many other, more critical projects with even half that amount.

Construction begins along, not on Tally Rd
Consider that the amount spent on the Talley Road project would reestablish Funding Pools in Delaware, setting aside a percentage of the transportation budget for smaller, albeit critical projects that can have a huge impact on connectivity for both cyclists and pedestrians. In the past, a similar set aside brought us projects like the Paper Mill Road bike lanes. There has been an on-going effort to reestablish these funding pools, most recently by the Delaware Bicycle Council, members of the local metropolitan planning organization, and the state's bicycle coordinator. Unfortunately, this initiative has stalled several times, and lacks support from Bike Delaware.

In a world where money and resources were unlimited, the Talley Road MUP could be justified. But money and resources are tight in Delaware. For more than half of what Maryland is putting aside, we get Talley Road, one project that is of questionable value. We hesitate to single out any one project in Delaware, but it’s surely worth noting that Wilmington will be completing a number of bike routes via sharrows and signage with a $200,000 grant from DelDOT (TA grant). For under $300,000, Wilmington will get 4 cross city routes.

Left: If they are that bent on keeping continuity in a bike path, separated cycle tracks are very popular around the world, and now gaining traction in the US. According to the Green Lane Project, there will be over 200 by the end of this year, up from 102 last year. Such creative thinking could have brought one to Tally Road, possibly saving most of the cost (in millions) for other much needed projects.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bikes vs Cars, coming in 2014

This looks like a fantastic upcoming film, and worthy of our support:

Like Taken for a Ride before it (below), what a great education tool this will turn out to be. Click HERE to donate.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Comments on the Newark-Wilmington Pathway

We would like to thank all of those who brought these Workshops to the public. The ideas and plans were very informative and well presented. Delaware Bikes representatives were able to attend both the Newark and Wilmington events.

General Comments:
It was exciting to see the possibilities for pathway routes between Newark and Wilmington. However, it is hard not to notice the many transportation cyclists that are already out there, using busy arterial roads such as Rt 4 and Kirkwood Highway to make their way between these two cities, and all points in between. We don’t think that it is fair to make these bicyclists wait 10, 15, 20, or however many years it will take to complete the different stages of this project. These cyclists need a safe on-road route developed as soon as possible, at least within a couple of years.

While most folks are very enthusiastic about using our existing trails and pathways, such as the James Hall and Pomeroy Trail system in Newark, we believe that there is a very real need to make our existing, car-centric facilities more bicycle-friendly. Most bicyclists want and need to use our roads in their bicycle travels. They should not be relegated off the road, having to place their bikes on a carrier rack to drive to a bike path facility. That defeats the purpose, and does nothing to reduce car dependence. The goal for most cyclists is to use the bicycle whenever they can for active transportation. This can be accomplished by well-connected trails if they are near to home, but the reality is that when most New Castle County bicyclists leave their homes, they will encounter arterial roads that they must navigate for work, recreation, and to run errands - and will for the foreseeable future.

In Summary:
From our observations, it is apparent that everyday transportation bicyclists struggle with their journeys between Newark and Wilmington. These folks are desperately in need of safe and reasonable on-road facilities to help them get to where they need to go - today. A suitable route would have correctly designed bike lanes where shoulders currently exist, sharrows on suitable roads w/o shoulders that are 35 mph or less, and wayfinding in the form of signs and/or sharrows. A few options currently exist that make for an easy, relatively safe and direct ride between the two cities. We are certain that these routes are feasible and worthy of immediate DelDOT consideration.

Unlike Rails to Trails projects, which convert the ROW of abandoned railroads to paved trails, the Newark-Wilmington Pathway - if or when it happens - will be anything but a "highway" for bicyclists. Lack of land use planning and enforcement over many generations make path continuity a daunting task, with several sections rated as "difficult" to construct due to private property or environmental issues. Though we support it, and it will serve a definite purpose, the final result is likely to be a less direct, more stop-and-go experience that will tempt bicyclists to use adjacent roads if it saves time and distance.

We encourage DelDOT to move forward with this project, but also provide the safest possible on-road facilities, connecting Newark and Wilmington by bicycle at a fraction of the cost using our existing roads.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mike Castle Trail Grand Opening - RSVP today!

By Melanie Rapp (DNREC) -- You’re invited to the Grand Opening of the Michael Castle Trail at 11:30, Friday, Oct. 18. (Invitation below.)

Please RSVP TO: by noon, Thursday, Oct. 17.  (Our thanks to those who have already RSVPd.) If you have any questions, please contact DNREC Public Affairs at 302-739-9902

Poster's note: Though we are road advocacy, we are posting this trail event because it is not posted on our state advocacy organization's website, which is focused primarily on trails(?). The Mike Castle Trail, when both phases are completed, will provide an excellent off the road, cross-state opportunity for road, beginner, and mountain bicyclists alike. The RSVP deadline is noon today but perhaps they will take late registrants as well - can't hurt to try.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's all about choice

By Amy Wilburn -- I ride a bicycle for transportation as frequently as I can. When I commute to the office in Wilmington, I most often bike, but sometimes I ride the bus and very occasionally I drive. So I got to thinking about what it takes for bike transportation to become a really viable option. And I realized that’s exactly what it takes: Options. As in choices. Not a one-size-fits-all attitude, but an understanding that no two cyclists are alike and that any given cyclist isn’t alike two days in a row.

Cyclists aren’t all that unlike motorists. Motorists need to get used to driving on the roads. So do cyclists. Practice makes perfect. Motorists need a safe place to put the car at the end of a trip. Motorists need routes that get them where they are going, efficiently and conveniently and comfortably. They don’t always go to and from the same destinations. When they commute to work, they may need to run an errand on the way home. Or they may try to avoid congestion caused by construction. And a bit of variety never hurt anyone. Same thing with cyclists, only more so because there are a number of additional factors that cyclists need to take into consideration when choosing a route. Not to mention that if the trip is longer than a few miles, the terrain is hilly, or the day is hot, there may be a real need for locker room and shower facilities at the end of the ride. Especially if the cyclist is employed in a position that requires contact with the public. Yet on a cooler evening, that same cyclist may bike dressed for a party a few miles away.

In this series of three articles, I hope to use my own experiences to encourage and guide others to transport themselves by bicycle. Exploring the various options is an adventure worth taking. I have discovered amazing aspects about Wilmington and its suburbs that I would never have discovered if I hadn’t been biking.

I also hope to help non-cyclists who are responsible for designing our transportation facilities to understand how important options are to cyclists as well as to begin to see our roads and trails through the eyes of a bicyclist.

Keeping in mind that we are not identical, that we have different ability levels and tolerance for adverse conditions, what are the factors that a cyclist must consider when choosing a route? Some are obvious, but some most people - unless they bike regularly - have probably never considered. Usually one factor isn’t make or break. All of the factors must be weighed together. It’s a cost-benefit analysis, even if only in the subconscious.

Road/Trail conditions
This one is pretty basic, for the most part:
  • Does the road have facilities? A usable shoulder?  Well-designed bike lanes that aren’t in the door zone or only 3 feet wide on a downhill?  Sharrows?  Bike route signage?  Are there obstructions on the shoulder?
  • If it is a trail or sidepath does it have a safe entrance and exit or does it dump users off unceremoniously into the middle of a right turn lane or a busy highway with no shoulders?
  • Are the sight lines good?
  • On both roads and trails, how frequent are intersections and other conflict points?
  • What is the condition of the road surface?  Potholes, deteriorating surface, tar and chip, and micro-surface take more time to traverse and are significantly less comfortable.  They can present a real hazard to cyclists on road bikes, as can debris and poorly designed grates.  Gravel trails, overgrown and deteriorating trails, trails where the pavement is heaved up by roots, trails with obstructions like electric poles, street signs and litter are also a problem.  We may be more tolerant of a poor surface when we’re out riding for fun or exercise, but not so much if we have an important meeting to make and a long day ahead.  In addition, a poor road surface increases the odds that the bicycle will get a dreaded flat tire.
  • Is there road or trail construction?  Does it accommodate cyclists?

Traffic conditions
While some cyclists are comfortable in heavy traffic, others are not.  A road that is comfortable on a Sunday or at 10 in the morning or 9 in the evening may be miserable during rush hour or when school has just let out.  In fact, the school crowd is one of the worst.  Traffic conditions fall into volume and speed.  Many cyclists will feel reasonably comfortable if there is a wide shoulder or a well-designed bike lane, even on higher volume and higher speed roads.  Others not so much.  Sometimes a road without a shoulder is fine when traffic is light, but if you wind up being passed constantly or you wind up being the 11th vehicle in line at a traffic light, not so much.  Even though 10 cyclists can get through a light faster than a line of 10 cars due to size of vehicle and reaction time, the motorists will always blame the cyclist for missing the light.  And because cyclists can’t accelerate as fast as motor vehicles, if there are 10 cars ahead, you can bet we’re going to block the cars behind and we all might miss the light.  No matter what, all of us wind up giving traffic some thought.  And if there is the option to use flex time to avoid rush hour, I say go for it.

Length of route
For cyclists who are strong and fast enough to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time, few commutes under 15 or 20 miles seem too long.  Others are not that strong and capable.  Transportation cyclists can’t afford to chill out at the end of the ride.  We need ample energy reserves to do everything everyone else including our coworkers needs to accomplish in a day.  We need a route that is well within our capabilities (which of course improve with time - one of the great things about biking).  When riding for transportation, most cyclists like to take the fastest route.  Often the fastest route is the shortest and most direct route, but sometimes it is not.  So we are going to weigh all the different factors.  How fast are we capable of riding?  How many traffic lights, stop signs, school buses, trails crowded with walkers, and congested intersections are we going to encounter?  Hills tend to reduce average speed.  Which leads me to the next category.

I’ll admit to it.  I like hills, although there are days when I’m tired, have a heavy load, or am confronting a head wind, and I just don’t want to do that stupid hill yet again.  Some cyclists hate hills and will go miles out of the way to avoid them.  Time, safety and scenery are most important to me, but that doesn’t apply to everyone.  Yeah we have hills in northern Delaware and lots of them, but the above photo is not one of them.  I just happen to really like this photo.  The photo was taken in Virginia.  And yes, that hill was a wall.

Time constraints
Yeah, just as it is with motorists, time matters.  Being forced to go way out of your way for a viable route can be a real deal breaker.  If it’s a beautiful day and I have time to spare, or if I’m on my last nerve, that winding trail along the creek or the quaint network of roads with the century old homes is probably going to call my name.  But if I’m late for work, need to make an appointment or run errands, or just plain want to get home fast, that trail and those roads won’t cut it and I’ll be out there with the traffic.  Enough said.

Snow, ice, rain, heat, cold, all of that fun stuff.  Different people have different tolerance levels.  An ice or snow cover, thunderstorms, high winds that are gusty or blowing at an angle, and rain at night are all deal breakers for me.  It’s got to be extremely hot or cold to cause me to sack it, though.  I commute on 100 degree days.  Some roads seem to be perpetually icy in the winter, and the quieter ones aren’t plowed as quickly, while others clear out fast.  Know your roads.  And trails are rarely plowed or otherwise cleaned up.  They can remain alternately icy and muddy for months.  I know folks who will ride through anything, though, and others who hang up their bikes when the temperature drops below 60.  And wind.  Cyclists get used to prevailing winds, that’s for sure.  And they can be a real nuisance.  But when the wind is at my back, life has never been better.

Lighting conditions 
Daylight and dark are what come to mind.  But sun glare is a much bigger issue for me.  I have a bunch of blinking and high intensity lights and have gotten used to riding at night.  It has its own benefits.  The roads are quieter, the night sounds are amazing, riding always feels smoother and faster even though in reality it’s a bit slower, the full moon or the Christmas lights are well. . . .  Sun glare is something else all together.  That feels uncomfortable and dangerous.  Different routes are more subject to it than others, not only depending on direction, but also on the buildings and trees that line the road.  Sunny days mean glare, cloudy days get dark earlier, winter days lack sun blocking foliage, and the sun always seems to be low and weakly glaring in December and January.  Time of year is a big factor.  It’s dark at 6:45 AM in October, but in November 6:45 means sun glare.  Just one more reason why it’s important to have a choice of routes.

Isolation and crime
This speaks for itself.  In addition to the obvious, I avoid off-road trails at night.  I’d definitely rather take the lane when it’s quiet and dark.  Not to mention that many of the trails in the parks are closed.

I definitely think about this one.  Some cyclists do and some don’t.  But having choices and variety so that I don’t have to look at the same stuff every day is a plus.  Still, in the end, no scene is the same twice in a row.  Lighting, weather, time of year add variety.  When you’re biking, you really get to know your world.  I can’t emphasize the joy and benefits of that enough.

So putting it all together, what does it mean? There are roads I absolutely love at 9:30 AM or 6 AM or 8 PM that I won’t ride at 5 PM, especially when sun glare is present, at least not unless I’m in a real hurry and it’s the only speedy choice. It could be a large part of the route, or it could be a short but hair-raising section which could and should be fixed, that nixes it in my mind. And that trail that is too crowded on a sunny June afternoon, too icy in January, too dark and isolated on a November evening, is just perfect on a warm October morning.

And now for the end of the ride
At my destination, are there good options for parking?  Or am I afraid that my bike will get damaged or stolen even if I lock it?  Can I put my bike on a bus if the weather takes a turn for the worse?  If I’m going to work, is there a locker room, place to change and wash up?

So you see, it all comes down to choices.  Getting where I need to go when I need to go, and getting there reasonably comfortably.  Just like it is for motorists.  And when I get there, having the right facilities.  If I had fewer options and choices of route, if I had inadequate end of the ride facilities, I’m sure that I’d still bike, but probably not nearly as much.

My commute is a great example of the need for choices.  I’m fortunate to have several viable routes, and each of them can be altered slightly for variety.  Some in Delaware aren’t so lucky.  But each of my routes has pluses and minuses, and barriers that could and should be eliminated.  Another great example is a trip to Downingtown.  Not exactly in Delaware, but well, you’ll see. . . . .


Amy Wilburn is Chair of the Delaware Bicycle Council

The Silly Cyclist

From the heart of London comes the Silly Cyclist, out to highlight potential issues that cyclists may have and how to avoid them. They are uploaded regularly by commuting cyclists using full time video cameras.

Of course, as an advocate, I find many of the "mistakes" deliberate, and troubling, considering that the Department of Transport makes every effort to account for bicycle traffic on most roads. Back in 2010, I ran a survey of bicyclists in Delaware, in an effort to find out what percentage might become more law abiding if DelDOT did the same, especially at intersections with right turn-only lanes. The results were very positive, and all the more reason to advocate the 5 Es of a bicycle friendly America. Most roads in Delaware - including Wilmington, our largest city - lack any kind of bicycle accommodation.

These videos, as presented in a top 10 countdown, will have you laughing - yet they are very educational. Below enjoy episode 38, which I found to have an excellent mix of classic boners as seen in most major cities. Visit the Silly Cyclist or perform a YouTube search for more!

Cyclist Sandwich - Watch a clip from Episode 28, as a cyclist gets pinched between a bus and a pickup truck, yet escapes with little more than a bent front wheel.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Newark Bike Project Grand Opening photos and recap

Chairman Pat Correale cuts the ribbon - made up of scrap inner tubes - officially introducing NBP to the public. The grand opening comes almost 2 years after their inception. Photo by Jamie Magee.

By Jamie Magee -- On Friday, Oct 11, the Newark Bike Project held its Grand Opening/Open House Event.

Everything that we hoped and planned for came together REALLY nicely! Catering, live music, new signage, new original art, benefactor poster, printed programs, sign-in sheets, lots of table swag, a stage, and a great lineup of guest speakers (and magically they all were able to fit into the schedule at the 11th hour!). It was a rough week, as we planned carefully to make the event happen, but we had a perfect outcome, and the officials there were thrilled to be a part of it. It really raised government and community awareness and was a very fitting celebration for everyone involved in NBP.

Discounted/donated catering was supplied by CaffĂ© Gelato, Down to Earth Food Co-op, and Brewed Awakenings. All past board members were in attendance, including Katya Samoteskul visiting from DC again. Five of the nine Founders attended, including Tyler Jacobson and Amy Roe.

DelDOT Bicycle Coordinator Anthony Aglio came up from Dover to hang out and brought 10 nice bikes. He was also happy to see the 1949 Schwinn displayed in the window and hear that the Humber 3-speed had sold (both were donated by his team). City Councilman (and bike hobbyist) Mark Morehead spent several hours talking with us, and is eager to work toward getting us whatever we need to stay in business.

Former Mayor Funk dropped by and wants to help us find our next shop space. Remarks were voiced by State Rep Paul Baumbach, Newark Natural Foods chair Matt Talley, City Manager Carol Houck, NBP Founder Niki Suto, and Mayor Jerry Clifton. All are huge NBP fans! There were *five* Mayoral candidates in attendance, which shows how much weight NBP carries in the City!

Niki got a live presentation of her Bicycle Friendly Community Leader award (right) from the same city titles who had signed it five months ago when she was in Denmark.

Poster's note: Congratulations, Newark Bike Project! If you haven't yet visited NBP, consider doing so today. Full photo album HERE. Visit their website, and stay up to date on all their events and activities via facebook.

Robocars - pipe dream or possibility?

The loose nut behind the steering wheel could soon be eradicated. How this impacts bicycling and the need infrastructure is a huge unknown. -- The day is near when we’ll wonder how we ever let humans pilot heavy and fast machines on the public highway next to unprotected humans. (In fact, I wonder that now). When all cars are self-driving, equipped with Light Detecting and Ranging LIDAR and 360-degree cameras, there will be no more ’sorry, mate I didn’t see you’, or SMIDSYs. And the autonomous car will also know when it’s unsafe for the ‘driver’ to exit: dooring of cyclists will be history.

With cars that don’t kill, taxis without cabbies, and HGVs driven by computers not blindspot-afflicted drivers, there will less need for hard infrastructure. Many bicycle advocates believe we’ve started on a Dutch-style 40-year trajectory to getting segregated cycle paths almost everywhere but driverless cars will be here long before the end of that. Why build bike lanes when robocars and driverless trucks will be programmed to know all about space4cycling?

That’s one vision of the future. A more dystopian one involves platoons of speeding robocars making roads even more deeply unpleasant and motor-centric than they often are today. Pedestrians and cyclists may have to be restricted “for their own safety.” After all, if you knew the tipper truck barrelling towards you will automatically brake if you wobbled out in front of it, you’d have little incentive to stay in the gutter and every incentive to play one-sided chicken.  [full article ...]

Also, check out this city in Bolivia that passed a law making it compulsory to ride bikes one day per week.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Maryland grants millions for on and off-road bikeways

Governor adds millions to popular bike program, thanks to Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act.

HANOVER, MD - As part of the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s Cycle Maryland Initiative, Governor Martin O’Malley today announced $3.2 million in Bikeways Program Grants to fund 23 projects in four counties and 12 municipalities.  The Maryland Bikeways Program, which is administered by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), supports the design and construction of projects that create and improve bicycle connections in Maryland to key destinations, like work, school and shopping.

“To build a modern transportation system that supports all Marylanders, we must seek a balanced approach and invest in alternative forms of travel like bicycling,” said Governor O’Malley.  “These grants will help local jurisdictions enhance their bicycle networks, which encourage healthy lifestyles and play a role in improving our air quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change in Maryland.” [full article]

Poster's note: This is an all inclusive approach, where funding is spread across multiple facility types, both on-road and off. View the list in pdf HERE.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

1st State Bikes endorses Amy Roe for Mayor of Newark

On November 26th there will be a special election for the Mayor of Newark, and we are enthusiastic to support Dr. Amy Roe.  Amy has been a long-time advocate for bicycling in Newark and is one of the founding 9 board members of the Newark Bike Project.

Amy’s platform for Newark supports our efforts:

Amy sees one of the biggest obstacles to higher bicycle modeshare in Newark is the continued lack of bike parking. Main Street has added some inverted “U” racks, but often times, these are occupied, and most of Newark's shopping centers and office parks have no bicycle racks at all. In addition, the S. Main Street revitalization project did not include mandatory bike parking. Amy has testified before the Newark Bicycle Committee about the need for additional bike parking, and will continue to advocate for this if elected Mayor.

Another challenge to encouraging bicycling as an alternative mode of transportation are safety issues. These include "bicycle salmon", those riding contra flow on the wrong side of the road, or those that ignore basic traffic rules all together. This makes bicycling dangerous for those who know and obey the rules of the road, and makes it more difficult for those in automobiles to operate their vehicles safely. Converting bicycle salmon into responsible riders, thus demanding the respect we deserve from motorists requires additional sharrows and correctly designed bike lanes. To that end, she will work with City Council, local advocacy groups, and DelDOT to fund and implement the Newark Bicycle Plan on an annual basis. Amy knows full well that every person that chooses a bicycle over a car is reducing traffic congestion, helping the environment, and improving our quality of life.

Other issues include University police cars parking along Delaware Avenue, directly blocking the highest volume bicycle lane in the City. Combined with bike salmon trying to avoid parked cars from the wrong direction, it has become a nightmare for all road users during peak traffic time. If elected Mayor, look again for Amy to focus on the Newark Bicycle Plan, where it calls for the construction of a segregated, 2-way cycle track instead of the current 1-way bike lane. In the interim, she will ask the Newark Police to enforce Newark's parking rules to protect bicycle lanes, and to prevent parking by the University police in them.

We could easily continue discussing ideas for Newark's active transportation future, but like NYC under Mayor Bloomberg and Janet Sadik-Khan, it will take strong leadership from the top down. That said, I ask for your vote on November 26th to become the next Mayor of Newark.

Poster's Note: We will keep our readers up to date on Amy's candidacy as we approach the election. You can read an amazing biography on Amy HERE.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

LAB, Bike Delaware skew BFS rankings in recent webinar

The League of American Bicyclists needs to reconsider their strategy and be more diligent with fact-checking.

Some of us looked forward to the new Bicycle-Friendly State (BFS) application and webinar. It was disappointing, therefore, to see inaccuracy in the section about Delaware’s progress towards becoming bike-friendly. Not only is it a simplistic portrayal that ignores all efforts outside of Bike Delaware’s Walkable Bikeable Delaware initiative, but the history of rankings that support this portrait are inaccurate. Delaware was ranked 31st in 2008, not in 2010. We rose to 9th place in 2009, in good part due to the Complete Streets policy and the Bike Summit. We fell to 10th place in 2010, and then to 18th place in 2011. After that we rose to 10th for 2012 and now 5th for 2013 (TBA), in agreement with the webinar/power point.

This page from the webinar, found on You Tube HERE, is not the reality. It became obvious when we pulled the magazine archives and checked. For one, Delaware ranked #31 in 2008, not 2010.

There is no doubt that Walkable Bikeable Delaware has had a substantial impact, but the more accurate history of the State’s rankings below illustrates a much different sequence of events than the presentation leads us to believe. Delaware made the initial 22 point leap based in good part upon Complete Streets and other on-road improvements, and Delaware’s first bike summit. This was before Walkable Bikeable Delaware.

2008: Ranked #31
Common sense tells us that the road to becoming bike-friendly is not as simple and easy as the Delaware presentation implies. Even with our bike-friendly Governor Jack Markell, it is not a smooth downhill coast, but a long, winding, rocky road full of ups and downs. As with all efforts towards progress, that is the reality. And it has been and will continue to be true in Delaware as well as in other states over the years to come. Most of us, therefore, look to the LAB, a venerable organization with much experience, to guide us through these bumps and not to provide us with an unrealistic impression that is bound to disappoint.

LAB should promote an upbeat, you-can-do it attitude and serve as a cheerleader for advocates who are making an effort in all 5 Es. It is possible
2009: Ranked #9
to accomplish this while maintaining a realistic and inclusive approach. Not only cyclists, but non-cyclists who are in a position of responsibility, look to the LAB for guidance. In Delaware, these folks are well aware of the specifics of the Walkable Bikeable initiative which has centered almost exclusively on off-road bike path facilities. Unfortunately, most do not have the bicycling experience to recognize that such a simplistic vision is incomplete.

It’s true that Delaware is behind a number of other States in the construction of off-alignment pathways, and therefore, it’s very nice to see us making up ground. Some wonderful projects are underway, and Delaware has a number of realistic and progressive people in government agencies and organizations throughout the State. We don’t need to promote the notion, however, that a State can become bike-friendly
2010: Ranked #10
solely through funding of off-road projects.

Although combined efforts continue to help our State move forward and we are making progress in most areas, without support it becomes an uphill battle to work on other areas that are necessary to make a state truly bike friendly, including: On-road infrastructure, education, legislation, enforcement, and encouragement. By promoting a misleading impression of our efforts and progress, the LAB makes it that much more difficult for the rest of us Advocates in Delaware (and perhaps in other states as well) to continue to pursue improvement in all of the other necessary areas.

2011: Ranked #18
There is no question that the Trails and Pathways initiative - and thus a more Walkable Bikeable Delaware - is worth supporting. However, off-road paved bike paths are the most expensive, highest hanging fruit of all when it comes to time and money well spent. The recent workshop and tremendous turnout surrounding the Newark-Wilmington Pathway is very encouraging, however, I give this project 15-20 years to complete - and that relies on future administration's support and preservation of its funding. The Pomeroy Trail in Newark, under 2 miles in length, took over 10 years to complete, despite most of its ROW readily in tact. Now up and running for almost 10 years, and very popular indeed, it becomes immediately apparent that our existing roads are still necessary to reach our final destination, hence the Newark Bicycle Plan - all inclusive.

2012: Ranked #10
While serving on the Board at Bike Delaware for 5 years, I received numerous inquiries about a fully marked on-road bike route with well designed bike lanes between the two cities. I had few suggestions to offer, other than watch for repave/rehab activity in coming years, and consider joining forces in Advocacy. Only then could our Complete Streets policy be encouraged, perhaps on a direct connect like Kirkwood Highway, some of which was already scheduled for 2013 (we will soon report what we know about DelDOT's pave & rehab schedule for 2014.)

As the Wilmington-Newark pathway and others like it crawl forward in future years, or decades, there remains no additional funding set aside for even the lowest hanging fruit, which could include road re-striping for the purpose of traffic calming and bicycle safety measures in the present. But with a passive President, a Vice President that abhors bike lanes and shoulders, and an Executive Director that openly quotes bike pocket lanes (through intersections with right turn-only lanes) as human meat grinders, don't count on Bike Delaware for support. It is their ED's opinion that bike lanes are especially dangerous and inappropriate on the very higher speed arterial roads on which most of us depend - and has even written letters and emails to that effect.

So now the question becomes, is Bike Delaware an all inclusive, full service (as in the 5 Es) advocacy organization as found in other high ranking BFS states?  Sadly, LAB appears to think so.

- Frank Warnock has been an award winning Advocate, Ride Leader, and Event Director in multiple states since 1989.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Newark Bike Project Grand Opening set for Oct. 11

By Sindhu Siva -- Newark Bike Project will be having a Grand Opening Celebration!!  We would like to honor and thank all those that have helped us come so far. The celebration will be Friday, October 11th from 3:30-7 PM. Snacks will be served and all ages welcome. We hope you can stop by!

Poster's note: Visit NBP's website, including a full schedule of activities at the shop. Also, visit their Facebook page. Map of shop location on Google Maps below.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Overall VMT declines for 8th straight year

Factors affecting the decline in VMT: A new SSTI report 

By Chris McCahill -- SSTI has released a paper outlining factors contributing to the recent decline in American driving and the implications for transportation planning. As previously reported, per capita VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) has decreased steadily for the past eight years, resulting in a slight decrease in overall VMT during that time period. In contrast to prior fluctuations, this recent dip in VMT does not appear to be driven by economic conditions or high gas prices. Instead, researchers attribute this new trend to a culmination of decades-long growth, along with changing personal preferences.

As researchers such as Steven Polzin suggested even before the recent downturn, many of the factors that contributed to rapid increases in driving during the twentieth century have nearly reached their peak. These include the rise of women in the workforce, the baby boom, an emerging middle class, and growing automobile ownership. As these trends flatten out or decrease, so too will VMT in the coming decades.  [full article ....]

Overall VMT is on the decline, and will continue to do so as more progressive trends dictate. Visit HERE for more data, including per-capita.

Poster's note: Great news. Now we need the political will to stop this colossal waste, and instead pool these hundreds of millions in transportation dollars for road projects and retrofits that better facilitate "relying more on transit, biking, and walking".