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!


  1. I wouldn't say it's "a few," either. It's a VERY busy crossing, especially during the busier months. That and Ruthar dr. see a LOT of cyclist/pedestrian traffic, especially for a place that doesn't have a marked bike lane or sidewalk for much of the way (something else I honestly think DelDOT needs to work on).

  2. Thank You and a big tip of my helmet to Senator Peterson. I cross this intersection frequently by bike, and occasionally on foot. I applaud the efforts of the Senator, Frank, Tina, and DelDOT, and I look forward to being able to cross this intersection without biking like a lunatic across, or running on foot. The improvements are going to make a huge difference and will make people safer. We are very fortunate to have Senator Peterson looking out for our safety!

  3. The intersection is much less of an issue crossing from Red Mill on to Old Ogletown, because there is always traffic in the cue to trip the light. Now that this upgrade is approved, we still have to contact the engineer and find out if crosswalks are planned in both directions. If only one side, we must ensure it is on the side crossing from Old Ogletown to Red Mill, as often times, there is no traffic to trip the light. Most cyclists don't know (and never will) that you have to line your bike up on the sensor loop in order to have a chance at green. Bike lanes and detection markings through the intersection would help, of course. Once this is done, future ask.


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