Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Who is advocating on-road safety in Delaware, Part 3

The third of a 4 part series, we will now highlight the specific on-road infrastructure improvement projects going on around Delaware.

1st State Bikes and the Delaware Bicycle Council both believe that on-road bicycle safety and infrastructure is at least as important - if not more important than off-road or segregated (i.e. bike path) facilities. The successful planning of any bicycle-friendly network comes with an understanding that we must rely on our roads and arterial highways, if we are to ride from home thus reducing auto dependency. In this regard, a balanced approach to advocacy is vital in the success of any bike-friendly community, city, or state.

So, what is going on around Delaware in terms of on-road safety improvements? Several key projects are nearing fruition - or ongoing - that will not only help our current cycling population, but perhaps encourage others to start riding. According to a study conducted in Portland OR, the "Enthused and Confident" are the best hope for growing bicycle mode share.

Failure to improve our roads for bicycle safety will only result in more car trips, as folks will rack up and drive with their bikes over to the nearest bike path facility. The below on-road infrastructure projects are designed to help turn things around (you can preview an acronym definitions list HERE).

Enforcement of Bicycle Facilities with the New Castle County Building Code
A bike lane and bike parking are required with new developments in New Castle County that contain a right turn-only lane entrance. It appears too many waivers are issued, however. The following was recently provided to Delaware Bikes by Delaware's Bicycle Coordinator.
  • As of January 28, going forward, Bicycle/Pedestrian Staff will be the deciding factor on bike lane requirements. This includes environmental, ROW, and safety limitations.
  • Current policy states that if there is no shoulder, or there is an existing right turn lane, a bike lane is not considered if current requirements are met.
  • If a right turn deceleration lane is not warranted for new development, we don’t get a bike lane.
Without something in writing, we cannot legitimately confirm this. We must also advocate for a change to the policy, that it shall include the bike lane if a right turn lane pre-exists or it is a redevelopment plan. Anthony Aglio, Delaware's Bicycle Coordinator, has been a true friend and ally to bicycle advocates going back many years. Working in Planning, he will help us stay on top of this. Stay tuned for more.

Funding Pools for Small-Medium Size Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects
Funding Pools are a proposal by the Delaware Bicycle Council to restore funding for small-medium sized bicycle and pedestrian projects.
  • Slush funds are allocated to each county to pay for smaller projects that can greatly improve on and off-road bicycle networks and connectivity.
  • Not long ago, Funding Pools were a regular part of DelDOT's budget.
  • The Paper Mill Road bike lanes were made possible by Funding Pools, and are a favorite among area bicyclists connecting Newark and Pike Creek.
  • Re-establishment of Funding Pools received the support of Governor Markell and Sec. Bhatt in 2012, as well as most other bike related organizations in the State. Bike Delaware and Delaware Greenways were the only two that did not support Funding Pools.
  • The Funding Pools were to be a part of the $13 million dollars that the General Assembly voted to allocate to bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
  • Although efforts were made towards developing the logistics of the Funding Pools, the funding never materialized. Instead, virtually all of the $13 million went to trail planning, design, and construction over the next several years.
Funding pools remain stalled, although they are an active Delaware Bicycle Council goal. It will be difficult, if not impossible to create viable bicycling networks without them.

Pavement and Rehabilitation
With the help of 1st State Bikes and the State’s cyclists, the Delaware Bicycle Council continues to review upcoming pave and rehab projects, and to issue recommendations to install bike facilities along bike routes and other roads that are a valuable part of the state’s bicycle network. This has been an ongoing struggle since 2009, much of it related to our lack of the shared right turn-only lane treatment described below, which is very much in progress. Stay tuned as this effort continues to grow, given added tools in the toolbox.

Removal of "Share the Road" Plaque (from Bicycle Warning Signs)
A consensus was reached among advocates that many drivers were misinterpreting "Share The Road" as only applying to bicyclists. In addition, it is not possible to share a sub-standard width lane (under 13 feet, which accounts for most) when factoring the 3 foot passing law.
  • A complete history of DelDOT's Bicycle Warning Sign, and the eventual removal of "Share the Road" wording as part of it, can be found by clicking the above link.
  • DelDOT's Chief Traffic Engineer, Mark Luszcz, listened to Delaware bicyclists and advocates and did not wait for an active campaign to address this topic.
  • Mark Luszcz solicited comments from multiple advocates and bike related organizations.
  • As of 2014, the Share The Road "Plaque", will no longer be included with Bicycle Warning Signs.
This was a great example of consensus building among our state's cyclists and bicycling organizations.

Secretary Bhatt's Bucket List 
This is a special projects list that was requested by Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt, and acted upon by the Delaware Bicycle Council.
  • Several recommendations are in progress now, including the addition of bike lanes on Limestone road north of Millcreek.
  • Most of the improvements listed will be seriously considered with future Pave & Rehab projects.
The approval of the Shared Right Turn-Only Lane treatment below will help produce more complete projects and retrofits.

Shared Right Turn-Only Lanes
This goal was originally conceived during the early years of Bike Delaware by a former member of Bike Delaware. The below list was compiled by DelDOT's Traffic Section, and provided to 1st State Bikes, and we tip our helmet to them.
  • Aug 2012: First meeting of Research Advisory Panel.
  • Fall 2012: Survey efforts undertaken, including data collection and analysis.
  • Feb 2013: Progress report including results of part 1 (survey) of research.
  • Mar 2013: Second “advisory panel” meeting.
  • Apr 2013: DelDOT/UD discuss in more detail possible field study locations and make selections for first 3 locations, one for each option.
  • May 2013: DelDOT staff assigned to review 3 field locations to confirm “before” conditions are acceptable and meet current MUTCD standards. 2 of 3 are good. 1 requires minor signing/striping modifications.  DelDOT staff begins developing detailed signing/striping plans required to implement experimental RTOL conditions.
  • June 2013: Minor signing/striping modifications complete; all 3 locations good for “before” data collection.
  • July-Sept 2013: “Before” data collection undertaken.
  • Nov 12, 2013: Implementation complete for experimental RTOL conditions at all three locations.
We are now in the final stage of approval, which includes collecting the "After" data at all three locations. Stay tuned for more, as this exciting project concludes.

Sweeping Reform
Details provided by Randy Cole, DelDOT's Environmental Program Manager
  • Sept 2012: A former Bike Delaware Advocate collected comments and submitted a database of sweeping "hot spots" to DelDOT's Maintenance and Operations Division.
  • As fate would have it, DelDOT was due for a new NPDES permit, and submitted an outline to DNREC describing an improved strategy for implementing the Storm Water Management Plan (SWPP&MP), due by May 7, 2014.
  • The SWPP&MP will lay out the specifics and measurable goals for the various elements, including DelDOT's Sweeping Program. This includes additional emphasis on "reflection" zones (those with curbs/barriers, such as bridges) that typically collect more debris.
  • As of Oct 2013, a pilot study was in progress.
  • When the sweeping plan is finally submitted to DNREC, it may go through several iterations before it is approved.
Still a few months away from full implementation (as of Oct 2013). We can expect an update on this project very soon, by Spring at the latest.

That's all we have for now. Stay tuned to, your #1 source for advocacy news in today's built environment. And tell your friends!

Who is advocating for on-road safety in Delaware (Part 1)
Who is advocating for on-road safety in Delaware (Part 2)

1 comment:

  1. Excellent. The balanced approach philosophy is badly missing in many of the halls of cyclist advocacy. I think DE has it right.


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