Friday, September 26, 2014

NCC's choice of gates over bollards is a safety hazard

It is disheartening to think that, in our small State that is
  • 4th most bicycle-friendly in the nation,
  • only adding bike shops not closing them,
  • seeing more and more folks riding (or wishing they safely could),
  • and trying to connect various trails, pathways, and lower stress roads in the name of Bicycle Networks,
we still have to deal with hazardous nonsense like this:

Above: Iron Hill Park, owned and maintained by New Castle County. What used to be the main entrance off of Whittaker Road is now closed to motor vehicles, entrance relocated to Old Baltimore Pike. If non-motorized users are still allowed throughout the park, why are they forced up a curb and through grass to enter? In addition, this cannot be ADA compliant.

Above: This was the result when residents complained that Brownleaf Road was becoming a main thoroughfare between Route 273 and Chapman Road. This fixed the problem alright, but bicyclists must go up a driveway and use the sidewalk to continue. There are so many other, more aesthetic ways this could have been achieved, yet allowed bicycle access.

A view from the new entrance (Teeing in from right) in Iron Hill Park. A cable or chain is used to keep motor vehicles out of the park road leading to the original entrance. Bicyclists must ride around a post on either side, through uneven dirt and loose stones.

At least one agency gets it, however. Some years ago, Delaware State Parks began using bollards instead of gates whenever a facility does allow non-motorized users. Unless a facility is totally closed to everyone, i.e. private property, the below photo explains how to do it:

When it comes to keeping out cars, appropriately spaced bollards (one removable) perform the exact same function as a gate, yet allow non-motorized pathway users to pass through safely as if nothing was there. Angela proudly shows off a beautiful line of bollards that can be found on Creek Road, at the end of Wedgewood Road in White Clay Creek State Park. The yellow bollard is easily removed, allowing DNREC, Park Police, and other authorized vehicles to enter.

Some of our key government agencies continue using barrier types that not only block motor vehicle traffic, but force non-motorized users - that are permitted - into dangerously inconvenient detours.

We live in a country where bicycling is 3rd on the spending list, with $81B annually. Delaware is ranked 4th in the nation for being bike-friendly. All County and State Government agencies need to get on board, if for nothing else, common sense decision-making.

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