Thursday, November 30, 2017

Advisory Lane Roads on DBC meeting agenda for 12/6

Courtesy of Streets MN
Bike Delaware's James Wilson will be discussing "Advisory Lane Roads" at the next meeting of the Delaware Bicycle Council. From the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professional's article:

What's an advisory bicycle lane? Also called a "non-compulsory bicycle lane” or "suggestion lane” (translated from the Dutch "suggestiestrook”), it’s a bicycle lane into which motor vehicles may legally encroach. Therefore, the line demarcating the lane is dashed instead of solid. An advisory bicycle lane is often—but not always—used in conjunction with centerline removal.

Generally, a mandatory bicycle lane is preferable; an advisory bicycle lane should only be used when a mandatory lane cannot be used. Advisory bicycle lanes should be considered 1) when street width is inadequate for mandatory bike lanes or 2) where cars are likely to encroach on a bike lane as it approaches a bike box. Advisory bike lanes should not be used where they are likely to be blocked by parked motor vehicles.

Advisory bike lanes in conjunction with centerline removal on roads with substandard width are common across Europe and are generally well received by cyclists.

A  year ago, we suggested THIS opportunity for Newark's Main Street (probably lost now). It's time to move past talking about shared lanes to actually implementing them, even if on a FHWA experimental basis. As it stands now, the MUTCD forbids any kind of delineated bicycle lane within a normal vehicle lane; data from the field is needed over a long period before these are approved in the manuals.

Delaware Bicycle Council Meeting
DelDOT Administration Building-Felton/Farmington Conference Room, 800 Bay Road, Dover
Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM

 I.  Welcome, Introductions, and Minutes (0-5 minutes)
  • Minutes Review from October 4, 2017 – 0-5 minutes (Tom Hartley)
II.  Council Membership (0-10 minutes)
  • Discuss Members Profile for the website and other website updates – 0-5 minutes (Tom Hartley)
  • Discuss Greenways and Trails appointment to Council – 0-5 minutes (Tom Hartley)
III. Old Business (0-5 minutes)
  • Bridgeville Bicycle Trail Ribbon Cutting – 1st Recipient of Innovation Grant – 0-5-minutes  (Tom Hartley)
IV. New Business (0-60 minutes)
  • Nominees for 2018 Chair (Voting to occur at February 7, 2018 meeting) – 0-5 minutes (Tom Hartley)
  • Bicycle Friendly State Ranking – 0-10 minutes (John Bare)
  • Advisory Lane Roads – 0-15-minutes (James Wilson)
  • Council discussion and vote on Innovation Grant - 0-30 minutes (Fran Cardaci)
 V. Updates (0-30 minutes)
  • DelDOT Bicycle Plan – 0-30 minutes (Andrea Trabelsi)
 VI. Public Comments (0-10 minutes)
  • Opportunity for Non-Council Members to Address the Council 
Next Meeting: Wednesday February 7, 2018 from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Please e-mail John T. Fiori and Tom Hartley with any potential agenda items at least two (2) weeks prior to meeting. Visit DBC's webpage at

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Save The Orphanage Property 3rd Press Release

With the loss of the Orphanage Property, and with that, what appears any possibility of a regional park for the entire Ogletown-S.Newark region, it is important that we continue to document exactly what went wrong, and hold those in charge accountable. Issuing a press release is an excellent way to do this, and reach a maximum audience including the media.

Whether it was a vested interested in the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" (CHP), corruption, or simple indifference, one thing is abundantly clear; both property owner and political will was lacking. The Ogletown-S. Newark region was already known to be dis-enfranchised in matters of community, place-making, and local access to quality regional parkland facilities. What has taken place here only cements this issue further, and in a way that can never be reversed.

View the official press release in PDF

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Drilling down on the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" TIS

Save the Orphanage Property (STOP) Advocates continue fielding questions from concerned New Castle County citizens over the Traffic Impact Study (TIS) for the Chestnut Hill "Preserve". Folks want to know why the Unified Development Code was disregarded in the approval of the project by the Dept of Land Use (DLU) and the NCC Council. As a result, only two steps remain before demolition and construction will begin; closing on the sale of the property with the developer (presumably Joseph Setting II, or involving his company), and then NCC issuing the building permits. According to Senator Bryan Townsend, closing is expected by the end of this week.

The way we see it, the developer will be doing this at their own peril. The TIS is flawed, with DelDOT's findings excluded in the scope. According to Vic Singer, this is irregular and inconsistent with County law:

Victor Singer (13 years former
Chair of NCC's Planning Board)
The area of influence, under UDC Section 40.11.124, needn't extend beyond the third intersection in any direction from any access/egress feature of the proposed development unless the Land Use Department and/or DelDOT expand the scope at the scoping meeting.

For the Chestnut Hill Preserve TIS, DelDOT did indeed add six intersections to the TIS scope, to include the Route 4 intersections with Salem Church Road and Library Avenue. And a 9/9/2016 DelDOT letter (with copies to the LU Department) reminds the TIS author of that addition and acknowledges the author's and DelDOT's finding that both above-mentioned intersections would be well into the "E" LOS range, and that no remedial system improvements are contemplated. (read Vic's full essay)

Here are the adjustments needed to fix the TIS:

It should also be noted that Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) was down significantly in 2010 due to the great recession, and gas prices were approaching $4/gallon. People were consolidating trips, using other means, and/or driving less in general. If these intersections were a grade "E" in LOS in 2010, it's a virtual certainty that they're an "F" now (for a simple chart showing each grade and the delays involved, open the CMS report and turn to page 3).

As seen in this FHWA trend above, national VMT dropped significantly in 2010. The result was gasoline "demand destruction", which triggered a surplus resulting in the record low (adjusted for inflation) pump prices we are seeing today. VMT since returned to where it left off, and has continued to new record highs.

Above: This interactive map, courtesy of Wilmapco, clearly illustrates Vic's allegation. If we examine the SR4-Salem Church Rd intersection alone, we see an "E" grade fail in 2010 (ditto for SR72-Library Ave). The odds are overwhelming that it would score an "F" if measured today, in 2017. Not that it makes a whole lot of difference, since both letters are a fail and come under the same UDC rules. But it does show how dire the situation is out on SR4, a hospital corridor and evacuation route no less.

Let's hope that God's kindness, love of thy neighbor, charitable giving, and just plain sanity will lead to the Felician Sisters canceling whatever deal is pending with the developers, and go with a NCC/State offer instead. For a whole host of reasons too numerous to mention but thoroughly documented on this website, the correct use of the Orphanage Property is within the public realm, as a regional park.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Shared Right Turn-Only Lane a hit at DelDOT's Innovation Fair

Mark Luszcz, Chief P.E., DelDOT
big tip of the helmet to Mark Luszcz, Chief P.E., and his Team at DelDOT Traffic for working with Advocates in pioneering the shared right turn-only lane treatment. It is the opinion of 1st State Bikes that, if Bicycle-Friendly State rankings were based on DOT responsiveness alone, Delaware would top the list.

The design, testing, and implementation of this basic yet anxiously awaited treatment exemplified Advocates working alongside DelDOT to improve safety in the built environment. The boards below, displayed on easels at their Innovation Fair, capsulized the effort to attendees, which included these quotes:
  • "For virtually no added cost beyond a little extra paint, bicyclists (and e-bikes, and even mopeds) are now encouraged to ride in the most optimal position where visibility (and thus safety) is concerned. Few things can improve arterial roads for multi-modal safety, but adapting road shoulders to bike lanes and sharing right turn-only lanes does improve awareness and respect. It validates bicyclists as legitimate road users by defining a continuous lane that accounts for the laws of movement. It's a win-win for all road users, and has become the envy of other State's advocacy organizations that can only wish their DOT was this creative and forward thinking. A big tip of the helmet to Mark Luszcz and his Traffic Dept from bicyclists statewide."  ~Frank Warnock, Chair, 1st State Bikes
  • "Although it is fortunate that many of Delaware’s arterial roads have a shoulder, before the shared bicycle/right turn only lane and accompanying legislation, cyclists were legally required to merge into high speed traffic at intersections with a right turn only lane.  Cyclists now have a choice: they have the on road facilities and the legal right to maintain a continuous and predictable line of motion outside of the lanes of high speed traffic.  This adds to comfort and safety for many of us cyclists, and is greatly appreciated."  ~Amy Wilburn, Past Chair, Delaware Bicycle Council
  • "Good decision on the road markings ... this will increase vehicle awareness of bikes on the roadway ... and add clarity to the new law."  ~Fred Tarburton, Citizen Advocate
Though Advocates still diverge with DelDOT on some issues, it has been a superb working relationship, especially since Complete Streets was enacted. It's also important to note that it's not always a one-way street; Advocates have a history of helping DelDOT when it comes to efficiency and streamlining. This includes improving W-11 warning signage, reducing "share the road" sign clutter in favor of a more targeted approach, and helping revise their sweeping program to focus on areas most prone to debris.

Thank you DelDOT for featuring this project and we look forward to many more in the future!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Editorial: Don't let traffic overwhelm New Castle County

Hat tip to Matt Albright of the Wilmington News Journal, for his willingness to post our editorial in Delaware On-Line today. It is planned to be the feature "DE Voice" column in Sunday's paper. In it, you will see the contrast of opinion to Richard Hall, General Manager of NCC's Dept of Land Use (DLU), who wrote this editorial on the same day. A paragraph from each best sums the difference in viewpoints:

Current LOS standards consider only vehicular traffic.  Should incentives be considered for projects that include walking and bike paths, ride-sharing programs or shuttle service to transportation hubs?

Most millennial workers do not want to be tied to their cars. They want to live in mixed use communities, walking between home, work, shopping and entertainment. And those preferences extend to increasing numbers of retirees who want to live in places where they can “age in place,” where they do not need their cars to go out to eat, shop or visit their doctors.

This argument is flawed. While the statistics show that Millennials are rediscovering the cities and driving less than their parents – and we applaud that — the same cannot be said for the suburbs. Any conclusion to the contrary cannot be a valid excuse to weaken or eliminate vehicle level of service as a tool for controlling unnecessary development.

Mr Hall makes some good points. New Urbanism and the incorporation of multi-modal transport definitely has its place, and offers hope for the future. However, these projects are best suited to cities and more urban environments, where populations have tapered off or declined, and the infrastructure (connecting grid streets, traffic calming, effective transit, etc) is already in place and likely under-utilized. These are often referred to as "TOaDs", or, Transit Oriented Developments.

Developments designed to reduce car dependence are not, however, viable when surrounded by suburban sprawl, disconnected streets, non-existent sidewalks, and limited transit services. Most who live in Delaware's suburbs face this predicament, having little choice for even the shortest of trips. They either drive their car, or walk or bike out to a busy arterial road to reach needed services.

Seeing that the DLU is looking to use multi-modalism as a way to relax current Level of Service (LOS) requirements, we wrote the following email to Mr Hall today. We're asking for some study data and/or other facts concerning the success of TOaDs in the built suburban environment, as infill or destroying a region's last remaining open spaces:

Greetings, Richard,

I read your thoughtfully written editorial. We are wondering if you can supply us with any study data or known examples where TOaDs -- built as their own entities surrounded by typical, auto-dependent suburbs -- functioned even somewhat independently. We are looking for examples where these developments -- disconnected from surrounding communities -- still met expectations in terms of new urbanism/multi-modalism, reduced car ownership, and thus reduced or eliminated impacts on roadway/intersection LOS.

As a big supporter of New Urbanism concepts, and someone who bicycles for ~90% of my transportation needs, I am aware of this working out well in existing dense or urban environments. features like quality Transit, fully connected sidewalks, and calmer, grid-patterned streets are already underutilized or readily adapted for the purpose of multi-modalism.

The message we seem to be getting from the DLU, including at the panel discussion, is that such a concept can be readily applied to DE's vast suburbs without much loss of road system LOS.

Thank you so much and hope to hear from you soon.  --Frank Warnock

It has never been more apparent just how eager Delaware's developers and economists are to hobble NCC's Unified Development Code (UDC), and to stop advocates from using the TIS to limit or halt needless development. Their goal is to fast track their projects, with little or no regard for its impacts on the already overwhelmed roads and intersections that will serve it.

The idea that TOaDs can work in the suburbs as their own independent entity is laughable at best, yet this is the vision pursued by developer-friendly Bike Delaware. Virtually everyone who buys into these communities will still own a car, and will drive to their job, to Wal-Mart, to their doctor, and to everything else that can only be reached outside the development via arterial road.

The Chestnut Hill "Preserve" isn't even billed as a TOaD, yet the DLU all to eagerly relaxed the TIS by eliminating failed signalized intersections in the scope.

Let's hope sanity prevails, and the building permits for this project in its entirety are not issued.