Tuesday, May 11, 2021

White Clay Bicycle Club ignores Cycle For Cecil

Cycle for Cecil riders at the start, at the Patsy DuPont Farm
It is no mystery to anyone that the White Clay Bicycle Club (WCBC) has been a disappointment when it comes to supporting Cycle For Cecil (CFC), a charity bicycling event whose goal it is to preserve the rural character of Cecil County Maryland. Immediately west of New Castle County (NCC), Cecil County is heavily relied upon by WCBC members for club sanctioned rides, serving as a congestion-free escape of NCC's ever growing suburban sprawl nightmare. Unlike any org in NCC, the Cecil Land Trust (CLT) is working very hard to preserve farmland and open space in this idyllic countryside for cyclists. However, it appears that WCBC does not see fit to enthusiastically support the event, beyond a brief blurb in their "out of bounds" page. There is no call for attendance and/or support of CFC on their website, and nothing is found in a search of "Cecil" on their Facebook page.

In an effort to find out what is going on, a 1stbikes.org PT journalist reached out to Mr JW Haupt, who has been President of WCBC for many years. We wanted to know why, if it were true, the Club did not fully support this charity event ride. We asked for any commentary that Mr Haupt might have for an upcoming editorial in 1st State Bikes, regarding Cycle for Cecil. We had found out on the day of the ride that WCBC had been Ambivalent, unhelpful, even refusing to share their e-mail list to help publicize the ride, when approached by the Cecil Land Trust. But why would WCBC act in this manner, given the immense importance of a rural Cecil County to club rides in particular? With many of WCBC events canceled, and considering the very basic nature of help CLT asked for, it seems unbelievable. Land and farm conservation should be a natural fit for WCBC as an outdoors non-profit org itself.

This request set off a bizarre, and unexpected response. Although we emailed him directly, Mr Haupt did not reply to us, instead, a CLT volunteer did. Although the response was very polite and positive, it appeared that the volunteer had been bullied and shamed by the President of WCBC. The volunteer profusely apologized for "misspeaking" to us, saying that he was "wrong and naive" in how WCBC treated the event. This confused us, because, as explained below, there is only the barest minimum of mention of the CFC ride, certainly not what the Club would be capable of, given their powerful reach to the cycling community. The volunteer went on the say that he and CLT would support WCBC in their efforts, even going so far as to volunteer to help WCBC in the future.

In our reply,
we affirmed that nothing in the CLT Volunteer's email appears naive or inappropriate. Contrary to what Mr Haupt said, WCBC should have gone a lot further than a brief Cycle For Cecil blurb in an "out of bounds" section (the last section) of their webpage. In doing a search we found that the Cycling Sistahs of Baltimore, with no vested interest in Cecil County in particular, did promote CFC. It was refreshing and beautiful to see diversity in the ride. They even created an Event page for their members to promote CFC. In contrast, WCBC did no active promoting -- despite the critical nature of a rural Cecil County to its members.


Unfortunately, WCBC has a reputation for being exclusive. There are virtually no active members of color. Many alumni -- even past board members -- dropped membership over political and/or leadership issues. Most were dedicated volunteers who had given countless hours of their time to the bicycling cause. Among other issues, WCBC was recently caught in a lie about their non-profit status; they are not a 501(c)3 according to the IRS. While everyone assumes that they are a non-profit given their URL, they financially support Bike Delaware -- a pro-development org in the pockets of the building industry, whose own activities and finances are shrouded in secrecy. Regardless, WCBC assists them with fundraising and generous annual donations -- none of which are publicly accounted for. This raises questions about a possible
connection between Mr Haupt, his position with WCBC, and his VP position with one of the largest development firms on the east coast -- never mind the ignorance of a nearby major ride that's trying desperately to protect farmland and open space is reason to be suspect.

Yes, WCBC is a busy club, with 4 major rides every year (one of which, the Shore Fire, was launched by yours truly) to organize. However, they have had to cancel several due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, the basics of promoting an event such as CFC hardly qualifies as "work", as the Cycling Sistahs of Baltimore readily showed. The CLT draws on orgs in Baltimore for publicity and attendance, which is a sharp move and gives the ride its wonderful diverse and welcoming character. But it's a sad day when a club with the resources of a WCBC exists right nearby, and they all but ignore this charity ride, as they have done since its inception.

We commend the commitment of the CLT to land conservation. Those of us who fought, and still lost (to mass govt corruption) the Orphanage Property in Ogletown, the last remaining green space/habitat area of its kind, understand the struggles that CLT are facing. In a world where biodiversity is disappearing at an alarming rate, and the planet is headed for climate catastrophe, we are very grateful for orgs like theirs. We will continue to support their efforts, and, as we have in the past, promote the Cycle For Cecil Event on our pages.

The "White" Clay Bicycle Club, in a historic photo seen on their Facebook Page. WCBC has an identity and diversity problem, hence their decades-long membership plateau of ~200. Their failure to embrace and support other orgs and events nearby only hastens their image as an insiders only club.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Osienski: Just go for a bike ride, everything will be fine

By Angela Connolly

"Whether it's up north on the Mike Castle Trail along the C&D Canal, or down south on the Lewes-Georgetown, Junction & Breakwater, and Gordon’s Pound trails, Delaware has plenty of great options for cyclists. So on this Bicycle Day, it's a great excuse to jump on a bike and take a ride. My wife Betsy and I spent much of this weekend on our bikes at the beach. We both enjoy the many trails Delaware has to offer."  ~Rep Ed Osienski, D24


As the construction at the former Our Lady of Grace Orphanage Property is wrapping up, the townhomes are reaching almost to the Rt 4 frontage. This is a tragic sight that I see daily - whether from my car, on foot, or on my bicycle. It is a tragic reminder of a dream lost, an opportunity forever lost. It is a story of corruption, of indifference, of disregard for the quality of life for the people who live along the Rt 4 Corridor, and the communities nearby. It is a painful reminder of the lost lives of precious animal inhabitants - Eastern Box turtles, deer, fox, among many other reptile and mammal life, lost with the violence of the bulldozers. But most of all, it is reminder of the failures of the local Legislators: Senator Bryan Townsend, Councilwoman Lisa Diller, and Rep Osienski, who, along with County Executive Matt Meyer, condemned their Constituents to a poor quality of life.

We in the Ogletown/South Newark area do not have access to nearby healthy, safe outdoor activity. We are relegated to using pathways that are unsafe and not maintained, falling into chronic disrepair. It is unacceptable to expect our residents to have to travel by car to reach a County Park which is well outside our region.


Above: Tragedy of epic proportions: Corrupt Legislators Rep Ed Osienski and Sen Bryan Townsend sell out the last remaining open space and regional park opportunity in the entire Ogletown-S. Newark region.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Zero enforcement: Delaware rounds out top 5 in Noise

Cross-posted from Bryan-Townsend.com

Time and time again
, Delaware fails miserably when it comes to leadership and quality of life. Here is yet another measure reaching the top 5: Noise. This study only crunched some numbers, and cited statistics, but it failed to include other factors such as law enforcement (level of, lack thereof). It didn't include the colossal failure by the State and its various Police agencies to penalize and/or prosecute for drag racing and modified vehicle exhaust systems. These include "fart can mufflers", straight pipes or other modified systems that vastly increases vehicle noise. For most residents living in New Castle County's suburbs, for example, even a half mile from the nearest arterial road can sound like track-side at a NASCAR event. Many people hear it inside their homes, even above their TV, especially on weekend nights. There is no police enforcement of this crime, so the offenders know they can get away with it. Often times, the decibel on acceleration is 120+ decibels, which if you're a pedestrian or bicyclist, is hurtful or damaging to the ear. This is assault, and 100% illegal according to Delaware law, in multiple code sections (HERE & HERE). Yet, as expected, it gets a free pass by Townsend and cohorts.

Where is Senator Townsend on this? Nowhere, that's where. He would rather pass a bill to criminalize snow on car rooftops, that may happen a few times each Winter. On the other hand, oppressive and painful vehicle noise from non-standard illegal exhaust systems goes FAR further in destroying the qualify of life, health and wellbeing of everyday Delawareans. Why doesn't Townsend and his Democrat-controlled legislature introduce a bill to step up prosecution of this deliberate and disgusting act by a small minority that hurts the clear majority, AND wildlife? Even the City of Newark and University Police won't enforce deafening vehicle noise, in an environment rich with walking and bicycling on or near the roads.

Senator Townsend, along with Rep Edward Osienski and NCC's Lisa Diller are the epitome of failed leadership. Not just in Delaware, but any State. Until we rise up and hold them accountable on issues like this, there will be no end to the corruption, in sight. Delaware is represented by the 4th most criminal State govt in the nation. Its residents have to act and vote with this in mind, in order to stop them.


Vehicle noise assault on a "complete street" in New Castle County, Delaware.

“If anyone walking along the sidewalk were to make deafening noises, spew poisonous gas into innocent faces, and threaten people with a deadly weapon, they would be arrested. Yet a few feet away, on the public roadway, it is considered normal behavior” ~Steve Stollman

Friday, April 16, 2021

Senator Jack Walsh's District 9 Pathways Disaster

The following letter (email) was sent to Senator Jack Walsh, Delaware District 9.

Greetings, Senator Walsh,

What is your plan for 2021, to repair and maintain what few asphalt pathways are in your region? These serve as vital connectors for foot/pedal traffic. As of right now, and last year, they are an unmitigated disaster. We have attached a few pics in this email that you should recognize, but there are plenty of others.

There is Bike Delaware, Delaware Greenways, DelDOT's Complete Streets, Gov Markel's Trails & Pathways initiative, Gov Minner's Livable DE, Safe Routes to School, etc etc we could go on and on. These pathways should be clearly defined, with min. 8' wide smooth asphalt.

Rep Baumbach is busy cutting ribbons on parks and pathways projects in his district all the time, in Newark. But yours -- like [Senator] Townsend's -- is like a 3rd world country, at best.

What are you going to do about it?   -- Frank Warnock & Angela Connolly



Above: An overgrown hedgerow and a 2" raised steel plate are the ultimate crash hazard along Wyoming Road. Yet this is routinely used as an extension of Newark's Hall Trail.

Above: Abandoned pathway along Wyoming Road in Newark. What was once wide and appealing for multi-modal use is avoided in favor of the road shoulder. 

Above: What remains of a pathway spur connector, between Prides Crossing and East Coast Greenway along SR4.

Above: Brookbend "Park". Viable parks, pathways and placemaking are virtually non-existent in Walsh's District 9, and (Senator) Townsend's District 11.

Above: Bike Path, aka East Coast Greenway, parallel to SR 4, also in Walsh's District 9. Walsh could ask DelDOT to rehab this facility, and others, perhaps attached to local road rehab projects.

Walsh's reply as of 4/14/2021: I had previously answered your question on one of these paths. It is located on private property and the Church is required to clean up the path. This is the first I am hearing about the other two paths. One path pictured is the county's responsibility, so I can reach out to Councilman Sheldon's office about that one. The other path is on Route 4 and I will contact DelDOT to get them to clean that up.

No, Walsh did not answer anything, not in writing. We can find nothing in writing, and requested that he forward any sent emails that may have been overlooked. "3rd World Country" as defining Walsh's District 9 (and Townsend's District 11) for pathways, parks and destination/place-making is 100% accurate. It may even be an understatement. Will he answer our inquiry above, with a serious action plan? That remains to be seen.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Bike Delaware erases first 5 years of its history

Correction: "15 Years Old TODAY"

Bike Delaware has re-written history, declaring a "10 Year Anniversary" as of March 22, 2021

It is said that a lady never reveals her true age. Bike Delaware has taken this advice to heart, chopping five years off the org's true age, thus erasing numerous successful advocacy efforts from 2006-2010.

Bike Delaware was originally founded in 2006, largely on the heels of John Boyle of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. He, along with Mario Nappa (past President of White Clay Bicycle Club), established a formal structure that included the Bike Delaware Blog and regular meetings at Wilmapco in Newark. By 2008, a fully functional website (partial archive here) was established, with weekly updates, including meeting schedules, minutes, current projects, DelDOT workshops, member's personal initiatives, pending legislation, and a year-end progress review (annual report). In time, other Advocates would join together to further grow, and develop, what we know today as Bike Delaware. This was for 5 years, prior to achieving 501(c)3 status in 2011.

Some of Bike Delaware's progress from 2006-2010, pre-501(c)3, in no particular order:

  • Bike Lanes over the St Georges Bridge
  • Stop the encroachment of radial channelizing islands on bike lanes
  • Right Turn-only lanes to shared bike lane/mixing zones
  • Route 1 fatals in Rehoboth: Shared bike-bus lane compromise
  • Support, demand Junction-Breakwater Trail (expedited)
  • Bike-Friendly City and State achievements
  • Full table setups: Regular presence at tabling events
  • Traffic Signal phase change sensitivity for bicycles
  • Delaware Bicycle Council legislation (3' Passing, Vulnerable Road Users, etc)
  • Rally bicyclists to DelDOT public workshops and project meetings
  • Interactive Delaware bicycle maps
  • Delaware MUTCD best practices for bicycling
  • Sharrow (shared lane marking) implementation and oversight
  • Endorse and assist other orgs and start-ups, e.g. Urban Bike Project

Bike Delaware is 15 years old in 2021
Acting in this manner -- ignoring 5 full years of their own history -- is a slap in the face to founding Advocates and their years of volunteering and hard work. Why is this the case? Executive Director (James Wilson) took exception with much of these past efforts, and/or those involved. This latest action of his is abhorrent, to say the least.

1st State Bikes was founded largely to expose Bike Delaware's brand of "advocacy" in their post-501(c)3 era, which is hardly the vision we had hoped for. The following articles about them are noteworthy, and can also be found in the right column of this website:

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Boycott Complete Communities Live Stream on 1/27/2021

Once again, Bike Delaware and Sierra Club -- with support from the League of Women Voters among others -- are working in the interests of Developers and the Building Industry. "Complete Communities" is great click bait, except that these organizations are not talking about pathway connections between existing suburban subdivisions. It's all about maximizing developer profits with future infill projects, touting them as walkable-bikeable and/or transit-oriented and thus worthy of density waivers. This, on what few green spaces remain, particularly in New Castle County.

Home Rule governance, combined with non-existent development codes or land-use regulations over many decades time (since WW2) have all but ensured community disconnect and isolation in most cases. Most bicycle or foot traffic is forced out onto the nearest arterial road to make any kind of connection with neighboring communities, commerce and basic services. Bike Delaware, in particular, ignores any and all attempts to retrofit the built environment to accommodate them.

Unless the State is prepared to spend enormous sums and begin using eminent domain, safe connectivity for the "interested but concerned" to circumvent arterial roads and intersections as one less car will remain impossible. Govt would have to strategically condemn and raze private properties in order to install non-motorized pathway connections between developments, and designate their streets as bike boulevards. Doing so would draw the ire of adjacent residents, and trigger a frenzy of lawsuits. Except in a rare case or two, it isn't going to happen.

We urge our readers to see through the folly of organizations that purport to be environmental and alt-transportation advocates, yet their record (or lack thereof) speaks to the contrary. Send a clear message with your boycott of this and all events sponsored by them.