Wednesday, November 1, 2023

U-Dud: Who is driving UD's anti-bicycling sentiment?

From the Newark Post article:

"[McBride] added that another key component to improving cycling in Newark is working with the University of Delaware, which he said has fallen behind competitors like Penn State and the University of Maryland as it relates to cycling infrastructure. McBride said UD “hasn’t been all that interested in helping us,” noting that UD’s interest in cycling waned after a student was fatally struck by a bike outside the Trabant University Center in 2015."

It is no secret that Earl "Rusty" Lee of  the University of Delaware's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Faculty is anti-bicycling. We have heard it from past students and overheard U.D. alumni saying as much. It was objectively obvious during the Shared Right Turn-Only Lane project 12 years ago. DelDOT tasked U.D. with conducting field and human factors testing and providing the data necessary to have this vital modification added to the Delaware MUTCD.

Surely, we cannot prove Mr Lee's complicity in UD's attitude in the Post article above. But their unwillingness to help Newark move toward a green sustainable transportation future is repugnant at best. Apparently, it is based this on a single bike-ped accident at Trabant Student Center that resulted in a fatality.

The University and Mr Lee should be reminded that bike collisions with pedestrians (resulting in death or serious injury) are exceptionally rare compared to cars. People dependent on cars result in 38,000 road deaths per year in the U.S. (this includes in Newark) and costs everyone many billions of dollars in medical services and property damage. There are also the health implications of driving costing 10s of thousands of lives every year. These include respiratory illness, noise anxiety/stress, obesity etc. Instead of holding a grudge, U.D. should be at the forefront getting people out of cars and into active (pdf) modes like bicycling. They should also provide a car-share system instead of minimum parking requirements for students.

The revolution in e-Bike and scooter technology alone all but mandates U.D. to act, as hundreds if not thousands of their students depend on these modes to get to class. Needless to say, oil-dependent transportation accounts for the largest share of heat trapping emissions, ultimately dooming our planet. U.D. should also provide multi-modal education and provide a monthly stipend to the Newark Bike Project. NBP is a huge asset, helping their students fix and maintain their bikes while teaching them self-reliance in this manner.

Shame on the University of Delaware for waving the environmental baton while jamming it in the spokes of people on bikes, those trying to be "one less car".

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