December 21, 2005
Mr. Patrick Kennedy
Federal Highway Administration
300 South New Street, Suite 2101
Dover, DE 19904
Dear Mr. Kennedy;
I am writing in opposition of the final design of the SR 1 third lane construction project between Dartmouth Rd and SR 24 in Sussex County, as the project lacks safe accommodation for bicycles and pedestrians. We request that FHWA review the final design and construction plans for compliance to FHWA’s bicycle and pedestrian policy and environmental justice guidelines.
Specifically our objections are based on three principals. (1) Failure to address the needs of cyclists, (2) the disregard for bicycle safety in the final design and (3) the lack of public involvement in the process.
Bicycle counts taken during the summer of 2005 using DELDOT traffic cameras at the intersection of Route 1 and 1A in Rehoboth Beach indicated a rate of over 100 bicyclists per hour.
Route 1 between Lewes and the Maryland line accounts for 18% of all bicycle crashes in the entire state. Newspaper reports indicate that more than half of the victims are foreign exchange students employed as service workers at businesses along the Route 1 corridor. On April 28th, 2005 Kataryzna Returuk 22, from Poland was killed in the right turn lane at the intersection of Routes 1 and 24 after leaving her workplace.
There are no safe and legal bicycle and pedestrian crossings on Route 1 between Five Points and Dewey Beach. A cyclist who fails to merge with the high speed left turn lanes is in effect illegally crossing Route 1. This crossing hazard was realized on July 7, 2005 when Adrian Ciprian Matei, 21, of Romania suffered serious head injuries while trying to cross the highway near the State Police Barracks.
The proposed 10 -14′ lane will be shared by buses, bikes and right turning vehicles. This lane will neither be marked for bicycles nor delineated by a solid white line. The speed limit will be 50 miles per hour, far too high for safely sharing a narrow lane. Conflicts with buses have caused some problems. On August 12th, 2005 a cyclist suffered a moderate head injury when she collided with a transit bus in the shoulder/bus lane just south of the project area. In addition this project will not address the need for safe bicycle and pedestrian crossings.
DelDOT has configured the lane widths and speed limit using rural arterial highway standards. However in 2000 the US Census bureau added the corridor to the Lewes Urban Cluster. The adjacent principal land use is commercial retail with frequent curb cuts. It is most appropriate to design the road to urban standards for the safety of all road users. Lowering the speed limit to 35 mph would allow for narrower travel lanes, provide enough space for a 5′ bike lane and would compel DelDOT to address pedestrian crossings.
Process and Public Involvement:
The cyclists in the area were promised a review of the proposed changes but were put off for over a year. When they were given a chance to review the plans they objected but were told it was too late to make any changes.
In the haste to fast track the completion of Route 1 DelDOT has prioritized the throughput of vehicles over the safety of its users. Unless DELDOT embraces a complete streets approach to Route 1, cyclists and pedestrians will continue to be maimed or killed at an unacceptable rate.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia