Letter to the Editor from DelDOT
Delaware Department of Transportation commentary
DelDOT Public Relations
1-800-652-5600 or 302-760-208
January 10, 2006
DelDOT Making Effort for Cyclists
By Darrel W. Cole, Director, Public Relations
Delaware Department of Transportation
The Delaware Department of transportation’s planned Third Lane construction project on Route 1 between Five Points and Route 24 has recently generated a good amount of negative comments from some cyclists. In addition, some have taken the discussion a step further stating incorrectly that DelDOT has failed to address the needs of cyclists statewide.
I’d like to shed some light unjust exactly what DelDOT plans to do for cyclists during the construction of the Third Lane. and how the agency works with cyclists in general. First, however it must be pointed out that — press noted or signed otherwise — all state-maintained roadways in Delaware, Including Route 1 through the Beach Area are legal bikeways. Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists and we try our best to accommodate them as part of each project that we do.
In addressing DelDOT’s commitment to cyclists some of our efforts include:
·Partnering with other businesses to give out thousands of free helmets and safety equipment each year;
·Distributing cycling safety brochures in several languages to businesses and others;
·Creation of a first ever statewide Bicycle Facilities Master Plan, which identifies roadways statewide that could have bicycle lanes incorporated into future improvements;
·Serving as technical staff to the Delaware Bicycle Council; This includes providing information and
·answering questions about ongoing DelDOT activities and projects, and bring Issues to the attention of the Council for its review and comment .
·Creation this year of the Adopt-A-Bike-path program
·The installation of bicycle racks on all DART buses statewide.
We do much more but of course we’d like to do more still. The reality we face are budgetary and manpower constraints and balancing the needs of the motoring public with public transportation, pedestrians and cyclists.
While cyclists have the same rights to the roadways as motorists, we remain hesitant about encouraging bicycling along Route 1 . The reason is simple: it’s unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians due to heavy traffic volume and the propensity for motorists to pay little attention to cyclists and pedestrians.
Having said that, we realize cyclists will continue to utilize Route 1, so we have done our best to provide education in a variety of ways.
Here’s what we are doing or planning to do before and during the Route 1 construction project:
·Through a major public outreach effort, reach motorists, visiting students that work in the area, businesses, cyclists organizations and residents. Information will be provided about project details, timelines and bicycle and motorist education.
·Through other media, attempt to educate the motoring and cycling public about the project.
·Look into the placement of innovative symbols for new bicycle pavement markers from Five Points to Rehoboth canal.
·Look into modifying the striping between the travel lane and the shared use lane to make it clear that the shared use lane is not a travel lane.
·Look into additional cyclist-specific signage from Five Points to Route 24.
·Provide cyclists a safer way to transport their bicycles and themselves through the work zone.
·Plan to have bicycle pit stops outside the construction areas providing Free helmets and educational materials.
·Plans call for 27 new ”Right Lane Buses Bikes & Right Turn Only” and ”Bike Wrong Way” traffic signs to encourage cyclists to ride with traffic. There’s also been several points presented in various letters abut the Third Lane project related to cycling.
Regarding bicycle traffic counts concluded by a Philadelphia bicycle advocate, he fails to mention that the counts were made from a traffic camera located two miles south of the Third Lane project limits. Regardless, we acknowledge there is still a large amount of bicycle traffic.
A proposal by the same Philadelphia advocate to narrow the lanes and reduce the speed limit to 35 mph to allow bicycle lane is unacceptable for a principal roadway (average daily traffic in the summer is approximately 60,000) like Route 1.
Traffic speed studies indicate that average speeds along some of that roomy reach 55 mph and lowering it would only cause more congestion and crashes.
On the topic of state owned property along Route 1, there is little room for expansion While it would have been possible 20 years ago to add a dedicated bicycle lane on route 1, it is not now. DelDOT simply doesn’t have the tens of millions of dollars needed to undertake the massive Right of Way purchase such a project would require, Along the same lines, the idea of sacrificing bus lanes for bicycle lanes is not a logical choice given that thousands of bus riders rely on that service every day, and results in fewer vehicles on one of the more congested roadways in the state.
The same Philadelphia advocate lists two crashes and one fatality that he insinuates are the result of DelDOT engineering. While we in no way want to minimize the seriousness of these issues we also won’t sit bad and be blamed for deaths and serious injuries. The fatality pointed to was the result of an inattentive motorist talking on a cell phone and subsequently hitting the cyclist at night. The other two crashes were caused by a dangerous lane change and a hit and run where the motorist was eventually caught.
As we move forward, we will continue to discuss project details with cyclists and all others affected by the Third Lane Project. We are willing to discuss anything and everything but we realize that pleasing everyone will not be possible.
The Third Lane Project has been on the books for years and during construction it will be difficult on motorists. businesses, tourists, cyclists and residents. It is time to move forward, not back. As it is now, the configuration is less than ideal, The new design will be better for all.
If anyone would like to discuss these topics, feel free to call DelDOT Public relations at 302-760-2080, Thanks for hearing us out,
Director Public Relations
Delaware Department of Transportation