On April 28th, 2005, 22 year old Katarzyna Reteruk was killed by a distracted driver in the right turn lane of the intersection of Routes 1 and 24 by an 18 YO driver. The Polish exchange student was riding at night with lights and just left her place of employment. The Driver was charged with operating a vehicle causing death, although the outcome of the charges is not known.
Reteruk’s death was the first posting on the Bike Delaware blog and occurred in a year where several other serious crashes brought bicycle safety on Route 1 to the state news headlines. In response to the pressure exerted by Sussex Cyclists and Bike Delaware, DelDOT added bicycle markings to the shared right turn/bus lane that replaced bike lanes and funding for bicycle safety stations on roads with commuter bike traffic remains in place. The Junction and Breakwater trail was also extended to Lewes, which allows daytime cyclists travelling to and from Rehoboth Beach to avoid Route 1. These improvements have been cited as contributing to a significant decline in serious bicycle related injuries in the area.
But there is more to be done, laws that cite distracted drivers and protect vulnerable road users need to be codified. And the need to improve cycling conditions along and across Route 1 still exists. Upgrading the Junction and Breakwater with lighting, signage and a firmer surface could provide a reasonably practical alternate route from the beach to some of the highway businesses and apartment complexes.
The intersection where Katarzyna Reteruk was killed remains hazardous for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Acquiring the money and political will to achieve this vision will require a comprehensive campaign on the part of bicycle advocates. You can help by making a contribution or donating some time to Bike Delaware.