Walkable, Bikeable Delaware
One hundred years ago, Delaware families spent nearly their entire household budgets on just three things: food, clothing and shelter. Today, however, the 2nd largest expense Delaware families face is transportation. We spend more on transportation than entertainment, clothing, food, and even health care! More than $8,000 on average per year. The only place we spend more money than for transportation, is for housing.
How did we get in this position? 100 years ago, transportation (in urban areas, anyway) was practically free. Unless you kept a horse, all you needed were shoes or a bicycle. But in the 21st century, we have made it inconvenient, difficult and even dangerous to get where you want to go without a car. 16% of all traffic fatalities in Delaware are pedestrians and bicyclists, even though pedestrians and bicyclists together account for far less than 16% of the total miles traveled. Virtually all of us use a car for every routine travel need, even if it is a short trip of just a few miles.
The direct economic cost is not the only cost we pay for our complete dependence on the automobile. One hundred years ago, Delawareans got plenty of exercise everyday. They didn’t have to schedule time with their personal trainer, it was built in to their routine travel: to work, to school, to the store. In the 21st century, we have replaced routine travel by foot and bicycle with travel by car, and we have become a sedentary people. Today, two-thirds of adults and 40% of Delawareans are classified as overweight or obese; and rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases associated with being overweight are exploding.
Last month, the Delaware General Assembly passed Senate Concurrent Resolution #13 (SCR13) which said that we need transportation that is not just fast, but also cost-effective and healthy for families. SCR13 directs the state to identify new funds for direct and strategic investments in closing the worst and most dangerous gaps that keep people from choosing walking and bicycling as safe, convenient and even fun ways of getting to where they want to go.
Today, the General Assembly votes on Senate Bill #130 to fund capital improvements in our state. This is where we find out whether the promise of SCR13 will be fulfilled. Come join us in Dover and see for yourself. You may have an opportunity to see our elected officials do something extraordinary.