By Carol Ireland, White Clay Bicycle Club President
DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt met with the “bicycling community” on September 6 at the DelDOT offices in Dover. Senator Robert Venables and representatives from Bike Delaware, Nemours Health and Prevention Services, the Delaware Bicycle Council, the Wilmington and Newark bicycle committees, WILMAPCO, Dover/Kent County MPO, White Clay Bicycle Club, Sussex Cyclists and the Urban Bike Project all spoke with the secretary.
The format of the session was quite informal, with various participants sharing their perspectives on the particular focus of each organization, what is going well in Delaware (with particular emphasis on the $5 million in the bond bill
), and what the key issues are. These include: discontinuous bikeways
, maximizing federal dollars
to match the state dollars allocated for bikeways, the need for ongoing maintenance of bike paths and driver education regarding bicyclist safety. Secretary Bhatt was an excellent listener, and seemed to understand both the positives and issues, based on his experiences directing an MPO in Kentucky and with the Federal Highway Administration in Washington, DC as well as his few months in Delaware.
Also notable for his listeners, Secretary Bhatt chose a home for his family near Wesley College in Dover, located so he can bike to work. He told us that one of his goals for Delaware is to move the state back into the top 10 bike friendly states, as judged by the League of American Bicyclists. I think he means it! He understands that there are a number of bike-related projects that have been planned because of the new and unprecedented funds voted by the General Assembly in the spring. It’s time for DelDOT to have fewer meetings and more implementations. (This last was stated during a conversation with Secretary Bhatt at the ceremony to announce funding of the C&D Canal Recreational Trail.)
We thank the Secretary for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with Delaware advocates. We very much look forward to working with him to achieve a more bike-friendly Delaware.