New Castle, Delaware, May 22, 2012 – The League of American Bicyclists, in its annual national ranking of Bicycle-Friendly states, moved Delaware into the #10 slot, a significant jump from the #18 placing in 2011. In the first ranking of Bicycle Friendly States, in 2008, Delaware was ranked #31.
Delaware’s jump is due to support from top government officials. Governor Jack Markell and the state’s Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) are leading the way by creating a multi-modal transportation system.
“We welcome our rise in the ranking as recognition of what we are doing to make walkable, bikeable communities a priority in Delaware,” said Governor Jack Markell. “Trails and Bike routes are a part of a vision for a state with interconnected communities. We will continue working to make Delaware an attractive place not only to bike, but to live and work.” Governor Markell is the only governor to ever speak at a National Bike Summit. As a part of this past weekend’s Wilmington Grand Prix professional bicycle race, he recently led several hundred riders on “The Governor’s Ride.”
The partnership between state leaders and Bike Delaware, the statewide advocacy group, has become a model for other states seeking to become more bike-friendly. According to James Wilson, Executive Director of Bike Delaware, “If you look across the country, no governor is more committed than Governor Markell to improving their state’s quality of life, health and tourism by investing in walking and bicycling.”
In contrast to partisan gridlock in Washington, both parties in our state legislature are working together in Delaware’s interests. In 2011, the Delaware General Assembly passed Senate Concurrent Resolution #13, known as “Walkable, Bikeable Delaware.” Its prime sponsors were Senator Robert Venables (D-Laurel), Senator Catherine Cloutier (R-Heatherbrooke), Representative Deborah Hudson (R-Fairthorne) and Representative David Wilson (R-Bridgeville). Wilson contends, “We owe Delaware’s leap forward in the national rankings this year to them and to additional leaders, like Senator David Sokola (D-Newark) and Representative Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear).”
As secretary of DelDOT, Shailen Bhatt has taken the governor’s vision of making Delaware the most bike-friendly state in the country, and led the agency in numerous efforts to make that vision a reality. “Less than a year ago, we publicly announced that one of our goals was to return Delaware to the Top 10, and we’ve done it,” Bhatt said. “However, much works remains. This is just the first item within a major, multi-agency effort to improve the infrastructure for alternative transportation, like bicycles.”
“Propelled by Governor Markell’s vision, Delaware is well on its way to becoming the First State in Trails. Our recent strategic trail investments are providing critical transportation and recreational opportunities, reducing air pollution, and supporting local economies–and establishing Delaware as a national leader,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara.
Delaware’s #10 ranking was based on a number of key indicators, including infrastructure and funding that provide on-the-ground bicycle facilities; education and programs that promote cycling; and passage of bicycle-friendly laws, such as the 3-foot passing law championed by the Delaware Bicycle Council, which increases safety for bicyclists of all ages.
Bike Delaware is Delaware’s independent, non-profit, membership-supported statewide citizen advocacy group whose mission is to make bicycling a safe, convenient and fun transportation option for everyone. Bike Delaware was recognized in March at the National Bike Summit for its Walkable, Bikeable Delaware campaign.
The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America. The League represents the interests of America’s 57 million bicyclists, including its 300,000 members and affiliates. For more information or to support the League, visit www.bikeleague.org.
• Delaware Trails and Pathways (state web site)