• Reason #3: Because streets are not roads

    by  • December 7, 2012 • Bike Delaware, Engineering • 0 Comments

    For the next 3 days (until December 9), you can join (or renew your membership in) Bike Delaware for only $25.

    Streets are not roads.

    A good road is about traffic throughput.

    A good street is a much more complex, and interesting, entity.  It can be about commerce.  It can be about neighborhood.  It can be about culture.  It can be about civilization.  Most of all, though, a good street is a place.

    A lot of our problems in Delaware stem from a simple inability to distinguish between roads and streets.  Underlying both is public right-of-way but that’s where the similarity ends.  Petroleum and people are both made out of the elements of carbon and hydrogen but, despite that similarity in their underlying constituents, the different ways those constituents get assembled create fundamentally different things.  The same is true of public right-of-way, which can be used to create a road to move traffic or a street to host commerce, neighborhood, culture and civilization.

    A road is the domain of the traffic engineer.  But the art of the traffic engineer is inappropriate when applied to a street.  But what happens if traffic engineers are nevertheless allowed (or told) to apply their art to streets?    The result is like the Greek idea of a chimera, a grotesque grafting together of incompatible parts: a “stroad” that is neither a good road or a good street.

    One of America’s most bicycle-friendly communities is Portland.  It got that way primarily by the creation of a network of bicycle-friendly streets.  Streets and bicycles are natural allies.  They fit together naturally.

    Neither one thing nor the other stroads like Kirkwood Highway, Route 202 and US 13, on the other hand, are the worst places in Delaware to bicycle.

    Delaware does not have an interconnected network of streets.  Most of us in Delaware live in subdivisions, work in office parks and shop in shopping malls. To get back and forth between our daily destinations usually requires venturing out on chimeric stroads.  But our remaining true streets in Delaware are still important and need to be protected against ‘stroadification’.  By joining with other cyclists,  you are funding an organized, unified and powerful voice for bicycling in Delaware.  We have shown how powerful – how irresistible, in fact – we are when we are unified, organized and focused.  If you want more of that – and want a strong and powerful voice for the integrity and importance of streets in Delaware – please help by renewing your membership in Bike Delaware, or by becoming a member of Bike Delaware for the first time, today.

    RELATED:

    • Reason #7: Because our kids are trapped in their neighborhoods, and they shouldn’t be

    About

    James Wilson is the executive director of Bike Delaware. He is a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (by whom he was named the 2014 Professional of the Year, Nonprofit Sector), the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Delaware Bicycle Council. He serves on the board of directors of Delaware Greenways and as the co-chair of the policy committee of the Advisory Council on Walkability and Pedestrian Awareness. He holds engineering degrees from Yale University and the University of Texas at Austin and is the only registered lobbyist for cycling and walking in Delaware. He helped create, and continues to lead Bike Delaware's participation in, the Walkable Bikeable Delaware campaign. During his tenure as Bike Delaware's executive director, Delaware advanced in the national Bicycle Friendly State rankings for five years in a row, farther and faster than any other state, ever. Delaware is now officially ranked as the #3 Bicycle Friendly State in America.

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