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. Bicycles fit in well with other activities on a good street, and without any need for any special accommodation that diminishes other uses of the street.
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 citizen cyclists, you are supporting an organized, unified and powerful voice for bicycling. 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 becoming a member of Bike Delaware, today.