Why is a walkable and bikeable Delaware so important?
Many of the most challenging public policy questions in Delaware require – or appear to require – difficult and unavoidable tradeoffs. It is unusual to find a public policy solution that presents a “win-win” opportunity. Walking and bicycling, however, are sui generis. They are “win-win-win-win-win“:
Win#2: Public Health
Win#4: Quality of Life
While decades of pedestrian- and bicyclist-unfriendly development in Delaware has made it frequently unsafe, inconvenient and/or unpleasant to be either a pedestrian or bicyclist here, 2011 has seen an unprecedented commitment by state and local government to make the necessary investments to build a truly walkable and bikeable Delaware. Bike Delaware and its allies (including Delaware Greenways, the Delaware Bicycle Council and, especially, Nemours Health and Prevention Services) have worked hard to encourage these new commitments:
In April, Governor Jack Markell signed Executive Order #26, which identified “link[ing] cities and towns by a network of off-alignment multi-use paths that can be used by commuters in addition to recreational pedestrians and bicyclists” as one of the state’s top transportation spending priorities.
In May, the Delaware General Assembly passed Walkable, Bikeable Delaware, which called for strategic investments in walking and bicycling, including “multi-use paths for pedestrian and bicycle user travel within and between cities and towns in Delaware on independent right-of-way outside of the right-of-way of existing roadways.”
In June, the Delaware General Assembly voted an unprecedented $5,000,000 for state bike routes.
In July, DelDOT protected both bicycling-“dedicated” and bicycling-“eligible” federal transportation program funds from rescission.
In August, DelDOT requested that WILMAPCO program $480,000 of federal “CMAQ” (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality) program funds for the final phase of the Wilmington/New Castle Industrial Track, a 6 mile greenway connecting the cities of Wilmington and New Castle. (This is the first ever use of federal CMAQ money for a bicycling project in Delaware.)
In September, the WILMAPCO Council and the Sussex County Council both endorsed major “off-alignment” bikeways. The WILMAPCO Council voted to add $600,000 for the final phase of the Wilmington/New Castle Industrial Track, while the Sussex County Council included a 17 mile “rail with trail” between the cities of Lewes and Georgetown in its list of recommended transportation priorities to DelDOT.
To learn more about Walkable, Bikeable Delaware – or to get involved – email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To support our work, please join Bike Delaware now!