State aims to ease the way for bikers
Only about 0.2 percent of Delaware workers commute to their jobs by bicycle, one of the lowest rates in the nation.
But a big boost in the new state budget aims to get more people out of their cars and onto a bike seat by connecting existing trails into a recreation and commuting network.
The First State Trails and Pathways Initiative will get $13.25 million this year, up from $7 million in last year’s budget.
“It’s a huge opportunity for the state” to make cycling safer and more popular, said Carol Ireland, president of the White Clay Bicycle Club and secretary of Bike Delaware, a nonprofit advocacy group.
Ireland was riding with her friend Robert Wheeler late last month when he was struck by a car and killed at Marsh Road and Baynard Boulevard in Brandywine Hundred. Wheeler, 80, was one of the founding members of the White Clay Bicycle Club about 40 years ago and rode almost every day, Ireland said.
“He could still beat me up hills. The only time I was able to keep up was when he was under the weather,” she said. “It’s really shaken up the whole biking community.”
Improving the safety of bicycling is one of the state’s biggest hurdles in getting more people to commute or run errands by bicycle, said Jim Westhoff, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.
“If you were to ask 10 people why they don’t ride their bikes to work, nine of them will say it’s not safe,” Westhoff said. “That may not be reality, but we need to change that perception.”
Andrea Trabelsi, 29, of Pike Creek,commutes by bicycle a few times a month to her job north of Wilmington as managing director of Delaware Greenways, a nonprofit group that promotes natural resources and sustainable development. It takes her about an hour to ride 10 miles, including about a mile on a trail and stretches on Limestone Road and Del. 141.
She doesn’t recommend it to the faint of heart.
“There are some jerks out there who will get right up behind you and show their annoyance at you,” Trabelsi said. read more