In a speech to mark National Bike to Work Day on May 2, Cleon Cauley, Sr., the acting secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation
(DelDOT), said cycling and trails were vital to the future
Cauley's words were music to the ears of cycling and sustainable
transportation advocates in Delaware, many of
whom attended the Bike to Work Day launch at the University of Delaware's
Newark Campus. The event was organized by the Newark Bicycle Committee,
a partnership of cyclists and agencies working to improve options for bicycling
in one of the state's most populous cities.
"DelDOT is committed to continuing our efforts to make Delaware more bicycle
friendly," Cauley said. "In the coming years, our transportation needs
will change. As fuel prices continue to rise, more people will park their cars.
They will walk, ride their bikes or ride a bus. We have already seen dramatic
increases in the past two years. To ignore this trend is to do a great
disservice to the people of Delaware."
Delaware, like many
American states, is struggling to provide adequate, safe bike lanes and facilities
for the burgeoning fleet of residents who choose cycling as a regular form of
transportation. According to Cauley, there were 158 car/bicycle accidents in Delaware in 2010, 96
percent of which resulted in injury. More than a fifth of those accidents involved
children younger than 15.
"Like most of you, I find those numbers unacceptable,"
Cauley said. "We must provide better facilities for bikes, and we must have
fewer people getting killed."
Part of Newark's plan to accommodate more walking and biking now includes a proposed rail-trail traversing the city from north to
south. The Pomeroy Trail, a multi-use asphalt trail along the inactive Pomeroy Rail Line (out of use since 1939), is
expected to open later this year, connecting White Clay Creek State Park and the existing James F. Hall Trail north of the city with residential areas
and a transit hub to the south.
The Pomeroy Trail will be well-lit along its two-mile length and
will feature three informational kiosks dedicated to aspects of the line's
"This is a very exciting week for us," said Newark Mayor Vance Funk.
"For four years, we've been working on the Pomeroy Trail. The trail
came about because Senator Thomas Carper gave us more than $5 million to build
it. Finally this week, we're sending out the bid package. Hopefully, we will
award the contract in late June, and we will finally see it built."
The state of Delaware
has been praised in recent years for its concerted efforts to promote cycling
and non-motorized transportation in urban areas. Cauley said much of this momentum was a
direct result of political leadership.
"Many of the recent changes have come directly from
Governor Jack Markell, who has made it very clear that Delaware must become more bike
friendly," Cauley said. "He made this challenge to us not because he
is a cyclist himself, but because he can see what we must do to prepare for the
A few weeks ago, in fact, both
the Delaware House and Senate voted unanimously to direct the DelDOT to
"create contiguous systems or networks of walkways and bikeways within and
between cities and towns in Delaware in order to provide travelers with the
opportunity for safe, convenient, cost-effective and healthy transportation via
walking and bicycling."
For more information about other rail-trails in Delaware, visit RTC's free online trail-finder website, www.TrailLink.com.
Photos (top to bottom): James F. Hall Trail, which will connect to the Pomeroy Trail; Pomeroy Trail Bridge in White Clay Creek State Park, by Heather Dunigan.