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New Rail-Trail at Heart of Delaware's Push for Walk- and Bike-ability

"There is a perception that (trails) are nice amenities from a recreational standpoint, but with $4-a-gallon gas I have seen a lot of people out there biking and making an economic choice," Shailen Bhatt, secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation, told Delaware Online this week.

That's great new for you, Delaware, because comments like that indicate the state is headed in the right direction when it comes to sustainable transportation networks, and providing public infrastructure that works for all people.

Sec. Bhatt is currently overseeing a $13 million project tasked with making the state more walkable and bikeable.

A key part of that plan is the recently unveiled New Castle Industrial Track Trail, a 2.1-mile section of paved rail-trail north of New Castle toward Wilmington. The end goal of the rail-trail is the Wilmington waterfront, a terrific recreational and tourist amenity in a region now moving to fully utilize active transportation in its economic future.

Leading the push toward a more walkable and bikeable Delaware is Gov. Jack Markell, who last year developed the First State Trails and Pathways Plan, charging the DelDOT and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control with creating and connecting communities with a system of maintained trails and paths. As nearby Connecticut is finding out, having state leaders who comprehend the wide-reaching benefits and cost-effective investments that walking and biking represent goes a long way to building a transportation landscape that offers better alternatives.  

Executive Director of Delaware Greenways Mark Chura said recently that Gov. Markell has taken Delaware's efforts to build a first-class bicycle and pedestrian network "to a whole new level."

"Interconnecting our towns with their outlying suburbs and close-to-home recreational areas benefits us all and is a great investment in Delaware's future," Chura said. "We have some amazing places here in Delaware that, to most of us, are only accessible by car or not at all. The Governor's initiative will change all that, while at the same time providing new options get out of doors and improve our health."

Photo of the New Castle Industrial Track Trail courtesy of Bike Delaware.

Posted Sat, Apr 14 2012 11:29 AM by Jake Lynch


Jon Osborn wrote re: New Rail-Trail at Heart of Delaware's Push for Walk- and Bike-ability
on Mon, Apr 16 2012 9:34 AM

We moved to Delaware in 1980 and all I can say is this is not a bike friendly place. Kirkwood Highway is the main business route from downtown Wilmington to the center of Newark De and in the 12 miles there is not on sign or bike lane marker. Without paint and markers you can build all the bike paths in the world and not get the job done. It is a lot less expensive to paint bike lanes and put up signs then to build bike paths that only go from point A to point B.I have biked in a lot of city's and where there is painted lanes you get respect from motorists.

Drew Knox wrote re: New Rail-Trail at Heart of Delaware's Push for Walk- and Bike-ability
on Wed, May 9 2012 8:50 PM

It's true that Kirkwood Highway is not bike-friendly. However, there's not enough paint and markers in all of the Home Depots to turn it into part of a cycling-friendly network. As Jon indirectly points out, despite a wonderful Delaware Greenway, there has, until now, been little overall progress throughout the state to create a sustainable transportation network. That underscores the significance of this rail-trail to our communities and how Governor Markell's First State Trails and Pathways Plan is both remarkable and visionary. It's an effort that deserves loud, full, and enthusiastic support from the cycling community.

Drew Knox

President Bike Delaware


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