What is needed to create a more bicycle-friendly culture in Delaware where biking is a safe, practical, and an accessible form of transportation?
To address this question, a working group comprised of diverse stakeholders was established. The group hosted a series of public workshops and solicited feedback electronically. Using this feedback, the working group established the Blueprint's vision, key principles, goals, and objectives; an implementation strategy; and performance measures. By establishing compatible goals that meet locally identified needs and priorities, local governments can develop projects that make both their community and Delaware more bicycle-friendly.
Each of the three goals in the Blueprint lists several broad objectives, which can be achieved through projects at the local government level and fit the context of community needs. By aligning goals with locally identified needs and priorities, local governments can develop projects that make both their community and Delaware more bicycle-friendly. Within the Blueprint, each of these goals is supported by a strategic implementation framework (as illustrated below) that prioritizes 1) network development, 2) project prioritization and funding, and 3) project development and design guidance.
Working with Regional Entities
Projects, identified as part of a local planning process, may be prioritized locally or submitted to a regional planning entity for prioritization. Using GIS mapping as part of planning is advised so that existing and proposed facilities may be overlaid to evaluate network connectivity and to enable regional and statewide integration. Regional planning entities (e.g. WILMAPCO, Dover/Kent MPO, and Sussex County) collect and submit high-value local projects to DelDOT to be considered for funding. All projects are submitted to DelDOT via GIS to be added to the statewide planned project map.
It is essential for a local government to communicate and engage with its respective regional entity to incorporate locally identified projects into regional plans. The chart below shows the regional planning organization that should be contacted by local jurisdictions in each county.
Working with DelDOT
Regional entities meet with DelDOT to review proposed projects. As the funder of the Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, DelDOT assesses and prioritizes locally driven projects to ensure that they are cost-effective, feasible, and connected to regional and statewide networks. DelDOT's eight-step project prioritization process is illustrated below.
Effective implementation of bicycle projects requires continued local support and involvement. Although projects will be generated and approved through a local planning process, there can be a time lag between the initial planning, project funding, and implementation. The Blueprint suggests that a method be established to ensure commitments by local agencies to support projects in their jurisdictions.
Once the local commitment to a project is confirmed, DelDOT will notify the public, regional entities, and local governments about funded projects. A project evaluation and audit process ensures that the process is supporting projects that fulfill DelDOT's statewide bikeability goals. In other words, the evaluation seeks to ensure that projects are addressing the bicycle network goals (connectivity, comfort, and condition of facilities) as well as broader measures such as an increase in mode share, increase in low-stress connections, and increase in connectivity to important destinations.
DelDOT's Project Prioritization Process
DelDOT prioritizes projects for the Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding Program by using a transparent prioritization process, which is described in great detail in the Blueprint. Projects that score the highest will move forward in the program. There are three key characteristics that help a project score well:
- Connects people to destinations
- Provides separation from traffic
- Turns a stressful route into a comfortable one
Destinations are categorized into five types:
Each of these types of destinations composes one fifth of the scoring used to assess the level of connection to destinations in a bicycle project plan. In addition to creating new connections between destinations, project plans can demonstrate improved connectivity by establishing shorter, more direct routes between important destinations.
Safe, Low-Stress Bicycle Networks
DelDOT assesses the Level of Traffic Stress to determine whether a plan works to create a low-stress bicycle network, such that people of different skill levels feel safe and comfortable when cycling.
While the presence of facilities like bike lanes and bike racks help make a town more bikeable, their presence alone does not necessarily create an environment in which people of all skill levels feel safe biking. Beyond the existence of bicycle specific facilities, factors such as vehicle traffic, maintenance of infrastructure, visibility, and intersection design play a large role in determining the stress of a bicycle network.
Plans to improve current bicycle networks should reduce Level of Traffic Stress; while plans that establish new bicycle networks should aim to create routes with a low Level of Traffic Stress.