Framework for Local Implementation

Thanks to significant investments in bicycle infrastructure, the adoption of supportive plans and policies, and via public information campaigns, Delaware has consistently been ranked among the top bike-friendly states in the nation. To build on this foundation and vision for better and safer bicycle networks, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and members of a working group established a Blueprint for a Bicycle-Friendly Delaware, a statewide policy plan in April 2018.

Developed through a participatory planning process, the Plan provides a framework that will inform policies and investment strategies for promoting bicycling as a safe mode of transportation in Delaware. The Blueprint envisions a more integrated approach to local land use and transportation planning. Together, DelDOT, regional planning entities, and local governments will collaborate to identify areas with the greatest needs to address safety and comfort of non-motorized travelers. It establishes a multi-agency approach where strategic partnerships can be formed to develop, fund, and execute projects for a more bikeable Delaware. Seeking to better reflect the needs, goals, and character of communities, the Blueprint advances locally driven planning as the cornerstone of future bicycle-friendly efforts. In addition to outlining the overarching bikeability goals in Delaware, this page guides local governments through the process of planning and finding support for local bikeability projects within the framework of the Blueprint.

Planning for Bikeability Statewide

The Vision

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.


Three Goals within the Blueprint for a Bicycle-Friendly Delaware. Credit: Delaware Complete Communities Planning Toolbox

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.

Figure 2-A: The priorities and framework for strategic implementation. Credit: DelDOT, Blueprint for a Bicycle-Friendly Delaware

Locally Driven Planning

Although there is a recognized need to establish safe, comfortable, and connected bicycle networks statewide, there is no magic bullet to create a bike-friendly Delaware. From a community's character to the people who live there, each local government in Delaware is unique and possesses its own needs and vision. The most effective bicycle network derives from context-sensitive projects that reflect each community's unique characteristics; rural, suburban, or urban setting; and local preferences. Locally driven planning establishes a shared vision for bicycling among diverse community stakeholders.

Land Use and Transportation Integration

Methods for integrating land use planning to bicycle-friendly transportation planning. Credit: Delaware Complete Communities Planning Toolbox

In Delaware, the bulk of the transportation system is managed by DelDOT while land use is regulated by local governments. Automobile-centric development may occur as a result of a disconnect between land use planning and transportation planning. Local governments can develop local plans to foster the development of multi-modal transportation networks and achieve Complete Streets, which meet the transportation needs of people of all ages and abilities. Local plans—such as comprehensive plans, bicycle master plans, greenways and trail master plans, parks and recreation master plans, and official maps—are the means to generate project ideas.

Planning and Public Engagement

Derived from a participatory planning process, local plans ensure that investments in bicycle infrastructure are driven by local needs and priorities. Projects should be proposed and vetted during local and regional planning processes. Individuals, community groups, planners, and public safety officials can collaborate to identify safety issues, network gaps, challenges, and opportunities. Citizens, non-profits, private entities, and non-traditional partners should be involved and actively engaged to ensure diverse representation of stakeholders. Robust public input at this stage means that projects have local support, an established public consensus, and that delays may be avoided later in the state's project prioritization process.

Soliciting community input to plan bicycle projects that fit the community needs helps design bicycle facilities that residents will regularly use.

Coordinating with Regional Entities and State Agencies

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.

Figure 3-B: Local, Regional, and State Summary. Credit: DelDOT, Blueprint for a Bicycle-Friendly Delaware

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.

Where to submit locally-planned bicycle project proposals. Credit: Adapted from DelDOT, Blueprint for a Bicycle-Friendly Delaware

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.

DelDOT's role in project prioritization. Credit: Adapted from Figure 3-D by DelDOT, Blueprint for a Bicycle-Friendly Delaware

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.

Project Prioritization and Funding Process

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:

  1. Connects people to destinations
  2. Provides separation from traffic
  3. Turns a stressful route into a comfortable one

Connecting Destinations

Destinations are categorized into five types:

Figure 3-G: The categories of destinations used in project scoring for the Statewide Pedestrian and Bicycle Funding Program. Credit: DelDOT, Blueprint for a Bicycle-Friendly Delaware

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.

Figure 3-H: Definition of Levels of Traffic Stress. Credit: DelDOT, Blueprint for a Bicycle Friendly Delaware

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.

Funding Sources

There are several funding sources available for bicycle infrastructure in Delaware. The primary source is DelDOT's Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding Program, which is described in detail within the Blueprint for a Bicycle-Friendly Delaware Toolkit. However, this funding program may not be the most suitable form of funding for all bicycle projects. The Blueprint lists several other helpful funding sources.

Using the Blueprint for More Guidance

In addition to the above guidance on local government involvement in bicycle project planning, the Blueprint contains many resources that may help local governments as they work to make their community more bicycle-friendly. Additional sections of the blueprint include:

  • Implementation Strategies Summary - This section breaks down each goal into more detail and enumerates the specific tasks that need to be implemented in order to accomplish the goal. This section provides a clearer understanding of the steps that need to be taken to make the entire state more bicycle-friendly.
  • Strategic Implementation Plan - This section prioritizes and sets a timeline for the implementation steps.
  • Individual Recommendations - This section describes each implementation step in detail and describes which stakeholders are involved in each step. Communities can use this section to better understand how they can contribute to making Delaware more bicycle-friendly overall and in what ways the actions by DelDOT and other stakeholders will impact their community.
  • Additional Resources - This section contains links to relevant resources for improving bikeability. Many of these resources are helpful for local level planning in addition to guiding state level actions.
  • Appendix - This section contains maps and data that demonstrate the current state of biking in Delaware. In addition, the appendix expands on the concept of Level of Traffic Stress analysis.

Delaware Complete Communities Planning Toolbox Resources

Understanding the planning and public engagement process helps communities develop bicycle project plans that both fit the needs of their residents and fulfill the objectives of the State Pedestrian and Bicycle Funding Program. The Delaware Complete Communities Planning Toolbox has many resources to guide communities through planning, public engagement, and bicycle-network design. Follow the links below to learn more.

Low-Stress Bicycle Network Resources:


Public Engagement: