Dover continues push for pedal power

DOVER — Getting residents of the city of Dover to switch from four wheels and fuel to two wheels and pedal power to get around isn’t something that is going to happen overnight.

However, there are many people who believe the city is heading in the right direction with the construction of safer bicycle and pedestrian trails, such as the Capital City Trail, the Senator Bikeway and the bike path along the POW/MIA Parkway, among others.

Noting the city’s interest in developing alternative methods of transportation, Dover recently received a $2,000 Livable Communities Grant from AARP in support of the North Street Trail bicycling route that is set to be completed by next summer.

Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen said bicycling is not only healthy for the riders themselves, but also for the environment.

“In many communities we see people wanting to use bicycling and walking as both a form of recreation and everyday transportation. Dover is no different,” Mayor Christiansen said. “Bicycling offers low-cost mobility for those who do not have access to automobiles, which also includes school-age children.

“It will be a great way to reiterate the importance of a healthy lifestyle and combine that with the safety aspect of using the path versus the street, we are hoping it will entice families to utilize the paths together.”

The North Street Trail is an eight-foot wide, off-road facility that runs along the south side of North Street. The trail runs between Schutte Park and West Street, which is about 1.3 miles.

The $2,000 AARP grant will be used to install new signage along the trail for cyclists to access locations such as the transit center, The Green and Schutte Park.

There are currently no signs that indicate the presence of a trail along North Street. Officials say that naming the trail would provide a sense of place and could potentially increase its use.

“We had many areas of the bike path completed throughout Dover, yet we had a few sections that needed to be tied in to make it a safe and complete bike route,” said Eddie Diaz, a planner for the city of Dover.

The two main components of the grant were at the North Street and Saulsbury Road intersection and the upcoming building of a West Street extension of the trail, which officials hope will aid in connecting neighborhood communities throughout the city and will make it safer for bicyclists to commute.

AARP said it supports projects such as this one that promotes community well-being,

“AARP believes people should be able to live successfully in their own homes and communities for as long as possible,” said Kim Iapalucci, communications director for AARP Delaware.

“That’s why we were happy to support (this) new bike path in Dover. The path provides transportation and recreation for families to help enhance their quality of life.”

AARP plans on hosting a fun bike ride with members of the community of all ages once the North Street Trail is completed next summer.

The North Street Trail is an important one, as it ties into the existing trail network at Eden Hill Farm, including the Medical Center, and is used regularly by pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists for recreation as well as transportation purposes.

The trail is also adjacent to Kraft Foods and Proctor & Gamble and is often used by employees for recreation.

The North Street Trail will likely gain additional volumes in the future, as the Delaware Department of Transportation is currently exploring ways to connect it with the recently-constructed Capital City Trail in downtown Dover.

City recognized for being ‘bicycle friendly’

The city of Dover joined more than 400 communities across the country when The League of American Bicyclists recognized it with a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community award on Nov. 30.

Dover joined 65 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities in all 50 states.

“We applaud these communities for making bicycling a safe and convenient option for transportation and recreation,” said Bill Nesper, executive director at the League of American Bicyclists.

“We are encouraged by the growing number of leaders who see bicycling as a way to build more vibrant, healthy, sustainable and connected communities and be a part of the solution to many complex challenges faced at both the community and national levels.”

The bronze BFC award recognizes Dover’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

“We look forward to continuing to work with communities as we move closer to our mission of creating a bicycle-friendly America for everyone,” Mr. Nesper said.

Contact staff writer Mike Finney at mfinney@newszap.com.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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