Markell touts Delaware walkway plan

DOVER — Gov. Jack Markell said Wednesday he has signed an executive order aimed at increasing pedestrian walkways in Delaware.

Executive Order 54 creates the “Advisory Council on Walkability and Pedestrian Awareness.”

The council will focus on improving the number of walkways, designing effective crosswalks and promoting a safe environment for pedestrians.

The council will consist of cabinet secretaries, transportaiton planning officials and disabled-persons advocates.

The new panel is intended to improve pedestrian access, spread safety laws and make pathways more accessible for disabled individuals. Some sidewalks have obstacles making them difficult to use for people with disabilities or are not connected to other paths.

Twenty-six pedestrians have died this year, with 27 killed in 2014 and 25 in 2013, according to the governor’s office.

The group will build on the work of the First State Trails and Pathways Initiative, which is creating more than 50 miles of new trails and has made the state more bike-friendly, the governor’s office said.

The state has recently installed a pedestrian hybrid beacon at the intersection of Del. Route 8 and Heatherfield Way, made upgrades to crosswalks and pedestrian signals at 28 intersections and built sidewalks, crosswalks, new signals and lighting in the Del. 1 corridor between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.

“We have made tremendous progress in making our transportation system more effective for everyone, and I’m proud that we have paid more attention than ever before to walking and biking,” the governor said in a statement.

“Improving walkability raises the quality of life in our communities, which in turn makes them more attractive places to live and work, while also increasing property values. I am asking the Pedestrian Council to revisit Delaware’s Statewide Pedestrian Action Plan last updated in 2007 and to report to me their findings and recommendations and to help catalyze further improvements.”

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