Delaware’s Policy Framework that Supports Walkable Communities

Consistent with federal transportation investment policies and directives, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) has shifted from away from an auto-centric transportation system to one that provides safe, efficient, and multi-modal options. The State of Delaware has consistently funded transportation improvements and supported programs that support walking, biking, and transit usage.

Delaware Pedestrian Council

Image of Delware Pedestrian Council Meeting

Meeting of the Advisory Council on Walkability and Pedestrian Awareness

In 2015, then-Governor Markell signed Executive Order 54 that established the Advisory Council on Walkability and Pedestrian Awareness (i.e., Pedestrian Council). The Council’s charge is to:

  • Identify gaps in the system of pedestrian paths and sidewalks to create continuous, interconnected pathways
  • Provide advice regarding design standards for crosswalks, sidewalks, and pathways ensuring ADA compliance
  • Provide advice regarding implementation of DelDOT’s Sidewalk and Multi-Use Path Maintenance Policy
  • Review traffic rules to help support a safe pedestrian environment
  • Provide advice regarding accessibility and connectivity to make transit a more viable option for Delawareans
  • Develop strategies for pedestrian safety, education, and awareness

 

 

Delaware Trails and Pathways Initiative

Image of the Jack A. Markell Trail sign and a bridge that forms part of the trail.

The Jack A. Markell Trail Credit: Delaware Greenways

The Delaware Trails and Pathways Initiative was established “to interconnected network of shared-use trails and pathways that will support non-motorized travel and recreation opportunities for Delawareans and visitors.” Led by the Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

  • Make Delaware walkable and bikeable by creating a premier interconnected network of multi-use bicycle and pedestrian trails and pathways.
  • Design, construct and maintain a sustainable network of trails and pathways.

Recently, the Jack A. Markell Trail, named in honor of the governor who first spearheaded the initiative, opened in New Castle County. This 7.9 mile trail provides a safe, beautiful, accessible route for pedestrians to travel from Wilmington to New Castle. Not only does the trail improve connectivity in Delaware, but it also connects to part of a 3000 mile long trail that spans all the way from Maine to Florida. Beyond the Jack A. Markell Trail, hundreds of miles of trails and pathways provide pedestrians with safe places to walk and enjoy the landscape.

Safe Routes to School

Image of Delaware Safe Routes to School Logo

In an effort to encourage safe travel for children to and from school through the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, the Delaware General Assembly passed Senate Bill 353 in September 2002. The bill directs DelDOT to seek federal funds and provide grants to schools and school districts to implement pedestrian safety measures and traffic calming strategies.

 

 

 Delaware’s Complete Streets Policy

Image of the IPA publication, Complete Streets in Delaware: A Guide for Local GovernmentsA complete street is a transportation facility that is planned, designed, operated, and maintained to provide safe mobility for users of all ages and abilities including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, and motorists, appropriate to the function and context of the facility. Complete streets facilitate active transportation. DelDOT’s Complete Streets Policy consider all modes of transportation to ensure that all infrastructure users are considered in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of its transportation system.

 

 

 

Walkable, Bikeable Delaware

Image of Delaware children biking to school.

Children bike to Downes Elementary School during Bike to School Week.

The Delaware General Assembly unanimously passed the “Walkable, Bikeable Delaware” Resolution in May 2011 to support the goal of “linking cities and towns by a network of off-alignment multi-use paths that can be used by commuters in addition to recreational pedestrians and bicyclists.” The legislation enables DelDOT to allocate funds to infrastructural investments in walkway and bikeway networks in an effort to connect destination-oriented population centers. Since 2011, the Delaware General Assembly and the Wilmington Area Planning Council (WILMAPCO) have invested considerable state and federal funding in statewide pedestrian and bicycle improvements, greenways, and trails projects.

Vulnerable Road Users Law

The Vulnerable Road Users Law was enacted in August 2010, making Delaware the second state in the nation to enact such a law. The law defines vulnerable roadway users to include pedestrians, road maintenance crews, cyclists, skateboarders, rollerbladers, and those traveling by means of moped, motorcycle, farm vehicle, and animal. In addition to defining this classification, the law imposes stricter penalties and a conviction of inattentive driving if a motorist injures or kills a vulnerable user.

DelDOT’s Commitment to Accessible Transportation

An image of a man using a wheelchair to cross the street, demonstrating the importance of ADA accessibility.

A man using a wheelchair to cross the street, demonstrating the importance of ADA accessibility.

Sidewalks, street crossings, and other elements in the public right-of-way can pose challenges to accessibility. Title II of ADA requires that public entities (including state and local governments) make public facilities, programs, and services accessible to persons with disabilities. The U.S. Access Board has issued Accessibility Guidelines that focus mainly on facilities on sites. In addition, DelDOT issued its Pedestrian Accessibility Standards for Facilities in the Public Right of Way or “DelDOT Pedestrian Standards.” The standards combines into one document the requirements, guidelines, and best practices for accessible pedestrian facilities in the public transportation right-of-way.

Delaware Strategic Highway Safety Plan

The goal of the Delaware Strategic Highway Safety Plan: Toward Zero Deaths is to achieve a reduction of at least 3 fatalities and 15 serious injuries annually and continue to reduce the total number of fatalities and serious injuries to achieve at least a 50 percent reduction by 2035. The plan boasts a multi-agency approach that utilizes education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical service strategies.

“Walk Smart, Arrive Alive DE” Campaign

Graphic promoting the Walk Smart Campaign.

The Walk Smart Campaign Credit: DelDOT and Office of Highway Safety

The “Walk Smart, Arrive Alive DE” Campaign is a partnership between the Office of Highway Safety, DelDOT, and local and state law enforcement to provide education to communities about the importance of safe pedestrian travel practices. The Office of Highway Safety provides materials for DelDOT to distribute to municipalities interested in participating in the campaign.


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