Letters - June 16, 2006

DelDOT offers bike safety information

As the summer season approaches, many people are taking advantage of the beautiful weather by riding their bicycles. As the pedestrian/bicycle coordinator for the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), I would like to resolve some misperceptions about bicycle safety and laws.

First, bicycle-related accidents in Delaware are on a substantial decrease. The number of bicyclist-involved crashes statewide decreased 43 percent (150 to 86) between 2000 and 2005, according to the Delaware State Police.

Despite these encouraging statistics, we (DelDOT, businesses, law enforcement, cycling groups) need to continue to push education.

Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on the roadways as motorists. As such, cyclists are required to ride with the flow of traffic in Delaware and in every state in the nation, with no exceptions. This is an integral part of ensuring safety for both cyclists and motorists and is endorsed by the League of American Bicyclists, the Delaware Bicycle Council and all other bicycling organizations.

Here are some reasons to ride with the flow of traffic:

• Drivers don’t expect to see traffic coming at them in their lane — especially on one-way streets.

• Drivers exiting on road parking spots or turning right onto the street won’t see you, because they’re looking the other way. (Remember merging and right turning vehicles are looking left toward oncoming traffic and you will be coming from the right.)

• Pedestrians don’t expect bicycles to be coming in the opposite direction of traffic and may step out in front of you - bicycles are vehicles under the law.

• Against traffic, motorists have far less time to react if the cyclist is coming toward them.

• All road signs, including stop signs, will be facing the opposite direction.

In addition, bicyclists are recommended to wear bright, reflective clothing so oncoming vehicles have a chance to adjust their speed as soon as possible. I also urge bicyclists to have lights. According to Delaware law, all bicycles must have a white front light and a red rear reflector during the night. However, a rear red flashing light is recommended. Furthermore, wear a helmet. In Delaware, it is the law for bicyclists under 16.

Motorists have responsibility to ensure bicycle safety as well. Motorists are advised to slow down when they pass a bicycle. By decreasing speed, both motorists and bicyclists have more reaction time to prevent an accident.

Summer is a great time to bike. Accordingly, we all must remember to share the road.

For more, go to the DelDOT Web site at www.deldot.gov to listen to audio versions of Bike Safety Tips and Motorist Safety Tips. Also, check out the link for the Delaware Bicycle Council under the Community Programs and Services section.

Anthony Aglio
DelDOT Pedestrian/Bicycle Coordinator

Reader not happy with town’s decision

I am deeply saddened by the treatment and results of the Town of Ocean View toward the Elling family and their building application. As a veteran health care practitioner I have always regarded it a privilege and honor to treat developmentally disabled persons and feel no less about living in a neighborhood with same. In fact, the very first time I entered the Special Patients clinic at the University of Maryland Dental School for a rotation, my first patient was a Down’s syndrome neighbor of mine.

The “not in my back yard” attitude that appears to be prevailing in Ocean View is quite unfortunate, especially in a time when developmental disabilities are increasing at an alarming rate in the U.S. birth rate. In the 1970s, autism occurred in 1:6,000 births and is now 1:166. If Elling’s neighbors had a child or grandchild in that category, they might feel differently about the matter. As Father Masterson used to say, “Think about it.”

Anne Green

Fenwick resident takes exception with officials

As usual, the Fenwick Island Town Council continues to provide amusement for the residents. Just a few months ago, some council members advocated spending more than $2 million dollars for a plan to build a new town hall. Now Council is struggling to find the money to fund the town’s next budget.

The big homes some council members are against in a proposed FAR ordinance are suddenly not being built as the economy is slowing down. Thus, new construction is not providing the realty tax income that some council members enjoy spending so freely. So much for fiscal responsibility.

Speaking of irony, the same folks on this council who want to pass FAR (which is just an excuse to take away property rights without paying) don’t seem to realize that FAR will devalue their own properties.

E. Wayne Lednum
Fenwick Island