Dozens of cyclists united in Wilmington Wednesday to ride a 7.9-mile bike trail named after former Governor Jack Markell for the first time.
The $22.5 million project, which was more than 10 years in the making, connects Wilmington’s Riverfront to historic Old New Castle, and joins a 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway traveling from Maine to Florida.
Several state and local officials participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony, including the former governor, who led the effort to construct the trail.
“You have the opportunity to make the environment cleaner, improve peoples’ health and improve economic development. We’re talking to businesses all the time about locating here. And it’s all about talent. And talented people want to work in places they want to live,” Markell said.
“I believe the investments we make are a signal to future generations. They will look back after we’ve gone and make some assumptions based on investments we’ve made about what it is we value. When we invest in physical infrastructure like this, which is about connecting our community getting people outside to enjoy themselves, to commute, they learn something.”
The trail features a 300-foot-long pedestrian and bicycle crossing over the Christiana River and an elevated 2,300-foot-long boardwalk through the Peterson Wildlife Refuge with paved pathways—the largest pedestrian and bicycle bridge in the state.
Job Taminiau of Wilmington said he looks forward to riding his bike with his wife—but also hopes to use the trail as an alternative to the bus when he works in Newark.
“The bus is nice, but it’s an hour and biking an hour would be like skipping the gym basically,” he said.
Carol Ireland of Hockessin said connectivity has been lacking in Delaware for years. For part of her 32-year-career at DuPont, she rode her bike to work on potentially dangerous roads.
“Cars that aren’t paying attention to bicycles, cars that don’t even see you because they’re not looking for a bicycle and just traffic can be a problem. Making left turns on a four-way highway is always a challenge—I had a nasty situation once, and fortunately I didn’t get hurt,” she said.
“This is just a phenomenal piece of the puzzle to connect many more groups to allow them to get to work in a safe way, but a fun way and a healthy way.”