Delaware Gov. announces pedestrian safety plan

 (Emma Lee/for NewsWorks)

(Emma Lee/for NewsWorks)

Gov. Markell’s executive order looks to assess dangerous pedestrian walkways and prevent pedestrian deaths.

Gov. Jack Markell, D-Delaware, is asking for increased safety, accessibility and connectedness of pedestrian paths throughout the state.

On Wednesday he announced his executive order to create an Advisory Council on Walkability and Pedestrian Awareness to make recommendations of how to address pedestrian safety issues.

“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,” Markell said in a statement.

There have been 26 pedestrian deaths so far in 2015, according to the Governor’s office. According to a pedestrian safety report by Smart Growth America, Delaware had more pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people than the national average between 2003 and 2010.

Markell and Delaware Department of Transportation officials say improvements are urgent in suburban areas where people take risks walking along or crossing roads.

They also say there aren’t enough disability-friendly sidewalks, and many sidewalks begin and end without important connections that would provide safe pedestrian routes for students, transit users, shoppers, seniors and others who are more likely to walk.

Markell is asking the council to revisit Delaware’s Statewide Pedestrian Action Plan, last updated in 2007, and to report to their findings and recommendations to encourage further improvements.

He said recommendations will include fixing gaps in pedestrian paths and sidewalks, designing crosswalks, sidewalks and pathways, reviewing traffic rules and developing strategies for education and awareness.

The executive order follows the First State Trails and Pathways Initiative, which creates more than 50 miles of new trails and has raised Delaware’s bike-friendly ranking from 31st to 3rd in the nation.

The initiative has helped link communities and existing paths through interconnected pathway networks, as well as create and maintain “complete streets” that promote safe access for all types of transportation.

DelDOT will provide staff and support to the council. The agency has recently worked on the installation of a pedestrian-hybrid beacon at the intersection of DE Route 8 and Heatherfield Way, upgrades to crosswalks and pedestrian signals at 28 intersections and the installation of sidewalks, crosswalks, new signals and lighting in the SR 1 corridor between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.

“We have made a lot of improvements in the last few years, but we know there is a lot of ground to cover, and our mission to ensure Delaware is the most walkable state in the country never ends,” said DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan in a statement.



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