Ride on Washington to promote bicycling makes a stop in Delaware

A Ride on Washington to raise awareness about the economic, environmental and health benefits of bicycling makes a stop in Delaware.

The Ride on Washington began in Boston and is making its way to the nation’s capital for this week’s National Bike Summit. Delaware Secretary of Transportation Shailen Bhatt is scheduled to speak at the summit this Wednesday.

As cyclists arrived at The Bike Boutique in Wilmington Monday, Bhatt highlighted a cooperative venture between DelDOT and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to create an expanded network of trails and other bike transportation facilities throughout the state.

“Our goal is to connect and to give contiguous paths so that people can ride to work, can ride to recreational activities. What we’re looking at, especially in an era of $4.00-a-gallon gasoline is, people are looking for options,” Bhatt said.

The 520-mile journey has taken the riders along busy roadways and through congested downtowns like Wilmington, but Richard Fries of Massachusetts said with things to do along the way and places to stay, “The East Coast is really designed to be the most bike-friendly and progressive place for cycling.”

Activists are encouraged about the investments states and local communities are making into improving options for bicycle-riders.

“We’re getting these projects that are allowing for better, easier and safer cycling for everybody,” six-time national CycloCross Champion Tim Johnson said.

Wilmington also gets an economic benefit from the 2012 Wilmington Grand Prix, scheduled for May 18th through May 20th. For the fifth straight year, the Wilmington competition is on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar and is expected to attract professional cyclists from around the world. The 2011 Grand Prix weekend brought 20,000 visitors to Wilmington and generated nearly one-million dollars for the local economy, according to Wilmington Renaissance Corporation Managing Director Carrie Gray.

Included this year is what’s known as a “Gran Fondo” Sunday May 20th for pro and amateur cyclists along a 62-mile route through 13 cultural attractions including Hagley, Winterthur, and Mount Cuba.

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