Jack A. Markell Trail Connecting Wilmington to New Castle Opens

Delaware’s Congressional delegation, Governor John Carney, former Governor Jack Markell, State Representative Valerie Longhurst, DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan, DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin, and other state and local officials gathered on Wednesday at the DuPont Environmental Education Center at the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington, to open the new 7.9-mile trail named after former Governor Jack Markell.

The new trail links Wilmington’s Riverfront to historic Old New Castle, and connects to a 3,000 mile East Coast Greenway that traverses Maine to Florida. The trail includes a 300 foot-long pedestrian/bicycle crossing over the Christiana River and an elevated 2,300 foot-long boardwalk through the Peterson Wildlife Refuge with paved pathways. The elevated boardwalk section is the largest pedestrian/bicycle bridge in the state.

The trail was dedicated during a ribbon-cutting ceremony as the “Jack A. Markell Trail,” in honor of the former First State’s Governor, who spearheaded the dramatic expansion of bicycle and pedestrian trails and pathways throughout Delaware during his two terms in office.

“Today’s groundbreaking on the final phase of this trail that connects the beautiful Wilmington Riverfront to Historic Old New Castle is a part of a national trail that reaches across more than 3,000 miles of our country,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. “Governor Markell’s hard work and dedication to creating a more walkable, bikeable Delaware can be seen in the great trails we have that span our state from Wilmington to the Bayshore. It’s a lasting legacy that will be enjoyed for generations to come.”

“I am proud to have had a small part in establishing this track, when I served as New Castle County Executive, and I am equally pleased this trail will be named for Governor Markell, recognizing his championing of accessibility for cyclists and pedestrians, and his vision for connecting all of Delaware through trails and greenways,” said U.S. Senator Chris Coons.

“This exciting project further connects the communities of Wilmington and New Castle,” said Governor John Carney. “It provides more opportunities for walkers and cyclists to enjoy a beautiful part of our state. It gives those living near the trail another option for their morning commute. And, it finalizes a critical link that incorporates Delaware into a vast network of trails in our region and along the East Coast. None of this would have been possible without the vision and leadership of Governor Markell and his Trails and Pathways Initiative. Naming this trail in his honor is a fitting recognition of his efforts to promote healthier living, increase tourism, and bring together towns and communities in our state. I’m looking forward to its opening, and I know the Governor will be one of the first ones out here to ride it.”

“I’m thrilled that we’re opening this trail, which establishes a critical new link within our state’s trail network and the East Coast greenway,” said former Governor Jack Markell. “Dozens of miles of new trails and pathways have been constructed to more fully integrate our hundreds of miles of existing routes into a world-class regional trail network. Doing so strengthens the quality of life of people in our state, while helping attract more people to live and work here.”

“Governor Markell has done more to advance the idea of a walkable, bikeable Delaware than any other elected official, and that’s not hyperbole, that’s simply a fact,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, an avid cyclist who has biked with the Governor on several occasions. “During his time in office, Governor Markell has proposed, fought for, and helped secure tens of millions of dollars in funding for Delaware to invest in cycling and pedestrian trails up and down the state. As a result of many of these improvements, we’ve seen Delaware’s ranking by the League of American Bicyclists climb from 31st in 2008, to 18th in 2011, all the way up to 3rd last year. Thanks to Governor Markell, Delawareans and visitors to our state have an unprecedented opportunity to see our state as never before.”

“Thanks to Governor Markell, this trail – and many others already completed under his visionary First State Trails and Pathways Initiative – will continue to link people with opportunities for health, education, recreation and employment for decades to come,” said Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan.

“It is appropriate that we name our newest trail in Delaware after Governor Jack Markell,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “We continue to realize his vision to build a world-class trail network across the state that enhances recreational options for residents and visitors, provides alternative transportation routes, and benefits the environment. We are connecting more residents and visitors to the outdoors, and it is a wonderful legacy for our current and future generations.”

The $22.5 million project was completed by JJID Inc. of Bear.

For further information visit www.deldot.gov, or contact DelDOT Community Relations at 1-800-652-5600 or 302-760-2080, or contact DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Wilmington Grand Prix Named One of the Top 10 Criterium Races in the U.S.

Wilmington, Del. – The Delaware Sports Commission is pleased to announce that the Wilmington Grand Prix, now in its seventh year, has once again been named to the National Criterium Calendar (NCC), cementing its status as a premier race in the U.S.

This year the U.S. Cycling Association (USAC), the country’s governing body for cycling, expanded its calendar from 19 races last year to 25 in 2013. With the expansion of the calendar, USAC created a tiering system. Of the 25 races on the National Criterium Calendar, only 10 races were designed Tier 1 races. The Wilmington Grand Prix has been named a Tier 1 race, making it one of the top 10 criterium races in the country (A criterium is a bike race of a specified number of laps held on a closed course on public roads.)

“The Wilmington Grand Prix has become one of the premier cycling events in the nation,” said USA Cycling’s VP of National Events, Micah Rice. “USA Cycling is very impressed with the strong community support for the event, as well as the organizer’s success in creating a tremendous experience for spectators. We couldn’t be more thrilled to feature the Wilmington Grand Prix on our National Criterium Calendar.”

“We are so proud to be considered one of the elite races in the country,” said Dave Arthur, Executive Director of the Delaware Sports Commission. “This race is a showcase for the city of Wilmington and a signature event for the state of Delaware. This will bring additional exposure to the city and state and attract the very best cyclists to Delaware.”

“I do bike races from March to November, all over the country,” said veteran race announcer Joe Jefferson, who will be making his seventh appearance at the event. “This event is hands down the best one I do. I think it’s the best race on the East Coast.”

The Grand Prix is slated for May 17-19. The action starts Friday night with the Monkey Hill Time Trial, a 3.2-mile race against the clock through Wilmington’s Brandywine Park. Saturday will feature four amateur races in the morning, culminating with the Women’s Pro and Men’s Pro races in the afternoon. Sunday will see the return of the Third Annual Governor’s Ride and Gran Fondo. The rides offer cyclists a scenic tour through the Brandywine Valley and some of Delaware’s most-prized cultural attractions. The rides benefit the Food Bank of Delaware.

“We’ve made a commitment to invest in making Delaware a more bike-friendly state,” said Governor Jack Markell. “The Wilmington Grand Prix is an exceptional opportunity to showcase our efforts.”

In the last two years the Wilmington Grand Prix generated more than $1.7 million in economic impact for the local economy. Says Mayor Dennis P. Williams: “We look forward to inviting cyclists, families, neighbors and visitors to Wilmington for the weekend. We are proud that the Wilmington Grand Prix has grown to this level. We welcome everyone to come see for themselves what Wilmington has to offer.”

The Delaware Sports Commission, 99 Kings Highway in Dover, Del., was established to attract sporting events to Delaware to benefit the sports industry and community and to positively impact Delaware’s economy. The DSC also assists with the retention and growth of existing sports events. To date, the DSC has partnered with close to 20 regional and national events, paving the way for larger-scale future events to be held in Delaware. Follow the Delaware Sports Commission on Twitter @Delaware_Sports.

For more information, visit the official Delaware Sports Commission website at www.delawaresports.org or call (302) 672-6832. For more information about the Wilmington Grand Prix visit www.wilmgrandprix.com or call (302)545-8305.

Delaware is Among Top 10 Bicycle-Friendly States in U.S.

Delaware jumped from 18th to 10th in rankings created by League of American Bicyclists.

Delaware State SealDover — The League of American Bicyclists issued a report today that affirmed what many Delawareans already know – that Delaware is one of the best places in the country to ride a bicycle, but officials are not resting on their laurels.

Delaware is the  10th most bicycle friendly state in the country, according to the League of American Bicyclists. Cited for the state’s strong programs in education and bicycle-friendly legislation, Delaware rose from its 2011 ranking of 18th.

Delaware’s ranking was based on a number of key indicators, including infrastructure and funding that provide on-the-ground bicycle facilities; education and encourage programs that promote cycling; and passage and en-forcement of bicycle-friendly laws that make it safe and comfortable for people of all ages to ride

In a press release issued by the cycling organization, the Bike League wrote that Delaware is leading the way for other states. “With dedicated state funding for bicycling projects, Governor Jack Markell, DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt and DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara are leading the way to create a multi-modal transportation system,” the release states. “In addition, the partnership between DelDOT and Bike Delaware, the state-wide advocacy group, is a model for other states seeking to become more bike-friendly.”

image: Governor MarkellGovernor Markell said the national ranking affirms the efforts over the past year by state officials, bicycle advocates and residents. “We welcome our rise in the ranking as recognition of what we are doing to make walkable, bikeable communities a priority in Delaware,” said Governor Jack Markell, who is himself an avid cyclist. “Trails and bike routes are a part of a vision for a state with interconnected communities. We will continue working to make Delaware an attractive place not only to bike, but to live and work.”

As secretary of DelDOT, Bhatt has taken the governor’s vision of making Delaware the most bike-friendly state in the country, and led the agency in numerous efforts to make that vision a reality. “Less than a year ago, we publicly announced that one of our goals was to return Delaware to the Top 10, and we’ve done it,” Bhatt said. “However, much works remains. This is just the first item within a major, multi-agency effort to improve the infrastructure for alternative transportation, like bicycles.”

“Propelled by Governor Markell’s vision, Delaware is well on its way to becoming the First State in Trails. Recent strategic trail investments are providing critical transportation and recreational opportunities, reducing air pollution, and supporting local economies–and establishing Delaware as a national leader,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara.

The 2012 Bicycle Friendly States Ranking marks the launch of an updated and improved evaluation process. Throughout 2011, the League held Bicycle Friendly America listening sessions across the country to understand the successes and shortcomings of the program. Based on public input, the the Bicycle Friendly State survey was revised to give a clearer picture of a state’s accomplishments and next steps towards becoming more bike-friendly.

The BFS program is more than an annual assessment. Throughout the year, League staff will work actively with state officials and advocacy leaders to help Delaware identify and implement the programs, policies and campaigns that will improve conditions for bicyclists.

Learn more about the BFS program at www.bikeleague.org/states.

For more information about the First Trails and Pathways Initiative, visit trails.delaware.gov.

About the Bicycle Friendly America Program

The Bicycle Friendly Community, Bicycle Friendly State, Bicycle Friendly Business and Bicycle Friendly University programs are generously supported by program partners Bikes Belong and Trek Bicycle’s One World, Two Wheels Campaign. Learn more about the Bicycle Friendly America program at www.bikeleague.org/bfa.

The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America. The League represents the interests of America’s 57 million bicyclists, including its 300,000 members and affiliates. For more information or to support the League, visit www.bikeleague.org.