Chair of S. Bethany Planning Commission on bicycle issues

Editor:

I am the current chair of the South Bethany Planning Commission and am the point-person to receive public comments and suggestions on our bike parking initiative.

First, I want to thank the residents who have forwarded suggestions. Each suggestion has been forwarded to the entire team and will be included in our final report.

I also want to acknowledge the letters and notes I’ve received that have expressed deep frustration (based on the name-calling and profanity in the notes). I understand the frustration of lack of bike parking and those that have encountered rude behaviors from some bikers.

While I get the frustration, I’ve never understood why some of our neighbors denigrate those who have stepped up and volunteered to make our community better. I’ve certainly disagreed with some of the decisions by Town Council and on the committees, and I’ve expressed that disagreement with respect for the efforts and sacrifices that the volunteers are making. I’ve never met any volunteer who intentional was trying to make our community worse.

Now for some background on the current issue:

It became abundantly clear that we did not have enough bike parking this summer. The mayor and town manager tried several quick fixes. They explored asking owners about leasing land for bike racks — no takers. They asked DelDOT about bike parking on Route 1 — answer: no. They asked DNREC about parking on land they controlled — again no.

Unfortunately, bike riders ignored signs to not park on private property, and the result was a request from owners who had allowed bike racks on their property to request removal. Luckily, we were able to keep them ’til this season is over.

So bike racks have not been reduced, and all easy answers have been explored. That’s why council asked the planning commission to research options. Our charter is to make recommendations including cost for ways to accommodate more bikes and maybe attached carts. Timing was set to give us enough time to research and gather public suggestions and still give a report to council for consideration and action in time for the 2020 budget cycle. Our first report is due in October and, after council feedback, our final report is due in November.

Our restrictions include every house needs easy access for EMTs in case of emergency, and access for our garbage trucks. In addition, we have no access to DelDOT land, DNREC land or private property.

Our town was not designed for the increased demand to beach by cars or bikes.

Of course all of us would like unrestricted, unlimited car and bike parking. That is simply not realistic. Parking has to be restricted by the space available.

I’m hoping we approach this issue as a community and neighbors. For sure this will not be the last issue we will face, given the vast development the county council has approved.

 

Linda Lewis, Chair

South Bethany Planning Commission