Wednesday, November 27, 2019

DE for Retirement and Quality of Life: FAIL, thanks to Townsend and Cohorts

Articles are plastered all over the internet show that, time and time again, Delaware is not a recommended place to retire or to expect a high quality of life. It is the second smallest State next to Rhode Island, and the 4th most corrupt State next to Wyoming, where corrupt Democrats massively subsidize business interests and relax corporate laws to attract major companies to relocate here. This is probably the only reason that more people aren't fleeing Delaware, unlike other States with well-established quality of life issues.

That Senator Bryan Townsend and his Democratic legislative minions refuse to care about quality of life in "The 1st State" anytime it favors big business couldn't be more readily apparent. They'll even go so far as to tear down the environmental legacy of past govt officials and legislators, and aid and abet land-use profiteers (developers) in all manner of secrecy. They crush, and then laugh at citizen-led grassroots campaigns aimed at improving DE's socio-economic status and thus making the State a healthier and more attractive place to live. Only some of these are highlighted on this website; there are hundreds, if not thousands of similar examples throughout DE's history. Today, these gross injustices are overwhelmingly spearheaded by Democrats -- the State's long time controlling political party. The result? If you're in any way progressive, Delaware is no place to live. Unless drawn for business purposes, and/or if you're desperate for a job in banking, pharma, or bio-tech, other States and areas of the U.S. are far more attractive.

... and not one of the country's top 25 best places to live is found in Delaware:

In matters of land-use, Delaware's corrupt legislators go around telling everyone that more suburban sprawl translates to more tax base, which in turn, produces a lower cost of living and thus higher quality of life. Not only is this argument fallacious, but cost of living is not the only concern for the State's residents and prospective residents. Studies like this one highlight the fiscal impacts of land uses on local governments, and that these lies come home to bite in nearly every case. Why? Because on average, each new dwelling unit (including in DE) costs $1.25 in required govt services for every $1 in new taxes generated. By design, the suburbs are a failed model; a failed living arrangement that costs govt more than any tax base can recoup. But you'll never hear Townsend, Rep Osienski, and their legislative allies ever discuss this, and what solutions exist (never mind propose) to bring livability and possibly retrofit said living arrangement.

In summary, Delaware - primarily New Castle County - will never rank among the most attractive places to live for reasons too numerous to list all of them here. But chief among the environmental causes are terrible driver behavior, deadly conditions for multi-modal roadway users, deafening vehicle noise, lack of place-makinglack of locally accessible regional parks, no dedicated open space funding, and deeply entrenched and notoriously corrupted County and State legislatures. This unattractive quality of life, at the hands of corporate greed and profiteering, will be these legislator's "legacy" -- their "gift" to future generations (including their own children) and there's little any of us citizens and Advocates can do to stop them.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Allentown goes for regional park on environmental and economic benefits

Cross-posted from Lehigh Valley Regional News  Because of corruption in DE govt al la Townsend, Osienski et al, this hope has been forever dashed in the entire Ogletown S. Newark region. But at least Allentown PA gets it where the value of parks and trail systems are concerned. 

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – An obscure tract of Allentown land may help boost the city's environment and economy.

Plans were unveiled Thursday at Allentown City Hall for Auburn Cross Trails Park, covering about 32 acres of land bounded by Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Basin Street and Auburn Street. About two-thirds of the of land is owned by the Allentown Economic Development Corp. and would be used for manufacturing.

The proposal includes trails, open meadows, picnic areas, a dog park and places to fish. The big picture is to move toward connecting to existing trails in the city and the region. The site used to house Allentown's municipal incinerator, which closed decades ago.

"The plan can be broken up into manageable pieces," Chris Stanford of engineering firm Michael Baker International said.

That may be necessary, because the $1 million-plus needed for the park is not available yet, according to Karen El-Chaar, director of Allentown's parks and recreation department.

"This will probably be state-funded," she said, with the city contributing a small amount. [Full Article]

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Car-nage: HB-185 and Delaware's Walking Dead

Too bad Senator Townsend doesn't have his priorities straight when it comes to safety at the human scale. Delaware consistently leads the nation in walk-bike injuries and fatalities, but the Senator (District 11 and gunning for higher) doesn't care. Instead, he fights for, and passes HB-185, a bill to facilitate even greater speed and more driver aggression and reckless behavior.

Delaware is once again poised for a dismally high position -- if not taking the nation's top spot for walking fatalities again this year. Ditto for bicycling - in a runaway - but we will cover that in a future article. Here, in no particular order, we will examine what we believe are the top 5 reasons for why this is so and will likely never change under Delaware's thoroughly corrupted Democrat party leadership:

Even with a flashing beacon, motorists still have
the right of way to continue, at speed, through
DelDOT's crosswalks without penalty.
1) Motor vehicle right of way through crosswalks and intersections. Delaware gives motor vehicles priority and right of way through mid-block crosswalks and radial turns, and puts the onus on pedestrians to create his or her own opportunity to cross. This doesn't change even with DelDOT's flashing beacons installed at a few of them; peds are still sidelined, and must make the first move -- hoping cars will stop. In no way is this progressive or conducive to pedestrian safety, and is completely backwards in approach.

The way it should be. With a little enforcement.
Mass sees far greater compliance using this simple
sign than DE will ever see using beacons.
2) An antiquated traffic code for pedestrians. There are numerous discrepancies and problems that a complete overhaul of Delaware's vehicle code is LONG overdue. The language is so antiquated that it even includes a holiday as impacting where and how to enforce it, including "soliciting contributions shall not apply on the Saturday immediately prior to Father's Day". Advocates volunteered many hours of time and did an overhaul, presenting it in legislative bill form to Delaware's Pedestrian Council. Ultimately, the State's defacto walking advocacy org, Bike Delaware, infiltrated the Ped Council and quashed the effort.

Crosswalks through highway-speed kill zones.
3) Wide lanes, slip lanes, and unregulated radial turns that induce high speed and discourage defensive driving, even in known pedestrian hot spots. Instead of traditional crossroads, most of Delaware's suburban thoroughfares consist of radial turns to keep motor vehicles moving as quickly as possible through intersections. This seriously compromises pedestrian safety, since the beginning and end of the crosswalk is unregulated and never signalized. As they are induced to maintain speed, motorists seldom yield, and usually just barrel on through even when pedestrians are present. This is not at all conducive to pedestrian safety, and not only adds to the danger, it discourage walking in the first place.

Non-drivers will often create "goat paths", as
the State and its Counties will not seek out and
try and include these important connections
with area rehab & reconstruction projects.
4) Very few pathway facilities that make safe connections between existing communities, commerce, and civil services. Lack of connectivity in development codes, and an ignorance of livability concerns throughout most of Delaware's planning history have all but sealed the fate of its suburban dwellers. Bike Delaware at one time made mention that connectivity is their mission, which includes piecing together what few streets do connect to try and create low stress networks. But for the vast majority of disconnected and unincorporated suburbs, they have yet to demonstrate how interconnecting pathways can be added without violating private property rights and/or invoking imminent domain -- never mind the exorbitant costs involved. In the end, those walking and biking are inevitably forced out onto arterial roads and their high speed intersections to reach most destinations.

5) Very little police presence and law enforcement to begin with. It is no secret that the police in Delaware -- in particular State and County -- are either stretched way too thin or even working without a contract. In what's become a culture of "anything goes", progressive reforms that include, e.g. stronger crosswalk signage with actual fines posted will remain out of the question. Unless a rare sting, the police are never around to actually enforce it, except perhaps in court after an injury or fatality. It is not uncommon at all for residents in unincorporated areas to go weeks or months without seeing a squad car in their region. When everyone knows that they can stretch, bend or break even the most basic laws of civility and predictability, higher crash counts inevitably follow. While the actions of the pedestrian (or bicyclist) is always cited as contributing or not, a gross lack of defensive driving due to paltry driver education, no redundant education, and virtually no law enforcement is a far greater problem overall.

Summary: Though certainly not alone in this, Delaware's built environment is a microcosm of the death and carnage now accepted as "normal" in the U.S. -- normal by placing motor vehicle traffic at human scale. Earlier govt planners, engineers and architects foisted this upon us by trashing livability in favor of "Stroads" that incorporate driveways, streets, parking lots, etc as directly connected to highways. Post WW2 design should have included frontage, service, and ring roads, and other treatments that allow highways to stay just that: relatively uninterrupted carriage ways between larger destinations with ample walking-biking cross-through (tunnel under) opportunities. Now dangerous by design, the State and its Counties (along with their Advisers and Advocates) are unable or unwilling to provide the needed tools and coping strategies.

View the proposed updated Delaware Vehicle Code for Pedestrians in pdf format, that was quashed by Bike Delaware after its presentation to Senator Dave Sokola, with no further discussion. It was crafted by using the best of language from progressive States, e.g. Washington, Oregon, Mass, etc where motorist's respect for non-motorized road users is visibly higher than in Delaware, and the statistics are there to back it.

View the 2018 pedestrian fatality statistics for the whole of the U.S. Delaware took a "rest" from the top 5 in 2018, but is set to return in 2019.

Read an article in Strong Towns comparing Streets, Roads, and "Stroads", and what we can do to eliminate the latter in favor of livable streets and communities.

Watch James Howard Kunstler on YouTube destroy the very notion of cars as human scale.