Tour de Coastal Sussex

by Dave on August 22, 2009

As Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador and the rest of Team Astana feverishly jockeyed for position climbing the Pyrenees during this year’s Tour de France, the state of Delaware earned its own yellow jersey of sorts: the League of American Bicyclists recently selected Delaware as the most bicycle-friendly state in the Mid-Atlantic and the ninth best in the nation.

“It is good to see that more Delawareans are getting out of their cars and onto their bikes,” said Gov. Jack Markell, who has ridden the length of Delaware three times with family and friends since 2006 and plans to do so again later this year. “The more people who bike or walk instead of drive are mitigating climate change, traffic congestion, health problems, and fuel costs. I look forward to working with the Department of Transportation to make Delaware even more friendly to cyclists.”

The Bicycle Friendly State program has two parts that rank and recognize states that actively support bicycling. First, states are ranked annually based on their level of bike friendliness. Secondly, states that wish to apply for a Bicycle Friendly State award designation can receive further recognition and promotion of their efforts as well as feedback, technical assistance, training and further encouragement to improve their bicycling legislation, projects, and programs. Delaware rose from 31st to 9th in the nation this year.

So what is it about coastal Delaware that makes cycling a popular option for local enthusiasts?

One addition that has added notably to the amount of people traveling by bicycle in the Lewes-Rehoboth area is the Junction & Breakwater Trail which connects the two towns along an abandoned railroad trestle. It is a common sight in the summer months to see bikes with tags from Rehboth businesses like Bike To Go and Atlantic Cycles coming down Lewes’ Gills Neck Road heading toward downtown Lewes.

Another picturesque and well-traveled route is Coastal Highway between Bethany Beach and Dewey Beach. It is difficult to traverse the distance between the two coastal towns and not see many cyclists along the roadside, from the casual rider to the most aggressive athlete hunched over on aerobars.

For the road-riding set, which includes many local enthusiasts, including the award-winning Sussex Cyclists bike club, there are many things about coastal Delaware that make it appealing for cyclists.

Attorney and avid cyclist Eric Howard of Lewes believes one factor is the myriad of back roads that make for a variety of routes. “You have to be willing sometimes to just make a turn and see where the road takes you. Secondly, the flatness makes the riding non-intimidating for just about any skill level.”

This article first appeared in Coastal Sussex Weekly, July 16, 2009.

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