When Emma Mirles attended Delaware City Council’s public hearing of the master bicycle plan in April, it wasn’t about the much debated multi-use trail along the Delaware Run.
Instead she asked Council to move up on the priority list a multi-use trail and a shared roadway to connect Bruce Road with Pennsylvania Avenue through the Delaware County Fairgrounds, which could cost up to $300,000 combined. The two paths are ranked 63 and 65 on a list of 84 infrastructure improvements of the 2025 Bike Plan, the proposed update to the city’s 2010 Bikeway Plan.
“We’re just trying to move it to the next level,” Mirles told The Gazette this week.
Residents in the Bruce Road area are trapped by busy roadways such as U.S. 23 with a Speedway expected to open near the Hills-Miller Road intersection, she said. Some residents walk or ride bikes on U.S. 23 to get to downtown.
“The safety issue is quite overwhelming,” Mirles said.
“It’s not purely recreational. It’s an infrastructure issue,” she added.
After moving to the Bruce Road area a year ago, Mirles said she almost hit juveniles riding their bikes on U.S. 23 when it was dark.
“I feel really bad about it,” Mirles said. But the incident was an eye-opener for her because she works as an appointed guardian ad litem for minors in domestic and juvenile court cases.
“My No. 1 goal is to keep children safe,” she said.
She started the Bruce Road – Oakhurst – Pennsylvania Avenue Travel Home Safely, or B.R.O.P.A.T.H.S., initiative and has gathered more than 100 signatures to support the trail’s installation.
“There’s no space to walk” on U.S 23, said resident David Holifield. “… walking on the edge of 23 is pretty lousy.”
Frank Bucy agreed. He has competed in bike races for the last three years including Delaware’s inaugural Ironman 70.3 Ohio triathlon last year. He said a multi-use trail from Bruce Road to Pennsylvania Avenue would make bicycling safer and help him not “worried about getting hit by a car,” which he does when riding on Hills-Miller Road.
Barbara O’Brian, who uses a motorized wheelchair, cannot go to church because the bus she relies on for transportation does not operate on Sunday.
Some residents use an unofficial and unpaved path, where utility poles line up, which connects Bruce Road with Pinecrest Drive. The path would be a potential area for the multi-use trail, said Parks and Natural Resources Director Ted Miller.
There were few minimal responses during the public input period in 2015 for the bike plan update, Miller said.
After the last two Council meetings, “it’s definitely on our radar now,” he said. The city could move the trail up on the priority list if the adjacent woodland area becomes developed. Public opinion, opportunity for grant funding and safety factors could improve the priority of the trails’ installation, he added.
Council will have another reading of the bike plan on May 22. Miller is reviewing an alternative to a $1.67 million multi-use trail along the Delaware Run from Houk Road to the west side of the Hidden Valley Golf Course to improve pedestrian connectivity with downtown. Some area residents oppose the trail because of the potential harm to their safety, property and the environment.
Council has said that there are no available funds to build the trail in the next year or two.
Mirles said her goal is to gain 300 signatures before that meeting.
“They don’t want it in Delaware Run, we’ll take it,” she said when she submitted some of the signatures to Council.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.