Note: This page is part of the Governor's News Archive, which holds press releases from January 2009 through September 2011. Since October 2011, recent news can be found in the Newsroom and archived news is available at news.delaware.gov.
August 26, 2009
Governor Markell, DELDOT Secretary Wicks, Congressman Castle Promote “Clean and Healthy Commuting” by Biking to Work
WILMINGTON – To ease traffic, create less pollution and promote healthy exercise, Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Congressman Mike Castle joined a group of AstraZeneca employees on a morning bike commute to work. When the cyclists arrived at AstraZeneca’s US headquarters, they were greeted by Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) Secretary Carolann Wicks and AstraZeneca US President Rich Fante who spoke to AstraZeneca employees about the many merits of commuting by bicycle.
“Biking to work is not only healthy, it eases traffic and cuts air pollution,” said Governor Jack Markell, who often commutes by bike to his office and each year bicycles the length of the state. Governor Markell noted that in 2009, the League of American Bicyclists ranked Delaware ninth in the nation for bike accessibility.
DelDot Secretary Carolann Wicks offered support and safety tips to the bike commuters, explaining how the Department is creating more bikeways to encourage safe cycling. “Whenever DelDot repaves a road, a bike path will be placed alongside it. I want people to truly have a choice to take a car or ride a bike. We are getting there, road by road,” she said.
DelDot publishes bike maps with route information for all three of Delaware’s counties. This information can be found on their website – www.deldot.gov. Additionally, DelDOT operates the Delaware Bicycle Council, which is tasked with improving bicycling throughout Delaware.
Secretary Wicks added, “Whether it is employees at AstraZeneca or any of Delaware’s employers large or small, the number one concern when it comes to commuting is safety. For cyclists, it is important to take safety seriously.”
Congressman Michael Castle shared his perspective that emerging bike and pedestrian friendly places like Delaware are influencing federal policy. Federal funding for bicycling and walking projects increased from $6 million in 1990 to $422 million in 2003.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, if everyone who lives within five miles from work biked to work just one day a week, it would be the equivalent of taking one million cars off the road and reduce air pollution by 5 million tons each year.
When it comes to commuting, over 20 percent of AstraZeneca’s employees at its major US facilities in Wilmington and Waltham, Massachusetts reduce their carbon footprint by commuting in high-occupancy vehicles. The company is also replacing its older sales fleet vehicles with new fuel efficient cars, which eliminated an estimated 355 tons of carbon monoxide emissions in 2008.
“As important as the health of our environment is, so is the health of our employees and the patients we serve. We recognize the value of daily exercise and do what we can to encourage commuting options that benefit the environment and people’s health and wellbeing,” AstraZeneca US President Rich Fante said. “Exercise is critical to the prevention of major disease like diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses.”
Recently, the British Medical Association found cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. A major study of 10,000 civil servants suggested that those who cycled 20 miles over the period of a week were half as likely to suffer heart disease as their non-cycling colleagues.
In addition to disease prevention and cardiovascular health, among the many benefits of cycling are increased stamina, improved coordination and reduced stress.
For more information on bike safety, contact the Delaware Department of Transportation at 800-652-5600 or visit the Delaware Bicycle Council website at www.deldot.gov. The Delaware Bicycle Council has valuable information and programs that can help including bike safety checklists, workshops, and important tips for drivers of other vehicles.