For the first time ever, recreational trail users and active trail transportation commuters are gathering together for the Heels and Wheels Delaware Walk & Bike Summit 2014. The summit, designed to bring walkers, hikers, bicycle and mountain bike riders, and runners together for an educational conference, is being held at the University of Delaware's Clayton Hall in Newark.
"The evidence is clear that many economic benefits come with trail development," said Governor Jack Markell. "They improve quality of life, make Delaware a more attractive place to live, and help support businesses. We've made progress creating new and better trails and pathways, whether for recreation or commuting, and this summit will help us keep that effort moving forward."
The summit will bring together some 250 participants, including trail commuters, recreational trail users, trail managers, businesses and planners.
"Today's conference is a great opportunity to further integrate our goals of providing viable transportation alternatives for connecting people with their jobs, schools and other destinations, while concurrently offering wonderful recreational opportunities to our citizens and visitors that can contribute to healthier lifestyles," said DNREC Secretary Collin O'Mara. "With Governor Markell's leadership and working with our many partners in local and state government, the private sector and non-profit organizations, we have made huge strides in making these goals real. I am extremely grateful to all of today's participants and their many and varied contributions to this effort, and look forward to our future successes together."
"At DelDOT, we are committed to the idea that bicycling and walking are important pieces of the transportation network, and an important investment for our state's future," said DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt. "We are not just about building roads. We are about providing other alternatives, creating and sustaining walkable, bikeable communities where multiple modes of transportation safely work together as the ideal transportation system."
The summit's keynote speaker is Dan Burden, a leading national expert on planning sustainable communities for walking and bicycling. Burden, Executive Director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, has spent more than 35 years getting the world "back on its feet," by helping 3,500 communities become more livable and walkable.
"Delaware's transportation for the future will create greater discovery, pleasure and exchange," said Burden. "We'll see stronger hearts and less stewing and sitting."
Burden's efforts have not only earned him the first-ever lifetime achievement award issued by the New Partners for Smart Growth and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, but in 2001, he was named by TIME magazine as "one of the six most important civic innovators in the world."
The Heels & Wheels Summit is a collaboration of the Delaware Recreation & Parks Society; DNREC's Division of Parks and Recreation; DelDOT Planning; the Delaware Bicycle Council; the Dover/Kent County Metropolitan Planning Organization; the Wilmington Area Planning Council; and Nemours Health and Prevention Services.