Bill would make bicycling official state sport

DOVER -Enshrined alongside the Blue Hen, peach pie and the holly tree, bicycling would be recognized as Delaware’s official state sport under a bill introduced today by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst and Sen. Nicole Poore.

House Bill 235 would recognize Delaware’s status as the fifth most bicycle-friendly state according to the League of American Bicyclists, as well as the growing number of large-scale biking events taking place across the state.

“Cycling is a fast-growing sport for Delawareans young and old, as well as a great way to get active and be healthier,” said Rep. Longhurst, D-Bear. “And there’s no better way to see the beautiful scenery and landmarks our state has to offer than from the seat of your bike.”

Sen. Poore, D-Barbs Farm, said the pair carried on what’s become a General Assembly tradition, teaming up with Southern Elementary and Wilbur Elementary school students who are preparing persuasive essays in support of the bill.

“We wanted to work with the children to let them see how a bill becomes law,” Sen. Poore said. “But we also wanted to help encourage them to be active and take advantage of what we have to offer cyclists and to show them that cycling is a lifetime sport. It’s a fun way to stay healthy and almost anyone – young or old – can get on a bike and ride on our great bike trails here in Delaware.”

Fourth graders from Wilbur take an annual field trip to Legislative Hall to talk with Rep. Longhurst about how government works. This year they’ll have the opportunity to attend the committee session where the bill they helped draft will be heard.

Wilbur fourth-grade teacher Rebecca Glenn said her students are excited to present the essays they wrote in support of House Bill 235 and several posters they designed to promote bicycling in Delaware.

“The students had a great time helping Rep. Longhurst and Sen. Poore with this bill and they’re very excited to have played a part in its journey to becoming a law,” Ms. Glenn said. “There really is no better way to teach how our government works than to actually have your students become part of the process.”

Each year, events such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Bike to the Bay and Kent County’s Amish Country Bike Tour draw thousands of cyclists of all ages to Delaware. The Wilmington Grand Prix bike race, a U.S. Cycling Association Tier 1 event, features more than 400 riders and 16,000 spectators, and has generated upwards of $1.7 million in economic impact since 2012.

The state also has made significant investments to encourage recreational bicycling as part of the First State Trails and Pathways plan, a $20-million initiative that supports hundreds of miles of public multi-use paths across Delaware and plans for the development of new trails.

House Bill 235 has been assigned to the House Administration Committee and is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday.