South Bethany Bike Racks

South Bethany updated bicycle parking locations during the winter and spring of 2020, but cyclists haven't yet fully adapted to putting their bikes in the correct and legal locations.

People are so close to getting it right. Bicycle parking across South Bethany has been revamped for summer 2020, with bike racks moved or added near the beach, on both sides of the highway.

But people are still leaning bikes against Town signs, private property and artworks that the Town just installed one month ago.

“I’ve been pretty discouraged by what I’m seeing regarding the placement. … The bikes are all over the place,” Council Member Sue Callaway told fellow South Bethany Town Council members during a June 12 teleconference.

Ultimately, it’s a safety hazard to block the beach access paths, especially if EMTs had to respond to a beach emergency.

“It’s rude behavior. … Once they’ve seen that someone else has done it, it’s like permission to do it as well,” Callaway said.

It’s clear that some people are blatantly disregarding the rules. Preferring to educate the public, the police department has been attaching fliers to offending bikes, explaining the rules. But there have been a few offending cyclists who have received multiple letters and continue to park improperly in the same spot every day.

The police or town staff are now relocating bicycles that are parked incorrectly, to the nearest a bike rack.

After they’ve done so, some people have called the police to report a “stolen” bike, to which the response is essentially, “Walk 200 feet to your left, and you’ll see it in a bike rack,” said South Bethany Police Chief Jason Lovins.

There are two types of poor parking: either incorrectly, outside of a bike rack; or illegally chained to Town property/blocking the right-of-way.

As for more intensive enforcement, “I’m not comfortable with cutting the chain and then moving it to the bike rack. I think that would open us up to a little bit of liability. If we do enforcement, I think we’d have to bring it back to the police department,” Lovins added of circumstances when bikes are chained where improperly parked.

The town staff will ask the town solicitor for legal advice on the topic of enforcement. Discussion will continue at a future council meeting.

Education will also continue, both in terms of more bicycle signage around town and communication with property owners and real estate offices.

“We’re only to the beginning of June and it’s quite crowded for this time of year, and I understand why, but I think we need signs that say, ‘Bikes must be in bike rack,’” Callaway said.

There’s just too little public parking across the one-mile beach town, both for automobiles and bicycles. Last summer, property owners got tired of people throwing bikes down on personal property, so they brought the issue to the town council for action. Since then, after much discussion, racks have been adjusted, and new signs have discouraged parking on private property.

The town council knew that the next step would be education.

Carts — wagons that hitch behind bicycles, to carry a child or equipment — are also now prohibited in some areas. Carts are still allowed at the south end of Ocean Drive, the N. 6th Street vacant lot and the Anchorage Drive forebay, west of the highway.

People can pick up a Bicycle Guidelines & Rack Locations card from South Bethany Town Hall or visit a town bulletin board for more details.

Additionally, in the Bethany Beach area, pedestrian crossings are being renovated along Coastal Highway. All pedestrians and bicyclists should always use crosswalks and traffic light intersections and follow Delaware laws, officials have said.

Town Hall reopens with caution

Although Town staff have kept working through the Delaware state-of-emergency, the town hall was closed for three months to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Most business has been conducted by phone, email or the front window of town hall.

Starting June 15, as Delaware continues to “reopen” under Phase 2, the walk-up window has remained open, and the main door will still be locked. But the public can now request to meet with a staff member, one person at a time, in the lobby.

Masks must be worn at all times. Town staff will continue disinfecting after every visitor, Town Manager Maureen Hartman said.

Due to the difficulty in managing social distancing during the pandemic, several social events have been canceled, but others are tentatively still on. Cancelations include the Art in the Hall exhibit in June and the town party on July 5. Social activities still scheduled include a movie on the beach on July 15 (rain date, July 16) and the town bonfire on Aug. 8.

Fitness classes have restarted, including yoga and boot camp.

“We’re just following whatever the governor says we can do,” Mayor Tim Saxton said.

New meeting times

Town council meeting times will now change, based on a public feedback. Regular monthly meetings will move to mornings: 10 a.m. instead of 6 p.m., on the second Friday of each month. Workshops will remain at 3 p.m. on the fourth Thursday.

Voters could only select one preferred time in a recent online survey, which garnered about 300 responses. The largest share selected 10 a.m. About a quarter of voters each chose 3 p.m. or 6 p.m. An eighth chose 1 p.m.

Although meetings will resume at town hall, people can choose to continue listening by teleconference.

In other South Bethany Town Council news:

• Police Officer Jahn Farrell started as a seasonal officer on May 1. Delores “Dee” Ramsey is the new parking-enforcement officer. Chris Keefe is assisting part-time as well. On May 31, three South Bethany officers responded to Dover’s call for assist with civil disorder and crowd control.

• As part of its efforts to improve canal water quality, the Town is awaiting State approvals before installing a new type of aerator in the Petherton Canal. The state’s algae harvester was also requested, but there will be a delay due to the pandemic and work schedules.

• The town council also had an executive session meeting on June 12, closed to the public, regarding “strategy sessions, including those involving legal advice or opinion from an attorney-at-law, with respect to collective bargaining or potential litigation.” No votes resulted from that meeting.

The town council’s next monthly workshop will be Thursday, June 25, at 3 p.m. Details about the mode of meeting will be announced closer to that date.

Staff Reporter

Laura Walter is an award-winning reporter on schools, environment, people and history. A graduate of Indian River High School and Washington College, she has rappelled off a building and assisted a magician, and encourages readers to act on local issues.