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City Council candidates weigh in

Upcoming Vote for City Council graphicAs a public service, BikeNewark issued a bicycle-related survey to the candidates for the upcoming Newark City Council election.

All candidates were given the opportunity to weigh in on seven specific items related to their policy positions, knowledge, and experience. The survey items and links to candidates’ responses (if received) follow.

The election for Mayor and Council Districts 3 and 5 will be on Tuesday, July 28.

Survey Items

  1. In countless published lists of the best places to live, a common characteristic is a vibrant walking and biking culture. Why do you think that is?
  2. Do you consider Newark a walkable, bikeable community? Why or why not? If yes, how do you plan to sustain this? If not, what can be done to make our city more walkable and bikeable?
  3. What do you see as the opportunities for bicycling to make a positive impact in Newark? What do you see as the problems associated with bicycling in Newark?
  4. What are your ideas (if any) for how to improve the bicycling experience in Newark for occasional cyclists, bicycle commuters, recreational cyclists, and avid (very experienced) cyclists? (Please be as specific as you can for each group mentioned.)
  5. If elected, what criteria will you apply in order to decide whether to support a major road project (like improvements to South College Avenue)? What about for small road projects (e.g., addition of bike lanes, low-stress bike-route signage, or crosswalks)?
  6. Are you familiar with the 2014 Newark Bicycle Plan? If so, what do you think are its most important recommendations?
  7. Briefly describe your experience as a bicyclist (if any) over your lifetime and specifically in Newark.

Candidates’ Responses

District 3:
Jay Bancroft
Anthony Sinibaldi

District 5:
Brian K. Anderson
Jason Lawhorn

District 6:
Travis McDermott (unopposed), did not respond

Green is good, more green is better!

No, we’re not referring to the environment here, although bicyclists do contribute to lowering carbon emissions every time they ride. We’re talking visible surface paint.

Sharrows (shared-lane markings)

You may be already be familiar with the bicycle markings along Apple Road between South Main Street and West Park Place. Now we’re seeing greenbacked sharrows on East Main Street, and more green surface paint is on the way!

photo of newly applied greenbacked sharrowAs part of DelDOT’s nearly two-year-long major rehab of East Main Street, greenbacked sharrows have been applied to both lanes along this westbound route through downtown Newark. These are meant to communicate to motorists that they should expect bicyclists in either lane along the mile-long stretch of road. They are also meant to let bicyclists know that they can and should take the middle of either lane (heading west, of course).

Many thanks to the City of Newark and DelDOT (both of which are BikeNewark partners) for including this amenity.

What about safety?

Speed is limited to 25 mph on East Main Street, but very often, due to traffic volume and traffic signals, speeds slow to those much more in line with the speed of a typical bicyclist (anywhere between 10 and 20 mph). Plus, the rehab project included parklets, features new to East Main that will act as traffic-calming (i.e., -slowing) devices.

So, get out and bike on East Main Street. The more that bicyclists use this street, the safer—and more comfortable—it will be for all.

What’s next?

The next major DelDOT rehab project in downtown Newark promises to be somewhat unique in Delaware and will bring with it a lot more green surface paint! Delaware Avenue will be reconfigured to include a two-way separated (and signalized) bikeway from Orchard Road east to the Pomeroy Trail and one-way lanes in either direction from there to Library Avenue. This project will begin as soon as DelDOT’s Elkton Road project is completed.

> More on the Delaware Avenue project

photos by Heather Dunigan

Exercise in Newark while social distancing

Check out Newark’s low-stress Central Loop Bikeway.

photo of bicyclists on Central Loop (Pomeroy Trail)Feeling restless at home? Want to get some outdoor exercise at appropriate social distances? Consider dusting off that bike in your garage and heading out along Newark’s recently signed Central Loop Bikeway*.

Wayfinding signage was introduced along this bikeway last fall as phase 1 of a multi-year project to develop a connected network of paved roads and trails in Newark, which is designed to encourage use of low-traffic, low-stress streets and off-road multiple-use pathways (like the popular James F. Hall Trail) by bicyclists of all ages.

photo of bicyclist reading wayfinding signage on Hall TrailBikeNewark has been and is working with the City of Newark’s Department of Public Works & Water Resources staff as well as its Department of Parks & Recreation to plan a network of eight bikeways. These will enable low-stress connections to in-city destinations and trails outside of Newark (such as those in White Clay Creek State Park). BikeNewark plans for its phase 2 signs to be implemented this year, comprising three new bikeways. See Bikeways plan (PDF).

photo of wayfinding signage on Orchard Rd. northbound at Winslow Rd.Newark Bikeways will also serve as the way through Newark for the East Coast Greenway (“ECG” on the signs), a designated bicycle corridor from Maine to Florida.

Local or visiting cyclists will be able to use the Newark Bikeways system as a way to travel around Newark for shopping, work, or recreation. Bicycle-specific signs designed by the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) are placed to guide them along the mix of paved off-road trails and city streets. DelDOT generously contributed the cost of the Central Loop Bikeway signs.

Phase 2 signage is being made possible through proceeds from last September’s Community Fun Ride as well as generous contributions from former Newark Mayor (and BikeNewark member) Polly Sierer and the White Clay Bicycle Club.

BikeNewark is helping raise funds to cover costs of signage for the additional four planned Bikeways routes (phase 3). If you’re interested in helping fund this project, see BikeNewark.org/donate.

The nonprofit BikeNewark is a partnership of interested cyclists and organizations working to improve bicycling in Newark, Delaware, and a founding member of The Newark Partnership.


graphic of Central Loop Bikeway
Central Loop Bikeway

*Note: The Central Loop includes a portion of Delaware Avenue, which we understand can’t be considered “low stress” at this time and can only legally be ridden by bicycle eastbound. When DelDOT’s next major work project in Newark is complete, Delaware Avenue will feature a two-way protected bikeway, which will make the Central Loop completely low stress in both directions.

Accomplishments in 2019

Delaware Greenways logo2019 was another busy year for BikeNewark. There were many opportunities for interacting with the public and working with our partner organizations. In fact, by the close of the calendar year we had formalized a partner relationship with Delaware Greenways—our seventh and newest partner. This first article of the new decade summarizes the various ways we contributed toward Moving Bicycling Forward in Newark, Delaware, last year. We hope you’ll consider supporting BikeNewark this year as we continue working for the good of the community.

OK, here’s the summary.

With respect to its core mission of bicycle-advocacy work, BikeNewark:

photo of “Central Loop” sign

  • Continued to consult with and provide input to Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson on the Delaware Avenue two-way protected bike-lane project, as engineering plans were finalized.
  • Completed wayfinding signage design work and oversaw production and application of signage, in coordination with the City of Newark and DelDOT, on “phase 1”—the Central Loop Bikeway—of the developing of the low-stress bicycle network—“Newark Bikeways.”
  • Began and completed wayfinding signage design work on “phase 2” of the Newark Bikeways project, which includes a North Bikeway, Northwest Bikeway, West Bikeway, and East Bikeway.
  • Formally added Delaware Greenways among its official partner organizations.
  • Advocated on behalf of the bicycling community at various City Council meetings, including supporting 1) the Emerson Bridge (over White Clay Creek) project and 2) the preservation of the bike lane on Delaware Avenue during DelDOT’s Main Street construction project.
  • Submitted two New Castle County Bicycle Plan “priority project” proposals for funding consideration—Newark Bikeways development and protected bike lanes along Wyoming Road.

photo of Christine Schultz and Matt Kinservik and others arrivingBikeNewark-organized or -supported events held during 2019 included

  • The annual Bike to Work Day event (co-organized with the City of Newark) on the University of Delaware campus on May 17. More than 80 participants came to the event, which was sponsored by Bloom Energy and four in-kind contributing organizations. The event featured coordinated rides to the venue, free breakfast, speakers from the University of Delaware community and city and state government, the annual Bicycle Friendly Community Leader Award presentation, and random prizes (including a Trek hybrid bike).
  • Community Fun Ride logoA weeklong series of events called “Community Bike Days” from Sept. 3–7, culminating in a Saturday morning Community Fun Ride comprising a 2.25-mile “Family Fun Ride” and a 8.25-mile “Newark Loop Ride.” This signature ride event included 97 participants and raised more than $4,000 from sponsorships, which will be used to improve bicycling in Newark. The weeklong series included 17 in-kind contributing organizations.
  • Two Community Nights—June 22 at Handloff Park and October 26 at Wooden Wheels—to familiarize the public with BikeNewark and highlight its ongoing projects. Each included free food and drink.
  • Two Bike Central events in cooperation with the University of Delaware, Newark Bike Project, and DelDOT, one in the spring and one in the fall. The fall event was particularly successful, during which more than 20 sets of lights were installed and 5 helmets were given out free of charge.
  • Nine First Friday Ride events (March through November). These social slow rides through Newark averaged about 15 participants.

4 bike safety tips in Mandarin ChineseOur public service work involved:

  • Executing and posting results of a City Council and Mayoral candidates survey in advance of the April municipal election.
  • Redistribution of bike-safety flyers in four non-English languages—Spanish, French, Chinese, and Arabic—to the English Language Institute. These were based on the “4 Safety Tips for Bicyclists” cards that had been printed in English in 2018 for use by partner organizations.
  • Volunteering at and helping sponsor the Walkable/Bikeable Delaware Summit in May, which was organized by Bike Delaware, one of BikeNewark’s partners.
  • Hosting an information table during Newark Community Day (September 15).
  • Developing a budding relationship with The Newark Partnership.
  • Participating on the city’s new Transportation Improvement District (TID) committee.

Euro bike bliss: Swedish Kattegattleden bike trip

by McKay Jenkins

My family and I were just a few kilometers into our bike tour up the west coast of Sweden when we pulled off for lunch beside a two-window shack in the tiny fishing village of Domsten. It was there, biting into a piece of smoked mackerel—caught by the proprietor’s husband in that very bay—that we knew were in for a special week.

photo of route signMy wife’s maternal family has lived in western Sweden for hundreds of years, and this bike trip would take us 400 kilometers (250 miles) from the city of Helsingborg north to Gothenburg, her family’s hometown. Riding a bike into her ancestral city was something Katherine had wanted to do for years, and now that our kids were 18 and 15, we were finally doing it.

The ride followed the Kattegattleden route, named for the enormous bay it rims. It began just across the water from Helsingør, Denmark, site of the castle in which Shakespeare set his play Hamlet. The route runs almost entirely on paved (and dedicated) bike trails, along wooded gravel paths through nature preserves, or along virtually untraveled country roads.

photo of bikers on the Kattegattleden route in SwedenI have done a lot of bike touring over the years. I’ve ridden 800 miles down the Pacific Coast, along the Icefields Parkway in the Canadian Rockies, across New England from Maine to New York, across Virginia and Montana, and at length in both France and Quebec. Never in all my bike-touring career have I seen such a magnificently laid-out bike route. Only once or twice a day would we find ourselves pedaling beside a busy road, and this was always with a concrete barrier between us and the cars, and never for more than a few hundred yards.

photo of sun over the horizon at seasideThe eight-day route followed the west coast of Sweden, weaving between tiny fishing villages; small-scale farms growing potatoes, wheat, and Swiss chard; and at least 400-year-old towns with cobblestone streets and outdoor cafes. The distances between inns ranged from about 40 to about 65 kilometers—roughly 25–40 miles—per day. Given the terrain’s nearly entirely flat profile, these distances never seemed too long, with one exception: one of the longer days featured a strong northerly wind, which we battled for about five hours.

The east coast of Denmark was visible off to the west for the first day but then gave way to the vast Kattegat Sea separating the two Nordic countries. Along the way we happened upon an array of surprises.

  • In Bastad, we rode straight onto the grounds of the Swedish Open tennis tournament, which offers free admission.
  • In Gothenburg, we took in the Gothia Cup, the largest youth soccer tournament in the world, featuring some 1,700 teams from around the world. Admission here was free as well.
  • In between we happened upon a Mackerel Festival in the town of Bua, lining up with hundreds of others to sample local fish and (apparently famous) Bua pudding.

Truth be told, we seemed to spend as much time eating as we did biking. The Swedes are known not just for their love of fish but for their seemingly bottomless appetite for caffeine and sweets during their daily “fika,” or late-afternoon coffee breaks. Our photo album has as many images of cardamom buns and chocolate cakes as it does tidy red cottages or village harbors.

Even in the cities, bikes and bike paths were everywhere. Scandinavia, like much of Europe, has been far more ambitious that the United States in its creation of bicycle infrastructure.

Part of this has been made easier by European land-use planning. Most cities are far older than cars, after all, and (at least as importantly) much of the countryside never suburbanized. Many older cities were initially designed to accommodate foot- and horse paths, which (as many American drivers have discovered) have always felt too narrow for car traffic.

Visit Copenhagen, as we did before setting off on this journey, and you will be astonished at the numberless thousands of bicycles jammed together near the city’s central train station. In town, biking is simply the most sensible way to get around.

photo of bicycles in Copenhagen, Denmark

Out in the country, small farms still dominate the landscape, and country roads, while built for cars, are not (with the exception of thruways) built for suburban commuter traffic. Out on our bikes, we passed the occasional tractor, but never did we feel threatened by angry commuters. Even in the country, bikes are the rule rather than the exception.

The bike tour was simple to set up. We organized the trip through a company called Gyllene Turer (gylleneturer.se), run by the very helpful Jesper and Britt-Marie Rothstein, who also provided an excellent book of maps. Gyllene Turer set up the whole trip for us. They secured bikes for us, arranged luggage transport, and arranged bookings in all of the hotels. The bike path has its own website kattegattleden.se, through which one can find a link for luggage transport and links for organized bike tours, one of which is Gyllene Turer.

The route was incredibly well marked, with signs at every crossroads or important turn. This was a “supported” tour, meaning that drivers from the company picked up our backpacks at our inn each morning and drove them to our next stop, saving us the struggle of carrying 30 extra pounds of food and gear.

Staying in inns and bed-and-breakfasts also saved us the trouble of carrying tents, sleeping bags, and cooking gear. As someone who has carried his own gear on a number of long bike trips, I have come to appreciate the beauty of a warm bed, a hot meal, and a light bike. The fact that I am in my 50s and not my 30s may also have something to do with this. And I think it’s safe to say that telling my teenage kids that there was a hot tub waiting for them at the end of most days didn’t hurt!