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Imagine

photo of Ismat Shahby Ismat Shah

Not that we don’t know that there are almost as many vehicles in the USA as there are people, that automobiles utilize only 15–20% of the energy we pump into them, that each gallon of gasoline produces 8.8 kg of CO2, etc., it is just that these statistics and awareness do not lead to any concrete action plan, either individually or as a society, that could neutralize the transportation-related environmental policy discussions.

We blame the leadership, operational issues (bike paths, parking, thefts, and bus routes), lifestyle, etc. No doubt there is some truth to all of these, but the main culprit still is personal lethargy. It is so much easier to get up in the morning, get in your car, and go where you want to go. What a life! What a freedom! What a luxury! But what is next? To what does this lethargy leads us?

We have heard enough about global warming, the inevitable extinction of fossil fuel, etc., so no need to repeat all that. I just want to bring to your attention a few simple facts that, I hope, will help people think of an alternative-transportation strategy.

graphic showing two-mile radius from Kirkwood Hwy near Newark with overlay of bikes and busThe efficiency of bike riding is 3,200 passenger-miles per million BTU. This efficiency drops to a pathetic 280 passenger-miles per million BTU for an automobile1. Coupling the fact that about 65% of New Castle County is urban with the fact that DART First State (DART) buses serve about 70% of this urban area2 means that about 45% of all of New Castle County is served directly by DART. If you extend the served area merely by a two-mile diameter from a DART bus stop, the percentage goes up to almost 75%. That two miles is what bothers most of the people, and that is the gist of my blog—What if we combine bike riding with bus riding?

I live about a mile from the nearest bus stop for a direct bus to the University of Delaware. I live six miles from the University. I ride my bike to the University every day. However, there are a few days I am unable to do that. On those days, I ride my bike to the DART bus stop, put the bike on the bus, and ride the bus. All DART buses are equipped with bike racks, and they will give your bike a free ride. This is just the first step.

I am hoping that this bike-and-bus habit will eventually lead to an all-biking habit, and then, one day, I envision a Cantonese-like bike density on Kirkwood Highway that even the county will not be able to ignore, such that it will be forced to construct a dedicated bike path. Or even better, perhaps with the reduced number of automobiles, it will be able to dedicate one of the traffic lanes to a shared bike-auto lane, a la Main Street, Newark.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”


Editor’s Note:
Ismat Shah is a professor of materials science and physics who specializes in energy and environmental policy at the University of Delaware.

1Transportation Energy Data Book Ed. 24, 2004
2calculated based on the maps at DART First State website

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Accomplishments in 2017

BikeNewark has been incredibly active this past year. It all began with redefining ourselves and becoming an official Delaware nonprofit corporation. Take a look at some of what we’ve done in 2017:

  • photo of BikeNewark chair Mark Deshon with grant check from White Clay Bicycle ClubThanks in large part to the efforts of our ad hoc organizational committee and a generous grant from the White Clay Bicycle Club, the partnership formerly known as the Newark Bicycle Committee became BikeNewark—a Delaware nonprofit corporation dedicated to local bicycle advocacy. BikeNewark.org was launched, as were our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • Participated on engineering-related committee with regard to the Delaware Avenue two-way protected bikeway project (a.k.a. “cycletrack”), scheduled for completion by summer 2019.
  • Advocated for green-backed sharrows to be added on both lanes of Main Street between the Pomeroy Trail and the Deer Park as part of the Main Street pave and rehab project, scheduled for completion sometime in 2019.
  • Supported recommendations of the Cleveland Avenue improvements Task Force before City Council, which it unanimously voted to approve on Aug. 14; scheduled for completion by 2021. A parking restriction and pedestrian scramble have already been implemented.
  • photo of BikeNewark members installing bike lights on a student's bike at nightIn conjunction with DelDOT, WILMAPCO, Newark Bike Project, and UD, we held several bike safety–related events primarily aimed at students (“Bike Central” and “Bike Lights on Demand”), during which bike lights were installed, bikes registered, and safety information distributed.
  • ON ROADS? obey signs and signalsSuccessfully executed a bicycle “civility” campaign with message posters designed by UD design students and co-organized UD Bike Days with the UD Student Government Association in cooperation with the City of Newark.
  • Helped organize the third annual Mayor’s Fun Ride and Newark’s annual Bike to Work Day event, both held in May each year.
  • Helped organize Bike to School Week at John R. Downes Elementary School, including a pop-up buffered bike lane demonstration, bike trains on the initial day, and a user-experience survey. Also involved in discussions related to the school’s Safe Routes to School grant.
  • Worked with DelDOT and the City of Newark to initiate a trial contraflow lane and related infrastructure on Main Street between North College Avenue and South College Avenue. Produced an educational video (see below) and related educational flyer showing how to properly use this new amenity. Performed post-installation data gathering.
  • With help from a new citizens’ group and the City of Newark, co-organized the implementation of a two-week pop-up mini-circle demonstration at the intersection of Orchard Road and Winslow Road to help show the positive effects of slowing while not stopping traffic at this and similar intersections.
  • diagram on satellite photo showing proposed trail connectorSupported two of the City’s Department of Parks & Recreation projects at City Council—2018 completion of the “Pomeroy Connector” trail between Creek Road and Fairfield Crest and the longer-range bike-ped Charlie Emerson Bridge to be built over White Clay Creek.
  • Organized monthly First Friday Rides in downtown Newark to combine the encouragement of bicycling downtown (especially on Main Street) with a social agenda. Co-organized a Newark Historical Buildings Bike Tour with the Newark Bike Project.
  • card art: 4 safety tips for bicyclists in NewarkPartnered with UD Police Department to design safety cards for bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • On behalf of the City of Newark, began working on Bicycle Friendly Community application to the League of American Bicyclists. The goal is for Newark to become the first city in the state to achieve “Silver” status.

We look ahead to 2018 and working toward achieving our stated goals as well as continuing with many of the above-noted activities. Want to help support BikeNewark? Get involved or support our efforts monetarily.

BikeNewark hosts its initial Community Night

graphic for 2017 BikeNewark Community NightOn Wednesday, Dec. 20, from 7–9 p.m., BikeNewark will be hosting its initial Community Night. This will be an open house–type gathering held at the Newark Bike Project, 136 South Main Street, in Newark.

Come out and learn more about BikeNewark—the work we’ve been doing and the work ahead of us—and how you can become involved in “moving bicycling forward in Newark, Delaware.” Come and go as you please, meet and talk with members and partner liaisons, grab a bite to eat, sign up to volunteer, give us your suggestions, and maybe support our advocacy efforts monetarily.

Can’t make it in person but would like to show your support for BikeNewark? If you’re interested in helping by making a tax-deductible donation to help improve bicycling in Newark, Del., you can either use Pay Pal (click button below) or mail a check (payable to “BikeNewark”) to:

BikeNewark
75 West Mill Station Drive
Newark, DE 19711

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

Newark’s New Contraflow Bike Lane

photo of contraflow laneThe City of Newark has a new feature on East Main Street for bicyclists—a pocket contraflow bike lane. Unique in Delaware, this trial project was a result of a partnership among BikeNewark, the City of Newark, the University of Delaware (UD), and the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT).

DelDOT completed the work of striping and signing this contraflow lane in July, and, now that UD students are back on campus, the lane will get its first big test. BikeNewark created an educational video and a one-page flyer to help show how this contraflow bike lane can be used safely and legally.

BikeNewark will be evaluating the success of this trial project, which will run through the 2017-18 academic year.

Download the flyer (PDF).

 

Bike to Work Day 2017

Bike to Work Day 2017 group photo

Bike to Work Day 2017 sponsor logosNewark’s celebration of National Bike to Work Day, by all estimates, was a big success, drawing nearly 120 riders to Mentors’ Circle on the University of Delaware campus for the early morning event.

The warm, sunny weather definitely helped increase the participation in this event from previous years, as did the great support in terms of sponsorship from the business community, which furnished the food and prizes for the random giveaways.

Several of the featured speakers rode in, each with one of several area “bike trains.” The largest and most impressive bike train was that of Bloom Energy. As University of Delaware Provost Domenico Grasso was beginning to officially welcome everyone, a group of 30+ riders from Bloom arrived, making their corporate presence known with team T-shirts.

The morning featured wonderfully encouraging bicycle-centric messages from New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, state Sen. Dave Sokola, state Rep. Paul Baumbach, state Rep. Ed Osienski, and retiring Newark City Manager Carol Houck.

photo of Markell family with Mike Fortner and Mark Deshon
Event coordinator Mike Fortner (left) and BikeNewark chair Mark Deshon (right) presented the 2017 Bicycle Friendly Community Leader Award to former Gov. Jack Markell. Markell’s mother, Leni, and children, Michael (with award) and Molly, accepted the award on his behalf.

The City of Newark and BikeNewark presented the annual Bicycle Friendly Community Leader Award to former Gov. Jack Markell. Markell was in Italy on a bicycle trip, so his mother and children were there to accept the award on his behalf. Son Michael spoke glowingly about the influence his dad has had on him in terms of bicycling and giving back to the community.

A large group photo was organized, and then event coordinator Mike Fortner, one of BikeNewark’s liaisons from the City of Newark, made the morning especially happy for many who had stayed for the random giveaways as a formal conclusion to the morning’s festivities.

2018’s Bike to Work Day event in Newark will take place on Friday, May 18. BikeNewark looks forward to seeing you there.