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?
I believe a vibrant walking and biking culture is reflective of a community that values exercise, environmental resources, public safety, an effective transit system, and an integrated merchant system. An active community tends to be healthier physically and mentally. Value of environmental resources includes not only enjoyment of them, but conservation and minimized pollution. Walking and biking routes protected from crime and designed for safe co-existence with vehicles are critical to enabling this culture. A multi-modal transit system alleviates vehicle traffic strain on the infrastructure, enabling more efficient vehicle transit. A locally integrated merchant system creates the opportunity to use walking and biking as an alternative means of travelling to necessary destinations.
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?
Yes. Compared to other communities, Newark has demonstrated a clear appreciation of the importance of multi-modal transportation. This is most obvious in roadway improvements to include designated bike lanes and attention to keeping bikes off pedestrian sidewalks. I plan to sustain this through continued engagement with organizations committed to this mission and exploration of necessary funding.
I believe room for improvement exists primarily in curbing behaviors that threaten the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists; namely, vehicular speeding and distracted driving. The recent pedestrian death in the Lumbrook area highlights needs for additional improvements (e.g. lighting) to ensure safe simultaneous passage for all forms of transportation.
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?
I see bicycling as a making a positive impact on the health of Newark residents through exercise, as well as alleviating vehicle traffic and parking congestion and reducing pollution. Problems associated with bicycling in Newark identified by residents in my interactions include bicyclists that utilize the sidewalks and endanger pedestrians and bicyclists that do not obey the rules of the road with vehicular traffic.
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.)
For all groups: maintenance of existing signage regarding rules of the road and designated bicycle lanes. This is helpful to vehicle drivers encountering bicyclists as well. Maintenance of easy to find resources through the City of Newark website regarding bicycling, rules of the road, and helmet laws. Host an annual Newark event (see avid cyclists below) to promote cycling and the local businesses and non-profits dedicated to cycling.
For occasional cyclists: support non-profit groups and local businesses such as the Newark Bike Project to help maintain bicycling as an affordable, safe option.
For bicycle commuters: improve lighting of roadways. Progressive education of bicyclists on proper bike lighting and signaling and vehicle drivers of speed enforcement and distracted driving to the point of issuing violations.
For recreational cyclists: same as occasional cyclist improvements to promote legal, safe, and affordable cycling. Continue First Friday rides.
For avid (very experienced) cyclists: host annual event similar to the Wilmington Grand Prix & Governor’s Ride or a similar advanced level event where local avid cyclists can qualify and compete.
5. If elected, what criteria will you apply in order to decide whether to support a major road project (like the Main St. rehabilitation or the Cleveland Ave. improvements)? What about for small road projects (e.g., addition of bike lanes, low-stress bike-route signage, or crosswalks)?
In any expenditure of public funds, I will consider: 1) the identification of deficiencies with the current status using quantifiable data where available (e.g. traffic incidents, congestion, and injuries) and aesthetic recommendations, 2) how proposed improvements will address the deficiencies, 3) examples of how the recommended improvements were successful in other areas/towns, and 4) sources of funding for the projects. Some residents I have spoken to do not appreciate the addition of bike lanes and amount of public funds expended on bike projects such as Pomeroy Trial when compared to other areas of the budget. If elected, I will apply my stated criteria with the goal of educating residents more broadly on sources of the funding and how the expenditures are a wise investment.
6. Are you familiar with the Newark Bicycle Plan? If so, what do you think are its most important recommendations?
Yes, I am familiar with the 2014 Newark Bicycle Plan online. I believe the most important recommendations are the methods of prioritization and system of identifying priority areas (i.e. proactively planning bicycling into new development and directing efforts toward areas where return on investment of public funds is maximized and alternative forms of funding are explored when considering the expenditures). Specific recommendations of importance are those focused on safe and convenient cycling in Newark. This includes the transit bus bike racks. If cycling in Newark is safe and convenient, it will be utilized and valued as a form of transportation. Over time, resident support for expenditures that enhance cycling in Newark would likely increase in breadth and depth.
I attended the WILMAPCO New Castle County Bicycle Plan public workshop on March 13, 2019 in Newark and found that safety and convenience are key public concerns to address in order to promote cycling.
7. Briefly describe your experience as a bicyclist (if any) over your lifetime and specifically in Newark.
I was an avid bicyclist as a teenager before I obtained my driver’s license. Bicycling gave me freedom to travel, explore, and visit local friends. As a resident undergrad student at the University of Delaware (1996-2000), bicycling and walking were my primary forms of transportation. Newark and Delaware in general have made significant improvements since then to infrastructure designed to encourage bicycling and improve its safety through designated bike lanes and Newark Police enforcement of helmet laws and rules of the road that includes educational classes. As a Newark resident after graduation and father of young children, my work schedule, family transportation needs, and children’s physical abilities were not as conducive to extensive bicycling. Now that my youngest child is 5 years old, my family can begin bicycling more extensively together by venturing outside of our neighborhood streets in Nottingham Green and riding the trails.
My 13- and 10-year-old children are just beginning to use bicycling as their primary independent forms of transportation. I am proud that Newark is a much safer environment for bicycling than I had at their age. As a parent, speeding vehicles on Casho Mill Road concern me when I consider the extent to which my children can bicycle unaccompanied by an adult. I understand some physical improvements are planned for Casho Mill Road to address the speeding concerns.