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?
A community that enjoys a vibrant walking and biking culture is likely to have effectively engaged its citizens. The community has developed the ability to reach consensus regarding how to plan for its future. The community has been able to set goals and has successfully reached those goals. The community enjoys sufficient financial resources to enable it to reach its goals. I expect the community has carried these same abilities and assets to all areas of its life, including access to the arts and education, as well as determining its goals for redevelopment, sustainability and improving the environment. Since people are outside, the community probably has reasonable weather. The residents have ample opportunity to meet each other while walking and biking. The residents have pride in their community and I expect they believe they are empowered to influence its future.
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?
I believe Newark continues to make good progress as a walkable, bikeable community but there is additional room for more improvement.
I believe most residents who walk are walking for pleasure or exercise. Most areas of Newark have continuous sidewalks, however some areas do not, and some sidewalks are not maintained in walkable condition. The City continues to make progress completing its ADA accessible curb cuts but this is a multi-year effort. Sidewalk connectivity to some of the older shopping centers can be improved. Pedestrian safety while crossing large parking lots can be improved.
Awareness of bicycling in Newark continues to increase thanks to the efforts of DelDOT (with Complete Streets), WILMAPCO, City of Newark, and all of the community bicycling advocacy groups. However, the bicycling community has identified issues of personal safety, lack of connectivity, and lack of adequate bicycle parking infrastructure. Newark enjoys the Pomeroy and Hall trails as well as quiet neighborhood streets.
As a member of City Council, I requested and Council approved repaving the trail connecting Timberline Drive to Downes Elementary school. I supported the bike track on Delaware Ave and rode my bike there on the day the concept was tested. I supported the Emerson bridge, once the fundraising returned the project closer to its original fully-funded status. I supported paving the Fremont Rd connector to the White Clay. I requested and Council approved evaluating enhancing the budget for the Downes Safe Routes to School project. Working together, City Staff and DelDOT have identified the additional safety features originally requested by the SRTS Committee. The current design concept will return to the SRTS committee for approval before coming to City Council for inclusion in the 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Plan.
Newark would need to amend the Comprehensive Development Plan V in order to firmly establish the goal of becoming a walkable, bikeable community.
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 believe bicycling can make a positive impact on Newark as a community, but also to the individual residents of our community.
As a community, making more trips by bicycle rather than by automobile would reduce traffic congestion. Making fewer motorized vehicle trips would reduce air pollution, noise, and would eventually reduce the necessary size of public and private parking lots. Since parking spaces in Newark are empty more often than full, the extra space could be used more efficiently for a full time community purpose. The community could spend less money to build and maintain infrastructure focused primarily on the private automobile.
As an individual, making more trips by bicycle would provide more exercise in the short term and probably better health in the long term. There is more opportunity to interact with one’s surroundings when bicycling than in an automobile. It is far cheaper to operate and maintain a bicycle, and bicycle parking is most often free.
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.)
All cyclists would benefit from safety improvements and continuing driver education, for both the motorized vehicle operators and the cyclists.
Avid bicyclists would benefit from routine and thorough street sweeping.
Bicycle commuters, occasional cyclists and recreational cyclists would benefit from improving route connectivity and, at a minimum, buffering the bike lane from motorized vehicle traffic.
In addition, occasional and recreational cyclists would benefit from way-finding signage.
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)?
As a member of City Council, I would support all improvements to pedestrian and bicycling safety on small roads because these typically involve committing reasonably small amounts of the City’s financial resources.
As a member of City Council, I would support all improvements to pedestrian and bicycling safety on major roads because these typically are state roads using DELDOT funds.
I commit to remaining accessible to the pedestrian and bicycling advocacy groups and to keeping an open mind about all ideas to improve our community.
6. Are you familiar with the Newark Bicycle Plan? If so, what do you think are its most important recommendations?
The Newark Bicycle Plan does a good job providing an overview of the current bicycling climate in Newark. It outlines the different experience levels within the bicycling community and the different reasons people choose to bicycle.
I believe the most important recommendation is to improve bicycling safety followed by improving route connectivity. Improving personal safety and route connectivity makes bicycling become a possible form of transportation or recreation for the less experienced cyclist. Looking further ahead, improving safety and route connectivity provides the opportunity for a beginning cyclist to develop a life-long enjoyment of the bicycle.
7. Briefly describe your experience as a bicyclist (if any) over your lifetime and specifically in Newark.
I learned to ride a bicycle as a very young child on a quiet country road in front of my grandmother’s house. My older sister sat on the back of the “banana” seat, providing balance, but made me do the work, pedaling her wherever she wanted to go.
Early in my fourth grade my parents moved across town. Rather than change schools, I commuted several miles each day on my bike to my old school. I continued commuting to school on my bike through junior and senior high school. I learned to maintain and repair every part of my bike.
As a young teenager, I used a durable bike to deliver a daily paper route. When I bought a lightweight racing bike, I learned to treat its delicate nuts and bolts very gently.
In college, I would often ride various 25 mile loops through the surrounding countryside, possibly to the detriment of my studies.
One summer, I took a class at Harvard, commuting the 10+ miles from Needham to Cambridge on city streets during rush hour traffic.
As a young parent, I lived in Canberra, a planned city having a paved multiuse path located in the parks system, extending throughout the region in all directions. Often, I would put my sons in the trailer and take them for long rides in the parks.
Returning to Boston, I rode the Pan Mass Challenge twice. This is a fully organized 200 mile weekend fundraiser benefitting the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. It’s really hilly from Sturbridge to the coast and really windy from there to Provincetown.
Now, I ride casually for entertainment and exercise, usually on the Hall and Pomeroy trails, in the White Clay park, or one of several loops into the Maryland countryside. I consider myself an experienced cyclist, comfortable riding in slow traffic, although I am very careful. I consider it my responsibility to ride in a manner to enhance the reputation of all cyclists.