Accomplishments in 2018

2018 proved a challenging year for BikeNewark, as a number of issues began to compete for our attention. Though we know that there is so much more work ahead, there were a lot of things we accomplished last year with our partners’ support.

Let’s take a look at what we did.

Bicycle-advocacy work involved

  • consulting with and providing input to Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson on the Delaware Avenue two-way protected bike-lane project.
  • further refining Newark low-stress bicycle network concept and map in advance of initial production and application of signage on a “Central Loop.”
  • several members attending a series of UD-led Newark Futures workshops.
  • presence on behalf of the bicycling community at various City Council and city Traffic Committee meetings.

In terms of helping the City of Newark promote itself nationally, BikeNewark

  • Bronze seal art from the LAB for Bicycle Friendly Communitysubmitted LAB Bicycle Friendly Community application on behalf of the City of Newark. Newark received its third consecutive bronze-level designation, this time for 2018-2022.
  • submitted Places for Bikes application on behalf of the City of Newark. According to the data gathered by People For Bikes, Newark ranked 39th overall nationwide and 7th among cities with a population of 100,000 or less in terms of bikeability.

BikeNewark-organized or -supported events held during 2018 included

  • photo of 2018 Bike to Work Day participants (photo by Kathy Atkinson, courtesy of UD)the annual Bike to Work Day on University of Delaware campus on May 21 (successfully rescheduled due to poor weather). Keynote speaker was New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer. More than 70 participants came to the event, which was supported by 6 corporate sponsors. During the event, the annual Bicycle Friendly Community Leader Award was presented, and a Trek hybrid bicycle was given out as a random prize.
  • nine First Friday Rides (January and March events were cancelled due to poor weather). These social slow rides through Newark averaged about 25 participants.
  • two Newark Historical Buildings Bicycle Tours in the fall, in cooperation with Newark Bike Project. Each event drew between 10-20 participants.
  • photo of bike lights night volunteers and customera Bike Lights Night event on October 25 at the corner of North College Avenue and Main Street, during which 25 sets of lights, courtesy of UD, were installed free of charge.
  • four Bike Centrals in cooperation with the University of Delaware, Newark Bike Project, and DelDOT:
    • Spring event, during which 10 sets of bike lights were installed free of charge.
    • August 25, in coordination with UD’s 1743 Welcome Days, during which 6 sets of lights were installed free of charge.
    • September 12, during which 20 sets of lights were installed and 6 helmets were given out free of charge.
    • October 25, during which about 20 sets of lights were installed free of charge.
  • two BikeNewark Community Nights—June 21 at Handloff Park and October 26 at Wooden Wheels, attended by 31 and 50 participants, respectively.
  • the annual Mayor’s Fun Ride on June 2, which was a big success in terms of funding raised for bicycle-related projects.

4 bike safety tips in Mandarin ChineseOur public service involvement included

  • distributing bike-safety flyers in four languages—English, Spanish, Chinese, and French—to the English Language Institute. These were based on the “4 Safety Tips for Bicyclists” cards that were printed in January 2018 for use by partner organizations.
  • executing and posting results of a City Council candidates survey in advance of the April municipal election.
  • volunteering at 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 16).
Advertisements

Mayoral and City Council candidates weigh in

As a public service, BikeNewark issued a bicycle-related survey to the candidates for the upcoming Newark Mayor and City Council election.

Upcoming Vote for City Council graphicAll 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 (where applicable) follow.

The election for Mayor and Council Districts 1, 2, and 4 will be on Tuesday, April 9.

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 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)?
  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

Mayor:
Catherine Ciferni (response received five days after deadline)
Jerry Clifton
Brandon Joseph Farzad
Kasai Guthrie

District 1:
James Joseph Horning Jr.
Mark Morehead

District 2:
Sharon Hughes (no response)
Maria A. Ruckle (no response)

District 4:
Christopher J. Hamilton (unopposed, no response)

BikeNewark to elect new officers, fundraise

bike lane graphicBikeNewark is getting ready to put forth a slate of candidates for its four board positions, to be voted on by the eligible membership in December and assume their new roles within the partnership beginning in January. According to our bylaws, elections are to be held every two years.

Anyone can nominate a candidate for Chair, Co-Chair, Treasurer, and/or Secretary. Nominations will officially close at the end of the day on November 15. Simply send an email to BikeNewark with the subject heading “nominations.” BikeNewark will issue information on candidates and how eligible members can vote. New officers will be announced at BikeNewark’s December 20 partnership meeting.

Full membership, and voting privileges therein, is predicated upon attendance of at least a total of three of any BikeNewark-related meetings or events within a 12-month period. If you’re interested in becoming a member of BikeNewark, come and check out what we’re doing in November.

  • Thursday, November 15, 4:30 p.m.
    BikeNewark monthly partnership meeting
    WILMAPCO conference room, Library Avenue

We hope that you’ll get involved with BikeNewark and further its cause of “Moving Bicycling Forward in Newark, Delaware.” Become a member or simply volunteer some of your time.

We are about to begin fundraising for signage for a designated system of low-stress bicycle routes in the city—a project we’re developing in cooperation with the City of Newark and DelDOT. If you’d like to donate to BikeNewark, a Delaware nonprofit corporation, you can do so through 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!

In transition

by Mark Deshon

photo of Mark Deshon speaking at 2014 Bike to Work DayIt’s National Bike Month, and these are certainly heady times for Newark.

While we await word from the League of American Bicyclists with regard to Newark’s redesignation as a “Bicycle Friendly Community,” the national organization People For Bikes just released its rankings for cities based on five criteria—ridership, safety, network, acceleration, and reach—and Newark is ranked 7th among cities with populations under 100,000—nationally.

Whereas this is exciting in a certain sense, the overall rating was only 2.5 out of a potential 5.0. Of the five criteria used, Newark’s highest ranking was for acceleration—“how quickly a community is improving its biking infrastructure and getting people riding.” What People For Bikes picked up on is that, while Newark is certainly not yet a bicycling haven, there is a lot currently being planned that will improve, dare I say transform, Newark in terms of mobility for bicyclists.

If I remember my Latin correctly, the root of the word “transition” is the verb transire, which means “to go through or beyond.” With major DelDOT paving-and-rehab projects scheduled over the next several years—Main Street, Delaware Avenue, Cleveland Avenue—Newark will indeed be in a period of transition. And, just like the current condition of Main Street, the road ahead will be bumpy.

Before or by, say, 2022:

  • Main Street will have a new look and a surface that should weather better than in the past, including greenbacked sharrows to draw the attention of and better attention to bicyclists.
  • A repaved, redesigned Delaware Avenue will feature a two-way, protected bike lane on its north side from Orchard Road to the Pomeroy Trail and bike lanes on either side of the road from there to Library Avenue.
  • The length of the repaved Cleveland Avenue will feature bike lanes on both sides of the road, owing largely to the removal of on-street parking (in 2017) and reconfiguration of the segment between Chapel Street and Capitol Trail (Kirkwood Highway).
  • The new train station will be completed, which will include sheltered parking for 60 bikes.
  • The University of Delaware’s STAR Campus will have seen further development and build-out, with bicycle infrastructure.
  • The University will have added a few new buildings adjacent to or near South College Avenue and the South College Avenue corridor will probably be scheduled for paving and include new bike amenities.
  • Progress will be well underway for the Charlie Emerson (bike/ped) Bridge over White Clay Creek near Paper Mill Road.

Hopefully, by then, a citywide bicycle network will also have been identified and marked with wayfinding/destination signage.

Progress doesn’t happen often without pain, though. And, despite what we will have “to go through” to see these improvements in transportation infrastructure, BikeNewark continues to advocate for Newark “to go beyond” where it has been in terms of bicycling.

What has made other cities—university cities like Ft. Collins, Colo. and Davis, Calif.—so successful, though, is that their citizenry, municipal government, and business community have all embraced a culture of bicycling. The benefits of a community that has embraced bicycling are clear—better overall health and wellbeing, a cleaner environment, a more vibrant economy—in short, a place where people want to live, work, and play.

Mitigating traffic volume and improving parking seem to be universal concerns here in Newark, particularly within the downtown business district. Promoting bicycling as an important mode of transportation and an alternative to the car is one important puzzle piece in the overall solution to these problems.

I imagine a Newark in which a much larger segment of the population uses the bicycle as basic transportation to get from place to place within the city. We who do use a bike for reasons other than recreation understand the convenience of traveling on two wheels under our own power.

Creating better overall conditions for bicycling—developing a low-stress bicycle network, reducing conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians/cars, educating the public about good cycling behavior, and encouraging more people to get out on their bicycles—is what BikeNewark seeks to do. In other words, moving bicycling forward in Newark, Delaware.

But we need your help.

BikeNewark members Caitlynn Coster and Mark Deshon talk to participants at 2017 Walkable Bikeable Delaware SummitI am blessed to have worked over the past eight years with people who genuinely care about Newark and improving conditions for bicycling throughout the city. In 2017 we took the bold step of reorganizing the former Newark Bicycle Committee as BikeNewark, a Delaware nonprofit corporation. But now BikeNewark is also in a period of transition. Like a flower that has been planted and has quickly pushed up through the surface and blossomed, BikeNewark now needs to be maintained, well fed and watered, so to speak.

As BikeNewark grows, we are looking for individuals—residents and non-residents alike—and business partners who are passionate about advocating for a bicycling culture and bicycling improvements within Newark and are willing to work cooperatively with others who are likewise motivated. If this is you, please get in touch with me and do get involved.

As I tell folks from our partner organizations, we are all working for the same goal—to make Newark the best community it can be for all who live, work, and/or go to school here, and for whom it is a desired destination.


Editor’s Note:
Mark Deshon is the current Chair of BikeNewark and has resided in Newark since 1987.

Candidates for City Council Weigh In

As a public service, BikeNewark teamed with Bike Delaware, one of its valued partners, to issue a bicycle-related survey to the candidates for the upcoming Newark City Council election.

Upcoming Vote for City Council graphicAll candidates were given the opportunity to weigh in on five specific position statements and provide any specific comments or elaboration on their positions. The survey items and candidates’ responses follow.

The election for Districts 3, 5, and 6 will be on Tuesday, April 10.

Survey Items

  1. Given the increase in traffic and demand for parking, I believe that the City of Newark should encourage bicycling and walking as viable means of transportation.
  2. I believe that improved infrastructure, better education, and reasonable enforcement will help make our streets, sidewalks, and other shared spaces safer and more comfortable for those who bicycle or walk.
  3. I support the recommendations in the 2014 Newark Bicycle Plan.
  4. I support greater effort by the City to make Newark more bikeable by increasing “low-stress” (i.e., safe and comfortable for all ages and abilities) bicycle connectivity among and within the main areas of Newark, the University of Delaware, and outlying neighborhoods.
  5. I support making South College Avenue—the key connection from UD’s STAR Campus and future train station to Downtown Newark—safe and comfortable for all modes of transportation.

Candidates’ Responses

Richard Nietubicz (District 3)

Answer 1: Strongly Agree
Answer 2: Strongly Agree
Answer 3: Strongly Agree
Answer 4: Strongly Agree
Answer 5: Strongly Agree

Comment:

Cycling is an important mode of transportation for my wife and I around Newark. In fact, I was a full-time cycle commuter during my time working for the City, and we continue to bike or walk to destinations around town whenever we can. Newark’s compact and mixed-use development patterns are very well suited to walking and biking, and the City has made great strides toward building complete streets that accommodate all modes of transportation. We can, of course, always make more improvements, especially where we can leverage traditional transportation improvement projects to provide significant additional utility at minimal cost. I’m looking forward to implementing more cost-effective improvements so that Newark’s transportation network is inclusive and efficient for all users.

Jennifer Wallace (District 3)

Answer 1: Strongly Agree
Answer 2: Strongly Agree
Answer 3: Strongly Agree
Answer 4: Strongly Agree
Answer 5: Strongly Agree

Comment: [none given]

Neel Barua (District 5)

Answer 1: Agree
Answer 2: Agree
Answer 3: Neither Agree or Disagree
Answer 4: Agree
Answer 5: Strongly Agree

Comment:

In regards to question #3, I have only briefly skimmed over the plan. I did not want to answer without reading through the details first.

Jason Lawhorn (District 5)

Answer 1: Strongly Agree
Answer 2: Strongly Agree
Answer 3: Strongly Agree
Answer 4: Strongly Agree
Answer 5: Strongly Agree

Comment:

I had not seen the 2014 Newark Bicycle prior to today. I have read through a good portion of it and plan to complete it. As a biker myself, I am familiar with some of the improvements that have been made since this document was published. I was knocking doors in Fairfield Crest this past weekend and the Pomeroy connector trail was brought up more than any other issue with the shopping center being the only other issue close in count.

Biking has always been a part of my life and is an easy and fun way to work exercise into our children’s lives as well as adults. My feeling has always been that the lack of safe passage was the biggest deterrent and the data in the 2014 Newark Bicycle Plan seems to prove that. Newark and surrounding areas does have many safe and enjoyable routes and the plans to connect those is exciting to me. Some listed in the plan, I am familiar with and others I am eager to follow up on.

I also want to talk to members of Bike Delaware about the overall progress on completing the recommendations in this report. I am particularly interested in the inclusion of biking friendly development in the cities planning process. As you may know the University of Delaware plans to add thousands of students over the next 5-10 years. This presents the city with development challenges and biking, in my opinion, can be part of the solution. None of our residents want to see increased automobile traffic and smart development including designs that promote walking and biking will be crucial to successfully accommodating the cities growth.

As I touched on earlier biking is also an easy and quick way to have a fun healthy family experience with no planning other than grabbing the bikes out of the shed or garage and shoving off for a ride. Creating enjoyable and safe routes promotes this behavior and is a smart way to maintain and improve the unique advantages that Newark provides to bikers.

I am interested in talking to someone about some of the progress that has been made and any barriers that are preventing progress since the plan was published. Mark Deshon is in my district and I talked to him recently. I will follow up with him.

Lena Thayer (District 5)

Answer 1: Strongly Agree
Answer 2: Strongly Agree
Answer 3: Agree
Answer 4: Strongly Agree
Answer 5: Strongly Agree

Comment:

Overall, I believe that making Downtown Newark and the surrounding area safer for both pedestrians and bicyclists will not only decrease some of the traffic and parking issues we experience, but also help Newark to be more green efficient. Being a community that embraces other forms of transportation only increases our culture and viability of being a safe and welcoming community.  I did mark agree for the 2014 plan as we are now in 2018; so I would like to dig deeper into what is left to be done in order to accomplish the goals set out in that plan.

Stuart Markham Jr. (District 6 – unopposed)

Answer 1: Strongly Agree
Answer 2: Strongly Agree
Answer 3: Agree
Answer 4: Strongly Agree
Answer 5: Agree

Comment: [none given]