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!

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Bike to Work Day 2018

photo of 2018 Bike to Work Day participants (photo by Kathy Atkinson, courtesy of UD)

Newark celebrated National Bike to Work Day on Monday, May 21, the event having been rescheduled from May 18 due to rain. The first sunny day in a week saw more than 70 riders converge on Mentors’ Circle on the University of Delaware campus for the early morning event.

Also see:

> WDEL coverage
> UDaily coverage

sponsors graphic - Mayor’s Fun Ride, Little Goat Coffee Roasting Co., Bloom Energy, Trek Bicycle Newark, STAR Health, and WILMAPCOThough ridership was a bit off what we’d experienced over the past couple years, the event enjoyed great support in terms of sponsorships, which allowed us to this year to include a “grand prize” of a new Trek hybrid bicycle.

Speakers and attendees alike rode in, each in one of six area “bike trains.” This year we missed what would have been the largest group, from event sponsor Bloom Energy, as they could not attend due to a plant-wide production meeting. Attendees enjoyed light breakfast fare and coffee, supplied by the Little Goat Coffee Roasting Co., and garnered free “Bike Month Delaware 2018” T-shirts, courtesy of DelDOT in cooperation with the Delaware Bicycle Council.

University of Delaware Vice Provost Matt Kinservik officially welcomed everyone, giving some personal testimony to the positive changes that are occurring in Newark in terms of bicycling and how bicycling has influenced his own commute. He referred to what may be happening within our sphere of influence here in Newark as “Copenhagenization.”

Dressed in her Bike Delaware jacket, Newark Mayor Polly Sierer graced the podium next and listed the number of important infrastructure improvements that will be taking place within the next several years that will enhance the bicycling experience here in Newark, already a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community.

photo of Matt Meyer (photo by Kathy Atkinson, courtesy of UD)
New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, himself an avid bicyclist, was the event’s keynote speaker.

The morning’s featured speaker, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, spoke about his vision for bicycle connectivity throughout the county and put a local spin on what Kinservik had said, coining a new phrase—“NewCastleCountyization.”

BikeNewark Chair and event emcee, Mark Deshon, mentioned that the League of American Bicyclists had not yet released information about Newark’s most current Bicycle Friendly Community designation. Instead, Deshon pointed to a recent People For Bikes assessment and ranking of the City of Newark. The City is ranked 39th nationwide and 7th among cities with a population under 100,000 in terms of bikeability, according to data the organization gathered.

photo of Bicycle Friendly Community Leader Award presentation (photo by Kathy Atkinson, courtesy of UD)
State Sen. Dave Sokola (left) and BikeNewark Chair Mark Deshon (right), join John Bare (second from left), as he receives Bicycle Friendly Community Leader Award from event coordinator Mike Fortner.

This year the City of Newark and BikeNewark presented the annual Bicycle Friendly Community Leader Award to Bike Delaware’s John Bare. Bare was chosen because of the groundwork he laid for the Bicycle Friendly Delaware Act, which was signed into law in October 2017 here in Newark.

In the words of Bike Delaware Executive Director James Wilson, “John not only created the initial draft of the legislation in September of 2016 but was also involved at every step with all the many revisions right up until the bill was finally filed in May of 2017, more than seven months later.”

Newark-area state Senator Dave Sokola was the bill’s co-sponsor, and he spoke to the gathered attendees about the facets of the new law and added a few words about the work done by John Bare on the bill. Then Bare came to the mic and shared how this bill had been something that he’d been working toward for many years.

photo of bicycle giveaway winner Mary Ellen Gray (photo by Kathy Atkinson, courtesy of UD)
Mary Ellen Gray was both surprised and happy as the random winner of the Trek bicycle giveaway.

A large group photo was organized, and then event coordinator Mike Fortner, one of BikeNewark’s liaisons from the City of Newark, joined Deshon to make the morning fun by giving away a couple give certificates to local restaurants. Then, to cap off the event, the Trek bicycle winner’s name—Mary Ellen Gray—was drawn by a Trek Bicycle Newark employee and the bicycle was presented to her.

2019’s Bike to Work Day event in Newark will take place on Friday, May 17. BikeNewark looks forward to seeing you there.

Photographs by Kathy Atkinson, courtesy of the University of Delaware

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]

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!