Delaware Ave. cycletrack completed

On Thursday, November 10, 2022, DelDOT officially opened to bicycle traffic the completed two-way protected bikeway (a.k.a. cycletrack) on Delaware Avenue. Eight days later on November 18, dignitaries came together for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

> See ribbon-cutting article in the Newark Post

diagram of DelDOT-sourced illustration
DelDOT diagram of the two-way protected bikeway infrastructure on Delaware Avenue
photo of paint treatment in conflict zone
Solid green surface treatment in conflict zones

This brought to a close a nearly $8 million project that was first thought about in the 1990s, included as a recommendation in the 2014 Newark Bicycle Plan, and advocated for by BikeNewark’s predecessor entity in 2014.

> See excerpt from June 2014 partnership meeting minutes (PDF)

Protective beveled concrete curbing separating bikeway from vehicle travel lane

The primary motivation for such a project was to provide a safe, legal way for bicyclists to move westbound through Newark’s downtown area. Previously, the only legal way for bicyclists to get from Library Avenue or Kirkwood Highway to South Main Street, West Main Street, or New London Road was to use Cleveland Avenue or East Main Street—both higher-stress options for cyclists, even with the recent improvements to those two major streets.

Bicycle-specific traffic signals in both directions along bikeway

Amenities for bicyclists along Delaware Avenue that were included in this project:

photo of bike signal meaning sign
Bike-signal sign explaining red, yellow, flashing yellow, and green signals
  • a two-way protected bikeway from Orchard Road to the Pomeroy Trail, separated from the traffic lane by a 3-inch-high beveled concrete barrier
  • one-way elevated bike paths on either side of the road from the Pomeroy Trail to Library Avenue
  • separate bicycle-specific traffic signals in both directions
  • green surface paint through intersections and at conflict points (e.g., driveways)
  • bike boxes at the eastern and western ends of the project (Delaware Avenue / Library Avenue intersection and the Amstel Avenue / South Main Street intersection)
photo of bike box on Del. Ave. at Library Ave.
Bike box at Library Avenue intersection

This completion of this project finishes the final segment of the Central Loop Bikeway, the hub of the Newark Bikeways low-stress bicycle network. Wayfinding signage for the Delaware Avenue portion of the Central Loop will be added in 2023.

> See related Newark Post article
> See project history article
> See DelDOT project safety flyer (PDF)

Thanks to these partner organizations—Bike Delaware, DelDOT, the City of Newark, and the Wilmington Area Planning Council—for their support and involvement in the conception and construction of this infrastructure, pretty much a unique feature in Delaware.

Emerson Bridge dedicated

photo of sign at the foot of the bridge

The relatively new bike/ped bridge over the White Clay Creek has been utilized by the public now for several months, but on Wednesday, Aug. 10, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT)—one of BikeNewark’s partner organizations—held a special ceremony to honor Charlie Emerson, for whom the bridge is named.

photo of Charlie Emerson
The honoree—former Newark Parks & Recreation director Charlie Emerson

Emerson, the former director of the Newark Department of Parks & Recreation, was there with his family to celebrate the dedication of this bridge. The concept was initiated back in 2011 while Emerson was the Parks & Rec director, but the development, fundraising, engineering design, and construction of the Emerson Bridge took about ten years in total to accomplish.

photo of Dave Sokola
State Sen. Dave Sokola

Delaware Secretary of Transportation Nicole Majeski, who emceed this event, emphasized that her department now thinks in a multimodal way when it comes to transportation. She cited all the partners who provided support and/or funding for this $2 million project, including BikeNewark. Special thanks was given to New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer for getting the county to step up to help fund this project in a big way. Our local state legislators—Sen. Dave Sokola and Rep. Paul Baumbach—were responsible for securing significant funding for the bridge as well.

photo of Paul Baumbach
State Rep. Paul Baumbach

Both Sokola and Baumbach stressed that, whether a bicyclist or pedestrian, crossing the vehicular bridge that was built in the 1940s was not very safe.

Governor Carney couldn’t be there, but Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long was, and she spoke about the importance of creating better opportunities for people to engage in healthy lifestyles. She said that this bridge is a good example of infrastructure that advances such opportunities.

photo of speakers (seated) and Bethany Hall-Long speaking
Dignitaries listening to Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long

Several speakers alluded to the critical lower-stress connection that this bridge makes both for bicyclists and pedestrians between Newark’s two popular city trails—the Hall and Pomeroy, which were Charlie Emerson projects—and city, county, and state parkland north of the White Clay Creek.

photo of Stu Markham
Newark Mayor Stu Markham

Newark Mayor Stu Markham gave credit to his two immediate predecessors, Jerry Clifton and Polly Sierer, for seeing that this project moved along, even when in 2017 it looked like it was dead for lack of necessary funding.

photo of Joe Spadafino
City Parks & Recreation director Joe Spadafino

Current Parks & Rec director Joe Spadafino thanked all the partners involved in this project and gave special mention to BikeNewark for its advocacy efforts on this project. He went on to laud the great legacy that Charlie Emerson (and JIm Hall before him) had created in terms of development of city parkland and trails.

Then Charlie Emerson stepped up to the podium and shared about his many years of experience as the city’s Parks & Rec director and what an honor it was to have this bridge named after him.

Members of Emerson’s family who were present then joined the officials involved in the project to walk to the northern end of the bridge and cut the ribbon, officially dedicating it as the Charles R. Emerson Pedestrian & Bicycle Bridge.

photo of ribbon-cutting
Ribbon-cutting to formally dedicate the Emerson Bridge

The City plans to create two paved trails—to the south through Olan Thomas Park and southwest through Kershaw Park—from the southern foot of the bridge, each creating the key connections to the Pomeroy Trail. BikeNewark will then work with the City to have wayfinding signs placed for its planned Northeast Bikeway—a segment of its Newark Bikeways low-stress network.

> See related Newark Post story

Delaware Avenue taking on new shape

What began as a dream at a BikeNewark (then Newark Bicycle Committee) meeting in 2014 is finally taking shape as part of DelDOT’s Delaware Avenue pave-and-rehab project. Coming on the heels of the massive Main Street renovation, this project includes a major amenity for bicyclists—a two-way separated bikeway (a.k.a. cycletrack)—on the north side of the road.

These photos, taken on July 27, 2022, show the progress along various sections of this major eastbound route through the heart of Newark.

photo of Del. Ave. WB
westbound between S. College Ave. and Orchard Rd., showing concrete protected-lane separator
photo of Del. Ave. EB
eastbound between Academy St. and Haines St., showing concrete protected-lane separator

This new cycletrack feature, which will be a first of its type in Delaware, will enable legal westbound bicycle traffic from the Pomeroy Trail to Orchard Road. Bike traffic on the western end of this project will be shuttled to/from Orchard Road and Amstel Ave. as a continuation to/from South Main Street.

East of the Pomeroy Trail all the way to Library Avenue, there will be one-way raised lanes on either side of Delaware Avenue.

photo of island at Pomeroy Trail WB
new island at Pomeroy Trail crossing westbound, marking change from two-way to one-way (WB)
photo of Del. Ave. curve WB
westbound at the curve toward Newark Transit Hub, showing raised bike lanes (in black)
photo of Del. Ave. curve EB
eastbound at the curve toward Newark High School, showing raised bike lanes (in black)

The other notable new feature will be the raised-profile intersection at South College Avenue. This feature will help pedestrians walk across at the sidewalk level, eliminating potential curb missteps and will also act as a traffic-calming aid.

photo of Del. Ave. raised intersection (south section) at S. College Ave.
raised intersection (south half) at South College Avenue, level with sidewalks

> see related Newark Post article

Good day for two service projects

Friday, June 10, was a beautiful day for BikeNewark volunteers to engage in a couple bike-related service projects.

At John R. Downes Elementary School on Casho Mill Road, three BikeNewark volunteers joined those from partnering groups to assemble and install new bike racks.

photo of volunteers assembling bike racks
photo of volunteers anchoring bike racks

At a recent BikeNewark meeting, BikeNewark’s Helga Huntley, who is on the city’s Conservation Advisory Council (CAC), asked for suggestions for additional CAC funds. Heather Dunigan, who represents both the Wilmington Area Planning Council (WILMAPCO) and the Newark Bike Project, suggested using funds for bike racks for local schools.

photo of bike racks at north end of school

Huntley’s husband Dave, who works at the University of Delaware’s Center for Environmental Monitoring & Analysis, made arrangements with the school to receive the order and organize the work crew. The City’s Jayme Gravell and Jeff Martindale and BikeNewark‘s Bob McBride and Mark Deshon joined the Huntleys to assemble and install the new racks, two adjoining racks on the southeast corner, adjacent to the school gym, and two on the northeast corner of the school.

photo of new signage for Christina Valley Stream Trail
close-up of signpost at the Church Road trailhead

Another project that was being completed today involved installation of wayfinding signage along the Christina Valley Stream Trail, from its north trailhead at Church Road to Rittenhouse Park.

BikeNewark’s Dave Saunders had worked with the Wilmington Trail Club’s Gary Kirk and Delaware State Parks’ David Bartoo to design the signage for this natural surface, single-path bike-ped trail that runs follows the Christina River in Newark.

Months earlier, the posts had been set. Today, Saunders and Kirk were adding the new wayfinding signage sleeves, which completes the project.

photo of signage at junction of trail and Downes footbridge
signage at junction of trail and Downes School footbridge

Although this trail is unsuitable for road bikes, those with mountain bikes can access this trail where it intersects BikeNewark’s Southwest Bikeway on the south side of the bikeway’s bike-ped bridge over the Christina River.

Phase 2 signage completed

photo of signage at the corner of Amstel Ave. and South Main St.
Westbound on Amstel Ave. at South Main St.

Just before the new year, the City of Newark completed installation of wayfinding signage for the West Bikeway segment of the Newark Bikeways low-stress network.

photo of view in the railroad tunnel looking west
Westbound entry to Hillside Park from the railroad tunnel

This work came on the heels of the opening of the long-awaited Hillside Park, built on the former grounds of the University of Delaware’s Rodney residence halls complex.

photo of signage in Hillside Park looking toward Dallam Rd.
Westbound Hillside Park sign looking onto Dallam Rd.

As a result of this work, bicyclists can take a low-stress route from Orchard Road on the Central Loop westward to Casho Mill Road—down Amstel Ave., through the railroad tunnel, Hillside Park, and the Oaklands and Nottingham Green neighborhoods.

photo of signage at end of West Bikeway
Terminus of the West Bikeway at Casho Mill Rd.

On Casho Mill Road, just south of the end of the bikeway segment is John R. Downes Elementary School. This segment should be widely used by elementary school children who can bike to/from school through the neighborhoods it bisects. Buffered bike lanes on Casho Mill Road will help keep young bicyclists safe on the short ride to/from Lafayette Road.

photo of destination signage eastbound on Dallam Rd.
Destination signage eastbound on Dallam Rd.

Eastbound (i.e., toward the city center and Central Loop Bikeway), signage includes directional symbols or destination information.

graphic map of the West Bikeway
Map of the West Bikeway segment

Thanks goes to Delaware Greenways for its generous grant to BikeNewark, which partially funded our “phase 2” signage—for the North, Northwest, and West Bikeways segments—as well as to the White Clay Bicycle Club for its monetary support, and to the City of Newark for installing the signage.