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.

Contract awarded for Del. Ave. cycletrack project

On October 19, DelDOT officially awarded a $7.66 million contract for its Delaware Avenue rehab project, which will include 1) a two-way protected bike-lane configuration (a.k.a. cycletrack) on the north side of the road from Orchard Road to the Pomeroy Trail, 2) one-way separated bike lanes on both sides of the road from the Pomeroy Trail to Library Avenue, and 3) separate signals for bicyclists.

Finally.

It has been more than seven years since BikeNewark’s previous incarnation (the Newark Bicycle Committee), with encouragement from Bike Delaware’s James Wilson, had agreed during a monthly meeting to press for a cycletrack on Delaware Avenue (see artist’s conception of a potential amenity below).

2015 concept photo of possible configuration on Delaware Ave.

(Read the Sept. 2014 Bike Delaware article, written by BikeNewark’s Mark Deshon.)

In 2015, then–UD graduate student Kirsten Jones, who was a member of the then–Newark Bicycle Committee, created an informative ride-along video to illustrate the many reasons why a robust solution to increase safety for bicyclists along Delaware Avenue is needed.

A few of those reasons include…

…vehicles obstructing the current bike lane in preparation of making a right turn onto South College Avenue.

photo of cars moving into bike lane to turn onto South College Ave.

…dangers posed by contraflow (i.e., illegal westbound) cyclists in the eastbound-only bike lane.

photo of dangers of current contraflow (i.e., illegal) bicycling on Delaware Ave.

…cars parking in the bike lane in front of Newark High School, forcing cyclists to merge into vehicular traffic.

photo of cars parked in bike lanes in front of Newark High School

Of course, the DelDOT project is not expected to be completed before 2023, but the awarding of such a large contract is a sign that progress is indeed on the way!

If you are interested in supporting BikeNewark’s nonprofit advocacy efforts, please get involved at the level comfortable for you, become a member, and/or make a donation today.

Support HB36, keep the “Delaware Yield”

excerpt from BikeNewark’s BFDA brochure that highlights safe yieldingBikeNewark asks that you contact your Delaware state legislators and urge them to support HB36, the bill that, if passed, would permanently add the “Delaware Yield” to the state’s Code.

The Bicycle Friendly Delaware Act (BFDA) that was signed into law by Governor Carney in 2017 was sponsored by multiple state agencies, including the Delaware State Police, DelDOT, Delaware Greenways, and many others. Part of this act includes the “Delaware Yield,” which makes it lawful for bicyclists to safely yield at stop sign–controlled intersections. However, there was a ”sunset clause” within the BFDA, meaning that the aforementioned feature can be removed from the law.

Similar versions of the law have passed in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, with resolutions pending in other states and municipalities. One study from DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development showed that “yielding to managing the intersection by cyclists is often safer than having them stop at the intersection” and “it makes laws more realistic for bikers that they can more realistically follow.”

Delaware has seen its own benefits, as data (below) from the Delaware State Police below compares bicycle crashes before and after the law was enacted in 2017.

“Delaware Yield” safety data from Delaware State Police

Accomplishments in 2020

Though activity was definitely slowed in 2020 and several events were cancelled because of the pandemic, BikeNewark did manage to accomplish the following:

  • Was awarded $1,000 in funding from the White Clay Bicycle Club in the winter to be applied to the Newark Bikeways project.
  • Executed and posted results of a City Council candidates survey as public service in advance of the April municipal election.
  • RideShare Delaware "Biking 101" title slide graphicPresented two online seminars on bicycle commuting—“Biking 101” and “Commuting Safely by Bike with Children”—as part of co-host RideShare Delaware’s Delaware Commute Solutions Series.
  • Completed wayfinding signage design work for “phase 2” of the Newark Bikeways low-stress bicycle network project and ordered signage, in coordination with the City of Newark, for the North, Northwest, and West bikeway segments. Submitted a 50-50 matching-grant application to Delaware Greenways’ Future Trails of Northern Delaware coalition, which, if awarded, would defray half of the cost to BikeNewark of the “phase 2” signs. Plans for the East Bikeway segment were pushed to “phase 3.”
  • Partnered with the City of Newark on a grant request to the Delaware Bicycle Council for a bicycle-improvements project along Wyoming Road. A $15,000 grant was awarded to the City in Decemberfor a feasibility and preliminary design study of this corridor.
  • Designing Delaware Intersections for People event graphicHelped support promotion of the online Designing Delaware Intersections for People conference (held in November), which was organized by Bike Delaware, one of BikeNewark’s partners, and highlighted two intersections in Newark.
  • Began partnering with the Wilmington Trail Club and the City of Newark to plan for appropriate improvements to the Rittenhouse Trail, from Rittenhouse Park to Church Road.
  • Supported the A.I. Whoo COVID Vision Trail Safety Analysis that began in the fall.
  • What is a Sharrow? title frame showing sharrow symbolCompleted design and production of a three-minute safety PSA video on sharrows, which focused on the new greenbacked sharrows on East and West Main Street in Newark, partnering with WILMAPCO and the City of Newark and using raw video contribution from Caffé Gelato.
  • Participated with presence on The Newark Partnership and the city’s Transportation Improvement District (TID) committee.
  • Successfully revamped BikeNewark’s bylaws to more accurately reflect current operations and redefined official membership in the partnership—“Individual Member”—based on a fee paid per calendar year.

Safe Routes to School project takes shape

aerial photo of Casho Mill Road in front of Downes School
photo submitted to and published by Newark Post

photo of beginning of bike lane buffer on Casho Mill Road
Beginning of actual buffered lane

Nearly four years after initial meetings about submitting a Safe Routes to School grant application for a project on Casho Mill Road, things are finally taking (physical) shape. Striping has been added recently, and more will be added until this initial phase of the project is complete.

The project area is between Church Road and Pickett Lane.

photo of pop-up demonstration protected bike lane
Buffered lane demonstration, 2017

For a Bike to School event at John R. Downes Elementary School back in 2017, BikeNewark worked with volunteers from the University of Delaware’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, who created pop-up buffered bike lanes to demonstrate how a finished project might look along this busy suburban road on which the school is located.

photo of a Bike to School Week bike train
School children arriving by bike, 2017

City of Newark staff have repeatedly noted that motorized traffic continues to dash along Casho Mill Road above the posted 30mph speed limit. Public Works & Water Resources Director Tim Filasky, who is one of BikeNewark’s partner liaisons, says, “It just feels like a freeway. This will tighten it up and slow traffic.” Ultimately, the City would like to have the speed limit reduced to 25mph, as it is on sections of Casho Mill Road on either end (north and south) of the project area.

photo of motorist's view of buffered lanes on Casho Mill Road
Motorist’s view of buffered bike lanes along Casho Mill Road, showing only a slight reduction in vehicle lane width while providing ample buffer for cyclists

BikeNewark has been involved from the inception of the effort, in coordination with the City, the school, Downes parents, WILMAPCO, and DelDOT. The idea is to make bicycling safer (especially for school children and their parents) and encourage more students in this vast residential area to ride a bike to school, rather than be transported there by car.

When the project is completed near the end of 2020 [now expected fall of 2021], it will include a new crosswalk, a pedestrian-refuge island, curb ramps, traffic-calming islands, and radar-detected-speed signs.

BikeNewark’s planned West Bikeway (a segment of its Newark Bikeways low-stress network project) will intersect Casho Mill Road (and these SRTS amenities) at Lafayette Road and provide signed low-stress access to the school through the Oaklands and Nottingham Green residential neighborhoods.

> read related Newark Post article