Delaware Ave. cycletrack completed

On Thursday, November 10, DelDOT officially opened to bicycle traffic the completed two-way protected bikeway (a.k.a. cycletrack) on Delaware Avenue. On Friday, 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.

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

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