Exercise in Newark while social distancing

Check out Newark’s low-stress Central Loop Bikeway.

photo of bicyclists on Central Loop (Pomeroy Trail)Feeling restless at home? Want to get some outdoor exercise at appropriate social distances? Consider dusting off that bike in your garage and heading out along Newark’s recently signed Central Loop Bikeway*.

Wayfinding signage was introduced along this bikeway last fall as phase 1 of a multi-year project to develop a connected network of paved roads and trails in Newark, which is designed to encourage use of low-traffic, low-stress streets and off-road multiple-use pathways (like the popular James F. Hall Trail) by bicyclists of all ages.

photo of bicyclist reading wayfinding signage on Hall TrailBikeNewark has been and is working with the City of Newark’s Department of Public Works & Water Resources staff as well as its Department of Parks & Recreation to plan a network of eight bikeways. These will enable low-stress connections to in-city destinations and trails outside of Newark (such as those in White Clay Creek State Park). BikeNewark plans for its phase 2 signs to be implemented this year, comprising three new bikeways. See Bikeways plan (PDF).

photo of wayfinding signage on Orchard Rd. northbound at Winslow Rd.Newark Bikeways will also serve as the way through Newark for the East Coast Greenway (“ECG” on the signs), a designated bicycle corridor from Maine to Florida.

Local or visiting cyclists will be able to use the Newark Bikeways system as a way to travel around Newark for shopping, work, or recreation. Bicycle-specific signs designed by the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) are placed to guide them along the mix of paved off-road trails and city streets. DelDOT generously contributed the cost of the Central Loop Bikeway signs.

Phase 2 signage is being made possible through proceeds from last September’s Community Fun Ride as well as generous contributions from former Newark Mayor (and BikeNewark member) Polly Sierer and the White Clay Bicycle Club.

BikeNewark is helping raise funds to cover costs of signage for the additional four planned Bikeways routes (phase 3). If you’re interested in helping fund this project, see BikeNewark.org/donate.

The nonprofit BikeNewark is a partnership of interested cyclists and organizations working to improve bicycling in Newark, Delaware, and a founding member of The Newark Partnership.


graphic of Central Loop Bikeway
Central Loop Bikeway

*Note: The Central Loop includes a portion of Delaware Avenue, which we understand can’t be considered “low stress” at this time and can only legally be ridden by bicycle eastbound. When DelDOT’s next major work project in Newark is complete, Delaware Avenue will feature a two-way protected bikeway, which will make the Central Loop completely low stress in both directions.

Accomplishments in 2019

Delaware Greenways logo2019 was another busy year for BikeNewark. There were many opportunities for interacting with the public and working with our partner organizations. In fact, by the close of the calendar year we had formalized a partner relationship with Delaware Greenways—our seventh and newest partner. This first article of the new decade summarizes the various ways we contributed toward Moving Bicycling Forward in Newark, Delaware, last year. We hope you’ll consider supporting BikeNewark this year as we continue working for the good of the community.

OK, here’s the summary.

With respect to its core mission of bicycle-advocacy work, BikeNewark:

photo of “Central Loop” sign

  • Continued to consult with and provide input to Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson on the Delaware Avenue two-way protected bike-lane project, as engineering plans were finalized.
  • Completed wayfinding signage design work and oversaw production and application of signage, in coordination with the City of Newark and DelDOT, on “phase 1”—the Central Loop Bikeway—of the developing of the low-stress bicycle network—“Newark Bikeways.”
  • Began and completed wayfinding signage design work on “phase 2” of the Newark Bikeways project, which includes a North Bikeway, Northwest Bikeway, West Bikeway, and East Bikeway.
  • Formally added Delaware Greenways among its official partner organizations.
  • Advocated on behalf of the bicycling community at various City Council meetings, including supporting 1) the Emerson Bridge (over White Clay Creek) project and 2) the preservation of the bike lane on Delaware Avenue during DelDOT’s Main Street construction project.
  • Submitted two New Castle County Bicycle Plan “priority project” proposals for funding consideration—Newark Bikeways development and protected bike lanes along Wyoming Road.

photo of Christine Schultz and Matt Kinservik and others arrivingBikeNewark-organized or -supported events held during 2019 included

  • The annual Bike to Work Day event (co-organized with the City of Newark) on the University of Delaware campus on May 17. More than 80 participants came to the event, which was sponsored by Bloom Energy and four in-kind contributing organizations. The event featured coordinated rides to the venue, free breakfast, speakers from the University of Delaware community and city and state government, the annual Bicycle Friendly Community Leader Award presentation, and random prizes (including a Trek hybrid bike).
  • Community Fun Ride logoA weeklong series of events called “Community Bike Days” from Sept. 3–7, culminating in a Saturday morning Community Fun Ride comprising a 2.25-mile “Family Fun Ride” and a 8.25-mile “Newark Loop Ride.” This signature ride event included 97 participants and raised more than $4,000 from sponsorships, which will be used to improve bicycling in Newark. The weeklong series included 17 in-kind contributing organizations.
  • Two Community Nights—June 22 at Handloff Park and October 26 at Wooden Wheels—to familiarize the public with BikeNewark and highlight its ongoing projects. Each included free food and drink.
  • Two Bike Central events in cooperation with the University of Delaware, Newark Bike Project, and DelDOT, one in the spring and one in the fall. The fall event was particularly successful, during which more than 20 sets of lights were installed and 5 helmets were given out free of charge.
  • Nine First Friday Ride events (March through November). These social slow rides through Newark averaged about 15 participants.

4 bike safety tips in Mandarin ChineseOur public service work involved:

  • Executing and posting results of a City Council and Mayoral candidates survey in advance of the April municipal election.
  • Redistribution of bike-safety flyers in four non-English languages—Spanish, French, Chinese, and Arabic—to the English Language Institute. These were based on the “4 Safety Tips for Bicyclists” cards that had been printed in English in 2018 for use by partner organizations.
  • Volunteering at and helping sponsor 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 15).
  • Developing a budding relationship with The Newark Partnership.
  • Participating on the city’s new Transportation Improvement District (TID) committee.

Urgent support needed for bridge project

City Council meeting this Monday, July 8, at 7 p.m.

engineering artist's rendering of Emerson BridgeThe White Clay Creek/Emerson Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge Cost Estimate and Funding is on the agenda for the Monday, July 8, Newark City Council meeting. The Emerson Bridge will be located over the White Clay Creek immediately west of the existing Paper Mill Road vehicular bridge (see figure above).

The meeting will be held at the City of Newark Municipal Building, 220 South Main Street and the will begin at 7:00 p.m. Along with Council voting on allocating additional funding for the project, there will also be discussion on potential cost saving measures that was a part of value engineering completed for the project. One of the potential cost saving initiatives includes a reduction in the width of the proposed 194 ft.-long structure from 12 ft. to 10 ft. for a $60,000 savings. Attached is informational material on the project that was included in a public workshop that was held in April.

This will likely be the last time you will be able to comment on the bridge project with City Council.

Newark Bikeways map detail showing Bridge project and proposed conduit trailNote: The current plans contain no physical connector to the Pomeroy Trail, which is part of our proposed Newark Bikeways low-stress network; however, we’re told it is included in the city’s 2021 Capital Improvement Project budget. We’d also like your support for voicing the need for associated funding for this paved off-road conduit from the Pomeroy Trail to the bridge approach pathway (see figure), so that low-stress connections can be made to the Newark Reservoir and trails beyond.

Bike to Work Day 2019

 

photo of most of the attendees of the 2019 Bike to Work Day in Newark

Bike to Work Day event sponsors: Bloom Energy, City of Newark Dept. of Parks & Recreation, Trek Bicycle Newark, STAR Health, and WILMAPCONewark celebrated National Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 17. This beautiful sunny day brought more than 80 riders to Mentors’ Circle on the University of Delaware campus for the early morning event.

photo of Christine Schultz and Matt Kinservik
Christine Schultz and Matt Kinservik arrive at Mentors’ Circle.

Thought ridership was perhaps not what it should have been on such a nice day, the event enjoyed great support in terms of sponsorships, led by Bloom Energy, which allowed us to this year to include a “grand prize” of a new Trek FX-1 bicycle.

Speakers and attendees alike rode in, each in one of six area “bike trains.” Attendees enjoyed light breakfast fare and coffee and garnered free “Bike Month Delaware 2019” T-shirts, courtesy of DelDOT in cooperation with the Delaware Bicycle Council.

photo of Lou Rossi
Lou Rossi talks about why he commutes to work.

Having ridden in early because of his busy schedule, last year’s keynote speaker New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer kicked off the list of speakers at this year’s event.

University of Delaware Vice Provost Matt Kinservik followed up with an official welcome on behalf of the host institution, giving some personal testimony to the positive changes that are occurring in Newark while confessing that he may not have been worthy of his image being used on the event publicity this year.

Kinservik introduced UD mathematics professor and stalwart bike commuter Lou Rossi, who spoke about why he commutes to work, logging in some 13 miles roundtrip every weekday.

photo of Mayor Jerry Clifton
Newark Mayor Jerry Clifton addresses the morning’s attendees.

Newark-area State Representative Paul Baumbach then spoke to the gathered attendees. He was followed by new Newark City Manager Tom Coleman, who spoke about the current construction challenges facing the city but the many bicycle-infrastructure improvements on the horizon. New Mayor Jerry Clifton, who showed up early and helped set up, talked about his family’s experience bicycling.

On behalf of the City of Newark and BikeNewark, BikeNewark Chair and event emcee, Bob McBride, helped event coordinator Mike Fortner present this year’s Bicycle Friendly Community Leader Award to Susan Grasso. She was chosen because she had spent a good portion of the past three years working behind the scenes, both as a concerned citizen and as a member of BikeNewark, to advocate for bicycling as a normal and viable mode of transportation.

photo of Bob McBride, Caitlin Grasso, and Mike Fortner
Flanked by BikeNewark Chair Bob McBride and event coordinator Mike Fortner, Caitlin Grasso accepts the Bicycle Friendly Community Leader Award for her mother, Susan Grasso.

McBride ran down a list of projects and efforts which Grasso either initiated and/or she was directly involved in and concluded, “[Susan] always has been helping encourage people to bicycle more and advocate for better conditions for bicycling. Most recently, she has been serving on a city Sustainability Committee, which completely fits her desire to see more and more bicyclists—i.e., cleaner transportation—on the road here in Newark.”

Though Grasso could not be present to accept the award, her daughter, Caitlin, accepted on her behalf and read words of gratitude that her mom had composed and sent her via cellphone.

Fortner, one of BikeNewark’s liaisons from the City of Newark, joined McBride to make the morning fun by giving away several gift certificates to local businesses. Then, to cap off the event, the Trek bicycle winner’s name—Rayanne Luke—was drawn by Trek Bicycle Newark manager Dave Schindler, and the bicycle was presented to her.

A large group photo was organized to close the event, and afterward lead sponsor Bloom Energy shot its own group photo before everyone headed off to work for the day.

photo of Bloom Energy group
Lead event sponsor Bloom Energy sent a strong contingent of riders.

2020’s Bike to Work Day event in Newark will take place on Friday, May 15. BikeNewark looks forward to seeing you there.

Photographs by WILMAPCO’s Heather Dunigan.

A No-Brainer?

by Mark Deshon

photo of bike under city signageSometimes a “no-brainer” is just that.

BikeNewark is indeed thankful that on Monday night, April 29th, the City Council overwhelmingly recognized the wisdom of not removing the bike lane on Delaware Avenue (instead of placing temporary parking along that heavily used central Newark artery), because it is a safety issue.

However, after that night’s lengthy special City Council meeting on the City’s parking plan during the Main Street rehab project, I got to wondering why removing the bike lane ever made it to the drawing board in the first place. Certainly, this signals to me that, while the City and its businesses like its designation as a “Bicycle Friendly Community,” the City staff doesn’t naturally consider bicycles as a mode of travel that deserves adequate accommodation on the roads, and Newark’s businesses don’t view people arriving by bike as equally important downtown customers.

This is why an organization like BikeNewark exists—because there’s a real sense among the cycling community that we have to continually remind those in positions of authority, whose decisions have far-reaching consequences, that people do get around on bikes and that this is good for everyone, those biking and those benefiting from fewer cars on the road and less air pollution.

Believe me, I get it. I understand the importance of economic vitality in this city, particularly Newark’s downtown businesses, which will each struggle to a greater or lesser extent over the next year during the upheaval on Main Street.

But we need look no further than vibrant cities like Ft. Collins, Colo.—where my son lives—for evidence that where the bicycling community is truly valued, economic development is robust and businesses benefit greatly. In fact, everyone benefits—those who prefer getting around on two wheels, four, or none.

Having now lived in Ft. Collins for two years, my son now hates the “long,” 15-minute drive to his job in Loveland, wishing instead that his job were in the city in which he lives, so he could bike to where he works, shops, and plays. He’s obviously been spoiled by platinum-level bike infrastructure there.

As a longtime Newark resident, I’ve experienced that how my son would prefer to travel to his job, downtown businesses, and recreation areas is actually quite doable here in Newark—a much smaller university city.

What if we were to take the approach of making bicycling even easier and more preferable and encourage city residents to ride their bicycles to get around during the Main Street construction (thus mitigating our already-awful traffic issues)?

I know that, contrary to the League of American Bicyclists’ designation for Newark, there are many who don’t consider this city very bicycle-friendly. It takes all of us working together, but especially a serious commitment on the part of City Council and City staff, to make a “Bicycle Friendly Community” a reality, not just a tagline on a road sign.