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.

Signs for 3 new Bikeways

Coming soon to Newark!

Planning is now underway for implementation of the wayfinding signage for the next three segments of the Newark Bikeways low-stress network. BikeNewark is working with the City of Newark to complete this second phase of its network wayfinding project. Routes along existing low-stress roads and pathways will soon be signed and connect to the Central Loop Bikeway—the network hub, the signs for which were installed in 2019.

graphic of North, Northwest, and West Bikeways signsFunding for signage for the project’s second phase, which includes the North, Northwest, and West Bikeways, was secured with proceeds from the 2019 Community Fun Ride event, as well as a recent grant from the Delaware Greenways’ Future Trails of Northern Delaware Coalition (FTNDC).

In fact, BikeNewark received from the FTNDC an unexpected 66% more in funding than it had requested. Why?  Executive Director Mary Roth of Delaware Greenways (one of BikeNewark’s partner organizations) explains:

graphic of Newark Bikeways map“BikeNewark made a request of $1,508.87 with matching funds drawn from BikeNewark’s prior events and donors,” Roth said in a recent email to BikeNewark chair Bob McBride. “Our committee felt strongly that we should fund the project with the maximum grant possible of $2,500, giving [BikeNewark] more of an opportunity to continue the work of this and future phases.”

photo of “Central Loop” sign
sign example (NB on Orchard Rd. at Winslow Rd.)

BikeNewark will begin an effort to garner funding for the final, albeit most-prolonged, phase of the project, which will include the Southwest, Northeast, South, and East Bikeways (see Bikeways map).

BikeNewark’s Engineering Committee will begin planning wayfinding for the Southwest Bikeway segment over the next few months, in anticipation of the completion this year of DelDOT’s Elkton Road off-road bike/ped pathway, part of its major overhaul of Elkton Road from Gravenor Lane to the Maryland state line.

Unsolicited Project Kudos

Thank you for all of your work over the years to improve the bike trails and signage to make Newark such a bike-friendly place. From my house, I bike to the underpass by Amstel Avenue then take Orchard to Phillips Park to access the Hall Trail. As someone who is just getting comfortable riding on roads, the Newark [Bikeways] signage helped me find the access point from Ritter Lane. I now feel safe making a big loop from the Hall Trail to the Pomeroy Trail to Creek Road. I’m a very cautious biker, so these low-stress routes have enabled me to really enjoy& biking safely in Newark. Thank you!

—a female Newark resident in her 30s

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.