City Council meeting this Monday, July 8, at 7 p.m.
The 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.
Note: 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.
Newark 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2020’s Bike to Work Day event in Newark will take place on Friday, May 15. BikeNewark looks forward to seeing you there.
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.
2018 proved a challenging year for BikeNewark, as a number of issues began to compete for our attention. Though we know that there is so much more work ahead, there were a lot of things we accomplished last year with our partners’ support.
further refining Newark low-stress bicycle network concept and map in advance of initial production and application of signage on a “Central Loop.”
several members attending a series of UD-led Newark Futures workshops.
presence on behalf of the bicycling community at various City Council and city Traffic Committee meetings.
In terms of helping the City of Newark promote itself nationally, BikeNewark
submitted LAB Bicycle Friendly Community application on behalf of the City of Newark. Newark received its third consecutive bronze-level designation, this time for 2018-2022.
submitted Places for Bikes application on behalf of the City of Newark. According to the data gathered by People For Bikes, Newark ranked 39th overall nationwide and 7th among cities with a population of 100,000 or less in terms of bikeability.
BikeNewark-organized or -supported events held during 2018 included
the annual Bike to Work Day on University of Delaware campus on May 21 (successfully rescheduled due to poor weather). Keynote speaker was New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer. More than 70 participants came to the event, which was supported by 6 corporate sponsors. During the event, the annual Bicycle Friendly Community Leader Award was presented, and a Trek hybrid bicycle was given out as a random prize.
nine First Friday Rides (January and March events were cancelled due to poor weather). These social slow rides through Newark averaged about 25 participants.
a Bike Lights Night event on October 25 at the corner of North College Avenue and Main Street, during which 25 sets of lights, courtesy of UD, were installed free of charge.
four Bike Centrals in cooperation with the University of Delaware, Newark Bike Project, and DelDOT:
Spring event, during which 10 sets of bike lights were installed free of charge.
August 25, in coordination with UD’s 1743 Welcome Days, during which 6 sets of lights were installed free of charge.
September 12, during which 20 sets of lights were installed and 6 helmets were given out free of charge.
October 25, during which about 20 sets of lights were installed free of charge.
two BikeNewark Community Nights—June 21 at Handloff Park and October 26 at Wooden Wheels, attended by 31 and 50 participants, respectively.
the annual Mayor’s Fun Ride on June 2, which was a big success in terms of funding raised for bicycle-related projects.
Our public service involvement included
distributing bike-safety flyers in four languages—English, Spanish, Chinese, and French—to the English Language Institute. These were based on the “4 Safety Tips for Bicyclists” cards that were printed in January 2018 for use by partner organizations.
executing and posting results of a City Council candidates survey in advance of the April municipal election.
volunteering at 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 16).
Newark celebrated National Bike to Work Day on Monday, May 21, the event having been rescheduled from May 18 due to rain. The first sunny day in a week saw more than 70 riders converge on Mentors’ Circle on the University of Delaware campus for the early morning event.
Though ridership was a bit off what we’d experienced over the past couple years, the event enjoyed great support in terms of sponsorships, which allowed us to this year to include a “grand prize” of a new Trek hybrid bicycle.
Speakers and attendees alike rode in, each in one of six area “bike trains.” This year we missed what would have been the largest group, from event sponsor Bloom Energy, as they could not attend due to a plant-wide production meeting. Attendees enjoyed light breakfast fare and coffee, supplied by the Little Goat Coffee Roasting Co., and garnered free “Bike Month Delaware 2018” T-shirts, courtesy of DelDOT in cooperation with the Delaware Bicycle Council.
University of Delaware Vice Provost Matt Kinservik officially welcomed everyone, giving some personal testimony to the positive changes that are occurring in Newark in terms of bicycling and how bicycling has influenced his own commute. He referred to what may be happening within our sphere of influence here in Newark as “Copenhagenization.”
Dressed in her Bike Delaware jacket, Newark Mayor Polly Sierer graced the podium next and listed the number of important infrastructure improvements that will be taking place within the next several years that will enhance the bicycling experience here in Newark, already a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community.
The morning’s featured speaker, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, spoke about his vision for bicycle connectivity throughout the county and put a local spin on what Kinservik had said, coining a new phrase—“NewCastleCountyization.”
BikeNewark Chair and event emcee, Mark Deshon, mentioned that the League of American Bicyclists had not yet released information about Newark’s most current Bicycle Friendly Community designation. Instead, Deshon pointed to a recent People For Bikes assessment and ranking of the City of Newark. The City is ranked 39th nationwide and 7th among cities with a population under 100,000 in terms of bikeability, according to data the organization gathered.
This year the City of Newark and BikeNewark presented the annual Bicycle Friendly Community Leader Award to Bike Delaware’s John Bare. Bare was chosen because of the groundwork he laid for the Bicycle Friendly Delaware Act, which was signed into law in October 2017 here in Newark.
In the words of Bike Delaware Executive Director James Wilson, “John not only created the initial draft of the legislation in September of 2016 but was also involved at every step with all the many revisions right up until the bill was finally filed in May of 2017, more than seven months later.”
Newark-area state Senator Dave Sokola was the bill’s co-sponsor, and he spoke to the gathered attendees about the facets of the new law and added a few words about the work done by John Bare on the bill. Then Bare came to the mic and shared how this bill had been something that he’d been working toward for many years.
A large group photo was organized, and then event coordinator Mike Fortner, one of BikeNewark’s liaisons from the City of Newark, joined Deshon to make the morning fun by giving away a couple give certificates to local restaurants. Then, to cap off the event, the Trek bicycle winner’s name—Mary Ellen Gray—was drawn by a Trek Bicycle Newark employee and the bicycle was presented to her.
2019’s Bike to Work Day event in Newark will take place on Friday, May 17. BikeNewark looks forward to seeing you there.
Photographs by Kathy Atkinson, courtesy of the University of Delaware