League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly Community program
BikeNewark has been instrumental in helping the City of Newark apply for “Bicycle Friendly Community” status from the League of American Bicyclists (LAB). In 2010, the City of Newark became the first city in Delaware to be so recognized by LAB, at a “bronze” level.
In its reapplication in 2014, Newark came whisker close to receiving “silver” status but was recognized again for “bronze.” Again in 2018, the LAB recognized Newark with “bronze” status.
The rapid pace of bicycle improvement–related activity along with DelDOT-scheduled infrastructure projects in Newark give us a great deal of hope that, with its 2022 reapplication, LAB will recognize Newark as the first silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community in the state.
Everyday biking-support programs
Part of its education and encouragement work, BikeNewark engages in events with its local and state partners to help community members (residents, students, commuters, and visitors) understand local laws and encourage bicycling as a means of transportation. From its Bike Central quick tune-up and bike-registration opportunities (primarily benefitting University of Delaware students) to Bike Lights Night installations to bicycle-training classes to bike-commuting educational material to support for monthly First Friday Rides and the Community Fun Ride, the committee is making an impact for city improvements through bicycling.
In 2018, BikeNewark produced the educational piece—“4 Safety Tips for Bicyclists—to help teach basic rules for safe bicycling in and around the city. Safety cards produced in conjunction with the University of Delaware Police are being distributed at related events. BikeNewark also developed a flyer version in multiple languages (Arabic, Spanish, French, and Chinese) for the city’s international population. Download the international flyer (PDF).
Safe Routes to School
John R. Downes Elementary School has been the recipient of a Safe Routes to School grant. Beginning in 2016, BikeNewark and WILMAPCO worked with the school to secure this funding and begin considering what bicycle-relevant improvements might be made along Casho Mill Road, which fronts the school. A committee of stakeholders was formed and met through 2017.
Through this SRTS Committee, three options emerged. DelDOT organized public comment sessions, and one option was chosen. This option includes adding 1) additional surface paint to the present bike lanes to create a visual buffer from traffic and 2) a mid-block crossing island in front of the school.
In 2019, city funding for additional traffic-calming islands to be included in the scope of this project was proposed. If city funding is gained, this would provide three additional islands (besides the mid-block crossing island), which will greatly enhance the feeling of safety for bicyclists and impede vehicular speeds above the stated 35mph.
It is BikeNewark’s hope that, if these improvements are successfully made, DelDOT may re-evaluate the level of service of this stretch of Casho Mill Road and change the speed limit to 25 mph, which we could then tout as a low-stress route for bicyclists of all ages.
See the DelDOT project website for more details.
The University of Delaware’s student chapter of Engineers Without Borders provided key help in the development and execution of a “pop-up” buffered-lane demonstration during the 2017 Bike to School Week at John R. Downes Elementary School.