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 Bicycle-safety Checkpoint quick tune-up and bike-registration opportunities (primarily benefitting University of Delaware students) to bicycle-training classes to bike-commuting educational material to support for monthly First Friday Rides and the Family Bike Fest, the partnership 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).
Two public-service announcement videos about biking-specific issues were created to help educate bicyclists about how to safely and legally maneuver along certain streets in Newark.
> PSA video defining sharrows and how to ride along Main Street
> PSA video on using Main St. contraflow lane from N. College Ave.
Safe Routes to School
BikeNewark supports children who want to commute to school by bicycle through supporting the Safe Routes to School program. In the initial such project in Newark, a portion of Casho Mill Road was transformed as a result of John R. Downes Elementary School having received a Safe Routes to School grant.
> See article about the completed project.
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 provided for three additional islands (besides the project’s mid-block crossing island), which greatly enhances the feeling of safety for bicyclists and impedes vehicular speeds above the stated 30 mph.
It is BikeNewark’s hope that, now that these improvements have been 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 true low-stress route for bicyclists of all ages.
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.