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.
Photographs by WILMAPCO’s Heather Dunigan.