Delaware Ave. cycletrack completed

On Thursday, November 10, DelDOT officially opened to bicycle traffic the completed two-way protected bikeway (a.k.a. cycletrack) on Delaware Avenue. On Friday, November 18, dignitaries came together for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

> See ribbon-cutting article in the Newark Post

diagram of DelDOT-sourced illustration
DelDOT diagram of the two-way protected bikeway infrastructure on Delaware Avenue
photo of paint treatment in conflict zone
Solid green surface treatment in conflict zones

This brought to a close a nearly $8 million project that was first thought about in the 1990s, included as a recommendation in the 2014 Newark Bicycle Plan, and advocated for by BikeNewark’s predecessor entity in 2014.

Protective beveled concrete curbing separating bikeway from vehicle travel lane

The primary motivation for such a project was to provide a safe, legal way for bicyclists to move westbound through Newark’s downtown area. Previously, the only legal way for bicyclists to get from Library Avenue or Kirkwood Highway to South Main Street, West Main Street, or New London Road was to use Cleveland Avenue or East Main Street—both higher-stress options for cyclists, even with the recent improvements to those two major streets.

Bicycle-specific traffic signals in both directions along bikeway

Amenities for bicyclists along Delaware Avenue that were included in this project:

photo of bike signal meaning sign
Bike-signal sign explaining red, yellow, flashing yellow, and green signals
  • a two-way protected bikeway from Orchard Road to the Pomeroy Trail, separated from the traffic lane by a 3-inch-high beveled concrete barrier
  • one-way elevated bike paths on either side of the road from the Pomeroy Trail to Library Avenue
  • separate bicycle-specific traffic signals in both directions
  • green surface paint through intersections and at conflict points (e.g., driveways)
  • bike boxes at the eastern and western ends of the project (Delaware Avenue / Library Avenue intersection and the Amstel Avenue / South Main Street intersection)
photo of bike box on Del. Ave. at Library Ave.
Bike box at Library Avenue intersection

This completion of this project finishes the final segment of the Central Loop Bikeway, the hub of the Newark Bikeways low-stress bicycle network. Wayfinding signage for the Delaware Avenue portion of the Central Loop will be added in 2023.

> See related Newark Post article
> See project history article
> See DelDOT project safety flyer (PDF)

Thanks to these partner organizations—Bike Delaware, DelDOT, the City of Newark, and the Wilmington Area Planning Council—for their support and involvement in the conception and construction of this infrastructure, pretty much a unique feature in Delaware.

Delaware Avenue taking on new shape

What began as a dream at a BikeNewark (then Newark Bicycle Committee) meeting in 2014 is finally taking shape as part of DelDOT’s Delaware Avenue pave-and-rehab project. Coming on the heels of the massive Main Street renovation, this project includes a major amenity for bicyclists—a two-way separated bikeway (a.k.a. cycletrack)—on the north side of the road.

These photos, taken on July 27, 2022, show the progress along various sections of this major eastbound route through the heart of Newark.

photo of Del. Ave. WB
westbound between S. College Ave. and Orchard Rd., showing concrete protected-lane separator
photo of Del. Ave. EB
eastbound between Academy St. and Haines St., showing concrete protected-lane separator

This new cycletrack feature, which will be a first of its type in Delaware, will enable legal westbound bicycle traffic from the Pomeroy Trail to Orchard Road. Bike traffic on the western end of this project will be shuttled to/from Orchard Road and Amstel Ave. as a continuation to/from South Main Street.

East of the Pomeroy Trail all the way to Library Avenue, there will be one-way raised lanes on either side of Delaware Avenue.

photo of island at Pomeroy Trail WB
new island at Pomeroy Trail crossing westbound, marking change from two-way to one-way (WB)
photo of Del. Ave. curve WB
westbound at the curve toward Newark Transit Hub, showing raised bike lanes (in black)
photo of Del. Ave. curve EB
eastbound at the curve toward Newark High School, showing raised bike lanes (in black)

The other notable new feature will be the raised-profile intersection at South College Avenue. This feature will help pedestrians walk across at the sidewalk level, eliminating potential curb missteps and will also act as a traffic-calming aid.

photo of Del. Ave. raised intersection (south section) at S. College Ave.
raised intersection (south half) at South College Avenue, level with sidewalks

> see related Newark Post article

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.

A No-Brainer?

by Mark Deshon

photo of bike under city signageSometimes a “no-brainer” is just that.

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.