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.
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).
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.
…dangers posed by contraflow (i.e., illegal westbound) cyclists in the eastbound-only bike lane.
…cars parking in the bike lane in front of Newark High School, forcing cyclists to merge into vehicular traffic.
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!
Nearly four years after initial meetings about submitting a Safe Routes to School grant application for a project on Casho Mill Road, things are finally taking (physical) shape. Striping has been added recently, and more will be added until this initial phase of the project is complete.
The project area is between Church Road and Pickett Lane.
For a Bike to School event at John R. Downes Elementary School back in 2017, BikeNewark worked with volunteers from the University of Delaware’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, who created pop-up buffered bike lanes to demonstrate how a finished project might look along this busy suburban road on which the school is located.
City of Newark staff have repeatedly noted that motorized traffic continues to dash along Casho Mill Road above the posted 30mph speed limit. Public Works & Water Resources Director Tim Filasky, who is one of BikeNewark’s partner liaisons, says, “It just feels like a freeway. This will tighten it up and slow traffic.” Ultimately, the City would like to have the speed limit reduced to 25mph, as it is on sections of Casho Mill Road on either end (north and south) of the project area.
BikeNewark has been involved from the inception of the effort, in coordination with the City, the school, Downes parents, WILMAPCO, and DelDOT. The idea is to make bicycling safer (especially for school children and their parents) and encourage more students in this vast residential area to ride a bike to school, rather than be transported there by car.
When the project is completed near the end of 2020 [now expected fall of 2021], it will include a new crosswalk, a pedestrian-refuge island, curb ramps, traffic-calming islands, and radar-detected-speed signs.
BikeNewark’s planned West Bikeway (a segment of its Newark Bikeways low-stress network project) will intersect Casho Mill Road (and these SRTS amenities) at Lafayette Road and provide signed low-stress access to the school through the Oaklands and Nottingham Green residential neighborhoods.
No, we’re not referring to the environment here, although bicyclists do contribute to lowering carbon emissions every time they ride. We’re talking visible surface paint.
Sharrows (shared-lane markings)
You may be already be familiar with the bicycle markings along Apple Road between South Main Street and West Park Place. Now we’re seeing greenbacked sharrows on East Main Street, and more green surface paint is on the way!
As part of DelDOT’s nearly two-year-long major rehab of East Main Street, greenbacked sharrows have been applied to both lanes along this westbound route through downtown Newark. These are meant to communicate to motorists that they should expect bicyclists in either lane along the mile-long stretch of road. They are also meant to let bicyclists know that they can and should take the middle of either lane (heading west, of course). See explanatory safety video on sharrows.
Many thanks to the City of Newark and DelDOT (both of which are BikeNewark partners) for including this amenity.
What about safety?
Speed is limited to 25 mph on East Main Street, but very often, due to traffic volume and traffic signals, speeds slow to those much more in line with the speed of a typical bicyclist (anywhere between 10 and 20 mph). Plus, the rehab project included parklets, features new to East Main that will act as traffic-calming (i.e., -slowing) devices.
The next major DelDOT rehab project in downtown Newark promises to be somewhat unique in Delaware and will bring with it a lot more green surface paint! Delaware Avenue will be reconfigured to include a two-way separated (and signalized) bikeway from Orchard Road east to the Pomeroy Trail and one-way lanes in either direction from there to Library Avenue. This project will begin as soon as DelDOT’s Elkton Road project is completed.
Check out Newark’s low-stress Central Loop Bikeway.
Feeling restless at home? Want to get some outdoor exercise at appropriate social distances? Consider dusting off that bike in your garage and heading out along Newark’s recently signed Central Loop Bikeway*.
Wayfinding signage was introduced along this bikeway last fall as phase 1 of a multi-year project to develop a connected network of paved roads and trails in Newark, which is designed to encourage use of low-traffic, low-stress streets and off-road multiple-use pathways (like the popular James F. Hall Trail) by bicyclists of all ages.
BikeNewark has been and is working with the City of Newark’s Department of Public Works & Water Resources staff as well as its Department of Parks & Recreation to plan a network of eight bikeways. These will enable low-stress connections to in-city destinations and trails outside of Newark (such as those in White Clay Creek State Park). BikeNewark plans for its phase 2 signs to be implemented this year, comprising three new bikeways. See Bikeways plan (PDF).
Newark Bikeways will also serve as the way through Newark for the East Coast Greenway (“ECG” on the signs), a designated bicycle corridor from Maine to Florida.
Local or visiting cyclists will be able to use the Newark Bikeways system as a way to travel around Newark for shopping, work, or recreation. Bicycle-specific signs designed by the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) are placed to guide them along the mix of paved off-road trails and city streets. DelDOT generously contributed the cost of the Central Loop Bikeway signs.
Phase 2 signage is being made possible through proceeds from last September’s Community Fun Ride as well as generous contributions from former Newark Mayor (and BikeNewark member) Polly Sierer and the White Clay Bicycle Club.
BikeNewark is helping raise funds to cover costs of signage for the additional four planned Bikeways routes (phase 3). If you’re interested in helping fund this project, see BikeNewark.org/donate.
The nonprofit BikeNewark is a partnership of interested cyclists and organizations working to improve bicycling in Newark, Delaware, and a founding member of The Newark Partnership.
*Note: The Central Loop includes a portion of Delaware Avenue, which we understand can’t be considered “low stress” at this time and can only legally be ridden by bicycle eastbound. When DelDOT’s next major work project in Newark is complete, Delaware Avenue will feature a two-way protected bikeway, which will make the Central Loop completely low stress in both directions.
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.