Emerson Bridge dedicated

photo of sign at the foot of the bridge

The relatively new bike/ped bridge over the White Clay Creek has been utilized by the public now for several months, but on Wednesday, Aug. 10, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT)—one of BikeNewark’s partner organizations—held a special ceremony to honor Charlie Emerson, for whom the bridge is named.

photo of Charlie Emerson
The honoree—former Newark Parks & Recreation director Charlie Emerson

Emerson, the former director of the Newark Department of Parks & Recreation, was there with his family to celebrate the dedication of this bridge. The concept was initiated back in 2011 while Emerson was the Parks & Rec director, but the development, fundraising, engineering design, and construction of the Emerson Bridge took about ten years in total to accomplish.

photo of Dave Sokola
State Sen. Dave Sokola

Delaware Secretary of Transportation Nicole Majeski, who emceed this event, emphasized that her department now thinks in a multimodal way when it comes to transportation. She cited all the partners who provided support and/or funding for this $2 million project, including BikeNewark. Special thanks was given to New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer for getting the county to step up to help fund this project in a big way. Our local state legislators—Sen. Dave Sokola and Rep. Paul Baumbach—were responsible for securing significant funding for the bridge as well.

photo of Paul Baumbach
State Rep. Paul Baumbach

Both Sokola and Baumbach stressed that, whether a bicyclist or pedestrian, crossing the vehicular bridge that was built in the 1940s was not very safe.

Governor Carney couldn’t be there, but Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long was, and she spoke about the importance of creating better opportunities for people to engage in healthy lifestyles. She said that this bridge is a good example of infrastructure that advances such opportunities.

photo of speakers (seated) and Bethany Hall-Long speaking
Dignitaries listening to Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long

Several speakers alluded to the critical lower-stress connection that this bridge makes both for bicyclists and pedestrians between Newark’s two popular city trails—the Hall and Pomeroy, which were Charlie Emerson projects—and city, county, and state parkland north of the White Clay Creek.

photo of Stu Markham
Newark Mayor Stu Markham

Newark Mayor Stu Markham gave credit to his two immediate predecessors, Jerry Clifton and Polly Sierer, for seeing that this project moved along, even when in 2017 it looked like it was dead for lack of necessary funding.

photo of Joe Spadafino
City Parks & Recreation director Joe Spadafino

Current Parks & Rec director Joe Spadafino thanked all the partners involved in this project and gave special mention to BikeNewark for its advocacy efforts on this project. He went on to laud the great legacy that Charlie Emerson (and JIm Hall before him) had created in terms of development of city parkland and trails.

Then Charlie Emerson stepped up to the podium and shared about his many years of experience as the city’s Parks & Rec director and what an honor it was to have this bridge named after him.

Members of Emerson’s family who were present then joined the officials involved in the project to walk to the northern end of the bridge and cut the ribbon, officially dedicating it as the Charles R. Emerson Pedestrian & Bicycle Bridge.

photo of ribbon-cutting
Ribbon-cutting to formally dedicate the Emerson Bridge

The City plans to create two paved trails—to the south through Olan Thomas Park and southwest through Kershaw Park—from the southern foot of the bridge, each creating the key connections to the Pomeroy Trail. BikeNewark will then work with the City to have wayfinding signs placed for its planned Northeast Bikeway—a segment of its Newark Bikeways low-stress network.

> See related Newark Post story

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.

Safe Routes to School project takes shape

aerial photo of Casho Mill Road in front of Downes School
photo submitted to and published by Newark Post

photo of beginning of bike lane buffer on Casho Mill Road
Beginning of actual buffered lane

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.

photo of pop-up demonstration protected bike lane
Buffered lane demonstration, 2017

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.

photo of a Bike to School Week bike train
School children arriving by bike, 2017

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.

photo of motorist's view of buffered lanes on Casho Mill Road
Motorist’s view of buffered bike lanes along Casho Mill Road, showing only a slight reduction in vehicle lane width while providing ample buffer for cyclists

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.

> read related Newark Post article

Green is good, more green is better!

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!

photo of newly applied greenbacked sharrowAs 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.

So, get out and bike on East Main Street. The more that bicyclists use this street, the safer—and more comfortable—it will be for all.

What’s next?

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.

> More on the Delaware Avenue project

photos by Heather Dunigan