Introducing our new board members

BikeNewark’s December election for all four board positions resulted in new leadership for the two-year-old nonprofit advocacy organization.

photo of Bob McBride
Bob McBride, Chair

Retiring from the Chair position was Mark Deshon. Bob McBride has assumed the duties as BikeNewark’s Chair, having served as Treasurer for the past two years and doubled as Secretary for the past 12 months. McBride grew up in Newark and had recently retired here after a long career at a private school in Pennsylvania. He is a member of the White Clay Bicycle Club.

photo of Helga Huntley
Helga Huntley, Co-Chair

Helga Huntley is now serving as Co-Chair. She has been very involved in the Safe Routes to School project at John R. Downes Elementary School and is both a key advocate and an exemplar for bicycling as transportation. She replaces Susan Grasso, who (alas) will be relocating to Dearborn, Mich., in the near future. BikeNewark thanks Grasso for the great energy and enthusiasm she poured into our advocacy efforts.

photo of Karl Hassler
Karl Hassler, Treasurer

Karl Hassler has taken over for Bob McBride as Treasurer. He has worked on BikeNewark’s Engineering Committee since its inception and was a key player on the ad hoc Organizational Committee back in 2016. He’d remind you that if you can’t support BikeNewark with your time, you can still donate to help enhance our efforts. Hassler is also a member of the White Clay Bicycle Club.

photo of Dave Saunders
Dave Saunders, Secretary

BikeNewark had been operating without an official Secretary for the past year, so we’re very pleased that Dave Saunders was willing to be nominated and, having been elected, is now taking on the task. An avid bicycle commuter, though not technically a resident of the city (desirable but not a requirement for any of the board positions), he’ll be the first to tell you that his property line does abut the city boundary.

McBride, Huntley, Hassler, and Saunders will each be serving a two-year term (2019-2020), consistent with BikeNewark’s bylaws.

During the December partnership meeting, Deshon, who had declined nomination for another term as Chair, praised the faithful BikeNewark members who, along with its partner liaisons, continue to make it possible for this organization to accelerate the pace of progress and improve conditions for bicycling in Newark.

Note: Our partnership meetings are open to the public and typically are held on the third Thursday of the month at 4:30 p.m. in the WILMAPCO conference room on the eighth floor of the Tower at STAR, on the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus. Want to help? Get involved!

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Candidates for City Council Weigh In

As a public service, BikeNewark teamed with Bike Delaware, one of its valued partners, to issue a bicycle-related survey to the candidates for the upcoming Newark City Council election.

Upcoming Vote for City Council graphicAll candidates were given the opportunity to weigh in on five specific position statements and provide any specific comments or elaboration on their positions. The survey items and candidates’ responses follow.

The election for Districts 3, 5, and 6 will be on Tuesday, April 10.

Survey Items

  1. Given the increase in traffic and demand for parking, I believe that the City of Newark should encourage bicycling and walking as viable means of transportation.
  2. I believe that improved infrastructure, better education, and reasonable enforcement will help make our streets, sidewalks, and other shared spaces safer and more comfortable for those who bicycle or walk.
  3. I support the recommendations in the 2014 Newark Bicycle Plan.
  4. I support greater effort by the City to make Newark more bikeable by increasing “low-stress” (i.e., safe and comfortable for all ages and abilities) bicycle connectivity among and within the main areas of Newark, the University of Delaware, and outlying neighborhoods.
  5. I support making South College Avenue—the key connection from UD’s STAR Campus and future train station to Downtown Newark—safe and comfortable for all modes of transportation.

Candidates’ Responses

Richard Nietubicz (District 3)

Answer 1: Strongly Agree
Answer 2: Strongly Agree
Answer 3: Strongly Agree
Answer 4: Strongly Agree
Answer 5: Strongly Agree

Comment:

Cycling is an important mode of transportation for my wife and I around Newark. In fact, I was a full-time cycle commuter during my time working for the City, and we continue to bike or walk to destinations around town whenever we can. Newark’s compact and mixed-use development patterns are very well suited to walking and biking, and the City has made great strides toward building complete streets that accommodate all modes of transportation. We can, of course, always make more improvements, especially where we can leverage traditional transportation improvement projects to provide significant additional utility at minimal cost. I’m looking forward to implementing more cost-effective improvements so that Newark’s transportation network is inclusive and efficient for all users.

Jennifer Wallace (District 3)

Answer 1: Strongly Agree
Answer 2: Strongly Agree
Answer 3: Strongly Agree
Answer 4: Strongly Agree
Answer 5: Strongly Agree

Comment: [none given]

Neel Barua (District 5)

Answer 1: Agree
Answer 2: Agree
Answer 3: Neither Agree or Disagree
Answer 4: Agree
Answer 5: Strongly Agree

Comment:

In regards to question #3, I have only briefly skimmed over the plan. I did not want to answer without reading through the details first.

Jason Lawhorn (District 5)

Answer 1: Strongly Agree
Answer 2: Strongly Agree
Answer 3: Strongly Agree
Answer 4: Strongly Agree
Answer 5: Strongly Agree

Comment:

I had not seen the 2014 Newark Bicycle prior to today. I have read through a good portion of it and plan to complete it. As a biker myself, I am familiar with some of the improvements that have been made since this document was published. I was knocking doors in Fairfield Crest this past weekend and the Pomeroy connector trail was brought up more than any other issue with the shopping center being the only other issue close in count.

Biking has always been a part of my life and is an easy and fun way to work exercise into our children’s lives as well as adults. My feeling has always been that the lack of safe passage was the biggest deterrent and the data in the 2014 Newark Bicycle Plan seems to prove that. Newark and surrounding areas does have many safe and enjoyable routes and the plans to connect those is exciting to me. Some listed in the plan, I am familiar with and others I am eager to follow up on.

I also want to talk to members of Bike Delaware about the overall progress on completing the recommendations in this report. I am particularly interested in the inclusion of biking friendly development in the cities planning process. As you may know the University of Delaware plans to add thousands of students over the next 5-10 years. This presents the city with development challenges and biking, in my opinion, can be part of the solution. None of our residents want to see increased automobile traffic and smart development including designs that promote walking and biking will be crucial to successfully accommodating the cities growth.

As I touched on earlier biking is also an easy and quick way to have a fun healthy family experience with no planning other than grabbing the bikes out of the shed or garage and shoving off for a ride. Creating enjoyable and safe routes promotes this behavior and is a smart way to maintain and improve the unique advantages that Newark provides to bikers.

I am interested in talking to someone about some of the progress that has been made and any barriers that are preventing progress since the plan was published. Mark Deshon is in my district and I talked to him recently. I will follow up with him.

Lena Thayer (District 5)

Answer 1: Strongly Agree
Answer 2: Strongly Agree
Answer 3: Agree
Answer 4: Strongly Agree
Answer 5: Strongly Agree

Comment:

Overall, I believe that making Downtown Newark and the surrounding area safer for both pedestrians and bicyclists will not only decrease some of the traffic and parking issues we experience, but also help Newark to be more green efficient. Being a community that embraces other forms of transportation only increases our culture and viability of being a safe and welcoming community.  I did mark agree for the 2014 plan as we are now in 2018; so I would like to dig deeper into what is left to be done in order to accomplish the goals set out in that plan.

Stuart Markham Jr. (District 6 – unopposed)

Answer 1: Strongly Agree
Answer 2: Strongly Agree
Answer 3: Agree
Answer 4: Strongly Agree
Answer 5: Agree

Comment: [none given]