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, 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